For some time, we had wanted to visit Mystery Cave in southern Minnesota. It is one of the state parks, and the one-hour tours often fill up. We got on a morning tour, and loved looking at the stalactites and stalagmites forming in the cave. It is a fairly level cave, so it is an easy walk to see several rooms, but we were especially excited, at the far point of the tour, to gaze at Turquoise Lake, a beautiful pool of clear water. After the cave tour, we drove on to Lake Louise State Park and rode our bikes on the Shooting Star Trail, an asphalt rails-to-trails route. We rode from Lake Louise to Taopi and back on a warm, sunny afternoon. Here is a picture of Turquoise Lake inside Mystery Cave.
This morning I went canoeing in the Mississippi backwaters near Red Wing with Bruce Ause. We wound our way through trees and downed logs to look at several Great Blue Heron nests and watch the birds fly in and out. We also saw several eagles, but the highlight of the trip was to come up on a pair of Sandhill Cranes that had built their nest on a small island. Bruce saw them first, and it took me a minutes for my eyes to adjust to see them, blended in perfectly with the background. We were lucky to see them, and they topped off a perfect morning of paddling in Minnesota.
Each spring we go see parts of the Mississippi River shore near our home to check out the water levels. This year has been exceptional. All of the local city parks along the river and the related boating ramps are deep under water. Tons of sticks, logs, and debris have washed up on the grassy picnic areas, and many of the picnic tables are barely peeking out of the water. Some of the retaining walls are completely under water. It is amazing to see this rise and fall because the river is so big, that to raise it one inch requires a vast amount of water, but to raise it several feet baffles the imagination. Here are two photos showing high water.
I just received an email letting me know that my next book, Historic Bridges in Southeast Minnesota, will be released on 9/11/23. It will be published by The History Press, the same company that published my last book Historic Disasters in Southeast Minnesota. I'm very excited to see the new book when I arrives.
Big River Magazine just published my article about the reopening of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. They have added four buildings to their campus which includes the beautiful Riverfront Center. They have expanded their program center, avian care facility, and their exhibit space which will include items from the Preston Cook Collection. Cook has donated his entire collection of 40,000 pieces related to eagles to the National Eagle Center. The article is in the March/April issue of Big River Magazine.
I have been working on a book for the past year about bridges in southeast Minnesota. It will be published later this year by The History Press, the same publisher that published my book Historic Disasters in Southeast Minnesota. The book will have 140 photos of bridges in the region and a history of those bridges and the impact they have on the lives of people who use them. I just submitted the manuscript and photos, so they now move on to the production phase. I'll be excited to see that book in print.
When Peggy and I were traveling in South America in 1983, we saw a McDonalds restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. We hadn't seen a McDonalds in a year, so we stopped, went in, and the experience we had there is a vivid memory today. Here is an article about that day that appeared in this week's Home Forum section of the Christian Science Monitor in Boston.
I was on assignment from Big River Magazine to do a story about the reopening of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. While talking with the Eagle Center people, I heard about their winter golden eagle tours and decided to sign up for one. Peggy and I went with them today and had an amazing experience. We saw several golden eagles which are much more reclusive and camouflaged than bald eagles. Scott Mehus, the tour guide, spoke for more than three hours based on his twenty-five years of studying golden eagles. It was an incredible day.
On the way home from a family wedding, I stopped in my old hometown in Kansas. One place I wanted to see was a hill where my friends and I rode down on our bikes. It was scary at the time, and when I returned, I could understand why. Here is an essay about that event. It is published in the Home Forum section of this week's Christian Science Monitor in Boston. See it here.
Wednesday I spoke at the Goodhue County Historical Center in Red Wing about my book Historic Disasters in Southeast Minnesota. It was a very good audience with excellent questions. The Red Wing Republican Eagle ran this article about the book talk and signing.
Photo by John Jancik
Dr. Steve Gardiner is the author of nine books and over 1,000 articles.