As much as we are enjoying the farm, I really wanted to get out this weekend and see the area a bit so I decided on visiting Stillwater, MN which is about 45 minutes away. Stillwater is a very quaint town built on Lake St. Croix which was made when the Mississippi where it joined the St. Croix river. Originally the St. Croix river was an outlet of the glacial Lake Duluth (precursor to Lake Superior) and ran much higher and even before that the ocean covered Minnesota during the Cambrian period. The rock walls are very distinctive and chiefly made of sandstone and because they exist here in such pristine condition, these formations are known as the St. Croixian series wherever they appear in North America. The town is also the site where the state of Minnesota was originally formed and is super cute with tons of restaurants and shops. So geology, history, and shopping…I am totally in!!
They have done an excellent job with the town itself by taking the old existing buildings and turning them into retail establishments without losing the original look and feel of the city. I was also very fond of this little park they have called Teddy Bear Park for kids and my absolute favorite was the million dollar restroom. There is a simple brick restroom down on the waterfront which they call the million dollar restroom because it is taking up a space of prime waterfront real estate. Very cool. So great shops, lots of bar restaurants, and a funky feel. Hang onto your wallet though because the prices are on the high side and it’s hard not to want to buy a few things.
After Stillwater we took our time driving back to the farm and along the way we discovered an old drive in theater that had been turned into an outdoor church. Our friend Mark loves drive in theaters and we knew he would like the pictures so we stopped and checked it out. Pretty neat concept really you can drive in with your car and then listen to the minister who is on a little stand.
We also stopped and saw Rice Beds Creek which is an area close to the the farm where wild rice grows. The harvesting process sounds pretty laborious. It is a two person job, one pushing the canoe, the other inside. You bend over the rice (which looks like tall grass) and then whack it so the rice falls in the bottom of the canoe. I guess it is a hot, buggy exercise and once you have the rice you still need to to take it somewhere to be processed (baked and hulled). I bought some wild rice from the Co-Op at $17 a pound and we will see if the taste is worth that much work. Most Minnesota wild rice you eat in stores is actually a hybrid of regular rice and wild rice which allows it to be grown and cultivated by more traditional methods. It was cool though and the pictures don’t do justice to how pretty the area was.
Sunday I had an opportunity to attend the West Denmark Lutheran church. I was raised and confirmed Lutheran and identify myself as such (although I am quite happy to attend other churches as well) and was excited about the opportunity to attend a Lutheran church in an area of the country where they are very common. The West Denmark church was founded primarily by some Danish families and reflects both the Lutheran religion but also the culture and value systems of the local danish people. The original church was lost to fire in the 1980’s and the new one is full of the most beautiful wood. It also has several pieces of hand carved wood (including the large cross) that were done by a member of the church who was the great-grandson of a famous danish woodcarver. The church sits on 11 acres of lake front property and has multiple buildings including a small school, party room, church, and house for Pastor Linda and her husband. I was curious as to how they made that work with such a small congregation but it turns out that the church allowed a widow and her 5 children to live in the house after the father died. All 5 kids went on to become very successful in life and not forgetting what the church had done for them contribute substantially to infrastructure projects. I love stories like that. Makes me believe in the human spirit. The other thing I really liked about the church is that on it’s programs it states that it is open to all regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. So this tiny Danish church in the middle of rural Wisconsin is doing it’s own small part to support the LGBT community. Again, amazing what you find as you wander this country and some of the nicest surprises are in the least likely places.
The rest of Sunday was largely uneventful but we did have some very serious storms at night. Linda and Jim offered to allow us into their home but we decided to ride it out in the rig. Peak gusts were over 50 mph and the rig did shake a little, but it was manageable. I felt quite a bit safer since we weren’t near any big trees, but the lightning did freak me out a little. It’s definitely going to be part of what we have to deal with going forward and overall I thought we did OK. Lee’s really calm in a crisis so that helped keep me calm as well.
So that’s the end of the farm posts. I work Monday and Tuesday, we move to a campground closer to the venue on Wednesday and then its all wedding through the weekend. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for awhile I am guessing I will be pretty busy!!
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What a cute town! I love quaint old towns. The t-shirt store was very clever. Thankfully there are Oil & Vinegar stores all around as now I have to buy my own 😉 -thanks for thinking of me- The Million Dollar Bathroom is hilarious! We love to look in old churches. They can be so ornate or very simple. Love love those thunderstorms! Good luck with the rest of the week. Enjoy the wedding. How special that day will be for everyone!
Love the sandstone that is found along the Mississippi. The buildings are gorgeous!