Minnesota 2017


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Friday, June 23, 2017: For the second time in three months, we headed north via Chicago.
And for the second time in three months, it was time to stock up on Malört again. This time, we took no chances and went to a location that could tell us right on the new-fangled World Wide Web that they had Malört in stock: Binny's Beverage Depot.
Yes, they had stock, and we bought them out. We had thought that three bottles was enough last time, but it turns out that we go through this stuff pretty quickly, what with relatives and friends asking us to get bottles for them. We also picked up some Maui Brewing goodness and a few other goodies.
We passed this lovely round barn on Schuster's Farm near Deerfield, Wisconsin.
We had seen work being done on these new power lines on our trip to Wisconsin 2 1/2 months earlier. More progress had been made and we made a reminder to check again when we came this way a few months later in September.
Around 2:45, we got to Camp Douglas (which is what we've always called the rocky outcropping that is near the camp).
It turns out that it actually has a name: Castle Rock.
For the first time in the entire history of driving past this place, we were able to stop and look around.
First, we walked around the freeway (west) side of the rock.
There's a break in the main rock where you can cut over to the other side, so we did.
Here's the view looking up on the east side.
Debbie posed next to the smaller outcropping for scale.
We rounded the larger outcropping to the west side again ...
... and headed back to the parking lot, crossing back over to the east side to complete the figure eight.
We had to hurry because we had a date with our phones to watch the Falcon 9 launch.
We stopped at Norske Nook in Osseo like we always do.
There was no time to eat a meal, so we headed straight to the counter.
We got some delicious turnovers to enjoy immediately, ...
... and a couple of pies to enjoy later at Rick's house.
Could this scene be any more idyllic? No, it could not.
This car went flying past us, which wasn't a big deal, ...
... until we saw the license plate. So much envy. So much.
A few minutes later, we passed a Marshfield Labs courier. How is this relevant? Debbie's development team was in the process of creating software for these very couriers, so it was very exciting to see one in action.
We crossed into Minnesota and headed north. The St. Croix Crossing Bridge was nearing completion and was just over a month away from opening. It sure is pretty.
We passed through the town of Stillwater and headed even further north to the home of our friends Rick and Jan.
Rick had been smoking a feast for us.
Look at all that delicious meat and the world's largest cutting board beneath it.
While we waited for our friends Russ and Kathy to join us for dinner, we went outside to check out the property.
Rick is known for his massive garden and it was great to finally see it in person.
It was even better to get a personalized tour.
In addition to veggies, Rick plants some flowers to keep it interesting.
There are potatoes and peppers and herbs, oh my!
But he's probably most famous for the many types of garlic that he grows.
Russ and Kathy arrived, and Russ was just as impressed as we were by dinner's main course.
Time to dig in! Here are Jan and Rick ...
... and Kathy and Russ. Debbie, Rick, and Russ had all worked together at Intran back in the mid-80s, so there was much conversation about the old days.
We finally hit the road and checked into the Hotel Metro in St. Paul, across the freeway from the 3M campus.
Saturday, June 24, 2017: There was a car convention in town and many of the car aficianados were staying in the hotel with us.
Some of the classic cars were out front where we could see them, but the majority were parked in the back where our van was.
We were on the road by 7:00 AM and at Vilhelm Moberg Park in Chisago City 45 minutes later.
It features a statue of author Vilhelm Moberg, obviously.
A nearby plaque says, "Vilhelm Moberg 1898-1973, Algutsboda, Sweden. Writer - Playwright - Journalist - Social Critic. Vilhelm Moberg was one of the foremost Swedish authors of the 20th century. His most famous characters, Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, were representative of the over 1.2 million Swedish emigrants that landed on our shores between 1846 and 1930. During the summer of 1948, he stayed in Chisago City and explored this area by bicycle. That research helped shape his most famous work - the epic tetralogy "The Emigrants," "Unto a Good Land," "The Settlers," and "The Last Letter Home." In Sweden, thanks to Moberg's literary works, this land of Kichi-Saga--the Chisago Lakes area--is probably the best-known area of the United States." Debbie is a big fan of the books and the Swedish musical inspired by the books, "Kristina från Duvemåla."
A second plaque says, "Vilhelm Moberg Park was dedicated to the memory and legacy of Vilhelm Moburg and the Swedish heritage of the Chisago Lakes Area during their visit to Chisago City on September 13, 1996 by Their Royal Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden." That date sure sounds familiar - oh, yeah, that is just two weeks after we had seen Queen Silvia when we were in Sweden on our honeymoon.
The park also features a train car. No idea why.
The last little surprise in the park was an oversized Adirondack chair, which said "Life's Great on Highway 8." It was the first of two we saw.
Next, we headed to Lindström, sister city to Tingsryd, Sweden. And yes, the two dots over the ö are the correct way to spell Lindström.
We were ready for breakfast, so we started at the Swedish Inn.
It's a no-frills restaurant with Scandinavian decorations throughout.
