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Monday, May 23, 2016

River Cruising Along the Border: Minneapolis, Minnesota - Part 2

We’re waking up in downtown Minneapolis. A quick Marriott breakfast bar meal and it’s off…we’re out of here. At least for the day.

Jumping in the rental Ford Escape, it’s onto Interstate 35 heading north. Almost immediately, we’re crossing the Mighty Mississippi when Tim chimes in…

“Isn’t this the bridge that collapsed?”

Watch the Video!

Ah, yes…yes it is…and thanks for reminding me while I (who already has a bridge phobia anyway) am on said bridge.

It was a tragic day several years ago when the bridge here collapsed during evening rush hour killing 13 people and injuring another 145 due to bad design and too much weight. A little over a year later, the replacement bridge…the one we’re on now…was opened up.

Past that infamous river crossing, we continue north into lake country and head east toward the Wisconsin border. It’s a quiet, scenic road…many lakes, streams, farms, and a herd of buffalo.

It’s not long before we’re in the tiny village of Taylor Falls.

Parking’s easy and the ice cream hits the spot at Schoony’s. Afterward, it’s a short walk under the bridge to get to the office of Taylor Falls Scenic Cruises.  The web site promised wheelchair accessible boats but the river is raging a little today and we’ll have to walk down a road to an alternate loading area.

We get there and there are stairs into the boat. The crew easily handles Tim’s manual chair that he uses for travel but I don’t think it would have worked if we’d had his power chair.

It’s a warm day so Letty and I pull a couple of chairs out from the cabin and set up with Tim on the open-air bow. Since most people want to sit on the upper deck, we pretty much have it to ourselves save for the elderly lady with a cane that occasionally comes out to sit there too.

The paddle wheeler shoves off and we’re on our riverboat cruise of the St. Croix River…Minnesota on the left and Wisconsin on the right.

The first destination is slightly upriver to the “falls,” which after years of floating logs down river have degraded to a short section of rapids. The boat turns around and we head downriver.

The scenery is, in a word, spectacular. The water, the color of tea due to the decomposition of leaves up stream, is clean and inviting.

The crew points out different rock formation as we go through the dells. Kayakers lazily float by wooded islands in the stream.

A bald eagle circles overhead looking for fat fish.

The weather is perfect, the water relaxing, and our batteries are fully charged at the end of the 2 hour cruise.

We spend a little time looking at glacial potholes…deep pockets scooped out of the rocks by ancient glaciers…near the parking lot before moving on.

Downriver we get to the larger town of Stillwater and have dinner at a place we saw on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives…Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue.

The hostess is a little clueless at first but finally finds us a spot on the outdoor patio by the bar. The server makes up for her by being very gracious and knowledgeable.

We have some jerk wings, ribs, and their smoked jalapenos that come free and unlimited with each meal. They’re great but the reason they’re unlimited is because they are extremely hot and we’re panting all the way back to Minneapolis.

We've got more to see back in the city but that’ll be next time. Be sure to join us again for the next leg of our great Minnesota adventure.


Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2012 – Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

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