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Summer Day Trip #6: St. Charles, Minnesota and the Elba Fire Tower

When you see the little Tower, you're there. 

A few days ago, the idea of climbing the Elba Fire Tower crossed my mind. It would be a good excuse for us to make a pit stop at the St. Charles Bakery, a bakery we had never been to before, and maybe it would make up for the last time we climbed the Tower. The last time we climbed it, I had uncontrolled asthma, and that made it quite a challenge to climb the 633 steps (plus or minus) to the top. A few days ago, I was feeling pretty darn good, but for a variety of reasons, it would take five days before we actually made the drive over to Elba. And, for the last few days, my right Achilles’ heel has been hurting. Just the joys of growing older, although to be honest, I've been dealing with gout and general pain for almost fifteen years now.

A nice day for a climb. Doesn't look that much of a climb from a distance... 

Temperature-wise, it was a perfect day for a climb – about 70, and not too sunny. Before making the climb, we stopped at Del’s Cafe for an energy breakfast. St. Charles is one of those towns that instantly reminds you of all the small towns you knew growing up. The busiest spot in town is the local Kwik Trip gas station, and the downtown has a few antique stores and so on. As we walked the downtown, we noticed all of the unique items for sale at one of the antique stores, including an authentic McDonald’s Drive-Thru sign, and a stop light.

Del’s was a perfectly fine cafe. Good coffee, and filling breakfast options. I was happy to see that they had broasted chicken and homemade pies. I would certainly go back for lunch sometime… but on this trip, I decided against an after-breakfast piece of pie. After all, I’m counting my calories these days, and we still had a bakery stop to make.

Tavi and Linda walking hand-in-hand to breakfast.

The idea was to climb to the Tower and have a donut, and that’s exactly what we did. As cool as it was, the chocolate on the donuts still melted in the bag on the climb up. Melted or not, they tasted lovely after the climb. The St. Charles Bakery lived up to the hype, and a donut there only costs 90 cents – compared to the $2.25 per donut fee charged at our local donut store.

The moose on stilts has nothing to do with the St. Charles Bakery...

If given the choice, it certainly is preferable to climb the Tower with Achilles’ heel pain, as opposed to untreated asthma. But I am happy to report that it was possible for me to make the climb in either case. One of these times, I would love to make the climb feeling “fully healthy.” The boy scouts (and Octavia) make it look so easy. What’s 633 steps (and that’s not including the steps to the top of the Tower)?

Donuts, a view, and existentialist philosophy. What else do you want? 

Life presents you with many days when you might just not feel your best, when you might think you would prefer sitting on the couch. Not today, you might think. I don’t feel up to it. When you feel like that, though, my advice is simply make yourself do it. Once you start, you will probably finish, and you will be glad you did it. And even if, for some reason, you don’t finish, you can still be glad you tried. 

Go get yourself some!


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