Day 2 - White Bear Lake
|Saturday, February 9, 2019: We awoke early to a cold, sunny morning.
|We scanned the trees on the river for eagles but didn't spot any.
|It was -20 degrees F, so we bundled up in every single cold weather garment we owned: double socks, heavy shoes, long underwear, multiple layers, heavy coats, snow pants, heavy gloves, hats, hoods, scarves, and balaclavas.
|We headed out the side entrance, ...
|... and noticed the beautiful pipe organ next to the door.
|Our faithful minivan, Septimus, fired right up after a night in the bitter cold.
|By 8:00 AM, we were heading to Colville Park, accessible via a road that goes underneath Highway 61.
|We entered the park and parked in the freshly-plowed parking lot.
|We were the only ones in the park. We scrambled over a snowbank to reach the shoveled sidewalk from the parking lot.
|We immediately spotted an eagle across the river on the far left of the shore in front of us.
|Here's a closer look, ...
|... and here's an extreme closeup we took a little later.
|The temperature difference between the open water and the frigid temperatures caused steam to rise off the river.
|Such a cool effect.
|Oh, hey, there's a sculpture of some glasses. We saw one similar to this in Cape Town four years earlier. This one was placed by the Red Wing Lions Club to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lions Club International.
|Speaking of seeing, Tom spotted a pair of eagles in a tree on our side of the water.
|They were in a tree further down the walkway we were on.
|See 'em? No?
|Look closer. They're the two lumps in the second tree, visible between the limbs of the first tree.
|Here they are, zoomed in as far as our camera can go from this distance. The one on the left is looking at us, because you can see the color of his beak.
|So, we walked closer, past the first tree, ...
|... and one of them flew away, ...
|... and while Debbie started to prepare for a closeup zoom, ...
|... the second one spread his wings ...
|... and he was off too.
|Our faces and fingers were numb so we walked back into the van to warm up a bit. Did we mention it was cold out?
|While sitting in the van, we spotted a second eagle across the water from us.
|There he is.
|We started to drive out of the park, ...
|... then decided to stop at a different vantage point for one last look. We realized that there was an eagle nest near the center of this photo.
|On closer inspection, we spotted an eagle at the top of the tree above it.
|Here they are.
|Here's a closeup of the eagle, ...
|... and of the nest.
|Our next stop would have been at the top of the winding drive through Memorial Park to Sorin's Bluff, but the road gate was closed, most likely due to the snowy road conditions.
|We saw lots of snowplows around town.
|Tom was a little jealous that this snowplow had its very own baby snowplow following it around.
|We hadn't had breakfast yet, so we headed to Hanisch Bakery, just a block away from our hotel, but you can be sure we drove there, rather than parking and walking.
|It was the only place in town where we saw any of the Red Wing Boot statues that we had seen on our last trip here. Boot statues were placed around town in 2008 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Red Wing Boots. We had seen this very statue then too.
|It probably wasn't very smart to walk in here on an empty stomach.
|We were unable to resist the lure of freshly baked paczki.
|We came back to the hotel with four of them (cherry, raspberry, apple, and Bavarian creme), plus a bag of wheat rolls and a package of six monster cookies (not shown).
|The bakery box was lined with paper that had reproductions of olde tyme newspaper ads. This one was quite amusing. If you're a girl over 18 (huh?), Miss Steele has a typing job for you.
|After fortifying ourselves with loads of sugar and a hot shower, we checked out, stowed our luggage in the van, and walked to the Uffda Shop across the street. By now, it had warmed up to -5, according to the bank clock in the distance on the left.
|There were many pretty things, including a smaller version of the red heart Swedish glass we have at home.
|We bought a pair of Dala horse ornaments for our grandkids and a handsome Norwegian wool hat for Tom.
|Then we headed past the St. James Hotel again to our car.
|We drove to the bottom of the hill to see what was there. We found the Red Wing Amtrak station sign nearly covered by piles of snow.
|From there, we took a photo of the hotel looking back up the hill, just like we did when we were aboard Amtrak here in 2012.
|Then we drove up the hill so we could get a photo of our room - the two windows below and to the right of "EL" in "HOTEL."
|Here's a pretty sculpture, with equally pretty icicles hanging from it.
|We headed to Bay Point Park to do a little more eagle watching. When we were stopped by a passing train, we almost decided not to go, but we're so glad we stuck it out.
|After a couple of minutes, we were back on our way. The park is directly ahead of us in the distance in this photo.
|We parked on the water's edge and watched from the comfort of our van for a few minutes. Immediately, we spotted two eagles toward the left end of the stand of trees across the water, one a little further to the left, ...
|... and another two toward the right end, near some homes.
|They're just two large blobs in the trees in this crop of the photo above, ...
|... but here's a closer look.
|Here's the one on the left. They are both juvenile bald eagles, ...
|... who haven't quite gotten their bald eagle coloring just yet. Here's the one on the right.
|A large flock of black and white ducks enjoyed the open water.
