Minnesota July 2019

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Thursday, July 25, 2019: Jill, Tom, and Debbie left Indy at 8:30 AM to drive to Wisconsin, then Minnesota. We took an unscheduled detour through West Lafayette on our way up. Tom was a Purdue graduate and Jill had attended for a semester, so they were both familiar with the town. Lots of new buildings had gone up and more construction was happening.
But some sights were still familiar.
We were here to visit Discount Den in Chauncey Hill. This well-known strip mall was scheduled to be bulldozed within the next year.
Discount Den is famous for its Den Pops, which are just fountain drinks self-dispensed from a huge selection of flavors ...
... but suggestions on the walls offer combinations of flavors that you might want to try.
We opted not to get any donuts, ...
... but Jill convinced Tom that it was time for a new Purdue t-shirt, so we bought that along with our three Den Pops.
Here's Debbie's.
We went past one of the apartments that Tom lived in during his student days.
Across the street was a giant banana for no apparent reason until Jill noted that it was ...
... a logo of sorts for one of the student housing companies in town.
We passed the windmills in northern Indiana, ...
... and by later afternoon, we were passing Camp Douglas and Castle Rock.
Of course, the Bosshard Bogs sign got photographed too.
It was after 5:00 PM local time when we arrived in Chippewa Falls.
Here's a cute mural.
We were in the land of Leinenkugel's ...
... and we were here to visit Leinie Lodge.
Leinie Lodge is a huge visitor center and gift shop.
Check out all those taps!
Jill bought a beer for driver Tom ...
... and beer samplers for Debbie and herself.
The weather was gorgeous, the beer was cold, ..
... and we had a great time hanging out.
After we finished our beers, we crossed the nearby bridge, ...
... and took a look at the brewery buildings next door.
This cool plaque (or is it a sewer cover?) was in the middle of a display that had ...
... information on the history of the Leinenkugel brewery and family.
Jill and Debbie took a minute to relax in the gigantic Leinie Lounger.
By 7:00, we were starving so we were happy to find Chippewa Family Restaurant.
We ordered all the food, including cheese curds, homemade chicken noodle soup, ...
... chicken, fries, rolls, burgers, etc. Midwest food is the best!
On our way out of town, we encountered a stop sign mounted over the middle of an intersection, thus completely invalidating Debbie's argument that stoplights on corners are fine, because that's where you look for the stop sign anyway. Tom argues that stoplights should never be on corners, and he produces this argument every time he is in Minnesota and sees them that way. Agree to disagree?
We spent the night in Rice Lake at the Microtel Inn & Suites.

