Day 12 – Little Falls, MN

My husband and a friend were joking recently that this journey I am on would make a great movie. I realized today that I can’t imagine anyone writing a script as full of crazy, wonderful surprises as this one has already been – and it is just day 12!

As I have said before, this project has a life of its own and I am simply privileged to participate. The Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Bureaus in communities all along the river have been incredibly helpful and supportive of this project. One of the most valuable ways they have participated is by arranging lodging. I’ve made it clear I am open to whatever they work out – my only requests are a clean bed and hopefully internet access. As a result, I am staying in a fascinating assortment of places, ranging from a secluded cabin in the woods, to a trendy downtown loft, a tugboat converted to a B&B, historic inns, Victorian B&Bs, plantation homes, some private homes and modern hotels. It will be a fascinating aspect of this experience I had not even anticipated!

I arrived late yesterday afternoon in Little Falls, Minnesota, which was founded in 1848, making it one of the oldest towns in the state. I had been invited to stay at Linden Hill and had a quick look at it online and saw it was the “Weyerhaeuser and Musser Mansions on the Mississippi River”. It looked lovely, I was appreciative, and simply assumed it was a B&B. There are two enormous mansions side by side on a 9 acre estate overlooking the Mississippi. They were built almost simultaneously by two bachelors who were best friends and business partners in the booming lumber industry in 1898. Later both men married and the two families were very close friends (good thing since they couldn’t really have avoided each other – the houses are not more than 30’ apart!)  In 1920, the Weyerhaeusers decided to follow the lumber business to St. Paul and sold their house to the Mussers for a nickel and a handshake. Both mansions were left to the town of Little Falls by the only surviving heir, Laura Jane Musser. As the docent giving me a tour was filling me in on this fascinating history, it gradually began to dawn on me that this property is not operated as a B&B. It is used for special events like weddings or retreats. The sole staff person stays in the green mansion during the week, but since it was Friday of a holiday weekend she would be leaving as soon as possible.   

They handed me a key to the white mansion and said, “This is your house.” WHAT???  They showed me my bedroom, which had been Laura Jane’s as a child, said I was welcome to cook my meals in the kitchen, showed me pots, pans, dishes, silverware, linen.  SERIOUSLY????  This 30 or so room mansion and I am the only one in it????  Yes, yes, just leave the key in the drop box when you leave on Sunday and enjoy your stay!  If I looked as dumbfounded as I was, I must have been quite a sight!

“Feel free to explore the house”, they said, “there are lots of books to read and be sure to walk down by the river.” Amazing! I have come to expect the unexpected as I travel, but Holy Cow!!!!

They assured me the house isn’t haunted, but the docent kindly gave me her cell number and said she would come stay with me if I felt nervous. I’m not actually afraid of such things, but I have spent a night once before in a house that was known to be haunted and it did make for a very restless night. So, I fixed myself a dinner and served it to myself in the beautiful glassed-in room known as “The River Porch”, which is at this moment serving as my office.  

Although I will admit to leaving a few lights on in the hallway and downstairs, and closing a few doors to some particularly mysterious areas, I was aware of no other presences, spirit or otherwise – and slept very peacefully.

 And now, as dusk is approaching on my second evening here and I am watching the Mississippi roll by just below me, and I have had another full, wonderful day, I am again filled with gratitude. If there is any secret to living life fully, I believe it is to have no demand, no expectation of what any moment should bring us. Instead, if we can live receptively and be open to whatever is happening, knowing there is a Wisdom orchestrating everything far beyond what we can imagine, then the miraculous perfection of each moment is revealed.                              

Peace,    Gayle

About Gayle Harper

Travel Photographer and Writer
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17 Responses to Day 12 – Little Falls, MN

  1. Jaretta Beard says:

    You never seace to amaze me. Just another day! Love ya, Jaretta

  2. Marie Bintliff says:

    Gayle, I feel as though I am right there beside you on this trip. I absolutely love this adventure! Thank you for sharing—-can’t wait to read about the next encounter of who or what or see the magnificant pictures of the trail along the Mississippi River. This is so neat!

  3. Tim Mueller says:

    Hi Gayle,

    What wonderful pictures and writing! We love the way you capture the essence of the people and places that you encounter on your adventure.

    My wife Cathy and I will be bicycling along the Mississippi next summer and look forward to seeing all your discoveries that we may want to explore.

    I grew up in Winona, Minnesota along the river. A fun place to visit is the LakeView Drive Inn. If you happen to be in Winona before it closes for the season you may want to stop in and say hi to the brothers, Tim and John G. who own it:
    http://www.lakeviewdriveinn.com

    All the best to you in your travels and we look forward to many more stories of your raindrop journey!

    Tim and Cathy Mueller

  4. John Shepherd says:

    Hi Gayle,

    Gary and I have been following your adventures, and have really enjoyed reading about the places and people along the way. The pictures are wonderful, and help us to enjoy the trip along with you. Thanks for making memories for us and the other readers as well. We look forward to reading and seeing more of your adventure of following the raindrop to the Gulf…….

    John

  5. Nancy Johnson says:

    Gayle,
    As I come to work each day and start going through my emails I find myself looking for the caption “Surrendering to Serendipity” first. What a great way to start my day. I knew your photography was wonderful, but I so enjoy reading and learning about the places along your journey! Have a great day.

    Nancy Johnson
    Escapes!, Inc.

  6. Jane Flathers says:

    Your writing and photos are like a coffee table book!

    I grew up in Rochester MN and spent some time in Wabasha and Red Wing too-(you will see them soon). Say hello to MN for me. I’m enjoying what you are sharing!

    Jane

  7. Marilyn Chana says:

    Gayle,
    Each time I read your posts I think that the new post is the best one and it can’t get any better than this. Yet, each time it gets better! Your writing style is so descriptive and with the pictures I feel like I am on the trip with you. I always get excited when I see an email from you and can’t wait to read what you’ve been up to. Since I can’t go along on this journey with you, your blog is the next best thing. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Safe travels to you!
    Marilyn

  8. alejandra massei says:

    Thanks for your wonderful writing!!! Pictures are great but not enough to capture the essence of every place and people living there!!! After reading your posts I close my eyes and feel like I´m actually visiting the places you describe!!! Keep safe!!! I´ll be waiting for your words down here, in Argentina

  9. Pat Sharon says:

    Gayle,
    I am so glad that you enjoyed ‘our’ homes! We truly love them too, and take their stories, history and preservation very seriously. Please, come and visit us again.

    All the best in your travels, Pat and the Friends of Linden Hill

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