WAY UP NORTH: CANADA, MINNESOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA

Teresa and Marjorie’s part of the Epic Road Trip of the Summer of 2013 is drawing to a close. Out of North Dakota into Manitoba. Prairie, pond and Canadian junk food. Then on to Minnesota. Also known as home.  

Unfortunately posts for this part of the trip had to be transferred, rather awkwardly I’m afraid, from another blog so these segments are not in perfect order. Still…it’s all about moving down the road with lots of picture taking so how bad can it be?

 CANADA/MANITOBA/WINNIPEG

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8:10AM/Friday The journey of the 4 M’s—Manitoba, Minnesota, Montana, Mexico (Nuevo). Yes, the first is complete. Best Western Charterhouse Hotel, downtown Winnipeg. Room service Club Sandwiches, Poutine, Caesar Salad, Chardonnay. Nice. Teresa went for a walk by the river and I tried to wrestle this cold out of my body one more time. It is one of those colds that move through your system in stages. Short time in full attack mode with aches and heavy head, days of just having it on the edge of consciousness and then the cough begins. I skipped the orange juice and zicam for 2 days so maybe that’s why last night felt like a relapse. However TODAY WILL BE FINE. I declare it finished after a night of various Advil and chocolate milk variations. DONE. Hear me. DONE. I have thoroughly enjoyed this time on the road with Teresa. She’s an excellent traveler, no complaints about small things, curious, just the right amount of adventurous in my eyes—exploring new sight and sounds but not running away with the carnies or, in this case oil field guys. She’s both thoughtful about what she’s observing and has quite an advanced sense of humor.

Geography and habitation modes galore. Rockies alternating with plains, smaller mountains giving way to hills, grazing land to ranches to farms to small towns to cities, black angus to blonde Guernsey, McDonalds to…well…more McDonalds.

If some preacher’s rant could convince me that heaven was rolling down a two-lane highway over the western plains with one of your best friends driving, a caramel malt from DQ in your hand/mouth/tummy and melancholy music in the background, I too would believe!

I exaggerated earlier when I said almost 2000 to Winnipeg. The total for the first leg of the trip—the first M checked off is actually 1870 miles and that includes getting to our first stop in Minnesota. Roseau.

Now…at the border…a foreign country. Yay. Canada. I love Canada. It has a civil aura about it. Not so noisy as south of the border in the good (sort of) old USA. 
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BUGS IN THE FIELDS.

BUGS ON THE ROAD.

BUGS ON THE ROAD.

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CANADIAN COWS LOOK ALMOST LIKE AMERICAN COWS DON’T THEY?

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NEXT STOP: AUDREY’S FAMILY IN ROSEAU, MINNESOTA

We’ve come from Canada today and are now cozily ensconced in the guest room at Oak Crest Senior Housing in Roseau, Minnesota. About three hours south of Winnipeg. My cousin Audrey lives here and her giant 80th birthday party is taking place tomorrow—a surprise for her. The fact that she’s very leery of both parties and surprises makes the suspense that much greater. I suspect once she is over the shock she will be honored and moved by having so much family around.

Tonight the three of us went over to Warroad to a most pleasant restaurant overlooking Lake of the Woods and serving perfect Walleye. My life is really chock full of good things…I am usually grateful…occasionally I forget. I think the cold is gone except for lingering laryngitis but no one seems to mind that I can’t talk.

PICTURES: Family Trees and Branches: A Photo Essay: In the last years I have come to know a whole new Norwegian family. Next week cousin Vivian and I will meet almost unknown cousins in Montana. In the meantime Teresa and I have had delightful times and visits with Minnesota family and friends. The following photos were taken at a clan gathering in Roseau, Minnesota at Cousin Audrey’s 80th birthday party. The cast of characters include Audrey’s three living children (Terri, Linda, David) and Randy’s family; more than a few grandchildren and great-grandchildren and some relatives from the Hahn (Audrey’s husband) side.

Audrey’s and my grandparents, Torgus and Asborg Neset, came to America with Sven, Ilif, and Gyro (Or…as we know them—Swan [my dad], Ike and Gertie) and two children who died very young. Elin (Helen, Audrey’s mom) was born here. They came to Minnesota like so many Norwegians before them but did not necessarily prosper in what had been touted all over Europe as the promised land. In fact none of the children did well financially but the “American Dream” eventually worked as it is supposed to with each generation doing modestly better.