Friday, July 26, 2019: We got an early start because we had a big day ahead of us. Oh, and happy 24th anniversary to us.
Pretty northern Wisconsin scenery.
Yep, this was definitely northern Wisconsin. Get your leeches here, folks.
This is definitely one of the best crossing signs we've seen.
As we got near Duluth, we could see Lake Superior in the distance.
We could also see Maersk.
Just before reaching Duluth, we crossed the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, ...
... where Minnesota welcomed us, as it always does.
We stopped at a scenic viewpoint ...
... to get a panoramic view of Duluth.
While Tom got a photo of Jill, ...
... Debbie was searching for geodetic markers. How very thoughtful of this sign to point them out.
Here's one ...
... and here's another.
This photo shows it stuck into one of the huge rocks.
Floodwood, Minnesota, bills itself as the Catfish Capital of the World, according to its water tower, not shown here because the welcome sign and train station were cuter.
Judy Garland lived in Grand Rapids when she was very young, and now there's a museum dedicated to her, as this mural points out.
We were almost bullet-trained when trying to get a photo of this large Adirondack chair. (Bullet-trained: trying to photograph something but something else blocks your shot at the last moment.)
There are lots of old timey motels in the area. This is the Pine Grove Motel.
Busch beer - a sure sign that we are in Minnesota.
Our friend Steve likes to photograph Adirondack chairs that no one is sitting in, just to prove his point that no one ever sits in them. Here's an impressive display.
Here's an oversized northern pike in Deer River, Minnesota.
We got our first glimpse of the Mississippi River as we entered Cass County. We were in the land of the birthplace of the Mississippi.
Entering Chippewa National Forest.
This huge fish structure is on the grounds of the appropriately-named Big Fish Supper Club in Bena, Minnesota.
Welcome to Cass Lake, where eagles soar.
There's the actual lake. The Mississippi River flows through this lake, leading in from Lake Andrusia, and the heading downstream to Lake Winnibigoshish.
Here's another old time motel: Whispering Pines Motel.
We headed north to Lake Andrusia and crossed the Mississippi River along the way.
Before going to Debbie's father's cabin, we stopped at Ten Lake Cemetery, where he would be buried the next day.
This tree stands over the graves of Bob's parents-in-law.
His mother-in-law purchased many burial plots around them, and Bob would be the first person to join them.
A space was marked with flags next to their headstones. We knew why.
The cemetery is just down the road from the entrance to Bob and Becky's cabin.
This must be a long road to plow in the winter.
Here's their home. It's still referred to as a cabin even though the original cabin was replaced with a large two-story home fifteen years earlier.
Just opposite the front door inside, there's a large frame holding Schilling lace which matches the one our friend Paige made for us.
When we arrived, Debbie's stepsister, Katy, had prepared a nice lunch for us.
Debbie's brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Susan, had arrived before us. Becky was looking much healthier than she had the last time Debbie saw her seventeen days earlier.
Bob's ashes were stored in a wooden box made by Debbie's stepbrother, Dan.
The original crematory box was in the study.
Katy had already put some of Bob's things aside for us, ...
... but there was lots more to go through.
We ended up filling a tub with old file folders, books, and other treasures.
There were some fantastic finds in this pile of books, including Bob's parents' memoirs, Bob's masters degree dissertation, and a book that Debbie wrote.
There were some cool things on the wall of Bob's study. Let's take a closer look at them.
This was a brochure about the library book shelving system Bob was working on before his retirement. He later had the opportunity to use the system as a library volunteer in Arizona.
This was Bob's certficiate of appreciation for working at 3M for thirty years, given to him the year he retired.
This was a fun caricature someone made for him as a retirement gift.
Finally, this is a photograph of Half Dome in Yosemite. Bob and his brother, Herb, climbed it numerous times together.
Debbie had fallen in love with this original Gary Spetz watercolor when Bob bought it back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It depicts the Prince of Wales Hotel on Waterton Lake in Canada, with Glacier National Park in the distance at the south end of the lake. It was meant to go to Debbie after Bob and Becky were both gone, but Becky gave it to her now and Debbie was so happy.
Becky and Dan had also picked out four Gary Spetz prints to give to any of us who wanted them, ...
... so we brought them home for Jill. Two of them were duplicates of ones we had in our home.
Before Bob died, Bob, Becky, and Debbie made a list of items that Bob wanted to give to his kids, so we went through the list. Some of the photos here were taken after we got home, so don't pay any attention to the background. Three of the items on the list were clocks. Two of them were 3M anniversary gifts, ...
... and Becky said she would like to keep them, which was fine with Debbie and Doug.
This clock belonged to Bob's grandfather, Harry Schilling, so this one came home with Debbie.
Here's the inscription at the base of the clock. "A testimonial and grateful appreciation for your faithful and loving service to Christ and our beloved church from the Holmen Lutheran congregation, 1955."
Speaking of Harry Schilling, this dusty, much-larger-than-expected safe was tucked in the back of the bedroom closet, just as Bob had described. But nope, this thing weighed a ton and no one was interested in taking it for now.
We went through Bob's clothes at the cabin and picked out a few items that were meaningful to our side of the family, including Tommy Bartlett garments. Here's an assortment of clothes we brought back with us, but much of what we found, we gave away to family later in the day.
Bob also wanted his kids to have his two Norwegian sweaters. Debbie had brought one back from Arizona in June, ...
... and picked up the other one at the cabin.
Meanwhile, Dan was hosting a treasure hunt in the garage. Would anyone like a rake? There were plenty to choose from! Jill brought one home.
This is where all the extra extension cords were kept.
Doug took a picture of the nails holding the cords. Most were marked with the length of the cords, which is the sign of a master organizer.
Further along that wall, it was a vision of orderliness.
There was lots of stuff in the back corner of the garage, ...
... including this box filled with tapes of all types.
Debbie spotted something amazing next to the rakes and Doug got it down for her.
Is it? Can it be? It was! Here's one of the hubcaps to the 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport they had when they were kids. This treasure definitely went home with Debbie.
We ran into Becky's sister, Rachel, on our way back to the cabin. Rachel remembered Jill from Jill's summer visits to her grandparents when she was a kid.
We met Rachel's grandson and daughter-in-law too.
We found some other treasures that came home with us too, like Bob's binoculars, ...
... Irene's food scale, which was used often for weighing backpacking food, ...
... Bob's German beer stein, ...
... Bob's shoeshine kit, ...
... and Irene's sewing carousel, which had changed very little despite being owned by two of Bob's later wives after she died.
Before we left, Dan gave us this cooler to give to Herb. It was Dan's intent that Herb would bring it to the cemetery the next day, but the plan wasn't completely worked out. As the middlemen, all we could do was offer it to Herb.
We needed to get going, because the Schilling family was starting to gather in Bemidji at the Holiday Inn Express.
We forgot to get a picture, so here's a Google Street view of it.
We rented one of their meeting rooms for the weekend so we could all hang out together.
Bob had two climbing gloves on which he had written the years that he had climbed Half Dome with his brother, Herb: '96, '00, '02, '04, '07, '09, '10. Of course, one of those had to be given to Herb.
We brought several bags of Bob's clothes and put them out on some of the tables. Debbie laughed when Mark immediately picked this orange shirt because Becky, Katy, and Debbie had all known it should go to Mark when they were sorting Bob's clothes.
Laura brought a folder of photos from when she climbed Half Dome with Bob and Herb.
Carol brought a fun new t-shirt for Debbie.
She also brought the Trempealeau Times with Bob's obituary in it, a Scandinavian table runner that used to belong to Debbie's late mother, Irene, ...
... a case of Elmaro Wine to share and then send the rest home with us, ...
... and a copper tub of Mary's that Carol had saved for Debbie.
Every one of our Schilling cousins was able to make it to northern Minnesota for Bob's funeral, so we got a photo of all ten cousins for the first time ever. All of their spouses and kids stayed home.
Doug got takeout food for dinner and everyone brought food and drinks to share.
We had a nice time being together, despite having just seen each other four months earlier at Bob's sister's funeral.

