Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby on board, and pieces of Americana

I have had a rather full Saturday; it started with a trip up to Brainerd in the morning for an appointment (by the way, the air temperature in Brainerd this AM was -12! Brrr!).

On the way back, I stopped at my friends Jason & Cathryn's house. Their baby daughter is outgrowing some of her things. My mission was to pick up some baby gear that they are giving to my brother and sister in law, as they are expecting their first child this spring.

We had a fantastic visit, and Cathryn served up some delicious chili and rolls for lunch. It was great to catch up with them. I loaded up the back seat of The Silver Hornet with a car seat, toys, pillows, and tiny baby clothes.

A rare sight; Baby stuff filling up the back seat of The Silver Hornet!

I won't be heading up to my brother and sister in law's place for a little while yet, so I thought it would be funny to leave the car seat in my car just to play with my friends and coworkers. Can you just imagine the fun that could be had with this? "Well, Giada De Laurentiis called, and she said I am going to be a dad!"

But The Silver Hornet did not approve of this prank and felt emasculated. He told me in no uncertain terms that he is a "sport sedan" and not the "Wagon Queen Family Truckster." I assured him that we were just transporting these goods, and there were no immediate plans to turn The Silver Hornet into a baby wagon. :)

The Wagon Queen Family Truckster: You think you hate it now, but wait till you drive it!

Also on the way home, I took a few rural roads. I love getting off of the freeways and taking the roads less traveled by to see the small towns.

I stopped in Pierz and loaded up on some goodies for at Thielen's Meats, a very well known butcher shop in central Minnesota. Thielen's is one of those great, old fashioned meat markets where you walk in and it just smells of delicious smoked meat products. And this is a smell that cannot be replicated; it only happens in places that have been perfecting their craft for decades. The aroma is just intoxicating. I made a good haul, and my fridge and freezer are now well stocked with bacon, smoked pork chops, Swedish potato sausage, blood sausage, beef sticks, and a gorgeous looking pork roast that I intend on transforming into an Italian ragu tomorrow.

One of the things I love about small towns, particularly those in Midwestern farm country, is the churches. Many times, they become the focal point of the town, as the steeple creates the skyline and can be seen for miles around. And whereas many newly constructed churches have become very modern in design, small town churches tend to be fairly old and retain a certain nostalgic architectural charm.

Here are a couple of beautiful churches I saw on my trip today.

St. Joseph's Church in Pierz, MN. This steeple can be seen for miles around.

St. Michael's Church in the tiny town of Buckman, MN

Also, there is something to be said for an authentic small town main street. Today, we are seeing suburbs that are trying to develop fake "main street" areas, however they all lack character and are filled with chain stores and restaurant. I stopped and took this picture in Royalton, MN, as I thought it was kind of neat. What I really liked was the ancient 7UP sign. It was attached to a tiny, small town grocery store that was actually open. You don't see this much anymore in the age of supermarkets.

Downtown Royalton, MN

You miss out on things like this when you stick to the freeways. On your next trip somewhere, I challenge you to deviate from the freeway, find a two lane road, and see what you can find. Pieces of Americana are still around; sometimes you just need to do a little searching!

And that is not all; when I made it home, I did a 7 mile run! I was kind of tired after driving most of the day, but it was totally gorgeous. 18 degrees, bright, bright sunshine, and relatively light winds. It would have been a shame to have wasted a day like this. I made a lap of my lake, observing several people out on the lake ice fish (clearly they too were enjoying such a nice January day!). A fun way to wrap up my Saturday.

And now, I am ready to kick back in the easy chair! :)

Until next time,

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