Grinding our way south… To and Fro

On a recent trip, we traveled about 500 miles through Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.  A friend and co-worker made the statement “Wow, doesn’t the driving get boring when you are traveling from point A to point B?”  After a smile formed, I answered “No, that is what makes the trip worth while”.

We are constantly on the lookout for that special something on our trips; an abandoned building or home, a long forgotten car, an adorable wild or farm animal, or just the way the light is hitting a particular item.  Between the laughing, singing (which Dan loves), whistling, telling stories, making Daisy crowns :-), so on and so forth, we always have a great time on our travels.  The “in-between” is where the fun comes in… A turn of the head or an Ooohh, Ahhh, humff, or sigh might escape our lips, which in turn notifies the other of an upcoming special treat.  About 90% of the time, the slamming of the breaks or putting the car in reverse is followed by one of those subtle hints.  It is the “in-between” that we all forget about at times- You know, those sights or people that we otherwise take for granted as we are passing from point A to point B.

My friends comment really made me realize just how important life is and was an important reminder to cherish those “in-between” times.

Grinding our way south… Pickwick Mill

grist•mill (ˈgrɪstˌmɪl)
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.

We were tipped off earlier in the year about a gristmill located in Southern Minnesota that is still operational after all these years. After more research, we actually found a few within a days drive from home that we would like to visit.  Our eyes opened to a beautiful June morning, so we decided to pack up our gear and the girls (Tindra and Audrey) and head out for a day trip to Southeastern MN in search of the whispered gristmills.

The first stop was the Pickwick Mill located near Winona, MN.  Thomas Grant and Wilson Davis built the mill during the years 1856 to 1858 and is one of the oldest water powered gristmills found in southeast Minnesota.   This old gristmill has some history as it ran 24 hours a day during the Civil War and produced 100 barrels daily for the Union Army. After the war, the mill became a flour-milling center for most of southern Minnesota and portions of Iowa and Wisconsin.

The mill was built from locally quarried limestone, with a timber frame that was so closely fit, that nails were not used (outside of the floor). The six-story building is now registered as a historic site by Pickwick Mill, Inc., a privately funded, non-profit organization.

As we walked into this old mill we were greeted by a courteous volunteer who was so eager to share its history.  After a brief video, the volunteer went over to the water-shoot and opened the forces that powered this mill.  As the creaking noise of the turning waterwheel became louder and louder, the vibration started and shook the entire building.  Feeling the power of this mill straight down to your bones was an amazing sensation.

We had a great time learning about this mill and I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

Click on the following link for more information:    Pickwick Mill

Days and Hours of Operation
The Pickwick Mill will be open
* Weekends during May, September, and October
* Tuesday through Sunday during June, July, and August
Hours of operation:
10AM – 5PM Tuesday through Saturday
11AM – 5PM Sunday
Tours at other times available by appointment. Call 507-457-0499,
507-457-3296, 507-457-9658

Ticket Purchase
Tickets cost $3 adults, $2 teenagers over age 12, $1 children age 12 or under. Group tour prices available.

Off we go…  Into the wild blue yonder to our next destination, Schech’s Mill located south of Houston, MN.

A Hometown Affair

A group of photographers from the Red Wing Photography Club met up on this beautiful sunshiny day back in June of last year in Red Wing, MN with the sole intention of photographing the city and all of it’s beauty.   Venturing out with a group of photographers can be interesting and an outing that you can learn from.   How does your shooting buddy see the world behind that trusty camera– Different no doubt.  The goal of it all is to gain different perspectives on how other photographers not only view the world and how they wish to portray its beauty, but it is also wonderful to see how they work and how you can learn from them.  On this particular day, we met at the local Farmers Market where you can find vendors selling fresh canned fruit, fresh vegetables right from the garden, fresh baked bread (yummy), flower arrangements, plus much, much, more. We spent a couple of hours touring the city that we have all seen a thousand times.  You know- Those roads that we all travel on as we make our way to work or play, it is those streets that we take for granted at times.  I would have to say that I love living in the Mississippi Valley and Southeastern MN Bluff country.  Coming down into the quaint town of Red Wing from the North on Hwy 61 is always an amazing site for me and never gets old.

We had a fun and productive day walking the alleys and photographing the local businesses – trying to view the streets of Red Wing, MN  in a different way and taking off those “took for granted” sunglasses.

Sit back and enjoy the views you might have overlooked in Red Wing, MN.

A weekend made for memories

Memorial Day of 2012- A day to remember and give thanks to the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It was a beautiful sun-shiny day with a slight breeze. Certainly, a day photographing the countryside was called for.  We packed the car with the necessary items needed for a full day of photography fun.  Photography gear, Check. Cooler full of food and drink, check. The four legged wonders (Tindra and Audrey), check.  The “girls” are 13 and 14 years of age, and weigh around 11 Lbs but they are still full of spit and vinegar (Dan says just like their human mamma) 🙂   Now, if you have ever had the privilege to know a Dachshund or have been owned by a Dachshund, you know their little noses can get them into trouble.  Especially when they can figure out how to get on top of tables, counters, basins, into garbage and food containers, etc, etc.   Tindra can sniff out any morsel of food… anywhere.  The girls motto- Where there is a will, there is a way  🙂

The girls had a spring in their step and were excited that they were able to grace us with their presence.  Fresh country air, and all that comes along with it… So exciting!  Off we go.

