Having been all over Northeast Wisconsin and in need of a new adventure we started looking for a vacation home rental in the mid to southern half of Wisconsin. Someplace that was not too far to drive for a long weekend and of course dog friendly. We are always looking for something woodsy, ideally with a view. On VRBO we came across a place call “Murph’s Hideaway” which looked to be a charming log cabin located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river. I can’t take credit for this one, as it was Jim who actually found this place.
Murphs is located just outside of De Soto Wisconsin. At first I was like where?? I have to be honest, at the time Wisconsin for me was the northwoods and everything else was flat farm country. Boy was I wrong.
We pulled up to “Murph’s” late at night so we didn’t get the full understanding of the beauty of the area until the next morning. Although arriving a new place at night is more of a challenge, the next day when you wake up is a bit like Christmas morning. Your eyes open and you immediately jump out of bed to see the gifts waiting for you. In this case, our gift was a quiet country setting, a forest to the right and back of the house and a large rolling field to the left (great for Smokey to run around). There was not a house or person for as far as the eye can see.
The balcony off the back of the house overlooked the Mississippi River below and the view was partially hidden through a large group of trees. Not a bad way to start the day.
A Long Way for a Latte
After taking the view for a while, I was in desperate need of a latte. I’m not a standard coffee person, I enjoy my daily vanilla latte from Starbucks but when you are in the country you have to be creative. That morning I was in search of someplace that had an “espresso” sign. Thankful for the wifi at “Murph’s”, I was able to locate a place in Iowa (yes the state) that said it sold espresso. So off we went down the bluff, across the Mississippi River into Iowa in search of much needed caffeine (a little like through the woods and over the river). Truth be told, the ride was 10 minutes to the Shell station that had the “Espresso” sign in the window. A gas station latte, not exactly Starbucks. But it was the first time I drove to another state for caffeine and it was awful.
So when you are in the country with nothing but time on your hands and you enjoy driving what do you do? You find a Starbucks 30 miles north in LaCrosse. Lucky for us we had a scenic byway to enjoy while we make the trek to civilization.
Great River Road
De Soto is a small village (about 300 people) located along the Mississippi River located about 30 miles south of LaCrosse, WI and is part of the Great River Road . The Great River Road is part of a National Scenic Byway that travels 3000 miles from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico. For the De Soto area, one side of the road was the Mississippi river and the other was tall tree line bluffs. This became our daily drive. It was beautiful with the trees and their fall colors. The 30 mile drive didn’t seem that far when you are taking in the sites.
We actually ended up taking a different route home so we could enjoy more of the Great River Road. We went for miles following the Mississippi south. Through many tiny “towns” that lined the byway. It’s a great American drive, we were only on it for a small portion but many great sites to see.
Rolling Fields and Farms Behind the Bluffs
When Jim originally showed me the pics of “Murph’s” I had this idea in my head of what the area would be like. That we would spend most of our time hanging out on the deck just taking in the view. What we found when we got there was a beautiful hidden gem atop of the bluffs – rolling farmland. We’d go for long walks late in the afternoon along the farm fields. It was such a stark contrast from the tree lined bluffs. Amazing, colorful landscape. It was a like a tale of two vacation spots.
Besides driving back and forth to LaCrosse for coffee, much of our time was spent exploring the rolling countryside. Sometimes it would be farmland, other times it would be the towering trees lining the bluffs. The trees were just starting to change colors but added orange and golden highlights to to area. We would drive around for hours. A lot of nature to absorb in a weekend.
Having spent so much time in the Northwoods of Wisconsin my experience with the “lower” part of the state was just driving through it on my way “up north” – I never had the desire to see other areas of what the state had to offer. I was so surprised at how different this area is than in the north. A different kind of beauty, but one that I’m grateful to have had the chance to experience. This journey definitely opened up my eyes to wanting to explore so many other places in this state.
Related Photo GalleryWisconsin in Fall