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Published: September 24th 2021
BRRRRR. We woke this morning in La Crescent, MN to 46 degrees. I had to get out my jeans this morning. It was not a day for shorts, for sure. And as the day began, we were in a shroud of fog, on and off, for quite some time. I guess the chill is in the air, and so comes the fog. But the sun eventually came out and gave us a glorious day. We left our hotel at 8:40 and headed for Winona, population of about 26,000. I kept calling it Wynona and anyone might guess why. LOL A friend of ours is from Winona, so we had to take some photos for her. We drove around town for a while and took in the flavor of this charming town, although I will admit, it was not by plan. We stopped at McDonald’s for coffee and when we got back on the road, it was the wrong one and took us to the river instead of back on the GRR. But the GPS helped us recover.
Further up the road we landed at Lake Pepin. This lake is very large and it is really part of the
river. It appears to be formed by a severe narrowing of the river just south of it. And so the water is quite calm and provides great opportunities for boating and fishing and the like. We stopped in Lake City, population 5,000, where there is a large marina which docks A LOT of boats, mostly sail boats. See photos. I did see one pontoon boat, however, and that would be more my speed, for sure.
In Lake City there is a plaque with a very interesting story. I provided a photo, but long story short, an 18 year old back in 1922 decided that skiing on water would be fun. So, after working on this idea for a while, he came up with a design that worked. And he is credited with inventing waterskiing. And in 1966 the American Water Skiing Association made Lake City the official birth place of waterskiing. His name was Ralph Samuelson.
Did I say the water is calm? We saw many, many white pelicans just sitting on top of the water sunning themselves and occasionally dipping their heads into the water for a snack. They are snow white in color and very pretty.
Further on we drove into Red Wing, population 16,500. By now it was 68 degrees. And, unlike in Florida, 68 degrees feels quite refreshing and comfortable. We were out and walking around town in short sleeved shirts. While we were there, taking photos on the waterfront, which I might add, is quite charming, a riverboat cruise arrived and docked. The American Melody was on a one-week cruise between St. Louis and St. Paul. It’s not a paddlewheel boat. But a real riverboat cruiser and quite impressive. It docked by a beautiful park with a gazebo and the gray-haired lady we saw in the gazebo was setting up her wares to sell to the tourists as they disembarked. Red Wing, like other towns we saw today, is in great shape. The buildings are well maintained and the businesses and restaurants are thriving.
By noon we had arrived in Hastings, our last official stop on the GRR. The high-water marking on the Riverwalk says it reached 25.9 feet in 1965. Yikes. But they do not have any walls like a few of the towns we visited in the past few days. The Riverwalk is beautiful and located just beside the
bridge to Wisconsin. And right there by the bridge is the American Legion, which has a restaurant with outside seating right on the river. We had lunch, but not there. As we have been doing a lot, we made sandwiches and sat by the river and enjoyed the view. Other places you can whet your whistle in Hastings are the Busted Nut Bar and Grill, the Spiral Brewery and the Social Gathering. All appeared to be thriving.
After lunch, we crossed the bridge and took to the highway headed for Duluth where we arrived around 4 PM. We will be here for 2 days exploring the coastline of Lake Superior. After a nice meal from Texas Roadhouse, we settled in for the night.
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