I don't know if it's because the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota but I've always had this love affair with it. I never get tired of reading about it or looking at it. So when my friend Melisa told me she was coming for a visit ... in Fall no less ... I knew I had to take her on one of my favorite drives down Highway 61 along the Mississippi where it divides Minnesota from Wisconsin. Mother Nature was in a fabulous mood and provided us with one breathtaking scene after another. Cliffs and prairies covered in color. It was unbelievable!!
I had an agenda ... to visit quilt shops along the river ... and a backseat driver who shouted "stop ... there's that store that wasn't open the last time we came through"! I had forgotten that the Fresh Art Fall Tour was going on but was delighted because then we were able to stop at Cultural Cloth. Cultural Cloth sell personal and home accessories made by women's groups around the world. There's a woman's story behind every piece ... handmade ... supporting a family or a village. This is the kind of store you go to when you have time to really look at the textiles or artwork and read more about the person who created them. There's so much more to say about this store than I can possibly fit here. They had to drag me out of the shop! You need to go and experience it yourself.
One of the things about traveling along the Mississippi is that most of the things you want to see are on both sides of the river and there are only a few bridges. Lots of driving up and down and across. Melisa counted ... we crossed the river seven times and it felt different on either side.
We crossed at Wabasha and then went back upstream to get to Lake City and Pumpkinberry Stitches. I love Lisa's store because of it's cool folk art look and interesting building features. Almost to the back is a wall with two windows that open into a classroom on the other side. Who knows why this feature and the door were built into the inside of the building but I totally love it!
I forgot ... before we drove across the river to Wabasha we stopped in Stockholm WI and had breakfast at the Stockholm Pie Company ... then shopped around town. Worth the drive for breakfast .... they open at ten ... or any meal for that matter.
Back across the Wabasha bridge and continuing south on Hwy 35 we finally got to Alma and the Burlington Hotel and Quilt Shop. Kathi is renovating the old hotel and will have a quilt shop on the bottom and a retreat center on top. The store is cute and she holds classes with some pretty important people!
Our ultimate goal for the day was to make it to Onalaska WI so we could visit Olive Juice ... a 2012 Fall Quilt Sampler shop. Melisa's store is also a Sampler shop so I thought she should see Diane's store. The link is to a blog I did about Olive Juice a year ago. I love this store!
I can't think of a better way to spend the day than driving along the Mississippi. The entire trip to the La Crosse area is only about three hours from the Twin Cities ... more if you cross the river seven or eight times!