Maiden Rock Inn | Wisconsin thru my eyes
The Maiden Rock Inn, on the Great River Trail

"Where sleeping in school is cool"

The Western Uplands Geographic Region of Wisconsin extends from just north of St. Croix Falls to Wisconsin's southern border and spreads eastward in an irregular way through much of Eau Claire, Sauk, Dunn and Rock counties. It is wonderful country. I decided to spend a few days exploring the region to the north of Maiden Rock on The Mississippi River northeast to Hwy 10, eastward to Durand and south to Pepin on the Mississippi. I was most fortunate to find the Maiden Rock Inn Bed & Breakfast, owned and operated by Jennifer and Gary Peterson, the Inn's gracious hosts. I commend their website to you. Their presentation is quite professional. I'll try to supplement it as best I can. I will tell you one thing for sure: I slept like a rock at the Inn, even enjoying the trains traveling up and down the Mississippi's shoreline.

April 10, 2018


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The Petersons began the project to renovate a schoolhouse in 1995. The Maiden Rock School was built in 1906. It was the third school house to be constructed on this piece of property. All together, the building has 16,000 square feet. The Village of Maiden Rock was incorporated in 1848 and it built a wooden school shortly thereafter. The village then built a stone school in 1880. It came down and its stone was used for the foundation. A gym and classroom space above it were added during the period 1938-1941. The school offered 1st through 12th grade. The last graduating class was in 1959.

The Inn presently has four guest rooms, each with a full bath, 12 ft. high vintage tin ceilings, and a thermostatic control. The renovated sections of the interior are magnificent, artistic in many ways. I told Gary and Jennifer I especially loved how they renovated the bricks on many of the walls. I love that look.

The building faced the prospect of being demolished, but the village tried to sell it. The Petersons spotted it in a two-line ad in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Sunday newspaper, in the Industrial-Commercial Real Estate for Sale column. The Petersons came in with the highest bid and won. Now those who visit and stay can win as well.

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I called this the "headquarters." I guess others might say it's the front desk. It's the first thing you spot when you walk through the front doors. That said, I don't recall filling in any paperwork, or signing anything. Gary and Jennifer simply met me, we chatted for a while, Gary walked me to my room, gave me the key and that was that. Gary would later give me the grand tour. You just pay on the way out at the end of your visit.

Jennifer does her cooking here. To say she is a "cordon bleu cook" would be to understate what she does for a breakfast. I told her I normally do not eat breakfast. My only requirement was coffee. And wow, they served Arabica coffee which was out of this world. While I said I do not normally eat breakfast, I promptly threw that idea out the window when I saw what she served. Another couple was staying at the Inn as well, and they were vegetarians. I am not, but I have to say I tried every component of the meal Jennifer set down. She does magic with her ingredients. Fabulissimo.

Jennifer served foods I would never think would be presented for a breakfast, organic vegetables so superbly cooked I thought I was in a five star restaurant. Frankly, the food was out of the ordinary, deliciously so, meals where you can experience new ideas and flavors. My last breakfast there, for example, Jennifer served lamb chops, fried pineapple and so much more. I ate it in such an excited way that I cannot remember what was there. You simply have to sit down and have a Jennifer breakfast to know what I'm talking about. Absolutely new to me and totally delightful.

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And here they are, in all their splendor, Jennifer and Gary Peterson. They are both very kind, very thoughtful and outstanding conversationalists. Gary and I over coffee shared many a war story, with Jennifer unafraid to pipe in graciously to add her own perspectives. Gary is something of a historian. I learned a great deal from him and found myself at home discussing the past, with just a few ventures into present-day politics.

I should add here, before I show you around a little bit, that Gary and Jennifer are dedicated to maintaining the privacy of their guests. They will not bother you during your stay, though they love to chat if you wish. They want you to be free of disturbance and interference. Frankly, that was new to me having stayed mostly in hotels. I liked it.

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And oh yes, don't forget Audrey. She is a riot. She would bark as I approached the front door and would excitedly come out to meet me. I would call her name and I think she liked that. This picture is typical Audrey, in my view. She was prancing around the living room area and I tried unsuccessfully to get a photo. She saw what I was trying to do and jumped on this couch and posed. Isn't that marvelous?

Let's take a bit of a tour.

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This is a super room that serves as a living room, dining room, and just a relaxation, reading room and lounge.

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There is a bar area set off to the side of the living room. The coffee is here in the morning, and your choice of fine wines are available at the end of the day. Tagging along with that, Gary will sit down behind the bar and you can get some great stories going. Like I said, he's a bit of a historian. You can have a chance to weave some stories of your own and he is a patient listener, one who will chime in when you're done. We didn't try it, but I think we could have spun some "tall tales" as well.

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This was my room, the Aubergine Room, fit for the very high ranking soul I pretend to be. I'm a little aggravated with my camera as I wished I would have had a wide angle to show the rest of the room. But not having that, I wanted to be sure to capture the bed in all its splendor and the faux painting on the walls, especially the blue wall up high. I mean to tell you I slept like a log for three straight nights, highly unusual for me. The trains do pass through down by the river but I enjoyed them, and went right back to sleep, again highly unusual for me. If you want rest, this is the place.

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There was a jacuzzi in my bathroom area, which is a large area. I'm not a huge fan of jacuzzis, but I confess, I used it and relaxed like people say they do.

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When I walked out of my room, this is what I saw. Jennifer is the in-house designer, and has presented finishing touches and artistic decor throughout the Inn.There's a good look at that beautiful brick I mentioned earlier. Everywhere you go, you see beautiful design and artistic furnishings.

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This is what I saw after I hooked a right turn, walked down a short hall and headed to the stairs for breakfast. The fragrances of breakfast had already climbed the stairs. Getting hungry already!

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Yet another example.

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I don't know if Minnesota Fats or Titanic Thompson played here or not in the "Rec Room," the Game Room. I do know I could play a pretty decent pool game in college, but have since lost my touch. Next time I'm going to quietly slide down here and see how long it will take me to shoot one in!

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Now here is a man's paradise! This room presently serves multiple purposes: storage, workroom, and idea creator all in one. It is the old gymnasium of the school. You can see the basketball court. A man and woman came for a visit while I was there and it turns out the man had played basketball on this court when he was younger, and just had to see it again. What fun. Early on Jennifer and Gary used this room for square dances, but they gave that up to focus their full attention on renovating the school.

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I can conjure up a bunch of stories about this section of the room. If my memory serves, Gary told me the horizontal structure in the middle once was the stage, which he moved and turned into a woodworking area. Off to the lower left you can see a part of a Timpani drum, or kettle drum. I know some buddies from school who would love to get on that. And then of course there is a metal desk, which must have been the same one my English teachers used.

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Now this is a man's area if I ever saw one. I have not yet mentioned it, but Gary is a master Stairbuilder and has done that for 35 plus years. He has worked with wood his entire life. He made all the wooden railings in the Inn and during my stay, he was off to Minneapolis to work on one there.

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This is but one example of his work. It turns out you can climb these stairs up to the roof, "The Gateway to the Roof." You can get a good bird's eye view of the Mississippi and the town from up there.

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This is the roof area where you can sit and read, marvel at the river and cliffs in Minnesota, just plain relax. Regrettably I was shooting in to the sun when I stopped by.

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This is a rooftop shot of the town, the river and Minnesota cliffs.

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This is a shot of CH S heading east-northeast into the Western Uplands.

I came to the area to explore. The Maiden Rock Inn was perfectly located for the area I wanted to explore. It was such a delight I always left for the day in a good mood and if I returned disappointed with my exploration treks, the Maiden Rock Inn put me back in a good mood.