The travel content in my blood had gotten pretty low so I decided it was time to get away for the weekend. I booked a getaway in Red Wing, MN, home of the Golden Lantern.
While I love travel immensely, sometimes the travel part of travel can get mighty tedious. My father has an interesting hobby in that he likes to look at atlases to plan his journeys or simply to learn more about the cities that I visit. When I told him I was heading to Red Wing, I half jokingly asked him if he could plot a route that would be light on interstate.
Dad rose to the challenge and plotted a route. I asked him how much time this would add to my trip and he asked what time I had planned on getting there. When I said 3pm, he said I could leave at 6am. I didn’t particularly relish the idea of tacking an extra 3 hours onto the drive so I figured it would be back to the interstate for me.
A few days before I left, I realized that the route to Minnesota takes me very close to my old hometown of Fort Dodge, IA. I checked to see how much more time would be added if I went that route and found it would only add an extra hour to the drive. I contacted my best friend, Josh Kudron, and asked if he wanted to meet me for lunch. He said yes and I now had a much more satisfying drive on my hands.
It was a very pleasant drive as I drove the route I knew so well, passing through numerous small towns on my way to Fort Dodge. It had been quite a while since I had visited the old burg and noticed a lot of changes to these small towns. Just outside of Rockwell City, I found that they were tearing up the highway and had to take a detour which routed me through the tiny town of Rinard and I appreciated adding a new small town to the journey.
I ended up arriving in Fort Dodge about a half hour before I was to meet Josh. I decided to take a quick jaunt down memory lane and actually get a picture of my first childhood home. I still remember every nook and cranny of the place. The house and property had once fallen into quite a bit of disrepair in the years since my family had moved out. My dad’s lovingly maintained backyard had transformed into an overgrown jungle due to a dispute between the house owners and the owners of the convenience store next door. At one point, the house had been condemned until it was bailed out by a new owner.
The new owner made the house look a lot better with a new siding job and I was stunned to see the backyard restored to quite a bit of its former glory. I snapped a photo and drove off to my old elementary school.
The school had once been a Catholic school and church called Holy Rosary, but had been sold off many years prior. It had been a rehabilitation center for young girls suffering from drug and alcohol addictions before being bought out by an evangelical church and renamed Community Christian School. Though I only got one photo, a flood of childhood memories washed over me as a lot of the good times spent there ran through my mind.
Then it was time for lunch. I met Josh at my favorite fast food joint, Taco Tico. It’s a pity that there are only 16 of these restaurants in the United States because these are the best tacos ever made. Josh picked up the tab and we spent a long lunch catching up on old times and filling each other in on recent events. I ended up having to call an end to lunch as I had to get to Red Wing to check in and bad weather was looming. Keep that last point in mind.
Now it was off to the interstate to complete my drive to Red Wing.
I arrived in town about 5pm and made my way to the Golden Lantern. I was greeted by the inn’s owner, Sioux Christensen, and led to my room, J.R.’s Suite. The room had an incredible calming quality and is very. . .red from thee burgundy curtains and easy chairs to the red blanket on the king bed to the carpeting to the towels.
The Golden Lantern is a Tudor Revival mansion that was originally the home of Jesse R (J.R.) Sweazy who was the president of the famed Red Wing Shoe Company which is still in operation today. The house remained in the family for several generations before his grandson sold the property in 1992 at which point it was renovated into a B & B.
I did my normal explorations and helped myself to some cheese and crackers in the living room. After settling in, I headed to the main drag to have dinner at Bev’s Café.
Bev’s is normally only open for breakfast and lunch, but stays open for dinner on Friday nights. I ordered an Inferno burger with some crinkle cut French fries and I enjoyed a leisurely dinner as I continued reading Ten Little Aliens, a sci-fi retelling of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians.
I returned to the inn after dinner where I put my Jacuzzi tub through the paces, even adding a splash of pomegranate to the water because. . .why not. I don’t know if it added to my relaxation, but I felt pretty sedate when the bath was over.
From there I posted pictures before going to sleep for the night.
Earlier I had mentioned that bad weather had been looming. Well, I woke up the next morning to. . .wait for it. . .A SNOWSTORM. . .IN MID-APRIL. I’m talking a full blown, wind whipping snowstorm which canceled all of my exploration plans for the day.
There are worse things than being forced to stay indoors in a comfortable inn. Luckily I had arranged for even more relaxation by opting to have breakfast in bed that first day. A tray was left outside my door at 9am and I enjoyed a long breakfast of bacon, fruit, orange juice, apple cinnamon roll, and a frittata/omelet entrée.
Afterwards it was pretty much reading, a little TV, and working on the computer for the day. I did take my car for a brief spin to keep the engine warm, but the wind was whipping around the snow so much that I was only out for 15-20 minutes.
About 5pm, I walked the block to St Joseph’s Catholic Church to attend worship services. For a small town, the church was surprisingly big. Almost as big as the church I attend back in Omaha. The storm had mushroomed into a full blown blizzard threatening to dump up to a foot of snow by 7am the next day. Due to the storm, less than 50 people attended the service and the sermon and songs were clipped a bit to get us back home. Still, it was a good service, if a bit edited.
I still needed to eat and ending up finding a Perkins nearby where I started reading a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Red Tower, while I ate a Country Club Melt. After dinner, I noted with relief that the snow had tapered off which gave the city plenty of time to clean up. This meant I would be able to head for home tomorrow as extending my stay had been a very serious possibility.
I enjoyed another bath and began writing this article before retiring for the night.
When I woke up the next morning, I peeked out my window and noted that the streets were very clean. Red Wing only got 5 inches of snow, but had I been just an hour west, I would have been buried. The Twin Cities received a whopping 10.5” of snow and it was still falling. At this writing, they are up to 18”.
I joined two other couples for breakfast where we enjoyed strawberries and cream, sausage patties, chocolate crepes, and Eggs Benedict. A nourishing, tasty breakfast indeed. Some interesting conversation followed and then I made the long drive home.
I’d like to give the city of Red Wing a redo at some point so I can truly experience the city, but the Golden Lantern is a fabulous inn and definitely gets a recommendation for a visit. From the large rooms and bathtubs to the gourmet breakfasts, you will certainly have a grand and relaxing time.
Until the next time. . .happy travels.