I'm all for just showing up some special where and following special whims, but sometimes--before you spend hours in a car or hundreds on accommodations--it's nice to talk to someone who has experienced a place, who can say See this and Eat here and Attend that with a degree of authority. For those of you interested in exploring Minnesota, Amy C. Rea is the woman to talk to. Not only does she write at two great blogs--Flyover Land and Wander Minnesota--but she's also just authored the guide book Backroads and Byways of Minnesota: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions. It's pretty clear: she knows her MN.
As I looked through the book, I kept thinking about the time that went into its making. Minnesota is no small state. Rea covers just about all of it in sixteen different chapters. That's a lot of driving, folks. A lot of pavement and gas stations and bad weather. But thank goodness she took the time and had her adventures, because we future travelers are the better for it. I was particularly interested in the two chapters about Lake Superior's North Shore and the one about La Crescent to Wabasha. Although I've been to the North Shore a dozen times, Rea's insights and restaurant recommendations made me realize there's a lot I've missed, and as for the Apple Blossom Scenic Drive--what have I been waiting for?
Sounds a bit like poetry, doesn't it? When you read the names, don't you see something? An image? A story?
Whether you've lived in Minnesota your entire life or have never been within five states of its border, Rea makes about a thousand great arguments for fueling the car and hitting the pavement in search of its secrets. Her book has been a great reminder for me that just as the world is wide, so can a mile be off even the most familiar highway.