12th Annual Randolph Railroad Days

All Board, it’s time for the 12th Annual Randolph Railroad Days.  It takes place this weekend, March 25-26 at the Randolph High School.  Randolph is located just 20 minutes south of the twin cities and 45 minutes north of Rochester.  Each year the Randolph Railroad Days gets bigger and better, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Hours are Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 10-2. Admission is $6 for adults and children 10 and under are free.

Joining us will be “Cannonball” Paul! (America’s Premier Old-Fashioned Railroad Musician) and Bookworm Bonnie (International Queen of the Hobos 2013-14).  Cannonball Paul will be doing shows but also will be serenading throughout both days of the train show.  Bookworm Bonnie will be doing railroad folklore presentations both days as well.

And of course once again we will have the CHOO CHOO BOB TV show’s Engineer Paul!  He will entertain families with sing-a-longs and story telling.  He will also be doing performances on both Saturday and Sunday.

Remember at the Randolph school we have gymnasiums (and more in the hallways) of Operating Layouts and our Swap Meet.  Also be sure to check out our and Museum and its railroad artifacts.  The School AND our Museum are both handicapped accessible.

There will also be railroad slide shows and presentations on both Saturday and Sunday.

There were to be train rides this year.  But unfortunately the local railroad now finds it has limited resources the day of this year’s Randolph Railroad Days.  The railroad is however optimistic that they may be able to do rides later this year.  Hopefully better than they originally had planned!  We’ll keep you posted.

In any case an Engine and Caboose WILL be at this year’s show to explore.

Admission is $6 for adults and children 10 and under are free.

 

 

Wells Fargo History Museum

Just when I think I’ve learned about all the museums in our area, I discover another one.  The Wells Fargo History Museum is located in Minneapolis.  The best part about it, it’s free.  It’s open M-F from 9-5, so it might take some planning to get to it if those are your work hours.  It’s family friendly and includes some aspects geared towards kids.  It’s self-guided but if you want to schedule a large group they do offer guided tours.  You can find more specific information here on their website, about the location, special events and more.  History is a great thing and fascinating to see how things have changed.

The museum is on the skyway level of the Wells Fargo Center at 6th Street South and Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The Wells Fargo History Museum offers visitors hands-on family fun.

Step off the skyway and into a storied past. Examine an authentic stagecoach from 1863, see the glimmer of real gold nuggets and coins, send coded messages by telegraph, ride in a rocking stagecoach, sing along to the Weatherball jingle—and much more!

Soar With the Eagles, Weekends in March

March is time to head to Wabasha.  It’s time for Soar With the Eagles, each weekend will have something for everyone.  There will be live animals, bird shows, arts and crafts, and more.  Check out the full schedule here.   You can find directions as well as admission information here.

March is here and it’s time to SOAR with the Eagles in Wabasha! This year’s lineup of presenters and exhibitors includes some exciting new things and some old favorites including flying bird shows, live animals, arts & crafts, exotic birds, insects and more! Don’t miss out – there’s something for everyone, so bring your family and friends! Our featured presenters are:

MARCH 4TH-5TH
EARTHQUEST

MARCH 11TH-12TH
WILD WORLD OF ANIMALS

MARCH 18TH-19TH
WINGS TO SOAR

MARCH 25TH-26TH
WINGS OF WONDER (CINCINNATI ZOO)

Glensheen Mansion $5 Tour Tuesdays

If you’ve never been to the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth now is the time to plan a Tuesday to tour it. Why a Tuesday you may ask?? – –  because from now through the end of April you can tour it for $5 on Tuesdays.  So plan a road trip, or schedule a day off from work. Glensheen is just one of the many historic gems we have in our state.  It was voted Minnesota’s 2016 Visitor Attraction of the Year by Explore Minnesota Tourism.  If you can’t make it on a Tuesday, or need the address and information about the mansion, check out their website.

A Family Affair

Chester and Clara Congdon built Glensheen between 1905 and 1908 as their home. This influential family is known for opening up iron mining in this region and setting aside land for public use, such as the North Shore Scenic Highway and Congdon Park.

 

Few Seats But Great Eats – Best Tiny Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Sometimes going out to eat is just hoping there’ll be a seat when you arrive.  Sure, some of the fancy places take reservations, but if you want down home cooking then that’s probably not an option.  We love to try off the beaten path places and have discovered a selection of few seats but great eats in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We think these are a few of the best tiny restaurants in the Twin Cities for down-home cooking!

