Minnesota 2013

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Saturday, December 7, 2013: Occasionally, a drive through Wisconsin involves a stop at the Fuddrucker's in Janesville. On this particular visit, we couldn't help but notice the very strong Wisconsin theme in the claw machine.
As always, we had to take a photo of Castle Rock at Camp Douglas as we drove past. It's a compulsion, we know.
Rather than drive directly to the Twin Cities, we opted to drive through the countryside outside of La Crosse, which is where Debbie's ancestors first lived when they arrived in the US. We headed to Norskedalen, a nature and cultural museum.
It was bitterly cold but the sun was out so it didn't seem as bad.
Just kidding. It was really crazy cold - so much so, that just seeing this photo gives us chills.
That day, Norskedalen was hosting an Old-Fashioned Christmas event at the Bekkum Homestead.
Baking demonstrations were happening in the buildings, ...
... while hayrides were happening outside. We were there to find the Lindevig cabin that had been donated to Norskedalen many years ago when Debbie's grandmother and great aunt were heavily involved. Eventually, someone told us they thought that it was at the other Norskedalen site, Skumsrud Heritage Farm, which was later confirmed.
Unfortunately, time was running out, so all we could do was snap a photo of the Norskedalen sign, ...
... bolt through Coon Valley, and speed up to the Twin Cities via the Great River Road.
We had a date at Carbone's on Randolph with Jean, John, Kristine, ...
... and other John.
Here's a group photo of just the ladies without their spouses.
We stopped by a liquor store for some beer and a couple of bottles of mead, including Viking Blod, so it was getting late by the time we checked into AmericInn in White Bear Lake.
We had a fantastic two-room suite for a really reasonable price. It featured a gas fireplace and an in-room jacuzzi tub.

Sunday, December 8, 2013: It snowed overnight, which is no surprise for Minnesota. Tom was still willing to go out and get us our daily McDonald's breakfast.
We had been surprised with a complimentary bag of candy in the room, so we had a nice little mid-afternoon snack.
At this point, relatives started arriving and filling up the other rooms in the hotel. Debbie's uncle Bob had unexpectedly passed away and we were here for his memorial service. It was a sad occasion, but it was wonderful to spend time together again. Here are Melissa and her beautiful kids, ...
... Carol and Mary, ...
... Terry and Erik, ...
... Mark, Emmie, and Herb.
When there were too many of us to fit into one person's suite, we requested the community room, which was just perfect for all of us.
Laura's son Gavin was still pretty tiny, so we enjoyed passing him around as we visited.
Mary had brought drinks, fruit, and bars for dessert.
We treated for a dinner of submarine sandwiches and pizza for everyone.
Here's adorable Lisa.
Debbie got a chance to hold Lisa's little brother.
Lisa and ...
... her cousin Kai had fun climbing under the tables.

Monday, December 9, 2013: The next morning, we headed to the church for Uncle Bob's memorial service. Terry honored his father by wearing his Badger tie.
Here are Bonnie, Mark, ...
... Shirley, Jon, Carol, and Sharlot. Debbie gave one of two eulogies at the service, and Tom got a headcount of people who would be attending a luncheon afterward.
Unfortunately, with a ten-hour drive ahead of us, we couldn't stay for the luncheon, so we had to hit the road.
On our way back, we were surprised to find Packers-colored straws in our McDonald's lunch.
We passed these pretty Christmas lights somewhere in Indiana as we got closer to home.

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