The long way home...

The sun was bright again today and so we took the long way home on the Wisconsin side of the river, highway 35 from LaCrosse and then crossing over at Red Wing, Minnesota.

The topography is different on the Wisconsin side, less open areas and few areas for towns or substantial farms. Once you're past Trempeleau the road narrows to two lanes and snakes along the very edge of the river through tiny towns that hang on to the bluffs in any space even close to flat enough to hold a home. I've often wondered why people simply didn't build on top of the hill but apparently these towns were founded when the river was the focus of life and horses were incapable of pulling wagons up snowy roads. People must have quickly become content with the idea that their little place on the big river was never going to be much of anything people-wise and those who wanted to stayed and rest went up the Mississippi for larger venues.

The blessing of that is the scenery, which because of its inaccessibility has retained its beauty. The road hugs the bluffs and even at this late time there's still color in the trees mixed with the deep green of the coulee floor. Eagles have found shelter here in these places where even the best of plows are useless and the river provides a constant source of fish. Along the way there are markers calling to mind where a river fort once stood or a battle was fought in the days when there were no roads, no wires, and an amazing kind of quiet.

I like to take the slow road more often than not. There are enough freeways in the world where people sit behind their steering wheels grim faced and obsessed with their dashboard clock. What a precious and unusual treasure to find a road without billboards, a road that winds because nature does, a road without generic restaurants. And since I have take the trip I choose to make the best of it, to enjoy every moment and if I lose 15 minutes so be it.

After all, not everyone who wanders is lost.

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