Thursday, October 6, 2011

Minneapolis MN to Trempealeau WI

Minneapolis MN to Trempealeau WI
Monday October 3, 2011

We took our time breaking camp this morning and left about 9:30 headed for the Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott WI….it was great to leave the Twin Cities traffic behind. We crossed the Mississippi and found the Visitor Center – CLOSED ON MONDAY!!  Not a good thing.  We got some great views of the river but no information or passport stamps.

View from Great River Road Visitor Center

We headed south down the Wisconsin GRR which was US35. We passed through small towns along the river and when we got to US63 we crossed back into MN to visit Red Wing. This was a very prosperous small town. Red Wing shoes are still made here and we toured the museum showing their shoes made from 1800’s until today. Examples showed the boots worn by soldiers in WW2 and many others. They still have shoes made 100% in the USA. The company has bought out some additional brands and makes some of them in China but you can still buy 100% USA shoes in Red Wing Stores across the country. I did not realize they made many styles besides work boots. Interesting to me they market to numerous professions – not just miners, hunters, and firemen etc. They have an entire line made for professional chefs (so they won’t slip in kitchens when the floors get wet)!  They also have a complete line of running and walking shoes!
In the lobby is a huge boot – 2 stories high – leather with laces and sole.  They had a very nice retail outlet with work and hunting clothes – all of which would have been too warm in our part of the country. They of course had any type shoes you could want. They also had an outlet in the basement – so I had to go look around. I found a really nice pair of walking shoes-normally $109 for $55…just could not pass up the bargain!  
 Giant Shoe at Red Wing

Red Wing was getting ready for their Arts and Crafts Festival this next weekend and was decorated already. We walked around the main street a little and visited the Hotel St. James – built in the late 1800’s and still doing business today.  It was a very nice hotel with a beautiful pipe organ in the lobby. 
 Red Wing Prepares for their Festival

We went back across the river to Wisconsin and headed south again. We passed through numerous small river towns – Stockholm (pop 66); Pepin (pop 837) and Nelson (pop 374) to name a few. In Nelson we stopped for lunch at the Nelson Creamery.  On the banks of the Mississippi with small tables outside they had cheese, sandwiches, wine, and other foods to purchase. We had great sandwiches outside in the sunshine enjoying the temperatures in the 70’s. Then we looked around in the store and bought some more Wisconsin cheese. This time we got white cheddar and 4 year old cheddar. Tomorrow we will buy some apples and bread and have lunch for several days!

The landscape has changed – the river is much wider – it varies with the placement of the locks and dams. We have passed locks 3-4-5 and 6 today.   The small towns are wedged between the river bank and the bluffs that rise to the east of the road. The railroad follows the road between the road and the river. Often there are farms or orchards along the road as well. We are beginning to see barges of goods going up and down the river. 

Our choices for camping were Perrot State Park and a private park in La Crosse.  When we reached Trempealeau we drove into town and looked for the park. It was a very small town – again right on the river bank – with a couple old hotels with bar and grill, a bank, and a couple 7-11 type store/gas stations.  The park however was very nice with lots of hiking trails. The ranger gave us a map and said go pick out your site and come back – so we did. Set up camp, took a 1 ½ mile hike, and sorted through all the information on the river for the next couple days.  
Small town of Trempealeau and Relaxing at Perrot State Park

 There is no internet here – the 3G on the I-phone is interesting as it comes and goes. Here one minute and gone the next.  My main job tonight has been numbering and naming photos.  I did not start this trip with my usual system and if I don’t get a handle on it now I am lost!  I got about half finished…another evening should get me caught up.

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