Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.
For several years after my dad died, I traveled almost monthly from Minneapolis to Marshalltown, IA, to visit my mom, before she moved up to Minnesota. It didn’t take me long to get tired of the straightforward I-35 à I-30 route; and besides, 35 veered east and took me slightly out of my way. I got out the maps and found a number of “back roads” which, although they didn’t necessarily save me time (since the speed limit is 55 instead or 70), took me more directly south and gave me some different scenery. I got in the habit of giving myself extra road time, because I liked to stop at whatever caught my eye – i.e., the photo at top is in tiny Austinville, IA, north of Marshalltown. There were parks in towns like Hampton that made nice rest stops, and I learned which towns had a decent coffee shop.
Minnesota has great back roads, too – for the numerous trips between Mpls and Winona that we’ve taken this year, we often use the alternate Hwy. 50 north of Red Wing to catch 52, instead of taking Hwy. 61 through Hastings, and this takes us right by a lovely old “garage” in New Trier. Heading south from Winona to catch 90, a short detour into Pickwick yields a view of the old Pickwick Mill.
On our recent trip to Marshalltown from Winona, we could have followed I-90 to I-35 to I-30, but we jumped off 90 at Austin, MN, and head south on 218. This was a little dicey because of the unusual amount of rain that the driftless area (NE Iowa, SE Minn, et al) has seen this month. Indeed, we drove into Charles City and made it over the roiling Cedar River, but were lucky to be leaving 218 and turning west – the road east was under water and barricaded. Here’s a video of this same spot back in 2008, when there was even worse flooding.
On the way back to Winona we decided to try another route, through Nashua IA where resides the Little Brown Church in the Vale – my folks got married there 70 years ago.
We crossed the Cedar River again, still roiling but not flooding our path. The little church was open for visitors, and as I signed the guest book I was astonished to see that the name above mine was a college friend – I looked up and there she was waiting for me to realize we’d crossed paths!
When have you had a memorable experience while traveling the back roads?