A day after an unseasonably late frost at the end of May, we woke up from hibernation like groundhogs to enjoy the sun on a long Memorial Day weekend. Our intention was to head up to Frontenac State Park — a park that we visited many times, but we also wanted to explore Red Wing. During our university days, we occasionally drove through this city en route to Treasure Island Resort & Casino, not to gamble but to feast on the Thursday’s seafood buffet. Named after the Mdewakanton Dakota chief, Red Wing has a population of just 16,000. Back in the 19th century, the settlers came flocking here by Mississippi River steamboats to grow wheat. At one point of time, the farmers here sold the most amount of wheat in the country. Today, it has turned into a small charming touristy city.
Upon arrival, we hiked to the top of the 340-foot Barn Bluff and apparently, many people shared similar thoughts too as it was quite a crowd in the morning. After the hike, we wandered around downtown, took pictures with the world’s largest boot, visited a Scandinavian shop, bought some donuts from a popular bakery shop and learned about the fascinating 19th century pottery industry here. With the mask mandate recently lifted, it was weird to say the least to see people’s mouths, noses and teeth in crowded places, and not witnessing people wearing masks avoiding people NOT wearing masks like same-pole magnets — baby steps back to normalcy.
In the afternoon, we burned off our donut calories in Frontenac State Park. We also discovered a short trail that brought us to the shore of Lake Pepin. Before heading home, we enjoyed some splendid tacos in Lake City. We hiked a total of 7 miles, hit 20,000 steps and supported several local businesses on a beautiful chilly Saturday.