Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The River Road, Laura Days, and the Bluffs

After Sunday morning Mass morning, we set off for Alma, WI to meet friends for lunch. Cathy and Kenneth were fellow parishioners from our days at St. Louis in Alexandria. Our youngest daughter and their oldest were buddies growing up and are still keep track of each other on Facebook. We got together at a cheery little place right on the river called the Pier 4 Cafe, I presume because it's next to one of the river locks. A model train was mounted overhead and periodically ran around the restaurant making quite a racket. They specialize in barbecue and Larry and I shared their pulled pork sandwich special along with a Wisconsin tradition of "cheese curds." They were like fried mozzarella sticks, but Cathy said every restaurant serves a different version. These got a so-so from her and when she asked the waitress if they made them there the answer was no. We'll have to look for them again. In fact we need to find some Wisconsin cheese before we leave.

The ride to Alma was along the Great River Road which meanders back and forth across the Mississippi between Wisconsin and Minnesota. We stopped briefly at Winona in Minnesota on our way to lunch to observe a local 9/11 event at the Veterans Hall. It was good to see people coming out with their families to remember the ten year anniversary. Has it really been that long already? I remember picking up the phone and having a friend tell me to turn on the television because a plane had just flown into one of the Twin Towers. I think those images will be burned in my memory forever.

After lunch we went up to the bluffs overlooking the town. What a view! Our photo against the backdrop is so perfect it looks fake doesn't it?

Then on to Pepin for their celebration of Laura Days, an annual event commemorating Laura Ingalls Wilder. Great fun! There was a parade and many period demonstrations.

I talked to the blacksmith and churned cream for awhile. I bought two little pitchers from the potter and had an interesting conversation with a lady making a whisk broom. We also drove a few miles farther to visit the spot where Laura was born. A replica of the little house in the big woods is located there and it sure was little! A young girl and several women were dressed in period costumes. There were activities for kids like piecing a quilt and walking on stilts. I tried the stilts and actually managed to take a few steps before falling over. It's not easy, at least for a grandmother like me. The child dressed in period costume wasn't having a bit of trouble.

 Back in town we watched a little of the parade which consisted mainly of local politicians, antique cars, flatbed trucks decorated with bunting carrying lots of riders, and fire engines. Several participants had 9/11 messages and we saw one truck in a driveway after the parade with a large "God Bless America" sign.
I love these little community events that bring out all the local patriots. It was a delightful event.

Heading back to La Crosse on the river road we decided to stop at Great Bluffs State Park and got an incredible view of the river and a balloon taking off.

 Then we headed home for a simple supper, laundry, and a crash night.

Larry is snoozing as I type. I'll write a few postcards before I close up shop. Another great day on the road across America! Tomorrow -- Blue Mounds State Park in Minnesota and perhaps a trip to Walnut Grove.

No comments: