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This time last week, Hubby and I were in Winona, Minnesota. I was scheduled to speak during a session at the State Preservation Conference on Friday, though the conference ran both Thursday and Friday. Hubby took a couple of days off in order to act as my chauffeur. (Isn’t he a dear? Why, yes, yes he is!)

We drove to Winona from the Twin Cities on Thursday morning. We had been at the Dave Matthews Band concert the previous evening, which didn’t end until 11 p.m., so we didn’t want to make the trek that night. Instead, we stayed at our niece’s place and were out the door around 8 a.m.

Because Erik and I had never been to Winona, I searched for directions on Google Maps. We ended up in Wisconsin, just over the border, when Erik said, “This isn’t right.” Let’s just say that directions from Google Maps are confusing. Both Erik and I misread them and ended up going too far on a road we should have turned off of. We whipped out a traditional road map and got ourselves back on track right quick.

Winona is in river bluff country and the scenery is gorgeous. The “Beware of Fallen Rocks” are a little freaky as you’re driving at the foot of these bluffs, but the geologic formations covered in vegetation are grand in the largest, most impressive sense of the word. Winona itself is on an island, a vibrant, pretty community full of culture, history, and interesting shops and restaurants.

While I was attending conference sessions on Thursday, Erik checked into our hotel and someone suggested he visit Garvin Heights Overlook. He told me about it and took me up, up, up to the overlook after we ate dinner. Garvin Heights is about 500 feet up. Just looking at it from below made my knees shake. (Fear of heights? Yup.)

A curvy road took us to the overlook. While the road seemed to slope gently, our car’s engine wheezed a bit on the way up. We parked and walked to the overlook area, which is blessedly enclosed by a chest-high stone wall. Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to lean against the wall due to the height. Winona was teeny-tiny down below. I snapped some pics and tried not to breathe too hard while looking down.

The short path from the parking lot to the Garvin Heights Overlook, Winona, MN, September 16, 2010.

The short path from the parking lot to the Garvin Heights Overlook, Winona, MN, September 16, 2010.

Erik looking down upon Winona, MN, Sept. 16, 2010.

Erik looking down upon Winona, MN, Sept. 16, 2010.

A view of Winona, MN, from Garvin Heights Overlook. Notice all the water. Sept. 16, 2010.

A view of Winona, MN, from Garvin Heights Overlook. Notice all the water. Sept. 16, 2010.

Another view of Winona, MN, from Garvin Heights Overlook, Sept. 16, 2010.

Another view of Winona, MN, from Garvin Heights Overlook, Sept. 16, 2010.

The true slope of the road was revealed on the way back down. Erik had to practically ride the brakes because without using the gas pedal, we were rocketing down the bluff. Ack!

My conference session on how to research house history went well. I co-led it with Tracey Baker of the Minnesota Historical Society. We had spoken only once by phone before the conference, yet our presentations complimented each other beautifully because we discussed the topic from different angles.

After lunch, Erik and I headed back to the Twin Cities, our trip being much faster without a Wisconsin detour. We hooked up with Daughter to go snack shopping for her and have dinner, then drove home.

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