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Weekend Get Away - The Minnesota Pipestone Region

post by Kay Nelson

Weekend Wildcard September 27 & 28


Pipestone Here We Come!

The Pipestone area has beckoned to me for years.  Visions of wide-open prairie, glacial rocks with petroglyphs, a waterfall, and buffalo herds tantalized me.  After enduring a summer of too much noisy construction, a friend and I took off on a Friday morning and headed south on Highway 169 to explore another part of the state of Minnesota!


The drive through the Minnesota River valley is charming and one could see there soon would be a dramatic display of leaf color.  We headed over to Interstate 90 and passed through the turkey capitol, Worthington, and headed north to Luverne.  The fields were full of banks of wind turbines, corn, soybeans and skyscraper-like storage bins.  And of course, there was a cute restaurant for lunch where we could not believe the low small-town luncheon prices.


Our first scenic stop was at the Blue Mounds State Park.  If you are a birder, there are close to 300 species to check off your lifetime list.  A herd of buffalo was out of camera range, but here is a viewing tower to get a better look and pictures when they are near. Minnesota photographer Jim Brandenburg has a gallery in Luverne with gorgeous photos of them.   There were campers and the campsite even contained a couple of teepees. (Ornamental?)  We walked a short trail, but could have spent a whole day exploring the various ones.


A Minnesota Student's Safari Adventure on the Dark Continent

post by John Williams

Weekend Wildcard September 13 & 14 - A Minnesota Student on an African Safari

Last February, I went for my first African safari. Let me just say that I had no idea what I was in for and totally unprepared for the surprise. As a child, I have always been a fan of Planet Earth and National Geography because I have a passion for animals. Instead of lying on my couch and watching these beautiful creatures with a television screen between us, I had the privilege to meet them head on through my own eyes when studying abroad in South Africa. I was not prepared, however for the incredible beauty of nature and the animals I was about to see.

Africa Elephant vs. car

The Safari Begins! 

The day started with a stop at Addo National Elephant Park, just outside of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Our instructor said that he has gone a full day driving through Addo looking for elephants without spotting any. This of course, made us nervous. Bradley, our tour guide told us all to look for a big brown rock because that is what the elephants look like from a distance. I was extremely excited because I have never seen an elephant and just recently found out that they are the largest land mammals in the world.  The average male African Elephant weighs about 12,000 to 15,000 lbs. and the average female from 8,000 to 11,000 lbs.

As our drive continues, we notice the cars in front of us start stacking up and we are curious as to why. With sharp eyes, I spot the first elephant. The pure mass of the creature astonishes me because it is right next to a car and is at least double in size. At this point,...

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