Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peeping Fall Colors

One of my bucket list items this fall was to spend a day viewing the beauty of leaves changing color around us. Growing up in Nebraska, I remember leaves changing color (I think?), but there aren't seemingly endless blocks of trees like there are in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I can also tell I'm growing older because I find myself truly appreciating the blessings of my surroundings. I just can't get over the wonder of the beautiful green, yellow, orange and red tree colors this fall and the sound of fallen leaves crunching beneath my feet.

Andi had the idea to take a scenic boat cruise along the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minnesota on Saturday. The famous boat tours have recently been closed due to the government shutdown, so this was the first weekend the "Princess" excursion boat was back up and running. We thought it'd be a fun way to see the leaves changing color and the unique rock formations along the river. Tory was up early Saturday morning, so we made an entire morning of our time in Taylors Falls. Priorities first -- we stopped at Rocky River Bakery for donuts. I can't seem to eat enough donuts lately (blame Baby Aden!) and I'm taking full advantage while I'm still pregnant. I keep saying this "4 weeks left to ..." thing to Andi and every time, he looks at me somewhat confused as he's also shoveling donuts or ice cream or cookies in his mouth right along with me. Little Miss Tory enjoyed her Saturday morning chocolate cake donut and fruit punch juice, too.

We walked along the streets of downtown Taylors Falls and stopped by Coffee Talk cafe for coffee. It was a chilly fall morning, so both Andi and I thought warm drinks before our boat ride sounded perfect. Tory requested "toffee, too!" so we gave her an empty cup and a stir stick which she happily pretended to drink from and played with for at least 30 minutes. She charmed everyone strolling by on the street with her bright smile and bouncing pigtails.

At 11:30am, we boarded the boat tour for our trip down the St. Croix River. The boat was bustling with people and we found a spot on the top deck in perfect view of our surroundings. Except, the sun disappeared the moment we set sail and we were all pretty cold perched up on the top deck against the wind. We stayed for a while, then found a table by the window in the enclosed section of the boat below.

Sadly, the color of the leaves wasn't as vivacious along the riverfront as they were in other areas. I'm not sure if it was the type of trees or if they have yet to change this season. The forecast for the area said the leaves were at 75% peak, but it didn't seem like it on the river. It was still something fun and different to do as a family on a Saturday afternoon so we weren't too disappointed.

Tory loved the "big boat ride" as she called it ... and especially loved all the treats Daddy bought for her on the trip. It was a special day for this little two-year-old. Her sugar high by the end proved as much.

Afterwards, we stopped for a quick bite to eat, then drove back to the cabin. Tory stayed awake the entire drive so she was ready for her afternoon nap by the time we arrived. Andi offered to lay down with her and as much as I wanted to join them for a big ol' family nap, I craved some quiet, alone time even more. I cozied up by the fire with a blanket and my computer and blogged for a while. Something tells me these peaceful moments of solitude will be few and far between once Baby Boy arrives next month.

We spent the rest of Saturday evening hanging around the cabin, just the three of us. Andi made a pot roast for dinner and we ate, listened to music and played toys. Tory's been really into "dancing" lately so she and Andi had a dance party in the living room. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Watching Tory mimic Andi's dance moves was hilarious. She tried her best to wiggle her backside, but just couldn't figure out how to get her tush moving in the right direction.

Sunday morning, Tory woke up waaay earlier than normal (4:30am!!) bright-eyed and ready to take on the day. I got up with her and let Andi sleep in, so this mama was tired on Sunday. I did catch this sunrise view over the lake which is one (and perhaps the only!) benefit to having a kid that wakes up so early.

Andi woke up and we had breakfast together. I desperately needed a change in scenery after being up for several hours already, so I suggested we go for a drive through the countryside to check out the changing leaves around the cabin. The fall colors in the cool, early morning were just breathtaking.

After our drive, we came back to the cabin and took Tory and Chloe for a nature walk. Tory was obsessed with finding and collecting rocks, so we made it about half-way down the cabin road in 30 minutes' time (aka: not far). The road is literally made of rocks so there were about fifty-million to choose from which kept us moving at a snail's pace.

We were able to re-direct Tory's attention from rock hunting for a few obligatory fall photos in the leaves. No autumn day at the cabin would be complete without them.

Another great fall family weekend.


  1. looks like an awesome fall weekend in MN. :-)

  2. The boat cruise seems like a really cool way to go leaf peeping (well, if the foliage had been further along). The colors are a bit behind here in New England too.
    Tory looks sooo grown up in these pictures. I feel like in the photos you have posted of her in the past couple of weeks she totally changed from toddler to little girl!

  3. T's pigtails and bangs just kill me. I have been wanting to take the girls on a train ride to see the leaves - boat looks amazing too!

  4. The boat ride is a great idea - will have to remember that for next year.