AUDREY’S FAMILY:

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My cousin Audrey and I have known each other since I was born quite a long time ago. Being present at her 80th birthday party was quite special. It was a joyous and lively occasion taking up most of the day in its various celebratory stages. It all was a confirmation of what we know—family is wonderful in all its permutations and we are blessed to be part of one or more…

Can’t leave the party without a couple more pictures of Clara, the Viking Princess (Audrey’s great granddaughter) whom I have been photographing for a few years now. As you can see there were many beautiful children and grandchildren at the party—but Clara was having a particularly adorable year. BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 740

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OUT TO THE ‘OLD PLACE’ AND THE BEST NEIGHBORS EVER.

Best Friends from Childhood. Back to the Old Place. Then Grand Rapids to our favorite Super 8 so far. Now a week off from the road. Think. Write. Walk. Hang out with Teresa, Rob and Marsh. Shop in Duluth. Go back out to Old Place with a picnic. Sleep. Wash car.

Photo album from day.

Helen. My hero. 90 I think?

Helen. My hero. 90 I think?

Barb. Her mom's strong funny generous daughter. One of my favorite people in the world.

Barb. Her mom’s strong funny generous daughter. One of my favorite people in the world.

Norm. One of Robert's best childhood friends. Do they have stories? Yes they do!

Norm. One of Robert’s best childhood friends. Do they have stories? Yes they do!

Helen’s Rhubarb Pie.

And Helen's Gingerbread Cake.

And Helen’s Gingerbread Cake.

Spring out at the ‘Old Place.’

Ahhh. More Spring.

Teresa. By the window of my old room...

Teresa. By the window of my old room…

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AN INDIAN AND THE COWBOYS.

This is a catch-up post; our story from just a few days ago. Sometimes—on the road or in the air—we’re travelers, sometimes explorers, sometimes we are simply tourists but, in the best of all possible worlds we are first and foremost students.

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CRAZY HORSE MONUMENT WHEN COMPLETED.

CRAZY HORSE MONUMENT WHEN COMPLETED.

BUFFALO STEW WITH CRAZY HORSE.

BUFFALO STEW WITH CRAZY HORSE.

The Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore nicely meld the tourism/student functions. In a way they are oddly juxtaposed, the enormous romanticized face of the brave warrior and the smaller coterie of dead white men. In another way the two monuments represent a big swath of American history—the Indian and the cowboys. Visiting them reminded me again to always be a student.

CRAZY HORSE: The Indian is Crazy Horse, fearless and fierce on the racing stallion—emerging from his mountain. According to the guide as we bus to the foot of the mountain, this monument is higher taller bigger grander in every way than the cowboys down the road (actually only one of the presidents was a cowboy but they all acted like Roughriders when it came to the Indians).

It is a good idea to go to the Crazy Horse monument first so that the rightful order of things is established. First came the Indians, then the cowboys! Crazy Horse was an Oglala Lakota warrior who fought the U.S. government over control of his people’s lands—including defeating Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Crazy Horse was murdered by a military guard after peacefully surrendering to U.S. troops a year later.

The obsessive man who was probably the major reason this monument is being built at all should be acknowledged. Korczak Ziolkowski was a determined and talented orphan whose obsession with the Crazy Horse monument overrode everything else in this life—although he apparently had a satisfactory marriage with a still-living devoted wife and ten children, many of whom continue work on the monument. Ziolkowski was a rugged individualist of the first order from purchasing the land (which belongs to the Crazy Horse Foundation now) to working almost alone with inferior tools in the early years of monument-creating to insisting that no tax dollars ever be used on the monument.

 The Crazy Horse monument might be considered an anti-establishment icon of the first order, built by an anti-government guy in honor of another anti-government guy.

Of course Mount Rushmore is quite the opposite–built for/by/about the federal government. The privately funded monument versus the federally funded Mount Rushmore. Mistrust of government versus utilization of government toward good ends!  By good ends I mean funding and maintaining a magnificent park. However all of the four presidents included on the mountainside are implicated in stealing the very land (or all of the other lands owned by the Native Americans) on which the monument rests.

