AUGUST: The LAND CRUISE--North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan

Left Bozeman, Montana on July 30 for Bismarck, North Dakota on a very hot day. The drive from the Montana border to Bismarck is quite scenic, especially through the Badlands. Closer to Bismarck we could see the "Golden Waves Of Grain"---lots of combines in the fields harvesting grain crops. Stayed in Bismarck (the state capitol) overnight . The following day we drove to Rock Lake stopping in York, ND to visit John and Suzie Thoreson for a couple hours before continuing the journey to Rock Lake.

Below is a picture of the Badlands and a picture of a grain field.

Stayed in Rocklake for about a week. One afternoon Carl, my Dad, and I visited the International Peace Gardens located on the U.S. and Canadian border of North Dakota and Manitoba as a symbol of friendship. Sitting in the middle of the Peace Gardens is a formal garden with floral displays and reflecting pools that straddle the border between the two countries. Located on the west end of the garden is the 120-foot concrete Peace Tower and the Peace Chapel. Inside the Peace Chapel are limestone tablets with quotes from people of peace. Also in the Peace Chapel is a book with the names of those who perished on 9/11/01. The gardens feature seven Peace Poles on which, “May Peace Prevail” is written in twenty-eight different languages--presented by the Japanese Government. In May of 2002, ten steel girders transported from the New York World Trade Center were brought to rest at the International Peace Gardens.

The following pictures were taken at the International Peace Gardens. The first picture was taken at the entrance and looks down the international border from east to west---you can see the Peace Towers way in the background. The second picture shows the reflecting ponds and again the Peace Towers in the background. Picture number three is the Peace Chapel and picture four is of one of the "words to ponder" etched into the limestone tablets. Picture five shows the steel girders from the World Trade Center.

On the way back to Rock Lake, we stopped at the Sky Dancer Casino in Belcourt. Fed the one armed bandit gambling machine $2.00 in quarters---won $10.00 and quit! Joined my Mom and Aunt Anna for cocktails at my Uncle Harold and his wife, Phyllis Pantsari's house in Rock Lake. It was fun to sit down and talk with them.

The following picture is my parents standing in front of their home in Rock Lake. Dad made the sign.

Rock Lake has a population of  158--a very small town. On Sunday, August 5, there were five celebrations scheduled the same afternoon. One of the churches had their summer picnic; a local couple celebrated their 50 th anniversary; one of the ladies at my parent's church celebrated her 90 th birthday; one of my classmate's (grade and high school) parents celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary and a friend of my parents celebrated her 75 th birthday. Carl and I attended 3 of the 5 celebrations. One has to wonder why all the parties were on the same day. Well, in a rural farming community it is important to plan celebrations so they do not interfere with harvesting so this date was selected by each family months in advance. As things sometimes go, the families didn't know they all selected the same date and harvesting would be in full swing !

The following are crop and harvest pictures. The first is of combines and grain trucks and the last is a sunrise picture.

Next stop on this Land Cruise was East Grand Forks, MN to visit William, Shelly and Rebecca Thoreson. Rebecca was busy making chokecherry jam. She was at it two days while we were there---truely a labor of  love. I took a couple walks along the Red River--there are bike/walk paths on both side of  the river. One night we went to Parrot's Cay for Buck Burger Night. The burgers were pretty good for the price but the bar was far too smoky. Ate our buck burgers, drank a beer and left. I enjoyed our stay at William and Shelly's because I did some time in the kitchen and Carl manned the barbeque grill. Both William and Shelly were tied up with work so were glad to prepare dinner in the evening.

Left East Grand Forks for Minneapolis. Stayed two nights with Carl's niece and her husband, Kari and Mike Lind and their children Erik and  Baby Sonja. Carl's sister and her husband, Beth and Erling, joined us at Kari and Mike's place. The second night of our stay, Mike and Kari went to a friend's party so the four of us (Beth, Erling, Carl and I) babysat. It was easy--Erik went to bed and Baby Sonja fell asleep in my arms. Kari called to make sure everything was fine--we said, "No problem, we are having a party-why not come back and join us?!?"  Before Kari and Mike arrived, Erling went to their liquor cabinet and placed all the bottles on the coffee table. The four of us were sitting around the booze covered coffee table when Mike and Kari walked in--at first it startled them before realizing it was a joke! Mike, Kari, Beth, Erling, Carl and I then moved out to the deck to enjoy the beautiful evening. Watched the star filled heavens and talked until after midnight. Later, a storm moved in with lightning, wind and rain. Lost power and in the morning found all the deck furniture stacked up against the sliding door to the deck.

Beth, Erling, Carl, Kari, Erik, Sonja and I drove south of Hastings to the Alexis Bailly Vineyard.  It rained when we drove to the winery and suddenly the sun breaks out just before we parked the car. Walked around the vineyard grounds before tasting the wine. The vines were full of red grapes that little Erik loved to eat. The grounds have two bocce ball courts and some boulders that were worn such that they functioned as chairs. The wine at Alexis Bailly Vineyard far exceeded the wine we tasted at the Dakota Winery! From the winery we drove to Hastings where we had lunch and then walked along the Mississippi River before heading to Beth and Erling's place.

The following pictures were taken at Alexis Bailly Vineyard. The first picture is Carl, Beth and Erik standing by the grape vines--Erik eating one of the grapes.  The second picture is Carl sitting on the boulder chair. The last picture shows the tasting bar.

