A Change of Scenery

Marcia and I returned from Florida on March 18, just as things were slamming shut and the true severity of the current pandemic was becoming clear to most lucid folks. Since that date, my furthest venture from our apartment was on my bicycle, and we’ve cancelled planned trips to Iceland, Costa Rica, Nevada and Sweden. We mostly like our little apartment nest and our neighborhood, but over-exposure brings the small annoyances to the screaming fore, and dulls the subtle pleasures, especially when the folks around us are behaving in irresponsible or irritating fashions that intrude on our bubble of privacy and safety.

So we’re pretty Des Moinesed Out and Iowa Exhausted at the moment, and ready for a little mix-it-up, even as we’re still being diligent about keeping ourselves away from infection vectors by adhering to smart social distancing and personal protection standards. Those competing desires to get out of town for a change of scenery, while still being away from any crowds of the unmasked and oblivious infectious, finally led us to investigate remote vacation properties as a sensible solution to the conundrum.

We finally found a gem near Wood Lake, Minnesota: Prairie Cottage. It’s a lovely, restored farm house on a Minnesota Century Farm Homestead, nestled within a grove of ancient hardwoods planted by the family, who settled the land in the 1880s. Beyond its shady grove, there’s miles of corn and soy bean fields providing a peaceful rural privacy buffer, with a variety of interesting parks and recreation areas along the nearby, geologically fascinating Minnesota River Valley. Sure, the scenery looks a bit Iowan on the surface (corn, beans, wind turbines, etc.), but trust us after nearly a decade in the Hawkeye State: Minnesota really is very different, in a variety of important-to-us social and cultural ways. It’s refreshing. It’s Marcia’s home. We like it.

We arrived at Prairie Cottage on Thursday, and have gone on a couple of hikes already, when not enjoying cooking at home and sitting out in the yard reading, after an unexpectedly heavy rain system passed through the first night. (I finished a superb science fiction novel, Providence by Max Barry, that day, and I commend it to you). We’ve got some more hikes planned over the next two days, along with more sitting around doing nothing special, just enjoying looking at something different than what we’ve looked at every day for three months, in blissful, peaceful, private quiet.

As is my wont, I’ve snapped some pics of the little adventure so far, and share them with you below. Here’s hoping you’re able to safely push your own comfort envelopes in the weeks and months ahead. It’s good for the soul, I have to say.

(Note #1: Click on any image to view full size).

(Note #2: See also this related Supplemental Music Nerd Adventure).

The grove from the road.

Aha! There you are!

Bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Lots of space to loll.

You know you are in Minnesota when the patio furniture is repaired with old hockey sticks.

Outbuildings also tucked into the grove.

An iconic object of the corn belt.

Memorial Park in nearby Granite Falls.

Overlook view from Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

Minnesotan on the Minnesota River.

Outstanding in my field.

Historic farmhouse at Skalbekken County Park.

Wood Lake Battlefield, site of a tragic engagement during the Dakota/Sioux Wars.

Shadows and light. Solitude and delight.

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