Monday, May 24, 2010

Celebratory Weekend

by Scott Dalen

This past weekend was a good one. Celebratory for two reasons. One was the end of yet another semester. But the more important celebration was 9 wonderful years with my wife. Our anniversary is actually tomorrow, but since going away in the middle of the week is usually somewhat of a challenge, we set up a weekend away.

Where did we go? Red Wing, MN. Right on the Mississippi River, about an hour away from the Twin Cities. Some old friends of mine are from Red Wing, though they don't live there any more. Red Wing is also the home of Red Wing boots as well as the (apparently) world famous Red Wing Pottery...which I will admit to never having heard of prior to this weekend. Some other interesting history, my senior year of college, I actually interviewed at a golf course in Red Wing. I remember the day. It was cold and the weather was lousy (as it was the middle of winter) so I left Ames way early and therefore had about 2 hours to spare when I made it into Red Wing that day. So I ate a leisurely meal at Perkins that day. We drove by that Perkins this weekend, but we didn't eat there.

But I have gotten ahead of myself. Friday afternoon, I got off work and we took the kids down the street to the in-laws, who were watching them for the weekend. After a few minutes of loading the car we headed out. Ironically, it took a bit to load the car because we took our bikes along. We fully expected to go biking on Saturday. More on that in a bit.

After gassing up the car, we actually hit the road about 4:45. We drove for about two hours and made our first stop in Albert Lea, MN. There's an Applebee's there that we've stopped at several times before, so we pulled in for supper. From there we roadtripped the rest of the way up to Red Wing, which seemed to go quite quickly. I can only cite the lack of noise from the back seat as making the trip seem faster.

We checked into our hotel and finished out the evening pretty quietly. It had been a long day after all.

The plan was to go biking on Saturday as there is a pretty extensive bike trail in that area. However, when we got up it was cloudy and really looked like rain. So we put biking on hold. Instead, we went and explored the town. They have a lot of little stores and we perused several of them as we walked around the old down town area. One of my favorites was a store called Uff-Da's. Can you tell its a Norwegian center there?
One of the other things that we noticed as we walked around was that the churches in the town seem to be centered around about a 2 block area. There are a total of 4 Lutheran churches in this town. One is Wisconsin Synod but the other three are all ELCA. We discussed how that managed to happen for awhile, but then my confirmation teacher hat popped on my head and I realized something. The ELCA formed in 1987. So I'm guessing that these three churches represented the different Lutheran denominations that merged together to form the ELCA. Still, I wonder how a town of 14,000 people manages to maintain that many churches that close together.

After awhile we had lunch at a little cafe and toured a small museum focusing on the Red Wing pottery. That was interesting to see. At this point we were trying to decide what to do, and so we headed back to the hotel for a bit. The weather still wasn't looking overly promising for the bike ride, but as it turned out, we both konked out without even meaning to. We were sharing a pillow and everything.

We woke up about 4 in the afternoon and by this time the sun had come out, but we weren't in the mood for a bike ride at that point. Instead, we decided to go on a hike that we'd heard about. There is a big rock bluff along the river called Barn Bluff. So we buzzed around for a little bit until we managed to find the parking area and hiked on up the bluff. It provided a really great view of the town and the river. In fact we could look down and see the restaurant where we were planning on having supper.

After a few minutes, we hiked back down to the car and buzzed in to the restaurant. Before we walked in, we looked around and saw the bluff. It looked a lot closer from the ground than it did when looking down from on top. I guess distances can be deceiving at times.

After supper, we headed back to the hotel and had another low key evening. We thought about getting up early Sunday and going for our bike ride, but when we got up the weather was even less agreeable than it had been on Saturday. Cloudy and it looked like rain, plus it was really humid and hot.

We decided against the bike ride, which was funny considering that we'd hauled the bikes all the way up with us and then didn't use them. About 9:15 we headed out, thinking were were going to stop in Owatonna at Cabela's along the way. As it turned out, we ended up detouring up into the cities and went to the Mall of America for awhile. It ended up being a completely pointless side trip, but we enjoyed it anyway.

After awhile we finally did head for home, but with several more random stops along the way, we didn't get home until about 5 o'clock. It was a very enjoyable weekend.


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