Column: The perfect January getawayOnce the excitement of the holidays dies down, January descends with a heavy dreariness. The biting wind and ever-present threat of frostbite makes me wonder why anyone ever settled in a place where the weather was actively trying to kill them.
By: Mary Lebens, The Farmington Independent
Once the excitement of the holidays dies down, January descends with a heavy dreariness. The biting wind and ever-present threat of frostbite makes me wonder why anyone ever settled in a place where the weather was actively trying to kill them.
I keep an emergency blanket in my car that’s made out of a lightweight high-heat retention material designed by NASA. I also use a portable seat warmer that plugs into the cigarette lighter. How did the pioneers fight the scourge of winter without NASA blankets and heated seats?
In case you are feeling a bit of cabin fever during this frigid January, you might want to pack your emergency blanket and head down to nearby Red Wing on Highway 61. The historic St. James Hotel in downtown Red Wing serves up an awesome old-school brunch of breakfast favorites topped off with fancy cakes for dessert. The dining room overlooks the dramatic vista of the Mississippi River and surrounding bluffs. The hotel opened in 1875 and the food was so well known the railroad adjusted its schedules to deliver passengers to the St. James for dinner.
The St. James is rich with history and character. After eating there one time, I was wandering around, checking out the unusual architecture, and I came across the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame on one of the hotel’s upper floors. I had no idea the sport of ski jumping boasted so many famous athletes.
After a big brunch at the St. James, you might want to take a stroll to work off the calories. The world’s biggest boot is just half a block away from the St. James. Even in January, you can make it there without dying of exposure.
The Red Wing Shoe Company museum is home to the two-story tall, size 638 1/2 D boot. This massive piece of footwear is 20 feet long and 16 feet high, too large for even the Statue of Liberty to wear. 160 people spent over 13 months building the boot. This seems like quite a feat, but if anyone was going to pull it off, I would bet on Minnesotans being able to do it. Anyone who can survive in a state with this kind of winter weather must have some gumption.
After enjoying the boot, you can always do a little shopping in Red Wing. The Uffda Shop, just a few steps from the Red Wing museum, sells lovely Scandinavian treasures. Their Kosta Boda and Orrefors crystal is brilliant. I’m not someone who usually gets into knickknacks, but this crystal looks like glistening chunks of ice carved from the purest lake in Minnesota. You expect the vases to leave a puddle on the dining room tablecloth. The Uffda Shop also sells heavy silverware with intricate scenes of Viking battles carved on the handles. I just recently graduated to silverware without plastic handles, and already I’m coveting the wicked Viking forks at the Uffda Shop.
It’s very difficult for me to tear myself away from the flatware. I picture myself wowing my friends at the perfect dinner party, scooping up steaming casseroles with my awesome new Viking serving spoon. I might just have to make a trip down to Red Wind this year to spend my Christmas money on a few forks.
So fear not the winter winds of January, the gorgeous river town of Red Wing awaits. Pack your emergency blanket and make an effort to venture out this year. ‘Tis the season for exploring the winter beauty of southern Minnesota.