Wabasha County

The most wonderful road trips of the year

When winter rolls around, I hop in the car to look for Christmas decorations on Minnesota main streets. I’m surprised that five years into these trips, there’s still so much variety to be seen. Not counting the simple snowflakes and wreaths, I keep spotting more tinsel or white-light shapes around nearly every corner.

My first trip of the season was a solo venture out west on 212 to Brownton, then north to Hutchinson and back on 7.

A snowflake, though with blue as well as white, in Norwood Young America:

six-pointed white snowflake with a blue star center

and this fun stack of presents:

a red present on its side on the bottom, a leaning gold present, and a small green present on top

I ventured off the main road when I saw a sign for Biscay (which I hadn’t heard of), and I’m glad I did.

Candy canes across the bridge in Glencoe:

a white wire candy cane on a light pole at the top right, and four more in a diagonal row off into the distance

And stockings down the entire street in Winsted:

a red stocking with candy canes in the middle, a diagonal row of the same stockings to the bottom left, and the Winsted water tower at the right

Cologne’s white wire shapes:

A sleigh in Missile Park in St. Bonifacius:

a wire horse pulling a man in a sleigh at the right, with a US Army statue in the background, at dusk

The next evening, we took a trip to Le Sueur to do the candlelight tour at the Mayo House. The park next to the house has this very bright tree:

giant tree glowing with white lights, and a small white house in the background

A week later, my husband and I took a trip up 169 and back to the Twin Cities on 65. I got to take pictures from the passenger seat.

Princeton variety:

This fun garland in Onamia reminded me of the Grinch tree:

two swoops of greenery with multicolored light bulbs, and a red bell hanging off the top greenery

A park scene in Onamia:

wire train set under a real pine tree, with three green tree decorations in the snow at the right

I enjoy the decorations that cross a street, like this one in Milaca:

double strand of greenery draped across the street, with big red bows at the corners, and a white circle in a wreath at the center saying Seasons Greetings MILACA

On the next street was this very festive bank:

brick building with four white pillars wrapped in greenery, greenery draped across the top front, and gold tinsel letters spelling NOEL at the top

After turning east at Lake Mille Lacs, we went through Isle. I first thought these swoopy stars were a fancy boot:

lamppost with a Seasons Greetings banner, with white swoops and star shapes above

Santas in the library window:

five homemade paper Santas

On the east end of town, I wondered why Santa wasn’t in the sleigh on the roof, then I noticed he is piloting a boat:

brown garage with a white wire sleigh and reindeer on the roof at the right, a blow-up boat with Santa and standing reindeer at the left

Ogilvie has a simple version of the decoration we saw in Milaca:

wreath with a white center that says Seasons Greetings

Finally, on a sunny day two days before Christmas, we took a road trip south on Highway 61. Wintry trees along the highway:

Pine trees along highway 61

Red Wing snowflake:

closeup of a white tinsel snowflake

and a decoration that stretches to all four corners of the intersection of Bush and 3rd:

looking up at a white light decoration that comes from four corners and meets in the middle, with multiple strands that look like bunting and two stars dangling on each side

We drove through Minneiska quickly and didn’t get close to any of these, but I wanted to include them anyway:

Kellogg started out with a plain snowflake near the highway, but driving into town we saw this great reindeer swag:

garland stretching across the street, with a wreath with three candles in the middle, and matching wire reindeer facing the center on both sides of the wreath

and then we stumbled across this simple and beautiful star display on the other end of town:

white strands across the road that look like bunting, with one white wire star in the center

More photos

Previous Christmas road trips

Categories: Carver County, Goodhue County, Hennepin County, Kanabec County, Le Sueur County, McLeod County, Mille Lacs County, Wabasha County, Winona County | Leave a comment

Minnesota state parks in springtime

I’m always on the lookout for wildflowers, so at the first sign of spring, we headed out to four parks to see what we could find.


Wild River

I had a day off in early April and headed an hour north of the Twin Cities to Wild River State Park by myself. It was too early for wildflowers! But there were very clear views of the river and woods since none of the vegetation had grown in yet. It was a great day for a solo walk; I saw only one pair of runners during this 1.5-hour visit.

Paved path

Quiet path through the woods.

Looking across the river

Down by the St. Croix River.

Bright orange mushrooms popping out around brown leaves

These orange mushrooms (I’ve already forgotten their name) were a bright spot of color on the mostly brown ground.

Wild River Canoe Rental building, boarded up

Waiting for warmer weather (and tourists).

Wild River State Park

One hour north of St. Paul
Date visited: April 13, 2015



Maybe it was the dreary weather the day we visited…

Empty bird feeder on the edge of a pond

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of… early spring.

maybe it was the fact that we got lost more than once on the trails (which could use better signs, in my opinion)…

Unmarked paths

Which way does this path go – left, straight, or right?

maybe because it was still too early for wildflowers (not the park’s fault)…

Budding leaves on a bush

The only green the entire trip.

but I quickly decided this wasn’t my favorite state park. Still, there were things to enjoy along the way.

Loon spreading its wings on Lake Andrew

First loon sighting of the season!

Canoe in front of a stone building

Many buildings built by the Veterans Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Observation tower, viewed from the ground

Lookout at the top of Mount Tom, the tallest spot in the area.

 Sibley State Park

Two hours west of Minneapolis; 20 minutes north of Willmar
Date visited: April 18, 2015



Carley State Park is famous for Virginia bluebells – and in May, there are millions.

Virginia bluebells

The weather was much more pleasant for this wildflower trip. Plus, we actually got to see wildflowers.

Wildflower Trail sign

Yes, I WILL take the wildflower trail.

Bluebell-lined path.

Several false rue anemone along the river

There were at least as many of these white flowers – false rue anemone – as there were bluebells.

Concrete steps with spaces between

Non-accessible walk across the stream.

Wooden stairway

Climb the stairs.

Carley State Park

1.5 hours south of St. Paul
Date visited: May 2, 2015


Nerstrand-Big Woods

As long as we were in the area, we stopped by for a quick visit to try again to find dwarf trout lilies. And we did!

A small white flower among much larger green leaves

Dwarf trout lily is so tiny, it’s easy to miss.

Marsh marigolds on both sides of a small stream

Marsh marigolds, on the other hand, aren’t easily missed.

Hidden Falls waterfall from the bottom

And, of course, Hidden Falls is a must-see attraction.

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

1 hour south of St. Paul
Date visited: May 2, 2015

Now, on to summer adventures!

Categories: Chisago County, Kandiyohi County, Rice County, Wabasha County | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Snowy stairs

Snow-covered staircase

Location: Zumbro Falls
Date: January 31, 2010

Categories: Wabasha County | Tags: | Leave a comment


Statue with earmuffs

Location: Wabasha
Date: January 31, 2010

Categories: Wabasha County | Tags: | Leave a comment

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