By JOHN WEISS, Post-Bulletin of Rochester
READS LANDING, Minn. (AP) -- From where Perry Juenemann sat in a covered wooden overlook above Reads Landing, the view was stunning.
It's the reason he came there eight years ago, why he loves to sit there now (especially with fall colors) and why he wants to do something special with that land in the future.
Juenemann is an owner of American Eagle Bluff Bed and Breakfast, which is housed in an old red brick farmhouse set back from the edge of the bluff. From there, he can walk past his apple trees, through a path in the woods to the overlook, which offers one of the greatest views in the region.
Below him is the Mississippi River Valley. He can see more than 10 miles to Alma, Wis.; to the north he can see 20 or more miles up the Chippewa River; and to the west, he can see many miles up Lake Pepin, or at least he can when the leaves are down.
"This is what motivated me," he told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester.
As a younger man, he had no intention of buying land or owning a B&B. He had a job working to get youths out of gangs in the Twin Cities. But he found he wanted a little more peace and quiet, which he found in Reads Landing.
"You can pull a weed, and it doesn't fire back at you," he said.
He bought an antiques store in Reads Landing and still owns it. When he looked up from the store, he could see the wooden perch. He figured it was something for watching for forest fires.
But friends who owned it told him more about it. And when they decided to sell because it was too hot in the summer, they suggested he buy it.
Juenemann thought about it and decided he wanted to make sure the land didn't end up being populated with large houses, ruining the view for those below.
Those who had owned the property had taken great care of it. They had planted thousands of trees.
"I wanted to build on that" by not constructing any large buildings but by keeping it pristine, he said. "I just wanted it to be a sanctuary for birds and animals. To me, it's my passion, and you have to play to your passion in life."
That's the point he's at now -- just keeping it as wild as he can, a place where fawns can eat and play outside the 1870s home.
He would like to sell it for a park or to the Nature Conservancy or some group that would preserve it. He doesn't want to see a lot of campsites perched on the edge; that would be too many people.
"I think it should be shared," Juenemann said. "But I don't know how to get to that point."