The menu featured a little explanation about who Karl Oskar is. He is, of course, a fictional character by Vilhelm Moberg. If you've forgotten that, scroll back up a bit and re-read.
Debbie ordered Swedish Pigs in a Blanket, which is one of the restaurant's well-known dishes. It consists of Swedish pancakes wrapped around breakfast sausages.
Tom ordered the Ole Breakfast for us to share, which featured two of everything: sausage patty, sausage links, eggs, pancakes, and French toast. We should have gone with the Lena version, which featured just one of everything.
Across the street is a statue featuring Karl Oskar and Kristina, Moberg's fictional characters. It represents Karl Oskar looking forward to their new home in Minnesota, and Kristina looking back to her home in Sweden.
The plaque says: "Karl Oskar and Kristina are fictitious characters in The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, and the Last Letter home, a trilogy written by the Swedish author, Vilhem Moberg. They symbolize migration to America by Swedish peasants, who settled in the Chisago Lakes area, about the middle of the nineteenth century." (Editor's note: There are four books in the series, not three. See above.)
This sign contains prose titled "The Emigrant Stone." It notes that the stone at its base is a boulder from Duvemåla, Sweden given as a gift to Lindström.
The stone itself is also marked accordingly.
Just up the street is another oversized Adirondack chair. Unfortunately, time prevented us from chasing down any more.
The entire town has Swedish accents. The front of a hardware store featured Gävlebocken and Dalahäst paintings.
Up the street was a Swedish flag painted on the side of a building. The famous Lindström water tower was visible in the distance.
Another block further was a Lindström mural, which was on the side of ...
... the Lindström Bakery, home of the Scandinavian Donut.
We loaded up on baked goods, starting with fresh rolls for our lunch later on.
We checked out the cookie counter ...
... and were thrilled to see Swedish Dreams (Drömmar), one of Debbie's favorite cookies. We got a dozen of those and another dozen of Swedish almond cookies.
We also bought four Swedish donuts for our lunch later, but never got a picture of them, so here's one found online so we can remember what they looked like.
Across the street was the largest hot dog we've ever seen, calling attention to Deutschland Meats.
As we were getting gas, we got a closer photo of the famous coffee pot-shaped water tower. Too cute!
The water tower is featured on this Dala horse statue we passed on our way to our next destination.
We stopped at Glader Cemetery. It is an old Lutheran cemetery that is no longer actively in use.
It was used by Vilhelm Moberg as the final resting place for his fictional characters, Karl Oskar and Kristina. Legend has it that visitors come here looking for Karl Oskar and Kristina's graves, not understanding that they aren't actually real.
The cemetery has only had one burial since 1921, and that was for a spouse of someone already resting here.
It was hard to read this gravestone, but we are able to make out the word "Sverige" (Sweden) and the number 1806.
These gravestones have lovely South Center Lake as a backdrop.
We backtracked slightly to Ki-Chi-Saga Park, home of ...
... the Karl Oskar Immigrant House at Nya (New) Duvemåla.
There was a midsummer pole from a Swedish midsommer celebration earlier in the week.
We arrived just as a volunteer interpreter arrived to open the house for visitors. She took the shutters out of each window, giving us a tour of the house as she did. Here's the main room, ...
... a bedroom, ...
... and another bedroom.
Upstairs was all one large room, ...
... featuring a large loom ...
... and yarn winder.
This beauty was in the kitchen on the main floor.
Our guide showed us photos from when King Carl and Queen Silvia visited the town.
There they are! We repeat, this was just two weeks after we had seen Queen Silvia in person.
This is a photograph of a monument to Vilhelm Moberg that stands in Moberg's birthplace of Emmaboda, Sweden, which is just a few miles south of Duvemåla.
Here's a portrait of someone's ancestors, but the real reason for this photo is the little plaque below it.
Yes, indeed, it is a plaque commemorating the existence of Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson as though they were real people. Their birthdates, deathdates, and birthplaces, the works. The only hint that they are fictional is the Swedish text on the bottom: "Sista Brevet till Sverige Av Vilhelm Moberg" which translates into "The Last Letter Home" by Vilhelm Moberg (which is the fourth book in the Emigrants series).
We headed to the Moody Round Barn. It was blue and pretty and ...
... next to Moody Lake.
Next, we went to the Gammelgården Museum.
We parked in front and Debbie headed straight for the Dala horse by the street.
It appeared to be the same size and shape as the one we had seen earlier. Could this be part of a series? It was! A plaque at the base noted that it was part of Gammelgården's Dala Hast Fest in 2006.
Nearby was this historical plaque that gave an overview of the Swedish immigration to the area.
It was our great luck to have visited on Midsommar Dag - the day that they were observing Midsummer. There were vendors out front and it turns out that we were lucky to have gotten a parking spot.
Here's the main building, with a miniature version of it up front.
Just outside the front door is another Dala horse.
Gammelgården is made up of restored buildings. This is the pastor's house.