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MOUNT RUSHMORE: Everything considered these U.S. Presidents probably did more good than harm overall. But are these even the right four? According to my not-very-learned take on Presidential greatness I can’t think of any who deserve the honor more—although whether any giant faces should be defacing the Black Hills is a matter of some controversy (see later article).

Washington definitely. The more biographies I read about him, the more I admire him. Yes, he did keep slaves (find me a continent or a race or a culture that hasn’t—not to say it’s right, just to say it’s unfortunately very common) and apparently he was not the world’s most skillful soldier but he was smart, steady, steadfast and knew how critical it would be to establish a ‘democratic’ form of government from the beginning—no trappings of royalty allowed. He also understood the importance of having a strong federal system.  So yes to GW on the monument.

Jefferson? Jefferson probably. The original states’ righter. Exploration. Ever westward. Jefferson on the side of the common man/farmer/shopkeeper versus the patrician/wealthy/landowner. Jefferson was the first journalistic attack dog in the long string that has followed but he was also a serious intellectual and quite dashing in thought and deed. I have not read the serious biographies of him yet which await me on a shelf back home.

Lincoln also definitely. Whatever percentage of his quest was dedicated to freeing the slaves versus maintaining the Union, waging the Civil War was quite probably the most courageous act of American history. That he was also a wheeler dealer politician and looked like Daniel Day Lewis is okay too. Lincoln, like Washington, appears to fit the definition of ‘honorable leader’ by any standards.

Teddy Roosevelt, yes I guess so. I am a TR fan for the following reasons. He allowed his wild daughter Alice to be herself; he was a ‘good’ Republican, a fighter against corporate corruption; and he loved the west and wrote extensively about and on behalf of the environment. On the other hand I am not sure someone as war-loving or who spent as much time slaughtering wild animals around the world deserves to gaze forever over these peaceful hills. His park just north of here in North Dakota, is a beautiful mix of oddly shaped rock formations, woods and streams and has such a sense of the rough, powerful, loving and flawed man about it.

BUFFALO DOG.

BUFFALO DOG.

THERE ARE MANY ANIMALS IN THE BLACK HILLS.

TERESA'S WALKED-IN FEET AT THE END OF A LONG TRAVEL DAY.

TERESA’S WALKED-IN FEET AT THE END OF A LONG TRAVEL DAY.

The following piece from the New York Times came up when I googled Crazy Horse and it expresses some of the unease we all feel over grandiose monuments, whether the people or incidents they honor deserve it and whether their placement is appropriate.

September 2, 2009/Editorial Observer  Waiting for Crazy Horse by Lawrence Downes  They dynamited Crazy Horse’s mountain again the other day, sending 4,400 tons of granite crashing onto a growing pile of Black Hills rubble. An eruption of dust ripped across the mountainside like a yanked zipper. There was a flash, then a boom that made a thousand people three-quarters of a mile away jump at once, then applaud.

It was one of the biggest blasts yet in a project that has seen a lot of them in 60 years, though afterward the mountain looked pretty much the same. The carving of this South Dakota peak into a mounted likeness of Crazy Horse, the great Sioux leader, has been going on since 1948. It’s a slow job. After all this time, only his face is complete. The rest — his broad chest and flowing hair, his outstretched arm, his horse — is still encased in stone. Someday, long after you are dead, it may finally emerge.

The memorial, outside Rapid City, is only a few miles from Mount Rushmore. Both are tributes to greatness. One is a federal monument and national icon, the other a solitary dream. A sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, worked at it alone for more than 30 years, roughing out the shape while acquiring a mighty beard and a large family. He died in 1982 and is buried in front of the mountain. His widow, Ruth, lives at the site and continues the mission with her many children.

I have to admit: Mount Rushmore bothers me. It was bad enough that white men drove the Sioux from hills they still hold sacred; did they have to carve faces all over them too? It’s easy to feel affection for Mount Rushmore’s strange grandeur, but only if you forget where it is and how it got there. To me, it’s too close to graffiti.

The Crazy Horse Memorial has some of the same problems: it is most definitely an unnatural landmark. Some of the Indians I met in South Dakota voiced their own misgivings, starting with the fact that it presumes to depict a proud man who was never captured in a photograph or drawn from life.

