The fact that I got my horses card image (a book 5 illustration) finished on Friday, and am having far too much fun doing puzzles of it over and over again.
The memories of Saturday, and the humor of it. I picked the day as it seemed the best of the lot--rainy and cloudy Friday, tremendous winds and flurries on Sunday [in fact I just saw some out the window right now!! *insane squeal* SNOW!!!], and the cold lingering until Monday. Of course the forecast looks ravishing for Wed-Thurs, when I'm back at work! But Saturday turned out much better than I expected--it cleared out faster and since I didn't head out until 10, most of the day was quite sunny.
In the forefront of my thoughts the fact that I didn't want to wipe myself out as I had last weekend, scrambling up and down the 200 ft (61 m) side of the bluffs over and over again on my 7-mile walk. However, the bluffs at Frontenac State Park, after the Mississippi and the glorious St Croix have joined, are 400 ft (122 m) instead, to make Afton SP seem like child's play. I was determined not to go down to the river's edge as I usually did on my previous visits. So I took some trails that I'd never been on before into the back country away from the river and the crowds, and it was beautiful back there...but due to the vagueness of the map, I ended up having to drop and climb 200 ft (61 m) anyway...but at least I only walked three miles (4.8 km).
The whole drive was staggering, and I so wish my mom had been with me, because when she wasn't sleeping ;) she'd have really enjoyed the views. The Wisconsin side was jaw-dropping, and the Minnesota side south of Red Wing was fantastic too--though since it was after noon by the time I left Frontenac, the bluffs were often in shadow so the color was not as staggering as under the morning sun (had it been clear, anyway!). But since it was windy, the river was ruffled and a delicious deep blue. The Lake Pepin area was gorgeous as usual.
My destination was a new State Park for me, a small one called John A Latsch State Park. That was where the humor kicked in. It is south of Wabasha and north of Winona, and I squealed with delight when I realized it was located on the three majestic bluffs I'd drooled over on my PPP1 trip in the spring.
Wasn't squealing when I realized my blunder--I'd looked at the map on the internet, so I knew the park had almost no trails and was only there for the view--a tiny, undeveloped thing. But I thought I'd drive to the top and walk to the overlook...not so. The parking lot was by the highway and the walk was to the top. 450 feet up (137 m) by way of a long winding stair that got excruciatingly steep in places. So much for taking it easy! But the views at the top were phenomenal, so many miles in every direction, and I could see the other two, even more beautiful, bluffs from their own level.
I thought of it too late going up, but I did count the steps coming down: 593 of them! I do think that's one of the most impressive stairs I've ever been on. Everybody I saw up there was my age or younger!
I'm grateful for a fantastic final outing, and two follow-up days to recoup and sleep in. My celebration of autumn is complete, and in November I can focus on writing and art projects. Oh yes, can't forget the pictures!