Yesterday, my husband and I drove The Great River Road from La Crosse to Osceola, Wisconsin. It was a beautiful fall day and we decided to take a long ride. The whole trip, one way, takes about three hours. The Great River Road refers it State Road 35 in Wisconsin that meanders up the western edge of our state alongside the great Mississippi River! The undulating farmlands contrast with the steep limestone bluffs are a sight in any season. But, in fall, the beauty can be staggering.
Being from the East, the Mississippi River was not at all how I pictured it from reading about the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. It is wide in parts, so wide that entire lakes are named within, and narrow is other parts. In our neck of the woods, three rivers meet. The La Crosse River, the Black River, and the Mississippi River converge just north of the city of La Crosse. There are also Eastern and Western Channels of the Great Muddy, A.K.A. Mississippi River. We are not boaters, so this information has been assimilated by just living here for nearly twenty years and observing the landscape.
I’ve travelled The Great River Road many a time before. But, the part I’ve travelled has been from La Crosse southward to Prairie du Chien and into Iowa (where the road and its name changes, but the views are just as impressive). Most times, I’ve travelled that section of road by myself carting my handcrafted jewelry wares to a gift boutique in Iowa where I am a featured artist for the tourist season.
The reason for the trip yesterday the opposite direction was the same. I had jewelry in a gallery in a town called Amery, in Northwestern Wisconsin, not far from the Minnesota border. It was my third trip to Amery since July, but the first in which I travelled up The Great River Road.
Small towns dot the edge of the river going in this direction just the same as going southward. In between are beautiful stretches of river, framed by majestic bluffs covered in yellows, oranges, reds, and greens at this time of year. Since I was not the driver, I was able to capture some of the beauty.
Unfortunately, most of the color is gone already! I think we missed peek leaf peeping season by a week or two. Still, it was a pretty sight with the bright blue sky.
We saw lots of corn and soybean ready to be cut down for winter storage. The farms all seemed a buzz with activity. There were tractors covertly cutting in clouds of dust and fields already clean. Harvest season is upon us.
We saw alfalfa or hay rolled up for later use, dotting the fields waiting collection.
For a while we followed a recreational vehicle. The large rock formation is Maiden Rock, a 400 ft. bluff that is largely still wild and unkempt for more adventurous hikers.
We saw three American Bald Eagles on our trip northward yesterday. One was flying low enough for us to identify it, the second was taking a late morning nap in a leafless tree near the edge of the road, and the third dipped down right in front of this RV to scavenge some road kill. We were scared he’d be hit! But, luckily a few seconds later, we saw him take off at a steep incline to escape his demise. Whew! Relief!
We ended up in Osceola and stopped to eat lunch at a cafe that had been a lumber mill back when our forests were being clear cut in Wisconsin. The Watershed Cafe backs up to Cascade Falls and made for some wonderful photographs.
It was a long but satisfying day, appreciating the beauty of nature that is so available to everyone. You just have to make the time to have opportunities to enjoy all that it has to offer. It’s so worth it!
© All photos & text copyright by Carol Labuzzetta, 2018.