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On our outings, we find at least one abandoned house, building, or farmstead and that day was no different. As we pulled onto this particular property, the excitement of photographing the establishment kept rising.  With a huge smile on my face, I jumped out of the car and headed for the house…  Off I go without looking back.  Realizing later, of course, that I had just left the girls unattended with a package of beef jerky and a bag of animal crackers in the car.  Needless to say that when we returned (and we never leave for too long), the girls had polished off both bags of food.  Mostly Tindra and boy, she was thirsty!!  We had to wait and see what happened… A little while later a sound was heard from the back- the sound that gets you moving and fast.  Saving the car upholstery, my hands were the only thing close enough to catch what was spewing from Tindra’s mouth.  A mixture of beef jerky and animal crackers… YUCK!  After pulling over and cleaning up, we headed on our way.  Tindra slept for the rest of the trip but was fine by the time we had returned home- Bad Mamma, poor little furry wonder 🙂

The day spent traveling around the Red Wing, MN and surrounding area was a day I’ll never forget- one full of laughter, amusement, excitement, and for Tindra- pleasure followed by anguish.  Although Tindra will never learn a lesson, we did and have since purchased a Dachshund proof food container that we travel with.

The Round Barn, Red Wing, MN

After our trip touring the countryside in Wisconsin for round barns last April, we decided to contact a local Bed and Breakfast, which just happens to be called The Round Barn.  Robin and Elaine Kleffman, owners of the The Round Barn Bed and Breakfast and restored round barn, were gracious enough to give us a private tour of the facilities.

I could not say enough of the hospitality of the owners and the history involved with astonishing example of architecture. The round barn was originally built in 1915 by Henry and Mary Dammon for their dairy cattle, and subsequently used as a honey processing facility by Earl and Retha Griffith.  The barn has been renovated and is used for wedding receptions, dances, parties and reunions.

The house was built on a design from 1861 by architect Samuel Sloan and is beyond beautiful.  The charm of the place shines as you drive onto the property and you are filled with tranquility as you step out of your car.  I still would like to taste Robin’s award winning bread as he pulls it from the wood-fired hearth bread oven.

If ever in the area, I would highly recommend a stay!

A roadtrip and a fish… or what ever that was

We awoke to find the atmosphere was thick with fog again on that early March morning.  The fog or mist can emphasize depth, light, shapes, silhouettes and I love the way the water droplets scatter light.  The morning brought us to Frontenac, MN a small rural town located on the mighty Mississippi just southeast of Red Wing, MN.  Frontenac State Park was our first stop, the park is known as a birdwatchers’ paradise and is one of the best spots in the country to view birds migrating in the spring and fall.  If you travel this way, take a nature walk on one of the parks great hiking trails and enjoy the beautiful valley views.

Close by the state park is a small public boat launch located in the historic village of Old Frontenac.  A walk along that beach is usually calming but your heart rate can increase when you car chased by some kind of large, dead fish on a stick by someone who will remain nameless… Dan 🙂

After Dan had his fun with the what ever that was on a stick, we packed up our camera gear and headed back on the road.  Sometimes we don’t use our GPS and end up near a city that we weren’t intending to visit on that day.  I think that is the fun of it all- traveling on back-roads leading to… well, we find out.  Passing many photo opportunities along the way, you never know what a day spent traveling on unfamiliar roads will bring.

A birthday trip and a leaky faucet, part 2 – back home

Our destination… The Jailhouse Inn located in Preston, MN.  Construction of the old Fillmore County Jail commenced shortly after February, 1869;  the jail building housed the county jail, sheriff’s office and residence, and courtrooms from 1870 to 1970. Restoration of the old jailhouse resulted in a very unique B & B, The Jailhouse Inn.  The last room completed for lodging at The Jailhouse Inn, the Drunk Tank, was completed in mid-1993.   If only those walls could talk huh?!

We stayed, played, and drank wine that night.  In the morning it was an early rise for delicious coffee and a mouth-watering breakfast. Then back to the room to grab our camera’s to photograph interesting objects in and around the historical Jailhouse Inn.

Time to move on out and we were pointed in the right direction.  Okay- Dan and I really do not follow directions that much as each turn we take while out back-roading have led us to some intriguing places.  We made our way back home and a trip that should only take us 1.5-2 hours will usually take a good portion of the day.

Fillmore County in southeastern MN is a stunning locale and we have returned many times since.  The scenery is part of the Driftless Area and is known mainly for the deeply carved river valleys due to the lack of glacial drift.  The Driftless Area includes parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois and is quite the site to feast your eyes upon.  From the beautiful views you see high on top of the bluff’s that surround this area, to buildings in ruins, to cemeteries hidden in the middle of no where… Even with my leaky faucet for a nose, we had a wonderful and eventful trip.