Kelly Looking Horse, a Sioux artist I talked with as he sewed a skin drum at Mount Rushmore, said there were probably better ways to help Indians than a big statue. He also grumbled that many of the crafts for sale at the memorial were made by South Americans and Navajos and sold to people who wouldn’t know the differences among Indian tribes, or care. Leatrice (Chick) Big Crow, who runs a Boys and Girls Club at the Pine Ridge Reservation, said she thought the memorial was one of those things that could go on swallowing money and effort forever.

But two other Sioux artists — Charlie Sitting Bull, a weaver of intricate beadwork, and Del Iron Cloud, a watercolorist — said they were grateful at least that the memorial gave them free space to show and sell their work. As for the loss of the Black Hills, Mr. Iron Cloud told me, without rancor, that there wasn’t much to be done about it now.

Looking up at the mountain in the golden light of late afternoon, it was hard not to be impressed, even moved, by this effort to honor the memory of a people this country once tried mightily to erase. I came away reminded that eternity is not on our side. The nearby South Dakota Badlands, made of soft and crumbling sediment and ash, will be gone in a geological instant.

The day may sooner come when most human works have worn away as well. When all is lost to rust and rot, what remains may be two enormous granite oddities in the Great Plains: Four men’s heads mysteriously huddled cheek to cheek — a forgotten album cover. And, far bigger, a full-formed Indian on a horse, his eyes ablaze, his long arm pointing out over his beloved Black Hills.

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MINNESOTA AGAIN. WILDLIFE.

I told Teresa that northern Minnesota is a very special place…with an abundance of wild animals. We are off to quite a good start in the five days since we arrived. We want to share the pictures.

FAMOUS ANTLER FISH FROM BIG BOG LAKE NEAR HERE.

FAMOUS ANTLER FISH FROM BIG BOG LAKE NEAR HERE.

KILLER CHIPMUNKS OF THE NORTH COUNTRY.

KILLER CHIPMUNKS OF THE NORTH COUNTRY.

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DULUTH.

We traveled to Duluth today to walk along the shores of our magnificent Lake Superior and to study historic landmarks such as the Glensheen Mansion. There would be a little shopping and a quick lunch interspersed with these more serious considerations.

Unfortunately things did not work out as planned.

The following photo essay describes our misfortunes.

After stopping briefly at the Miller Hill Mall…well maybe not briefly—more like two hours I suppose—we drove down to the lake for lunch at the highly recommended Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar. We knew immediately that it would be extremely rude to eat and run from such a fine place so we decided to discuss Duluth history over lunch to compensate for our lack of historical research so far. That did not work out well either because we know so little about that topic—Duluth history. So there we were, suffering greatly from lack of historic perspective, but what could we do but slowly and appreciatively savor these unusual and incredibly delicious appetizers and quite lovely wine we had ordered.

EAT AT LAKE STREET RESTAURANT AND BAR IN DULUTH. YOU WILL BE VERY HAPPY YOU DID.

EAT AT LAKE STREET RESTAURANT AND BAR IN DULUTH.

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PORK BELLY SSAM.

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BISON BONE MARROW

CHORIZO STUFFED DATES.

CHORIZO STUFFED DATES.

TRYING DESPERATELY NOT TO BE DEPRESSED OVER OUR FAILURE TO LEARN MORE DULUTH HISTORY.

TRYING DESPERATELY NOT TO BE DEPRESSED OVER OUR FAILURE TO LEARN MORE DULUTH HISTORY.

We did have a stimulating conversation about the role of food in our lives but then, to make up for our so far frivolous behavior we walked across the street to investigate the story behind what was probably a historic structure. However, at every turn it seems another obstacle to exploring this city’s past is placed in our path. A vintage clothing boutique named Fig Leaf is inconveniently located right at the entrance. Again, we are visitors here and really want to make a good impression so well…we were pretty much compelled to purchase something.

JEDI GIRL COURTESY "FIG LEAF."

JEDI GIRL COURTESY “FIG LEAF.”

Eventually we headed home, drowning our considerable sorrows over a shortage of Duluth history in DQ Caramel malts. BLOGS SUMMER 2013 4 M's 1073

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RAINY DAY WALK ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI.

