Tuesday, May 12, 2015


This is our last night in Minnesota, and we've had a wonderful time here. We stayed at a nice old hotel in St. Paul for the first three nights. We got to know the light rail and bus system very well, using it to see the Minnesota History Center, the U of M campus, farmers market, Stone Arch Bridge, and other attractions in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus
Biggest disappointment of the trip so far (for Les, anyway): finding out about Extreme Sandbox, where you can operate full-size earth-moving equipment, and then discovering that it's open Wed.-Sat., but we were only available Sun., Mon., and Tues. Bummer!

Paddling on the Mississippi River
With Les' cousin Madeleine and her husband Dave, we paddled in their kayak and canoe on the Mississippi River; I'm embarrassed to admit that we hadn't even realized beforehand that the Mississippi came this far north.

Stillwater's lift bridge across the St. Croix River
The Elephant Walk B&B is filled with art objects from Thailand
Then we rented a car and drove to Stillwater, where we're staying at the wonderful Elephant Walk B&B. Host Rita makes beautiful and delicious four-course breakfasts, so filling that lunch is not necessary. We explored a lot of the St. Croix Scenic Byway, which follows the river that forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Actually, Les fell in love with Osceola, a small town on the Wisconsin side with a Mayberry feel to it and a historic railroad operation. It was sometimes cold enough that I wore everything I could find from my small bag to supplement my summery clothing: long underwear, lightweight nylon rain jacket and overpants, fleece cap, and knit gloves.

Les fell in love with Osceola, a small town in Wisconsin
Dave & Madeleine's "barn" houses 24 canoes and kayaks
Dave took us to Interstate Park with its amazing glacial potholes. Also amazing is Dave's "barn" (a large, garage-like structure), filled with boats. Dave and Mad live on a lake, one of the state's 10,000; we saw only 25 or so. Dave prepared his North Canoe, which can be paddled by up to ten people, and we towed it to a boat launch on the St. Croix River. Then we had a potluck nearby with some other paddlers, a wonderful group, and after a couple of hours the consensus was that—since it was drizzly and cold—we'd all rather keep partying. We'll save the huge canoe for next time we visit the area, along with Extreme Sandbox. :-)

Trees grow out of the rocks at Interstate Park
Tomorrow we fly to Detroit, take a shuttle van south(!) to Windsor, Ontario, where we'll start the next phase of our adventure.