Our most recent adventures took us to Our Kitchen, located in South Minneapolis.  This small place only has about 19 seats – yes you read that correctly 19. Some are at the counter and the rest line up to face the seat.  We lucked out and only had a short 5 minute wait before three seats opened up.  We each ordered breakfast and all agreed it was delicious and would be back.  I’m thinking our secret to lucking out and getting seats was the fact that we arrived a half hour before they closed up.  Everyone was friendly and many were greeted by name.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Al’s Breakfast but I recall delicious pancakes. It’s located in the Dinky Town area of Minneapolis, not too far from the University of Minneapolis campus.  I’m hoping to bring our girls this summer. This little gem with only 14 seats means that you need to be prepared to wait a bit.

The third of the few seats but great eats is probably the most of famous of all.  Mickey’s Dining Car is located in St. Paul and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This is the only one of the three where you can eat at night -the other two are morning and early afternoon only.  When we ate here it was in the evening and we enjoyed some great malts and burgers.  The best part was sitting at the counter watching the cook.  Our girls were in awe of all the tiny drawers and spaces where the food was kept.   Mickey’s does have a few more seats than the previous places I mentioned, but don’t get too excited as it’s still pretty limited seating.

I would love to know if there are other few seats but great eats around the metro or even outstate Minnesota.  Please let us know, we would love to give them a try.

Hudson Hot Air Affair

Near the top of my bucket list is riding in a hot air balloon.  It will remain on my list for a while, it’s just in not quite in my budget. However, watching them is almost just as fun right?  Floating so carefree in the sky, especially when there’s a whole bunch of them at the same time. The Hudson Hot Air Affair, just on the Minnesota border, is an event where we can all enjoy watching hot air balloons.  The event takes place this weekend, February 3-5th.   You can find the complete schedule here on their website.

Hudson Hot Air Affair “Gone with the Windz”

Mark your calendar for the 28th annual Hudson Hot Air Affair on February 3-5. This year, with a bow to mother nature, we will celebrate the theme of “Gone with the Windz.” Hot air ballooning is dependent on favorable weather conditions and Mother Nature calls the shots, deciding if the balloons can go up in the air or they stay on the ground.

“Gone with the Windz” also brings to mind Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara against the backdrop of the American Civil War. This era shares rich history of early aviation with gas balloons, a predecessor to hot air balloons.

Hot Air Affair could not happen without the support of its eight year corporate sponsor WESTconsin Credit Union, as well as over 100 local balloon and event sponsors. For a complete listing of sponsors, please visit www.hudsonhotairaffair.com.

Hot Air Affair is the premier hot air balloon rally and winter festival in the Midwest and while the balloon launches are the main feature, there are many activities offered throughout the weekend, as well as several fun pre-events.

The pre-events include a photo contest throughout Hot Air Affair. On Jan. 21st there is a breakfast and kids crafts at Dicks Bar, and a countdown event at Family Fresh Market. On Jan. 23rd join the hot air balloon canvas party painting class at Belle Vinez (pre-register at birchbarkcreations@hotmail.com). County Market will celebrate Hot Air Affair on Jan. 28th with a pre-event, and on Jan. 29th Hot Air Affair will be at the Ice Castles in Stillwater, MN.

Hot Air Affair will kick-off with the “Gone with the Windz” Torchlight Parade at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3rd, which will be followed by a fireworks display at Lakefront Park sponsored by Andersen Windows. Friday also begins the Super Sale and Button instant prizes at participating Hudson businesses; geocaching; and live music at Urban Olive & Vine, Smilin’ Moose, Plaza Lounge, Plaza 94 and Dick’s Bar & Grill.

Saturday Feb. 4th events include: a 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. balloon launch (weather permitting); a pancake breakfast at the Masonic Temple; the Marketplace and Craft Fair; a geocaching demonstration; Up, Up and Away 5K Fun Run/Walk; the Science of Weather presentation; Octagon House Museum tours; crafts for kids with Veggie Races; smoosh boarding competition; and a pet costume contest at Angel’s Pet World. In the evening there is a Balloon Moon Glow or Field of Fire; a Hudson Boosters bingo fundraiser; Taste of Hot Air Affair “Gone with the Windz” fundraiser for Operation Help; live music; and more.