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GREENNESS.

Minnesota: The parking area outside the window is filled with 4-wheelers, pickups and boats and trailers covered with tarps as it rained last night.

The pink girlie t-shirt at L & M pictures a curvy ‘babe’ holding a smoking rifle over a dead deer—captioned “I just dropped 50 pounds.”

It is all bright green and rainy gray. Good to stay in, better to be out. The smell is a blend of birch buds, baby balmies, damp decay of fallen tree trunks, earth reborn and rehydrated after its frozen slumber, cold cold water burbling in streams and ponds. It is a smell to draw deeply upon because it is only available in a northern spring.

All around it’s Minnesota-speak. And yes people do say ‘ya betcha,’ and chop off the end of each word rather abruptly…no melting away at word’s end like the French.

It is all about the weather up here. And there is weather aplenty. This year it snowed into May. Now it rains and greens and grows; after while all will be all crisp and golden with a scarlet scattering of Canadian maples, rusting tamarack and the ever present spruce green of green spruce. Then snow again. Weather!

The Cemetery and the Old Place: Today Teresa and I went up north to the Forest Hill Cemetery and the old place. Me and the house. Same age. Further destruction on both counts. Doctor, dentist, L’Oreal and coffee keep me from cracking and crumbling at quite the same rate as the old house which—each year—just calmly rots and sinks a little further. No help cosmetically or structurally I’m afraid. I am sad—and not. The house is aging and dying like living things do. Not getting torn down and replaced by a new thing. Just going—slowly and quietly in the wind and wet.

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Every year. Cemetery to check in with the folks. Teresa’s first visit to Great and Great Great Grandparents. It is an incredibly beautiful place which lies near a small stagnant swampy creek so its green gorgeousness is somewhat bothered by clouds and swarms and armies of mosquitoes. But we stay for a small visit and then it’s out Highway 71 to the old place.

Here it is. Home. Couldn’t wait to get away. Can’t wait to set foot back on this land every year. What a pleasure to tell Teresa my stories of this place. She says, “It must have been special to grow up here.” Yes actually it was.

The following two photos depict the final stages of the death of stuff. One summer about 20 years ago I lived here and took a cultural appreciation class for my Minnesota teaching license and several literature classes at Bemidji State University. The house had already been empty for awhile so the musty smell of wood rot and dampness pretty much permeated everything. My neighbor and I found some old paint in the garage and painted every wall whatever color was available. Hence the dark green and yellow and pink peels. Looked bad but smelled better. Mom’s old chore jacket has been hanging there in every photo taken in the last 10 years. I hope it will be the last thing to go.

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AND NOW FOR THE LAND.

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MINNESOTA. THE BEST.

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Teresa asks, “What is it that makes Minnesota so special to you Grandma?” We were driving down to the Twin Cities after a week ‘up north’ where I had the pure pleasure of introducing this curious young woman to My Home. Teresa is genuinely interested in places and the people who inhabit them so I had to proceed seriously with my answer.

I start by explaining the excellent liberal “blue state” heritage, marred occasionally by the likes of Michelle Bachman, but still managing to hang on to many of the old Democratic-Farmer-Labor traditions. Right now Minnesota boasts four remarkably progressive leaders in Amy Klobuchar, surely one of the smartest woman in the Senate; Keith Ellison, first Muslim elected to Congress; Al Franken, comedian turned Senator (as opposed to the reverse which is frequently the case) and Governor Mark Dayton, who has successfully fought for the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Governor’s grandfather founded Dayton’s Department Store (which became Target Corporation). As with most graduating seniors from rural northern Minnesota I moved to the Twin Cities and to my first job as a board marker at Cargill’s out near Lake Minnetonka. After paying rent and sharing the food budget with my roommates, much of my meager salary went to Dayton’s so I feel partly responsible for Mark Dayton’s success!

 “Another thing,” I say, “Minnesotans have that Scandinavian trait of almost too much modesty; don’t make too much of yourself, my mother said, don’t brag. No, the cake didn’t turn out so good this time…; I think that’s pretty refreshing in a world full of braggadocio of the worst kind.”

