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Summer Day Trip #1: Caledonia, Minnesota

The Wired Rooster Coffee Shoppe -- Caledonia, Minnesota

I've lived in Minnesota for over ten years, sure, but that doesn't mean I've actually seen much of the state. Like most people, I know what I know, and I go where I go. And that's the extent of it. But once I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it to Alaska this summer, it occurred to me that I had plenty of sites to explore in the immediate region.

First stop: Caledonia, Minnesota. Where's that? It's a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Before I opened my Rand McNally Road Atlas, I had never heard of it, and before I punched the town name into Trip Advisor, I didn't know if there was anything there worth visiting.

Distance from home: About 75 miles.

Challenge #1: Leaving by 6:30 a.m.

Challenge #2: Taking my dog, Atticus.

Actually, Atticus is a good dog on a road trip, but the forecast indicated that it was going to get into the 90s. I wanted to leave early in the morning so that Atticus would be comfortable panting in the car while Linda, Octavia, and I enjoyed our time at the Wired Rooster.

Unfortunately, 6:30 a.m. turned into 11:00 a.m. Not a big deal, but the drive over to Caledonia was long and windy, with lots of twists and turns. You might not realize it, but Minnesota has "mountains," and in the southeast part of the state, they tower over you -- probably to at least 300 or 400 feet. It might not seem like much, but it does make for slow country driving.

When we finally reached Caledonia, I was no longer in the mood to leave Atticus in the car. Sure, we were going to leave the car running with the air on. That was the plan. But I was cranky and tired, and I wanted to sit outside with Atticus. Linda wanted to stick to the plan. She wanted to sit inside. We began to reenact the Alamo in the car for a few minutes... Needless to say, I wasn't doing a very good job "going with the flow." So let's flash-forward a bit.

The Wired Rooster itself was a cute little place, and it was worth the drive. At lunch time, they serve grilled Panini sandwiches, and I ordered the Rooster -- turkey and avocado, I think. I didn't really pay attention to the ingredients. Whatever it was, it was good. And I was able to wash it down with a Leninade.

"A taste worth standing in line for!"

After lunch, we drove over to the local state park in the area, Beaver Creek. The flies were out, it was ridiculously hot (by Minnesota standards), and my mood hadn't improved much. To make matters even better, my allergies kicked in, and we ended up following a uncared-for ridge trail straight up one of those Minnesota mountains to an apparent dead end. About 10 minutes at Beaver Creek, and I was more than ready to go home. Linda, however, gave me a good "scolding" (e.g. pep talk), and fortunately I "manned up" and stuck it out like the trooper I am. 

And even though I went through an entire box of kleenex on the hike, I thoroughly enjoyed being out among the pollinating weed flowers. I don't know what they're called, but some must have been ten feet tall, and the butterflies appreciated them maybe even more than I did. 

Once we abandoned the ridge trail and made our way back to the main trail, the day really started to improve. The main trail follows the creek the park is named after (I'm assuming), and Atticus had plenty of opportunities to take a refreshing dip. 

Final verdict: Success. 

Was I cranky? Yes. Was it buggy and hot? Yes. Did my nose run non-stop? Yes. But overall, what a glorious day trip with the entire Fuller gang. 

As Kurt Vonnegut's uncle used to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"


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