|When Debbie got out of the car and came toward the water, some of the ducks got spooked and flew further upstream.
|But these guys aren't chickens. In fact, they're common goldeneyes.
|While Debbie was taking pictures of our surroundings, such as this statue of a kid pretending to fly, Tom stayed in the van.
|Suddenly, Tom pounded on the window to get Debbie's attention. One of the eagles we had spotted by the homes decided to come out for some lunch and was flying straight toward us. Once Debbie collected herself, she took this series of photos over a 30-second period.
|Tthe steam coming off the water made for a very cool effect, but cut down on some of the contrast.
|Oh, this photo. It was absolutely worth standing in the freezing cold just for this shot.
|He grabbed at something ...
|... but came up empty-clawed.
|Off he flew, ...
|... and flew ...
|... and flew.
|It was time to go, so Debbie got a photo of the van with three of the eagles in the distance.
|Here's a cropped image of the above photo showing two of the eagles, ...
|... and another crop showing the third. Sure, they're just dark blobs here, but it was too cold to get closeups of them. We did use our binoculars to get good views though.
|We saw five eagles! Here's a picture of Debbie's multi-gloved hand, taken to jog our memory later.
|We headed north, past the Red Wing Pottery Museum, ...
|... a random 3M plant, ...
|... the Red Wing Stoneware Company, ...
|... and a Bic factory.
|What? Another eagle? This is just too much awesomeness for one day!
|We drove through Hastings, ...
|... another place that we should probably explore one day.
|We could see the train bridge from the vehicle bridge, just like we had seen the vehicle bridge from the train bridge in 2012.
|It didn't take long to get to the Twin Cities area ...
|... and to White Bear Lake, our true destination for this trip.
|We went to Carbone's Pizzeria to get pizza to go. We had called ahead so they'd be ready when we arrived.
|It isn't the One True Carbone's (on Randolph) but we learned on our last visit in November that it is very nearly as delicious as the original as long as you remember to ask for shrimp on your Carbone's House Special.
|It was still near zero, so we ran those hot pizzas to the van as quickly as we could.
|We went to the home of Debbie's Aunt Mary and Uncle Benny. We immediately sat down to devour the pizza and didn't get a picture until they were both nearly gone. That's the Special on the left, and a small pepperoni pizza on the right.
|Mary was in hospice care for terminal lung cancer, so we drove up here to spend a couple of final hours with her.
|We spent two wonderful hours going through family pictures, reading old letters, and sharing memories. Here, Mary is identifying photos of ancestors while Benny reads a letter Mary wrote to Debbie's mother, Irene, in 1985 shortly before her death from cancer. Before we left, Mary gave us a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies from her granddaughter, Lisa, and three Seroogy's caramel chocolate bars, one of which she asked us to give to Claire's dad for watching her this weekend while we traveled (which we did).
|After discussing all of the organizing and sorting Debbie had done of Mary's parents' memorabilia, Mary got out a huge box of post cards from a lifetime of travels and gave it to Debbie, who promised to sort the postcards and make sure they got to Mary's children.
|She also gave Debbie two real treasures: a pair of mittens that Irene had knitted decades ago, ...
|... and another pair of mittens that Mary's daughter, Laura, purchased from Memory Mittens. It was made of a blue-striped sweater Debbie's mother owned decades ago that was given to Mary after Irene died. Because both Irene and Mary wore it, these have double the sentimental value. Laura gave this pair to Mary, but Mary gave them to Debbie with Laura's blessing.
|Too soon, our visit was over and we said goodbye to Mary for the last time, because she passed away five weeks later. The image of Mary smiling goodbye at us in her doorway will stay with us forever. We were at the Wisconsin border by 3:15 PM, ...
|... where Wisconsin welcomed us once again.
|We barely got a photo of the Bosshard Bogs sign as we reached Tomah, but apparently, that's now something that we try to do.
|We grabbed some dinner at McDonald's somewhere north of the Wisconsin Dells.
|Cascade Mountain was lit up for business but we didn't see any skiiers out.
|This rest area had a very cool clock in the center. Very Frank Lloyd Wright-esque, which is appropriate because we weren't far from his home in Spring Green.
|Near Madison, we stopped at Woodman's to do some shopping.
|They have a gigantic selection of Wisconsin beer.
|Specifically, we were here Untitled Art's Milkshake IPA, recommended to us by a friend. We finally found the display, but not that flavor. We did see that their cans go for $12.99 - $15.00 for a four-pack. A FOUR-pack.
|Same prices, but smaller selection in the cooler section. Over $3 a can? That's a hard pass. We were also disappointed that we couldn't find any lefse there. But we didn't leave empty-handed. We got a variety case of New Glarus beer and a case of Stephens Point Milkshake Malt porter.
It was 9:30 PM by the time we arrived at the Super 8 in Mendota, Illinois, our brief home for the evening. Not shown: the gap under the room door under which you can fit an adult human hand.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy