Why a winter's morning at St. Olaf is like a vacation

When I arrive at St. Olaf College, it's 6:30 a.m. and still completely dark. As I head to Stav Dining Hall in Buntrock Commons for breakfast, I look around campus at all the old buildings, all sprinkled with snow.

I feel more like I've arrived at a mountain resort and lodge, not a college. Buntrock has an heck of an entrance:

Breakfast is all you can eat for $6.57, and today it's an elaborate affair: a Belgian waffle station, a station for omelettes made to order, a breakfast burrito station, as well as excellent muffins, yogurt, cereal and so forth.

It's quiet when I enter, but the hall soon gets livelier as students pop in. (They're much too chipper for 7 a.m., though.)

The hall's airy interior and open beams continue the lodge theme -- especially lovely on a winter morning. Here's the view from near my table:

I've spied a big fireplace in the student lounge, so I might cozy up next to it later in the day if someone lights it up.

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