Saturday, July 27, 2019: We headed to Trinity Lutheran Church before 10:00 AM, so we'd have time to set up before other people arrived.
Debbie created a digital slideshow and two easel boards with pictures of Bob's life. Becky's family added the Boy Scout Leader shirts and the 3M hard hat, and we brought those home with us.
Here are the first fifty years ...
... and here are the last twenty eight.
There were greetings all around as family started to arrive.
The church is very small, with seating for about 100 people, so we recommended that family grab a seat early. Fortunately, everyone was able to fit.
As we were standing around, Debbie joked that she would give a dollar to anyone who would get a selfie with her dad.
Doug and Susan took that challenge.
Cousin Sharlot also got a selfie. Bob would have thought it was funny. He was never one to pass on a ridiculous wager.
As always, Debbie got a picture of Doug taking a picture of Debbie.
Shortly before the 11:00 AM service, we joined the pastor plus Becky and her family in the fellowship room.
Becky's descendants currently outnumber Bob's 29 to 7, and that was very clear looking around the room. Becky's sister also joined us but Bob's siblings were not invited.
The service was officiated by Debbie's stepbrother Dan, with Herb giving a eulogy about his brother (at Debbie's request). Afterward, there was a classic Lutheran church basement luncheon, ...
... except that this church didn't have a basement. We adapted though.
Food was getting a little low by the time Debbie made it through the buffet line, but fortunately, there were plates of assorted desserts on each table.
Since we were in Minnesota, the assorted desserts were nearly all bars. Mmmm, bars.
After lunch, our cousins were mingling and viewing the photo display..
Becky's friend, Sue, spoke with Debbie for a while and gave her this beautiful quilted square she had made.
Bob's former boss, Chuck, and his wife, Loretta, were there. It had been many decades since Debbie had seen them but she had kept up with how they were doing over the years.
It was great fun to see Elyn, Tom, and Claire again after many decades too. Tom and Claire went to St. Olaf College with Debbie's parents, and Debbie and Elyn had played together with their brothers when they were kids.
Debbie's aunt Bonnie remembered them from St. Olaf as well.
At 1:30, we headed to Ten Lake Cemetery.
What a great treat to have a selection of Diet Cokes at Bob's burial - both caffeine-free and caffeinated! And just like Bob would have wanted it - there was no regular Coke anywhere in sight. The cooler was still in the meeting room in Bemidji so Dan put sodas in a plastic bin on ice instead.
Stepsiblings Debbie and Dan raised a can of Diet Coke in Bob's memory.
Bob's grave was further over than the flags that had been placed the previous day.
Here's Bob's grave with a temporary marker until the permanent gravestone can be installed someday.
Debbie raised a toast to Bob, ...
... and we drank our Diet Cokes in the sun.
Debbie chatted with Sue before the interment began.
Pastor Amanda performed the interment, ...
... then family members were invited to say a few words.
After everyone had a chance to speak if they wanted, Dan and Doug placed the box in the grave.
Then Dan invited family members to come up and shovel dirt into the grave. Becky went first, assisted by her son David.
Debbie went next, ...
... followed by Doug.
Here's Herb.
Instead of shoveling dirt, Jill dropped in a penny that she had found on our drive north. Her grandpa used to save pennies and bring them when he came to visit so they could play with them together.
Here's Paul, ...
... and Mark and Emmie.
Doug finished shoveling the remaining dirt into the grave and replaced the sod.
And that's that.
Before we left the cemetery, Debbie got a photo of Mary's family. It was especially sad to be saying goodbye to another Schilling sibling so soon after losing Mary in March.
We were invited back to the cabin to visit for a while.
Here are the flower arrangements from the funeral.
Herb and Mark officially handed over the keys of the van they generously drove back from Arizona containing Becky's belongings.
It was a beautiful day in the shade, so the Schilling family congregated on the deck. There's Lake Andrusia, and technically, the Mississippi River.
Here are Mark, Heather, Emmie, and Herb.
Emmie got a nice photo of us.
Here are Paul, Benny, Debbie, Emmie, Mark, Bonnie, Susan, ...
... and Heather.
We started to say our goodbyes inside. Here are Katy's husband, Guy, and his daughter and son-in-law, Gracie and Robert.
Here are Becky and Susan.
We headed back to Bemidji and gathered in the meeting room again.
First order of business: paying Doug and Susan a dollar for the selfie they got with Bob.
Next, we raised a toast to Bob.
Doug started going through some of Bob's boxes that we got from the cabin. Hmmm, this logo looks familiar - a large leather version of this hung in Bob's den during Debbie and Doug's childhood, but they never really understood what it meant.
And here's another occurrence of it. Mysterious! Well, okay, not really. It's related to Wood Badge training in the Boy Scouts.
We got Chinese food for dinner and played games.
Telestrations is always fun with this group.
We decided that Jill's drawings were always the best. Yes, those are hairy legs below that kilt.
Gift pig? Fancy pork?
Carol isn't a big fan of hugs but that didn't stop Sara from hugging her while we all laughed.
Doug had to model the Superman silk robe that Bob must have received as a joke gift long ago.
This is hilarious only to Debbie and Doug: since they have matching initials, Doug often had to use "DAS II" as his initials, and here it is on his cooler, long after there was any danger of someone confusing the two of them.

