I was up and out early this morning with our thermometer reading just a smidge above 0 degrees F. The frost was thick on the car but that goes away quickly enough with a bit of planning. During riding season, it's very common for me to jump on one of the bikes and head to Alma for breakfast but that didn't happen today. There were 4 wheels ridden on today, a heater, and a defroster and of course visions of some hot coffee and whip cream-topped blueberry pancakes.
The Mississippi River valley was lovely in the cold darkness, the moon still very bright at 5:30 on a November morning. The bluffs provided stark contrasting silhouettes, framing the broad valley. It was still early enough, with dawn far enough away for the deer hunters to mostly still be with their coffee rather than with their shotguns, though I'll bet that most of the traffic that I did see on the roads contained people wrapped in blaze orange.
Paul the owner of Pier4 (wife Marietta wasn't there yet) the cook and Jess, our always cordial young server had the grill hot but because it was so early, the restaurant itself was still warming. My never empty coffee cup stayed hot though and the only other patron besides myself seemed as adequately comfortable as I was. I did hear the words "vikings"and "packers" in discussion but until the words "new stadium" came up, I stayed properly quiet.
My blueberry pancakes, topped with their mandatory only on special weekends whipped cream really hit the spot. Other topics were discussed and with just the two of we customers there, Paul was able to come out from the kitchen and join us at the table. Other than keeping our coffees full, Jess had a relatively easy load that early and was able to share the great news of her recently won, much deserved scholarship for school.
After this coming Thursday's holiday meal with proceeds donated to the local foodshelf, the restaurant will get quiet for a few months as we tourists and busy breakfast eaters stay closer to home. Once the ice retreats from the Big River and travelers start moving again in March, the diner will once again be open for trade.
All of the following photos were taken from the Minnesota side of the river, both down river and up river near Lake City. The distant Wisconsin bluffs that often get a mention in this blog are not very far away......in these photos 2 1/2 - 3 miles distant across Lake Pepin.
Ducks enjoying the last (hours?) of ice-free water. Most portions of the river don't freeze but Lake Pepin itself almost always does.
Lake City's Marina Point, jutting out into the river......
Looking SE downriver, the sun rising 'over' Minnesota. In June, the sun would be out of frame on the opposite side, to the left 'over' Wisconsin.
Point-No-Point, directly above the middle of this ice covered dock watches over an almost 90 degree turn in the river. In checking the Google for a quote I remembered that had been attributed to Mark Twain, I see that my west coast blog friends have a P-N-P of their own.
From an online reference ......
Across Lake Pepin in a northwesterly direction from Maiden Bluff, Wisconsin is Point-No Point, an optical illusion more readily seen (than unseen) while traveling on the river itself. Mark Twain described the phenomenon in his 1870's articles "Old Times on the Mississippi". Twain recalled focusing his eyes on a sharp wooded point several miles upstream and then watching it " ... melt away and fold back into the bank."
Two eagles keeping sentinel along the edge of the calm river.