Next stop? North Dakota, and a whole slew of childhood memories! Including the siren-like smell of freshly baked bread, as we used to pass a bakery on the way to my kindergarten. The bakery is still there, and the freshly baking bread still smells as heavenly as before....More......
Here lives the whole reason for the trip: my dear dear grandmother, who just turned 99, and who's planning on hitting 100, and being the belle of her birthday party/family reunion, next year. Go, grandma!
Here, too, just a handful of days, too few, to get reacquainted, to enjoy each other's company, and to take a handful of snaps, like this one down the street on which was my grandma's and grandpa's house (and where I got lost...but, ever on the look out for good ice cream even at the age of four-ish, talked a nice lady into giving me some while we waited for someone to pick me up...those were the days....)
Here's the grain silo just down from my uncle and aunt's house (really! I'm not kidding!). Two delightful people, it was a joy to get to know them, better; last time but one that I spent any quality time with them was when, at the age of four (me, not them!), I was sent along on their dates as a chaperone. Got some ice skating, movies and popcorn out of that deal!
I was sure I had taken some snaps of the bison burgers on the BBQ for you, but can't find hide nor hair of them, so must just be in my imagination (the pics, not the bison burgers...very good, by the way, just a little tastier than beef, not "wild" tasting at all, and I'm told it's leaner than beef). In compensation, here is the view across the narrow road in front of their house...no kidding!
My answer to their very kind "What do you want to do while you're here?" question was the Viking cultural center. A local fellow of Scandinavian descent got a bee in his bonnet to built a replica of a Viking ship, then sail it back to Norway. He managed to make it to the maiden voyage of the ship--after years of construction--from their area out to the coast following a trail of rivers and lakes, but cancer got the better of him before the ship could (and did) successfully make the trip back to the old country.
In the same complex is what is called a "stave" church because it's out of wood (I suspect it has something to do with the origin of our word, "staff")
Another bee, another bonnet: this time to create a replica of an authentic Norwegian Romanesque period wooden church in this complex, complete with exterior ambulatory.
The gent with the bee and bonnet did all the handwork himself, even the crude, but evocative, carvings.
Despite its relatively diminuitive size, it does possess a kind of majesty.
Thanks, again, so much to my aunt and uncle for putting me up, for all the rest, including my dear dad and his nice wife, Jo, for coming back to our hometown for a visit while I was there, and here's hoping to see you all (and more) next year for Grandma's 100th!