Sunday, July 28, 2019: Just as Debbie went downstairs to join her relatives for breakfast around 8:00 AM, the power went out in the hotel so we had to dine by ambient light only and making waffles was out of the question. Hooray for flashlights on cell phones!
By 9:30, Tom, Debbie, and Jill had said their goodbyes and were back on the road to head home. We had to laugh at the ad for fresh walleye at the local grocery store. These people do love their walleye. But Canadian? Doesn't this state have 10,000 lakes, presumably with walleye of its own?
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are everywhere around here, even on liquor store signs.
There's the cute sign for Downtown Bemidji, with a fish on a stick next to it.
Here's the big attraction in town: huge statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. We saw them last in 2006.
We headed to Minnesota Nice Cafe for brunch.
Jill (top) got hash browns and eggs, Tom (left) got the corned beef hash omelette, ...
... and Debbie had a wild rice omelet, as one does when one is in Minnesota.That tasty dish on the side is hash brown casserole, but we all know it's really hotdish.
We had to drive around the block to get a better picture of this Linus statue when Debbie spotted it. He was probably part of St. Paul's 2003 collection of Linus statues.
This cool metal fish is party of the 2019 Bemidji Sculpture Walk.
This guy used to be a Muffler Man statue.
We drove through Akeley, Minnesota, ...
... home of a really large Paul Bunyan statue, ...
... and a Babe the Blue Ox mural down the street.
Our next stop was Camp Ripley National Guard Post in Little Falls, Minnesota, to visit ...
... the Minnesota Military Museum.
We spoke to the person in the museum for just a moment, ...
... then made a run through the rain ...
... to see Minnesota's Merci Train boxcar.
This plaque near the bottom of the boxcar tells all about it.
The back of the car was undecorated, ...
... but a stairwell led up to the boxcar door from where you can see the small exhibit to the left ...
... and a sign on the right, ...
... containing the history of Minnesota's boxcar.
Just down the road a bit was Thielen Meats, which we know about from Amy Thielen's Heartland Table show.
Snowmobile crossing!
Our trusty Roadside America app tempted us to take the back roads so we could see this yard filled with sculptures made from farm machinery. Look closely at that grey spaceship-like thing toward the left and you'll see some green aliens.
Doug and Susan had gone to Itasca State Park for the day, so Doug texted us this picture of himself ready to do some hiking in Bob's shirt and hiking shoes.
Meanwhile, Sara, Carol, Heather, and Emmie posted a picture of their lunch stop on their way home too.
There's the Medtronic building so we must be getting close to the Twin Cities.
Allianz Field was completely finished after having been only a shell the previous year.
Having passed by Purdue University on the way up, it was appropriate that we drove past Macalester College on the way home.
The St. Clair Broiler building shows almost no clues that it ever hosted the Broiler.
And here on Hamline Avenue is the house that Debbie lived in when she was growing up. See that steep front yard covered in hostas? It used to be a lawn and Bob used to mow it with a manual mower. Hostas make much more sense than a lawn.
There's the house again. The neighboring house now has a wall around it, which is a big change from previous years.
Of course, we were in St. Paul for one reason only - to eat at Carbone's. We started at the bar while waiting for our friends to arrive.
Let's take a closer look at that beer can. It's from Lake Monster Brewing in St. Paul and it is called Last Fathom. But here's the fun part - it's a wild rice lager.
Oh, Carbone's Special. Get in my belly.
Here are Kristine, Debbie, and Jean, friends since they were teenagers.
And here's the full party, including Kristine and Jean's spouses, which is always fun.
When driving through St. Paul, there are two buildings that must be photographed. Number One: Bank with the One at the Top.
Number Two: The 3M building, which was looking very rainbow-y. And yes, it pains us that Number Two is the one with a 3 in the name. Poor planning on our part.
There's the St. Croix River, heading downstream to merge with the Mississippi River.
It's nice that our navigation map welcomes us to new states now.
But the sign does too.
In Baldwin, Wisconsin, home of Debbie's skydiving days, we stopped to get some Dairy Queen.
We stopped for the night in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, and stayed at AmericInn.

