Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 12, 2005, Herald Journal

A trip down memory lane

By KRISTEN MILLER

During the fall and winter months are when I miss Winona, Minn. the most.

I went to college at Winona State University for a year and a half, and the best part of it was the drive along Hwy. 61 between the Mississippi River and the rolling bluffs.

My roommate and I would come home quite frequently and drive the three-hour jaunt to and from Hutchinson, but the drive seemed to get shorter and shorter the more we drove it.

If I was the passenger, I would stare out the window and watch for bald eagles and other sorts of birds and animals found along the river valley, and if I was the driver, I’d do the same as well!

It became an ongoing joke between my roommate and I because I would get so excited when I saw a bird. I thought every one was surely an eagle. Boy, was I wrong. It’s amazing how crows and seagulls can resemble a bald eagle!

Fall and winter are especially beautiful times to travel along the valley. The leaves on the trees fill the bluffs with an array of colors. In the winter, fresh fallen snow covers the bluffs to resemble that of majestic mountains.

On days that were particularly dreary, the tops of the bluffs would disappear behind puffs of low-hanging clouds.

Winter days never seemed to get that cold in Winona. Snow would never seem to last either. I always thought it was the perfect climate down there. The temperature always seemed to be a couple degrees warmer than back home.

The river is particularly fascinating when the massive barges go up and down the river with coal and other supplies. The bridges would lift to allow them to pass.

I remember a poetry class when we went and sat next to the river for one of our sessions and classes where we would just go sit on the campus lawns.

We had a great view from the campus. Third floor of Minne Hall was always a good view even though climbing the stairs got to be a chore.

I would bring visitors up to Garvin Heights which is over 700 feet high, overlooking the campus and city. One could see all the way over to Wisconsin.

Wabasha is a city thirty miles north of Winona and is the original setting of Grumpy Old Men. There is an eagle center there where one can visit to learn about the migration and large population of eagles that settle in the area along the river.

I haven’t been back to Winona since I left there in 2003. It’s difficult to find time when you have to take a whole weekend to go halfway across the state, but I hope to get back real soon.


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