Left early this morning from the B&B for 8am breakfast at Gelly’s Pub & Eatery in Stockholm. Nice couple who own it, prepared a great breakfast spread for our entire team. The restaurant has been featured in magazines and has a loyal following in the area. Here on we split into different groups based in the activities we had chosen for the day. I went kayaking at Lake Pepin with Missi from Bay City Hardware and Marine - initially a little wobbly but soon got the hang of it. I was actually a little worried I did not know to swim and was kayaking in the open lake but the water was shallow in parts and we stayed pretty snug to the shore so it wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. I did get stuck some places though and had to be pushed out the sand but the weather was perfect and we even sighted a few birds. We headed to a horse farm right after to learn some about equine therapy at Free Spirit Ranch Wellness and Retreat Center in Maiden Rock, home of founder and equine therapist Lisa Kuchinski. The horses were great! The usually long process was abridged into a few minutes but long story short, we wrote down a word describing what we want more of in our lives and used a color on a sheet of paper, walked into an enclosed arena type space, placed the paper on the ground next to where we stood and then the horses were allowed to come up to us. Apparently based on the horse that hovers around you, Lisa can say more about what it is that's bothering you, etc. I would have liked more time ere and show hope a future trip to WI will be able to accommodate a visit here. After a quick stop for a box lunch at the park near Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, I went to Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center in Alma for a brief overview of the place, then hiked to the Buena Vista Overlook in Alma (had some nice views), and then walked around Second St. checking out some gift shops etc. Somewhere in the middle of this I remember tasting local cheese curds and being whisked away to apply for my fishing license for tomorrow but have no memory of the order of those events - it was a busy day! By the way, getting the fishing license was easy - showed some proof of identity, paid $10 for an hour of fishing, got a receipt for it at the local gas station and that's it - easy peasy. We managed to sneak in a short break at the B&B before heading out for the evening. PM festivities began with wine tasting and reception at Villa Bellezza Winery in Pepin - this is actually a building for a bank that has been transformed into a winery so some of their wines are actually housed in a vault! They have a nice event space to host weddings and also showed us the winery. Our entire group headed to dinner after at Pepin Pickle Factory where I tasted walleye for the first time. Some of us opted for a moonlight sailboat cruise on Lake Pepin aboard the 31-foot sloop, Messenger, with Sail Pepin’s captain David Sheridan. Seemed a fantastic idea when I opted for it but by the time we got on the boat t had already begun drizzling and when we got out to open water it was pouring crazy. Altogether too cold and too dark to enjoy anything, also too wet. I sat covered in blankets the whole time and hoping this had been a clearer night. We managed to make it back just in time before the skies really parted. A drenched as a cat me was very happy to see myself in bed after a hot shower today. Tiring but fun. More tomorrow as we get on the road and out of Pepin!
Was very excited to head to Wisconsin for the first time today. Have lived in the US 8 years now yet somehow Wisconsin never seemed top of mind for vacation plans. Arrived at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, met with my travel team, got a Starbucks lunch to go and started driving straight to the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center at Freedom Park in Prescott. This was a point A of sorts for the trip. It is also at this time that I learned that this was pretty large group of travel writers and a team of PR folks to drive us around so it would be a caravan procession from here on! We then stopped at Flat Pennies Ice Cream in Bay City for the ice cream from a caboose experience. After some shifting around of people and luggage, a friend and I were dropped off at a quaint little bed and breakfast in Pepin with instructions to be ready for dinner at a farm. The B&B was pretty but noisy - I knew only when we got back to bed tonight there is a goods train passing by every 15 minutes or so and the whole place rattles like an earthquake announcing its arrival. Any who, welcoming dinner at Suncrest Gardens Farm in Cochrane, a 16-acre family farm nestled amongst the rolling river bluffs of central west Wisconsin, was a fun affair. Met all members of this travel adventure while we enjoyed some local wines and dined on wood fired pizzas right on the farm. A chilly day for me so I am happy to head back to the comfort of a warm bed (trying to ignore the trains) and some rest as we have a hectic day tomorrow. I promise to have lots of images from the trip to share after but for now just posting some highlights.