Well here we are. The LAST day of our two week, cross country road trip. We decided that after an entire day of driving through extremely uneventful Eastern South Dakota and Western Minnesota we would stop and stay two nights at a Holiday Inn in Winona, Minnesota. In my disparity to leave the confines of the car I think I might have made Winona out to be a bit more exciting than it actually it.
It is in fact not that exciting. The hotel is clean and we were smart enough to spring for a suite and lock down a rollaway bed, but today we found ourselves sitting in a riverside restaurant wondering what in the hell to do with these mangey little rascal children of ours. ( I probably do not have to tell any of your that by day 13 of vacation we are all looking a bit worse for wear.) So over a plate of Poutine (which was actually really amazing) and beers I took to the trusty internet and consulted my new bestie Tripadvisor for some daytime activities to do.
Hmmmmm. It seems even Tripadvisor is pulling straws here in Winona.
The day’s chosen activities came down to bowling, a movie (dicey choice with the twins) Target (I Love that this was the fan favorite destination) and hiking. In the name of activity and adventure hiking won. We decided on trying out the John A. Latsch State Park. It looked nice enough, lots of trees and nature surrounding a wooden stair climb up to the scenic lookout over the Mississippi River. We hiked up mountains in Colorado, we exercised at 10,000 feet everyday, we did the Black Hills of South Dakota, how hard could this jot up a hill in Minnesota be?
Oh my God. Soooooooooo freaking hard.
We started up the path and immediately realized that the next 400 steps would be straight up. No switchbacks and no slow grades, just straight up pliometric-style. It took us only fifty stairs to realize that the rickety, wooden assholes were about as tall as the twins so they would need serious assistance up the climb. The big girls had no problem at all hopping up the steps, my husband and I, who both did hard runs this morning, were huffing and puffing within five minutes.
Then came the mosquitos. I have truly never in my LIFE seen so many blood-suckers in front of my face. We started to move faster in a failed attempt to reach the summit. I tried to quit about every twenty feet, but my husband urged us on. It was miserable. My lungs were burning, my legs wobbled like never before and the insects feasted on my flesh, yet I continued to climb one half of a mile up into the sky.
Finally we all reached the top! Sweet, sweaty success! Unfortunately all it took was one glance around me to fill with that old familiar sense of anxiety and dread that often comes with being so high above the ground. The drop was steep…like you will DIE…steep. Not a great combination with this crew of mine. No guard rails, no gentle slopes to slow you if you slip, just plain old fall and die!
Between the anxiety, the elevation and the exhaustion I had to take a seat right there in the dirt.
The climb down really wasn’t much better. The mosquitoes were again relentless and the twins had to be carried the entire way. I could barely keep my balance down the steep steps and Sam fell at the very bottom and rolled.
In conclusion if you ever do pass through Winona, MN. be sure to skip this hell-hike, but hit up The Boathouse and give that Poutine a try.