Thursday, June 21, 2007

Amazing Adventures in Podunk, U.S.A.

Teapot Water Tower, Lindstrom, Minnesota

I have recently returned from a 9 day road trip to meet my wife Karen in Minneapolis for a romantic weekend. She flew to Minnesota on business. Since I am recently retired and have more time than Karen, I drove out to meet her.

Minneapolis is 714 miles from Loveland, so I should have been able to go there and back in well under 1,500 miles, with about 11 hours driving time in each direction. As a truly dedicated county collector, I added five days to the trip and more than doubled the miles necessary. The 3,092 miles I drove took me through parts of 8 states, where I collecting a total of 52 new counties in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

It’s amazing what you can find in small town America – and in a part of the country that some people think is nothing but corn fields. Here are just a few of the discoveries I made:

*The National Hobo Museum and Home of the National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa.

*The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin, Minnesota. I’ve also seen the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” in Cawker, Kansas, but for anything this important there’s got to be at least two of them.

*The “World’s Largest Truck Stop” and Trucking Hall of Fame, Iowa 80, 10 miles west of Davenport.

*A teapot shaped water tower in Lindstrom, Minnesota, “America’s Little Sweden.”

*Lots for sale at only $1.00 each in a declining area of North Dakota, to attract new residents.

*An authentic Dutch windmill, Dutch architecture, and a "Tulip Festival" in Orange City, Iowa.*“Ice Cream Capitol of the World" in Le Mars, Iowa.

*Birthplace of the 4-H Club cloverleaf emblem in Clarion, Iowa.

Also I stayed in an authentic old log cabin in the Minnesota North Woods, built as part of a tourist court before the days of modern motels. I savored “world famous” chicken and dumpling soup – a Minnesota regional favorite, kissed a Blarney Stone from Ireland in Emmetsburg, Iowa, and MUCH, MUCH more.

Rural America is just brimming with delightful surprises for those who take time to discover them.