A change of season is starting to happen all around us, especially up north this week. We are seeing some of our tree tops beginning to turn red, yellow and even a few oranges around Burnsville. Megan texted this week and said its starting a little even in Winona, so we thought we’d pay her a visit yesterday, since most of her roommates were gone this weekend.
We arrived around 1:00 and brought a few items along with us. I made pumpkin-cranberry muffins for her and felt it would be nice for her to have some home-baked goods in her dorm room. She was thrilled as I expected. Kelly’s friend Emily colored a picture for her dorm and saying that she missed her, and she also wanted us to bring her extra pillow from her bedroom. I doubt we’ll ever stop by without bringing stuff along.
Once everything was dropped off, we headed off to do some sightseeing up on the bluffs. Our first stop was Garvin Heights Overlook. This is located right across the Winona River and from on top, we could see Megan’s dorm and the entire campus. It looked tiny from up there, but on this gorgeous sunny day, it was quite a view.
Garvin Heights Park features a beautiful stone overlook with a spectacular view of the Mississippi Valley surrounding Winona, Minnesota. On a clear day the scene stretches 17 miles. There is a picnic area and a half-mile hiking trail that descends (or ascends!) from the overlook to the base of the 575 foot bluff. There are 378 steps on the upper part of the trail. We didn’t bring our hiking gear, so we just drove up to the top, but I would guess that Megan & friends may do some hiking here one day.
We came down from the bluff and headed back into town to track down a bakery we were told had fantastic goodies. It didn’t take us long to find it and we all went in and picked out an afternoon treat. We made it just before they closed, so we had slim pickings of what was left. It all looked so good.
We took our bakery and headed to a beautiful park right on the Mississippi River. The water was nice and calm and we found a couple of trees that were very colorful and bright yellow. They made a nice backdrop for our autumn picnic.
Our next stop was a cute little organic store that Megan wanted to show us. Its one of her favorite places to shop in Winona. She raved about the granola and the fresh fruit they carry, so we were excited to go inside and check it out. They had lots of free samples to try, so we loved that and ended up leaving with a few items to take back with us. And of course…Dad paid the bill. 🙂
It was getting later in the day and our next stop was in La Crosse. We planned to pick up Megan’s friend Courtney and take her to dinner with us and catch up with her and her college experience. On our way, we took one more stop on yet another bluff. This one was called Grandad Bluff in La Crosse.
Grandad Bluff is a mesa on the east side of La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is approximately 590 feet (180 m) above the surrounding land and 1183 feet (361 m) above sea level. Bliss Road provides access to the bluff. A park shelter in a fenced-off area atop the bluff provides visitors with a view of La Crosse.
Since 1929, the La Crosse Skyrockers organization has conducted a fireworks show from atop Grandad Bluff at midnight on New Years’ Eve. The show is patterned after the New Years’ fireworks show that takes place over Pikes Peak in Colorado. I bet the town goes crazy on New Years Eve! How cool would that be?!
We could see the UW La Crosse football stadium from here and their campus and a gorgeous golf course that Nate seems to be interested in now.
As we drove back down the winding road, I couldn’t help taking pictures out the front window of the car. Even that was pretty. We had a beautiful canopy along the way.
Next we headed to the La Crosse campus, where Courtney was waiting for the Solberg chauffeur service. She is like our “adopted” daughter we’ve known now since elementary school and one of Megan’s best friends. We arrived on time and headed to a local sports bar called Howies. Megan looked it up and said it sounded good, so we gave it a try.
It was only about 2 minutes away from Courtney’s dorm and it was a fun place to hang out, eat a little dinner, and do some catching up with the girls. They get excited when they get to see each other and it’s nice that they are only about 30 minutes apart. We miss them both and had lots of laughs.
After dropping Courtney back off, we headed back to Winona and made one last stop at Target (Sheri, aren’t you proud of us!) You have to load your girl up with supplies before you leave town and Megan was happy to give directions to the local store.
It was sad once again saying goodbye and heading back to Burnsville with only one daughter, rather than two, but what a fantastic day we had together as a family. We enjoyed every minute and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. As we drove back, we even had a spectacular sunset to guide us…this made us smile and made the trip home a little easier~