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It's not at all unusual to find yourself saying "Oh, I've always wanted to do that" upon seeing a mention of someplace like the Taylors Falls' Folsom House, the Split Rick Lighthouse or even the inside of the State Capitol.
Well maybe this could be the year, especially with our way-extended warm season. And it doesn't hurt to have a prodder/planner along the lines of the Minnesota Historical Society's 2012 travel map.
Available free via the society's web site, the map highlights more than a score of sites around the state, and could be especially useful in planning a double-dip trip such as Le Sueeur's W.W. Mayo House and St. Peter's Traverse des Sioux (below).
Or perhaps just something closer to home that you've been meaning to check out for years or even decades.
Delta made an unpopular decision when it pulled two McDonald's outlets in concourse G at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Delta controls vendors in the concourse; the Metropolitan Airports Commission has the rest of the airport. There's no Egg McMuffins to be found. Read all about it.
I was thrilled to see snow falling this morning. Conditions are ripening for my upcoming cross-country ski weekend. If you have a snow-centric getaway planned, you can get an up-to-date look at snow depths across the nation at this page of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's website. To get a sense of snow depths and conditions on state trails around Minnesota, go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
The bedraggled garden begged to be put to bed. A towering load of laundry needed folding. And then there were those dust bunnies dancing across the floor. All the tasks on my to-do list were forgotten, though, as I headed to my weekend getaway -- all of 14 miles away in downtown St. Paul. I dined at Meritage, slept at the St. Paul Hotel and nearly forgot I am a working mother of a nine-year-old (who was happily attending French Camp) with a messy house and a shopping list. And that is the joy of the stay-in-town trip: you get all of the abandon of a more elaborate vacation, without any of the stress of getting there. I highly recommend it.
First came heat; temps in the 80s do not mix well with fall color tours in my book. I didn't see myself hiking in the woods in search of pretty reds and crimsons coupled with taking a dip in a forest stream to wash away the sweat.
Then came the winds, so much that many leaves across the state blew off before they hit peak color.
So when I headed out to look for fall color recently -- wearing a seasonally appropriate sweater -- I first logged on to the Department of Natural Resources fall color map. Good thing. I'd wanted to go to Nerestrand-Big Woods State Park, near Northfield. Though in a typical year, it'd be awash in brilliant hues, now it was a dull scene. The map pointed me in the right direction: Amid a state depicted in nearly all brown (the color code for "past peak"), a swath of a bluff country along the Mississippi was showing promise, so I hit the road. Driving south, it seemed as though the brightest color I'd find was the yellow stripe in the middle of the road. Then I turned a bend and saw a valley blanketed in autumn's rich display. While the wind and rain that had buffeted the area had done a number of the highest trees, those in the more sheltered valleys hung onto their leaves.
I just peaked at the trusty DNR map again: Seems like even the beloved bluffs along the Mississippi are past their prime. But if you want one last glorious encounter with the beauty of autumn, all is not lost. Go to the Lanesboro area, south of Rochester. The hilltops may be brown, but keep to the valleys and you may find your reward.
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