I got a rare opportunity to take in the beauty of fall in Northern Minnesota late last week. My wife, Donna, and her dad, Merlin Hansen, spent last week at our usual summer retreat, Eagle Nest Lodge, located on the north side of Lake Winnebigoshish. The lake is about 20 minutes west of Deer River. Earlier in the week I wasn't sure I would be able to get away for a couple of days to enjoy a little fishing and the fall colors. But all worked out for a Thursday noon departure and a full day of fall on Friday. There are plenty of places all over the Upper Midwest where one can enjoy the beauty of fall, but I don't believe I've ever seen the fall colors - in person - like I saw them on Friday. While the colors here in Cottonwood County are enjoyable, the one thing you don't see much of are the oranges and reds that are so prevalent in trees in Northern Minnesota. The colors were simply spectacular. We went for a morning walk along one of the many trails that lead to and from the resort. I had planned to take the walk, hurry back and head out for some fall fishing. Donna brought her pocket camera, but I hadn't planned to take any pictures. I couldn't resist. There were so many beautiful colors and "calendar-potential" photos that I just had to try taking a few. While they didn't turn out like those you see in calendars, and none did justice to the beauty one captures with the naked eye, there were a few that at least offered a glimpse of what we were seeing. There really is nothing quite like seeing reds, oranges, browns, golds, yellows and, yes, greens painted across a forest. Even though I was only there for a day and a half, the opportunity to view these Northern Minnesota colors at their fall peak was worth the six-hour drive. I would gladly go back again, even for just a day, to view the beauty that God provides for us each fall. I looked at some photos Donna took earlier in the week and even in the short five days between her photos and those we took of the same spots on Friday, I think the colors had become even more spectacular by the end of the week. One of the prettiest stretches of road we encountered was along the Winnie Dam Road. It's about a nine-mile paved stretch between Highway 2 (about a mile east of Bena) and County Road 46. It's a winding road with colors of every shade around every turn. Wow! That alone was worth the trip. Good fishing The fishing might have tailed off by the time we got up there, but there were still plenty of fish to catch - despite the number of anglers on the lake. Donna and Merlin had good fishing throughout the week and when I got up there for a day of fishing on Friday, each of us caught a good-eating walleye between 14 and 17 inches. It was plenty of fish for the three of us to enjoy that evening. We all were surprised at how many anglers were on the lake for late September. In fact, when we journeyed to Lake Winnebigoshish's North Shore, there were 24 boats, each with anywhere from one to four people, fishing the area. Despite that kind of pressure, we each caught a walleye, which was as good or better than many of the boats fishing that spot. Had we caught fish or not, it was just worth the opportunity to be on the lake and enjoy the beauty of fall. New stage for fall musical When theater patrons take in the Windom Area High School fall musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, they'll perhaps notice a subtle change in the stage on which the actors are performing. It's now permanent - the stage, that is. Indeed, the district tore out the temporary wooden structure that had been in place for over a decade and replaced it with a permanent block and concrete stage extension. Has Director Rachel Axford and her actors noticed a difference? "Not so far because we haven't had to dance on it a lot yet, but we will," Axford says. "We wanted the same specs as we had before. We didn't want to lose more audience seating. We basically wanted the same thing as what we've arrived at over time." A couple of seats were sacrificed at the ends of the front row, but it is largely the same stage as was there before - except much sturdier. Axford said that an additional storage space was built just off-stage for the cast. While not a big space, it does provide room for props during a show that wasn't there before. "We can move props in and out as needed. It's kind of a hidden little spot for us," Axford explains. "But the biggest thing is the stage is going to be safer. We had some issues last year where there were a few spots on the stage where we weren't sure if kids were going to fall through it. It was time for it to be done."