Head to Houston this fall
It’s a great time of the year to live in Bluff Country. The aspen and cottonwood trees have shed their leaves. The mighty oaks in all their glory, along with the maples and native evergreens, give us scenery that's hard to resist.
A great place to visit any time of the year though, is the head of the Root River Trail in Houston.
To start out any day trip in Houston, a good German meal can be found at Through the Grapevine, 129 S. Grant St. Many of the regular clientele fondly refer to the eating place as Rosie’s or just the "German cafe."
Rosie Buege, the proprietor and chef, is a native of Germany. She specializes in German favorites such as grilled bratwurst, German potato salad, sweet and sour red cabbage and many other dishes. The popular veal dishes of Germany are served using pork.
After our hearty meal, we visited Central Park, which is close to the business center. While there, you can take photos of a World War II Stuart tank, made famous in the Battle of the Bulge.
The Houston Nature Center , 215 W. Plum St., is home to the community’s famed mascot, Alice. Alice is a Great Horned Owl.
Karla Bloem, the nature center's director, takes Alice home with her when the center is closed for the night.
"Owls sleep mostly during the day," Bloem says. "She rests peacefully on her perch. At night she is wide awake and needs space."
The trail head center has shower and bathroom facilities. It’s maintained for the general public.
"It’s a popular place for campers, hunters and people using the trail. Generous donations keep us going," Bloem says.
Hours at the nature center vary by season. Through October, the hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. For questions or other information, call the nature center at (507) 896-4668 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you look up at the hillside in Houston, you will notice the community's name spelled out by the rocks in big letters. The sign was built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s.
Some Houston residents told me that people would hike up the hill at night and rearrange the rocks as a joke. The pranksters' adventures ended in the 1990s though, after the local chamber had the rocks cemented with concrete to hold them down.
After you leave the town center, head west and take Houston County Road 13, marked for the Wet Bark Trail. You will enjoy the rare experience in this part of the state of switchbacks climbing up the hillside. The well-paved roadway will give you some spectacular autumn views.