Costumed volunteer interpreters share the history of the buildings.
This display included a sign showing the schedule of events for the day's celebration. We had many more plans for the day so we couldn't stay, but that's okay.
Here's the nursery ...
... and the living room.
This building is a vacation house (stuga).
It was very small, with only two rooms: a tiny bedroom ...
... and a main room.
There were several gardens in the back yard by the pond.
This is the church (kyrka). Not sure how to pronounce it? Let our Swedish cousin Kristina teach you how.
Here's another Dala horse statue.
Built in 1856, this is the oldest church building in Minnesota.
Here's the altar, ...
... complete with an old Swedish bible.
This is the Immigrant House, which shows how immigrants first lived when they arrived.
Here's the main floor, ...
... and here's the loft/sleeping area.
Behind the main building, volunteers were assembling the midsommar pole.
Swedish cornhole and other games involving wooden Dala horses and trolls were set up for kids to play.
There was another Dala horse statue just outside the main building.
Here's the interior of the main building. That's the gift shop in the back where we showed remarkable restraint.
In a large upstairs room, there were crafts for the kids.
These cabinets displayed a collection of different styles of Dala horses.
There were framed photos of the traditional dresses of each region. Here's Vasterbotten, Norrland, where Debbie's family is from.
Around 10:45, it was time to head out (and no, this clock's time was not accurate) because we had to get back to the Twin Cities.
We got a photo of one more Dala horse statue ...
... and one more shot of the grounds on our way out of town.
Next, we went to Festival Foods to pick up sandwich fixings to bring to Aunt Mary and Uncle Benny's house, along with the rolls and Swedish donuts from Lindström Bakery. We spent several hours having lunch and visiting with Mary and Benny, then loaded up our car with family memorabilia from Mary and things from Aunt Bonnie to process for the next reunion.
We had some time to kill before our next engagement, so we drove down Summit Avenue to the Mississippi River.
This was a popular destination in college for a walk back in the olden days. It was a straight shot down Summit Avenue from Macalester.
We met our friends Kristine and Jean at Carbone's and had a great time catching up with them.
Then we headed to Will's house, getting ever-so-slightly lost around the St. Paul Cathedral, ...
... before finding his home finally.
Will owns a beautiful historical St. Paul mansion and he gave us a tour of most of the first floor. Unfortunately, the only picture we got of Will all night is in the reflection at the end of this hallway.
Here's the grand staircase leading to the second floor.
This is the lovely dining room.
Here's a portion of the carriage building in the back of the property, shared with the owners of the mansion next door.
From one of the terraces, you can see the exterior of the sun room.
Will's son Conrad had a new Game of Thrones game to try out, so we played it with Will, Noah, and Nels. After a while, Nels left so Debbie got out We Didn't Playtest This and played it with him and Eden (Noah's girlfriend) in the dining room. There was much laughing. Meanwhile, Conrad ended up winning the GoT game, which bodes well for his success when he tries it out with his gaming group.
It was nearly 10:30 when we finally said goodbye and headed back to our hotel. This is a blurry shot of the beautiful St. Paul capitol building.
Sunday, June 25, 2017: We slept in the next morning, then Tom went down to the parking lot to make order out of the chaos that we had picked up from Mary's house.
We ventured out around 11:00 AM, passing St. Paul again. There's the Bank with the One at the Top building that Debbie loves so well because of its excellent play on words.
We headed to Bloomington, home of Zeke's Place. This was a popular lunch spot for Debbie and her friends when she worked at Intran in the mid-80s. The general location was the same, but the original building had been replaced with a new one, so Zeke's was about 30 yards farther west than it used to be.
We were here for one reason only: the wild rice soup. Debbie had decided against eating here on a previous visit to town when she called to find that it wasn't being served, so this time she called several days ahead to make sure it would be on the menu. It was just as delicious as she remembered.
After that amazing soup, lunch was just an afterthought, but still tasty. Tom had a Philly cheese steak sandwich and Debbie had the fish special.
From there, we went to nearby Edina for a mini-Intran reunion with Tom B., Dale, and Kristi. Shown here are three of the four people in this scuba diving photo from 1986. (Dale was the one who took the original photo, which is why he wasn't in it.)
Next, we had a dinner-and-drinks double date with Gordy and Lyn.
We met them at Tamarack Tap Room for apps and beer samplers.
In Tom's case, his appetizer was larger than his head. A great time was had by all.
Monday, June 26, 2017:We got an early start the next day and were sailing past Camp Douglas - I mean, Castle Rock - by 9:00 AM.
After snacking in the car for breakfast, we had an early lunch at Norske Nook in DeForest. We had never been to this location before, but we'll be back. Lefse wraps for breakfast are the best!
There was much boring driving and by dinner, we were in Lafayette, home of the last open Don Pablo's in the state of Indiana.
Of course, we both ordered the Number One Combination, because it is the most delicious Mexican food dinner ever.
Maersk!

** THE END **


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