Monday, July 29, 2019: We were checked out by 5:30 AM because we wanted to get home in the early afternoon.
Of course, we had to grab breakfast, and we enjoyed the Wisconsin reference on the drive-through menu.
There's the Wisconsin Dells.
We stopped at Cornellier Superstore as we always do.
We picked up some New Glarus beer there as we always do.
McDonald's provided a quick lunch as we raced to get home.

Postscript: Once home, we had lots of things to unpack. In addition to the items mixed into the story above, we accidentally ended up with Bob and Becky's cooler because the nice man packing the car didn't realize that this wasn't one of the many used items coming home with us. Debbie ordered a new one and had it shipped to the cabin to make up for it.
We also brought back a bunch of nutrition drinks that had been driven from Phoenix to Cass Lake for us to use with Claire, since they were no longer needed by Bob and Becky. Unfortunately, Becky still used the Boost Breeze and the case got brought home by accident, so Debbie shipped a new one of those to the cabin too.
Two blue tubs marked "Bob's Misc." turned out to contain much more Boy Scouts memorabilia, ...
... and the actual hardware and ...
... test books used in Bob's library shelving product. Every one of these books is labeled as being from the fictional "Schilling's Walley World Library" and contains an RFID chip.
We added Bob's K&R book ("The C Programming Language" by Kernighan & Ritchie) to our own collection, because that's what programming nerds do.
Tom was happy to receive Bob's pilot logbook. After Debbie's mother died, Bob took flying lessons, and stopped several months later after successfully flying solo.
Debbie laughed when she saw that her father had made a scrapbook out of his parents Christmas letters, just as Debbie had. As the family caretaker of all Schilling Family memorabilia, Debbie had distributed copies of the Christmas letters to all of her aunts and uncles many years ago, and to her knowledge, her dad was the only one who made a scrapbook from them.
We brought home this totem and shipping blanket from Doug. Debbie's mother, Irene, bought the totem when they lived in St. Paul in the 1970s and it has been in Doug's possession since she died. Now, it was time to live at Debbie's house for a while. The shipping blanket just happened to be an extra that he brought along which turned out to be perfect for wrapping Gary Spetz paintings.

Katy sent another box of memorabilia a couple of weeks later, including a letter from Irene.

The next part of this story is about cleaning out Dad's condo after Becky's death in April 2020. Click here to read it.

** THE END **

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