Visited Historic Fort Snelling's Civil War Reenactment. The fort is located at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers where traffic could be controlled on the two rivers. For about 30 years, Dakota and Ojibwe gathered at the agency and fort to trade, deal with government policy and perform their dances and sports. The American and Columbia fur companies built headquarters nearby and employees' families settled at nearby. Between 1861 and 1865 Minnesota expanded the fort as a training center for thousands of volunteers who joined the Union Army. After the war, the regular Army returned to Fort Snelling which became headquarters and supply base for the military Department of Dakota. Beth, Erling, Carl and I participated in a number of  programs--had tea at the Commanding Officer's Quarters, watched the fort cook prepare hardtack (a mainstay of soldiers during the Civil War), and learned and performed three dances with a 20-30 other people. While we were at the fort, Carl received a phone call just as the canons were fired--the caller asked what was going on! Note: I did not have my camera with me while at the Fort. Beth had her camera and she took several pictures but I don't have copies to include in the log. Nuts.

Carl and I drove to Stillwater one afternoon. We took the trolley car tour--the driver gave us an overview of the Village of Stillwater. Stillwater played an important role in the development of Minnesota. The territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a state was held in Stillwater. On outcome of the convention-- Minneapolis got the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul became the capitol, and Stillwater was chosen as the site of the territory's first prison.  The most famous inmates were Cole, Jim and Bob Younger. The Younger brothers joined with Jesse and Frank James to lead the James-Younger gang of Missouri bandits. The Younger boys were caught after a failed bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. The Younger Brothers pleaded guilty to avoid the death sentence. They were given life sentences to be served in the Stillwater Prison. A number of movies were filmed in Stillwater --the following were filmed (at least partially) in Stillwater: Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men and Fargo. Stillwater was home to Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard  who recently sold their home and moved away (the home is on the trolley tour). For antique lovers, Stillwater is antique heaven.

Below are two pictures from Stillwater. The first one is Carl standing by the Tour Trolley and the second is a view of the downtown area and St Croix River.


The tourist attraction we visited in Minneapolis was the Mall of America where there is plenty of opportunity to "shop till you drop". In my opinion, if you can't find what you are looking for at the Mall of American---it doesn't exist! Across the street from the Mall is IKEA which is a great place to shop for furniture and household items. The best part of the mall--watching people.

From Minneapolis we headed for Sheboygan, WI where we stayed at a cottage owned by Lake Michigan sailing friends, Jo and Bruce. One night, Bruce, Carl and I attended the Milwaukee Parade of Homes. Bruce is President of the Builders Association so he needed to attend the Parade. Carl and I went along for the ride! It was interesting to attend the Parade of Homes to see whats new--finishes and styles. Stainless steel appliances are still the standard. New for me is the concept of storage cubbies off the garage---reminded me of  coat rooms in the old schoolhouses I attended through grade school. Also, new homes have huge entertainment rooms (often in walkout basements) with wide screen TV and huge, comfortable chairs.

It started to rain two days after we arrived in Sheboygan which put a damper on outdoor activities. So, we drove to Kohler to see their Design Center. The Design  Center has about 20 rooms where the top line Kohler products are artistically displayed. The suggested retail price is also provided. It would cost a fortune to duplicate any of the bath, spa and kitchen displays at the Center.

The following picture is Bruce and Jo's cottage which is located south of Sheboygan on Lake Michigan.

Sheboygan has a good Farmer's Market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. There are several great restaurants in the downtown area. The waterfront is nice. We sailed over to Sheboygan in the early 80's. The waterfront has changed dramatically since our earlier visit by boat.

Next stop was Kalamazoo, Michigan for 3 days. Stayed with Mark and Laura Eiler for 2 nights. The Eiler boys, Sam and Ben, were excited to see Mr. Carl and Miss Marilyn again. A big storm hit the Kalamazoo area the second night--many neighborhoods lost power and many trees were knocked down. We were safe at the Eiler house although trees were knocked down across the street. Attended a dinner party our last night in Kalamazoo at Ron and Jackie Baden's. Also attending were Ann & Jim Early and Mark and Laura Eiler. Jackie made a special marinara sauce with meatballs recipe that she obtained from friends Donna and Liz.

Finally on August 25--we drove back to Pentwater. Over the past two months, we drove over 6800 miles--all the way to Spokane, Washington and back to Pentwater.  Enjoyed getting back to the cottage. Spent a couple days cleaning, sweeping up sand and wiping dust away and then setting up two guest rooms for visitors.

Doug and Marianne Taylor (SV CLOUDSPLITTER) were our first guests. Doug and Marianne sailed with us to the Bahamas and back in 2005/2006. While we headed up the East Coast the spring and summer of 2005, Doug and Marianne took their boat back to Lake Ontario (Sodus Bay). Had not seen Doug and Marianne since May 2005 when they left Baltimore Harbor. Spent most of our time catching up and reminiscing about the great times we had in the Bahamas. During Doug and Marianne's stay, Kris and Craig VanVolkinburg (SV TILT) joined us for dinner and then stayed the night. A good time.

August has come to a close. It is great being back at the cottage for a couple weeks. The nights are starting to cool down--just a hint of fall in the air. It won't be long and we will be back on the boat again.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
September 3, 2007