Lisa has enjoyed going out into the gardens at St. Marys in Rochester. In spite of the challenges facing her, she remains in good spirits.
Lisa has enjoyed going out into the gardens at St. Marys in Rochester. In spite of the challenges facing her, she remains in good spirits.
Editor's note: This week, we are bringing you a special Journey vs. Destination by a guest columnist, Mark Dauble. Mark has been with Lisa since her accident and has been sharing updates on her recovery. Here, he shares his impressions of the area and reports on Lisa's current condition.

While Lisa is in the hospital, I thought that I would pitch in and write a little bit about my visit to this beautiful part of the country.

I am just a visiter here. My home is in Bloomington, Ind., where the landscapes are somewhat similar to what I've seen here, with rolling hills, hardwood forests, fields of corn and karst topography that is dimpled with sinkholes and traversed by streams that are fed by many springs.

I've driven through the Bluff Country on my way to Wyoming, Montana or the Boundary Waters, and the lesson that I've now learned is to take a little time to get off of the interstate along the way and see what an area is really about.

I've been reading Lisa's travel advice online for a long while, and she is an outspoken advocate for this country.

I became intrigued and jumped at the invitation to visit for the Labor Day weekend. I don't regret that circumstances extended my stay. Being here is my silver lining to Lisa's accident. I only wish that I had brought my bicycle and my fly fishing tackle. Even so, my free time has been full of hikes and photography. I've made new friends with so many nice people. There is a solid sense of community here, and so many people that enjoy the outdoors, and willing to share their favorite places.

Coming up from the south, I left the main roads behind in Dubuque, Iowa. I enjoyed the vistas from the overlooks above the Mississippi River, the variety in the architecture of barns, and marveled at some of the steepest corn fields I've ever seen. I visited ice caves, watched trout fishermen catch their limit, and hiked along creeks and through mature forests.

I am a true nature lover, so the birds, wildflowers, trees and bugs have kept me busy taking photos of everything, so that I could identify them and add so many new species to my life list. I love the mix of so many habitats; forests, grasslands, savannas, barrens, cold water streams, the big muddy Mississippi, wetlands, and my favorite, the algific talus slopes that are a refuge for plants from much further north. You have a natural bounty of diverse life that is incredible.

I've camped at the Yellow River State Forest, visited Pikes Peak State Park, and the Effigy Mounds. I've taken a cruise on the Mississippi, stopped at nature preserves near Decorah, hiked along the Root River near Lanesboro, and both upstream and down from Preston.

I've camped at Isinour Unit of the Richard J Dorer Forest, hiked at Eagle Bluff, drove backroads looking for the Pilot Mound, and I plan to visit the Mystery Cave.

I won't get to do everything that I want on this visit, but plan to fish, canoe and cross country ski on future visits.

I'd like to thank everyone that I've met for your kindness and hospitality. The people here are your greatest natural resource.