the home of Doran Barton (& family) Doran's Journal - 6 July 1997

On the 4th of July we decided to go on a roadtrip down a "Great River Road." Click here to see a map showing the roads we took.

which runs next to the Mississippi River. We headed north toward St. Paul and then onto Shepards Road - the National Great River Road that heads east and then south. We followed this route south through several small towns. We ended up on US Hwy 10 which took us into Prescott... Prescott, Wisconsin. We had no idea we were so close to the state border. The Twin Cities are within a 30-45 minute drive of Wisconsin.

As soon as we were in Wisconsin, several "factory outlet" fireworks stores appeared out of nowhere. It would seem the fireworks laws in Wisconsin, like in Wyoming, are looser than in the state to the west.

Prescott, WI is also where the St. Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi which forms the northern portion of the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, empties into the great river. At the point of this union both rivers are very wide and we saw many people boating on the rivers.

We followed Hwy 10 north out of Prescott and then turned left onto Wisconsin Hwy F going north. I found it odd that Wisconsin differs from other states by labelling its highways with letters as opposed to numbers.

North of Prescott, the landscape opened into lush green farmland. Poised high on hills which dropped down at cliffs to the St. Croix River, there were many places along Hwy F where you could see over to the Minnesota side of the river. Christine was overtaken by how pretty the farmland was and wanted to snap a photo so members of her family who were farmers or had been farmers could see what Wisconsin farms looked like. They don't look a whole lot different... but it certainly was pretty.

On our map we could see ahead of us was Wisconsin's Kinnickinnic State Park. We decided to have a look at it and pulled in. We payed our $3 entrance fee (which only lasted an hour, incidentally) and drove through the park. Kinnickinnic didn't really seem to me to be "wild" like a forest in Utah. It seemed more like Memory Grove in Salt Lake City. Lots of native prairies and trees. While we were warned to be cautious of wildlife in this small park, we didn't see anything in our short stay.

The state park extended from Hwy F on the east to the St. Croix river on the west. The park itself is probably 7 miles wide at the most. At the western side of the park is a large picnic area with changing rooms and restrooms. Toward the middle of the park is a sledding hill for winter fun. The park newspaper we received with our entrance pass mentioned that the park is used during the winter by cross-country skiers.

From the west picnic area a trail leads to a railed deck high on a cliff looking out over the St. Croix River. Another trail begins at the picnic area and leads down to a beach swimming area to the northwest. Other wide groomed trails began at the picnic area and headed out into the forest and prairies of the park. We decided to take the "Purple Trail" and then the "Yellow Trail". The hiking was surprisingly easy. Any old fart could handle these trails. As most of the ground-- even in the forest areas-- were covered with thick grass, the trails were formed by weed mowers which cut a path through the park for visitors to walk on.

We passed out through the park entrance when our hour was up at exactly 2:45.

We got back on Hwy F and continued north. As we were approaching Hudson, WI, we saw a sign advertising a dog racing track ahead. Christine suggested we stop as it seemed the parking lot had lots of cars in it. We pulled in and left the car running as we walked up to the huge fence and peered in. Several kids were pulling their greyhounds into the boxes where the dogs would stay until the race started. An announcer came over the P.A. saying there was less than one minute until the race started. Christine and I saw the "rabbit" coming around the track towards the starting line. As soon as it had crossed, the gates opened and the dogs ran out chasing the white fluffy object. One lighter greyhound pulled significantly ahead of the rest and secured an early lead and eventually won the race as several men near the finish line threw their hands from their head in disgust. That was certainly entertaining and interesting. Maybe we'll go back and wager a buck sometime for fun. :-)

We got on Interstate 94 and headed west over the St. Croix River and back into Minnesota. We were heading toward the Twin Cities. Since we'd been to St. Paul several times since we arrived we decided to visit Minneapolis. With maps in hand we headed into the larger of the Twin Cities. Christine suggested we visit the University of Minnesota campus. Unfortunately we had a little trouble finding the right streets. We did, however, drive by the famous Minneapolis Metrodome. Wow, that's big. We kept driving OVER the street we should have taken to the campus. Finally, on a hunch I took the ramp down and we made it to the campus.

U of M is actually two campuses each on opposite sides of the Mississippi River. The East Bank Campus is the larger campus so we went there. Washington Avenue joins the two campuses and crosses the river over a covered bridge on which cars drive on the lower level and pedestrian and bicycle traffic use the upper level. All alone the the middle of the upper level is a covered, windowed hallway which is lighted and heated so pedestrians can cross the river in the winter with comfort and ease. On the inside walls of this hallway, below the windows, are signs painted by various individuals and student organizations. One which read "RYAN IS STILL MY ROOMMATE!" caught Christine's eye. That's all it said. Most provided WWW URLs where you could find information about a student organization like Tau Sigma Phi, the Campus Lutherans, and LDSSA.

The campus is bigger than USUs and much more tightly packed. While it's impressive to look at, it's not nearly as pretty as USU or U of U. Although, the Fredrick R. Weissman Museum of Art caught my eye. Just to the right of Washingon Avenue on the bank of the river as you cross the East Bank Campus, this towering building which appears to be covered in tin foil sticks out in a big way. On closer inspection, it appears to be covered completely with brushed sheet metal.

After our visit to the U of M campus we headed east back into St. Paul where we hopped on Interstate 35E and headed to Eagan. Christine wanted to stop at Cray and see how her plants were doing in her office. While we were there, we got a picture of the Cray sign and of the Cray campus.

On the 5th, we again drove into Minneapolis and explored the downtown area. I went to an information center and asked if any of the buildings had observation decks. There was one but it had just barely closed the deck for the day. We'll have to go back again sometime.

We explored some of the shops and tried not to get lost. One of the amazing things about Minneapolis (and St. Paul) is how so many of the big buildings in the downtown area are connected by overhead breezeways spanning the streets. Some of the breezeways are 3 or 4 stories high.

We had stopped and had gyros at The Great Steak And Potato Shop in the Minneapolis City Center mall.