I tell Teresa how Minnesota used to have one of the best elementary and secondary school systems in the U.S. (true when I went to school there) and still has great universities and colleges, world-class medical facilities, low unemployment and strong community structures.

I ask, how can you not love a state with a state fish (walleye, of course); where Paul Bunyan strides the land creating lakes wherever his big feet land; where trolls still peer from under bridges (in fact I am going to watch “Troll Hunter” as soon as I post this); and where strange dishes like lutefisk and lefse survive.

I continue…a state where the Mississippi trickles out of the ground and swells to a great river and where General Mills, Pillsbury and Land O’Lakes are among the corporate leaders, helping maintain that Scandinavian tradition of bread and butter, cake and coffee at all hours of the day and night.

I also love being Norwegian and I want my granddaughter to experience the Scandinavian half of her heritage as much as the Asian side; the latter has been much easier growing up in San Diego and attending UCLA where Filipinos greatly outnumber Norwegians!  Now we have been to Iceland together which remains the most Viking of places, next we’ll go to what my grandparents referred to as ‘the old country’—Norway. Meanwhile Teresa, there’s always Minnesota.

Finally I want to make a case for places with WEATHER. My brother and sister-in-law only want to be away from ‘those winters.’ Oldsters by the hundreds head out in January and February for a few weeks or months in Florida or Arizona or Mexico. That’s okay but I’m quite certain people are healthier, stronger and more alert for living where there are challenges from the natural environment. The ordeal of a blizzard is greatly outweighed by the intense green and dazzling white of the landscape brightened by the barely-green, brown, red and gold of spring and fall. More than made up for by smells of thawing earth, new leaves, clover, cut hay, boggy freezing lakes; by the scary roar of snow and rain storms, sound songs of robins and finches and bluebirds and our beloved loons, of frogs, crickets and mosquitoes, with wolf and coyote howls and yips thrown in for good measure. Minnesota is truly one of nature’s theaters.

This summer I started telling my childhood tales to Teresa and introducing her to this greenest and best of all places.

Here are some photos of Green and of Teresa, some already posted but you cannot look at either green or Teresa too much.

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THERE WAS A TROLL BEHIND THE OUTHOUSE WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG.

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ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END. GOODBY MINNESOTA, MINNEAPOLIS AND TERESA.

It is the last day of the EPIC JOURNEY of Teresa and Marjorie in the spring/summer of 2013.

It ended today in Minneapolis at the Frederick Weisman Museum on the UofM campus (Frank Gehry’s big silver space/art/architectural wonder), then a very sweet downtown hotel and finally a gourmet meal up a few streets at 112 Eatery. Back in CityLand after our ever-so-wonderful Green Adventure in the North.

Few photos…off to bed. Goodnight Minnesota.

Most delicious delectable sweet and sour crab salad with cilantro EVER.

Most delicious delectable sweet and sour crab salad with cilantro EVER.

Teresa, the cute little nerd has a new notebook.

Teresa, the cute little nerd has a new notebook.

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MY LAST LUNCH WITH MY FAVORITE TRAVEL BUDDY.

MY LAST MINNESOTA LUNCH WITH MY FAVORITE TRAVEL BUDDY.

GOODBYE WALLEYE.

GOODBYE WALLEYE.

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A DAY BETWEEN, SOME MINNESOTA, SOME MONTANA.

Before Minnesota can be properly wrapped you should see these random photos from the visit HOME:

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Yesterday, the first two M segments (Manitoba and Minnesota) of Epic Summer Journey 2013 came to an end. Officially today began M segment #3—Montana. I didn’t come to life however for the first 700 miles—until we passed Little Big Horn Battlefield and my tourist genes kicked back in. More about that tomorrow morning.

I needed a day in between. However my night on Vivian’s couch with her faulty alarm system beeping every 90 seconds and the first hours of driving when my only photo was of a South Dakota rest stop will have to suffice.

Montana is alread stupendous, amazing, magnificent…and we’re not even to the best parts yet. But I’ll miss Minnesota nevertheless. I always miss Minnesota. Now though…on the road to Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

SO IT BEGINS...

SO IT BEGINS…

BUT EVENTUALLY IT IS ALL WORTH WHILE.

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BUT EVENTUALLY IT IS ALL WORTH WHILE.

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