Sunday, Feb. 5th begins with a 7:30 balloon launch; at 1 p.m. Carpenter Nature Center presents “Soaring with the Windz;” and from 2-4 p.m. the Hudson Rod, Gun & Archery Club and St. Croix County Sportsmans Alliance will hold a free kids ice fishing derby on Lake Mallalieu.

All Hot Air Affair spectator events are free to attend. Some participation events require admission fees, tickets or pre-registration. For event details visit www.hudsonhotairaffair.com. For lodging or questions please contact the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau at 715-386-8411or visit www.DiscoverHudsonWI.com. Hudson Hot Air Affair is also on Facebook.

 

Laura’s 150th Birthday Celebration

Laura Ingalls Wilder would be 150 years old this year, and the museum in Pepin Wisconsin is hosting a birthday celebration.   Typically the museum is closed during the winter months, however it will open for a few hours on Saturday February 4th to host the event. As long as the weather cooperates it will take place from 12-4pm.   It’s suggested you check the facebook event page before going, just to make sure the weather doesn’t postpone it.

The museum will be open noon – 4pm, with food, birthday cake, and a performance on our reed organ. At the Little House Wayside, join us at 1pm for Laura’s traditional gingerbread and activities in the cabin.

 

 

Winterfest in Lake City

One of the best things about Minnesota, we don’t let the weather stop us from having fun.  Well, except when the weather doesn’t cooperate, then that hinders things a bit.  For the most part, we find fun in every season.  This coming weekend Feb 3-4 you can celebrate the cold and snow at the Lake City Winterfest.  There will be lots of indoor and outdoor fun including: live music, a snow sculpture contest, used book sale, fat bike tour, chili feed, fireworks and more.  Check out the whole schedule here.

Barn Bluff

barn-bluff

Our November feels more like September, maybe that means December will feel more like October?  Can always hope, but I do enjoy a white holiday season.  Either way, the change of seasons are one of the best reasons for living here.  If hiking is something you enjoy, then the Red Wing area offers some great options. Are you hoping for a view to reward you at the end of the hike?  The Barn Bluff hike offers a view of the Mississippi River on one side and Red Wing on the other.  You can find the trail map here.

barn-bluff

Prairie Trail (Moderate) – This trail runs along the summit of the entire bluff and must be accessed by hiking the South Trail. On both ends of this trail there are scenic overlooks which offer magnificent views of the area. Due to vertical cliffs: Caution should be taken at both scenic overlooks, especially the East Scenic Overlook. Trail Lengths as follows:

  • from West Scenic Overlook to East Scenic Overlook – .55 miles

Midland Trail (Moderate) – This primitive trail runs parallel to the South Trail and offers an alternative route along the south base of Barn Bluff.

South Trail (Easy/Moderate) – – This trail starts at the Main Park Access and leads to the Prairie Trail. The trail runs along the southern edge of the bluff before rising to the summit on the new Kiwanis stairway, which runs along the eastern edge of the Linne Quarry. This trail is the easiest way to reach the summit of Barn Bluff. Trail Lengths as follows:

  • to Linne Quarry/Kiwanis New Stairway – .43 miles
  • to East Scenic Overlook – .83 miles

Carlson Lime Kiln Trail (Dead End) – .30 miles round trip. Rock climbing on the Kiln Structure is strictly prohibited. Violators will be prosecuted.

barn-bluff

A fall hike near Winona

a-fall-hike-near-winona

This time of year, everyone’s trying to find fall colors.  Some just want to drive by, viewing from their car window.  Others prefer to lace up the hiking boots and explore.  If hiking is your preference, there are some great options in MN.  A fall hike near Winona, means several options. One option is Garvin Heights Park, which provides a scenic overlook.  Directions can be found here.

garvin-heights-park

Garvin Heights Park

A park literally above the rest

Follow the winding mile-and-a-half road up the bluff side, and immerse yourself in rich oak savanna atop Garvin Heights scenic overlook. A flight of stairs as well as a dirt path run along the bluffs edge, from the lookout to the valley below.

Bring your hiking boots and explore the restored goat prairie while you take in sweeping views of our island city, or boost your cardio with a hike to the bottom of the bluff on a winding, maintained trail.

High altitude feast

If you have a hankering for a snack while taking in the sights and sounds of Winona from the best seat in the house, stop up at Garvin Heights for an unforgettable picnic. Picnic tables and trash bins are available to help keep the heights in pristine condition, and hiking trails lead to sky-high perches along the ledges of the bluff.