Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Following the road less traveled, even if you have no idea where you are October 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:25 AM
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MY HUSBAND WILL TELL YOU, unequivocally, that I am not a navigator. I cannot read a map nor do I possess any sense of direction when we are traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Given that knowledge, I prefer we both know exactly where we are going before we get going. He plots out roads and I sometimes write down directions and hope for the best. That saves lots of frustration and, ahem, discussion about “maybe we should stop somewhere and ask for directions.”

But occasionally a road beckons and we end up in an unknown locale and I start to fret about where we are and where we’ll end up.

About that time in the journey, Randy will pull over to the side of the road (because we are typically in a remote area) and consult the Minnesota atlas we carry with us. He’ll study it for awhile, then set it down and start driving—without telling me where we are or where we are going.

A view of isolated Fillmore County Road 23 as taken through the front windshield of our car.

On a recent day trip to the Chatfield/Lanesboro/Canton/Harmony/Preston area of southeastern Minnesota, we turned onto Fillmore County Road 23, a scenic route recommended by Jackie, who blogs over at “Who will make me laugh” (you really ought to read her blog by clicking here). I wasn’t expecting the tar road to turn into gravel and twist and turn through isolated backwoods before reaching County Road 10.

I was becoming somewhat agitated, wondering if this really was the road Jackie meant for us to travel and how long we’d be driving in the middle of nowhere.

This lovely old stone house seems to meld into the muted autumn landscape.

Soon enough, though, I became distracted by the scenery and the old stone buildings and the beauty of the place through which we were traveling.

Jackie was right in suggesting we follow scenic CR 23. And my husband was right in realizing that sooner or later, I’d enjoy the ride.

And then, bonus, that stately red barn near the old stone house.

And then further, on a bend in the road, these old stone ruins appeared.

And later I would learn, from Troy at the Highland Cafe (where Jackie also sent me) that this was once a mill.

HOW ABOUT YOU: What type of traveler are you? Are you adventuresome or, like me, wanting to know where you are? I expect some of you will suggest a GPS might be a wise investment. Am I correct?

No matter your answers, taking those backroads always, always, results in wonderful discoveries. Thanks, Jackie, for the scenic travel tip.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling