Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Travel Journal Day 1.5 & Day 2

Last night, I did drive to Stewartville, Minnesota. It proved its creepiness factor to me by being illuminated excessively. The drive to Stewartville was an adventure in and of itself. The city is only about 12 miles from Rochester, so it should have been a short jaunt. Since there was no fog, the lights didn't send a large beam into the sky and I didn't quite notice the city. My directions indicated to take Hwy 30 East. There was a detour on Hwy 30 East. So I took the detour. Forty miles later, I found the sign for Hwy 30 to Stewartville. Then I drove down that road, which indicated Stewartville to be 19 miles away. About 7 miles into this journey, in the pitch black except for my car headlights, the road ended.

Then I got the fun experience of turning around and going back to where I started! Along the way, I saw a larger animal scurry across the road, its eyes glaring green back at me. It was a bit ahead of me, but I thought it was a fox or badger. I hope it was a fox and I got to see it. It could have been a large raccoon, but I don't want to believe that. So there.

Speaking of raccoons, I look like one. Sort of. Even though today's activities did not include sitting in the sun, I managed to pick up some more rays while driving. There's a healthy line where my sunglasses covered my eyes. Oops. It is not a bad burn though. That's nice. Just a bit pink, which happens if I go into the sun for 5 minutes.

None of the pictures of Stewartville are all that impressive or exciting. There's about five blocks of mainstreet with lamposts all over the place. Eh. Whatever. The drive was nice and relaxing though.

This morning, I awoke to the sound of housekeeping tapping on the metal plate on the door. They wanted to clean the room 2 hours before checkout. I was still there so they went to another room. Check out was easy and I headed out in a packed car again. This time, I drove south for about an hour. That's when I arrived in Preston, Minnesota and tried to find Mystery Cave. My directions were not great (again - thanks Mapquest) and for some reason took me past the road I needed. I followed the directions for awhile and did manage to pass an abandoned home. I thought about exploring it, but it was across the street from a family out in their yard. It might have been theirs for all I knew.

Back to Preston, I found a gas station and asked for directions (and bought a map of Minnesota - I have one of the Twin Cities, but not one for the whole state). The woman gave me easy directions to the cave. A half hour later, I was there! (Although, if you had judged the time by my watch, I time warped and arrived there in -58 minutes. Because the second hand got stuck and the watch stopped working for an hour.)

The next tour wouldn't start for another 40 minutes, so the nice gentleman showed me a room with fossils that I could touch and I looked around another room with details about the cave. Then it was time for the tour. Well, after I bought a sweatshirt. I meant to bring one. I swear. I can actually see it from where I'm sitting. It was placed near my bags before I left and it stayed there.

As it turned out, no one else was on the tour! The gentleman, Alex, led me around the cave. He pointed out more details than he normally could for a larger group and I was able to take pictures. It was extremely cool. I would recommend this cave tour to anyone. The rock formations are just stunning and it is a different experience.

After the tour, I drove for an hour east on the Historic Bluffs Scenic Byway. There were beautiful landscapes, but I didn't get any great pictures. I don't know. I'll have to look more in depth later. I headed back towards Rochester eventually, stopping in the city for food and to fill up the car. Then I drove home.

I arrived at home around 7:30. I'm going out later tonight with a friend and Sarah is going to stop over soon. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Park Rapids to see the headwaters of the Mississippi!

*About the picture pool, if you want to join, you're still free to do so. Here's a hint (or fact about me): While in Portugal for 9 days, DM and I took a total of 4,000 pictures. We took over 1,000 on our one day trip to Canada. Just an FYI.

I will leave you with one picture - no editing. This is a formation at Mystery Cave called the Waterfall. I thought it was awesome.

63 Waterfall Formation