Explore Minnesota (Part II), Day Three

August 27

Upon waking, the Super declared we would be heading home on this day.  It was open ended, after all.  The bane of the traveler, bad in-room wifi, sent us in search of an early morning hot spot.  The Thunderbird Lodge does not have a lobby – one goes to the dining room or the bar.  We were prowling for a signal before either was open.  Finally, we signaled a staff member cleaning the dining room and asked if we could come in just to get an internet signal.  Once entered, the Super exclaimed, “OMG, look at that sunrise!”

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Then I came back inside . . .

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[After the photo session we had breakfast . . . ]

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[You may have seen the Super’s contribution on FB?]

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[Then we went down the road a tad to Voyageurs National Park, the only national park in our fair state.  Befitting our daily routine of up with the loons, we were there an hour and a half before the park opened.  Oh, to our biking niece and nephew in California, this would be a beautiful place to come to ride the trails!  🙂  So, onward . . . ]

8-27-15-27 - Copy8-27-15-28 - Copy 8-27-15-29 - Copy 8-27-15-30 - Copy 8-27-15-31 - Copy[Turned back east, past our lodge, to follow Mn11 to its dead end on Dove Island – yup, a state highway just comes to a complete stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.]

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[Then we turned back toward International Falls, turning off on side roads to try to catch a view of the lake.  Any relation to the Alexandria Houskas?]

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[What it says.  We went in and found out all about the wonderful things we would miss by not staying here for a few more days.   Some day (famous last words), the boat ride on Lake Kabetogama and to Kettle Falls.]

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[Paper mills in International Falls – they once employed 3,200 people, now it’s down to 500.  The plant across the border in Fort Frances recently closed for good.  Obviously, not a good thing for the area.]

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[Remember, we passed this on the way into town yesterday . . . ]

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[It exists on conjunction with this!  🙂  ]

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[Then we went inside to pay homage to Bronko – from International Falls he went on to be an All-American for the Gophers, and NFL Hall of Famer for the Bears, and a pro wrestling champion in the 20’s and 30’s.  The high school took its nickname, The Broncos, from him.  After his athletic career, he came back to International Falls where he lived the rest of his life.  Interesting stats from Wikipedia – Nagurski has the largest recorded NFL Championship ring size at 19½ and wore a size 8 helmet.  The ring is on display there – you could drive a Plymouth through it.  Now, he was only 2 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than me – why don’t we look more alike?  The caretaker of the museum was a chap about our age, and we were his only customers.  Despite signs to the contrary, he said we could take photos if we didn’t use flash.  He was helpful and gave us a lot of history.  He’s concerned about the future of his town because it’s losing population – it’s smaller now than it was in Nagurski’s day.]

8-27-15-54 - Copy8-27-15-55 - Copy[Two snowmobiles from the 50’s . . . ]

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[And a photo I particularly liked – the photographer’s name was Oberholtzer (wrong on the plaque).]

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[And the Super chipped in with these.]

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[And will now be leaving the museum to . . . ]

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[Could Bronko have played here?]

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[Homeward bound, heading south on US 71.  Little Fork-Big Falls has been a consolidated school since . . . well, forever, but I never knew they were 20 miles apart.]

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[Our pre-flight planning, turn off US71 at Northome to take Mn46, a scenic byway through Chippewa National Forest.]

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[And scenic it was . . . and then we took this 26-mile detour.]

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[I had to go.  Blackduck was made famous in the 60’s because of the state’s most ubiquitous bumper sticker then – Where Hell is Blackduck?   OK, the final photo was lifted from Brother Cam, who took it almost two years ago – this was on US71, which we were no longer on.]

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[We drove back toward Mn46 on CR13, past sunflower fields, fields of evergreens to . . . in response to overwhelming interest, I give you Hoot-N-Holler! And this, as far is I could tell, is all of Alvwood, Minnesota, at the intersection of 46 and 13.  A local establishment where everyone knows your name, and yet were very friendly with we strangers. We signed a buck and hung (‘hung’ is appropriate here because we weren’t hanging anyone) it on the wall.]

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[We told the locals our Blackduck story.  Obviously kids, there weren’t aware of the bumper sticker, but were aware of “Where the Hell is Funkley” from the 70’s.  I was not around then, so that was a new one on me.  They said Funkley was famous for the Funkley Bar and Lounge, a notoriously adult facility frequented by bikers.  I checked it out when I got home – the place is the smallest incorporated town in the state with a population of 5, located not far from Blackduck.]

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[Once again, heading south on scenic byway Mn46.  And here’s why – an avenue of red pines, one of my favorite trees.]

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[Then why Deer River, I hear you say? . . . ]

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[Because back in the days, when we were allegedly students at the U of M residing in Centennial Hall, at least three of our brothers heralded from Deer River, including the Erola brothers.  All of them paid their way through college by wild ricing.  I  believe I was responsible for sending this game report to the Minnesota Daily.  🙂  ]

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[How can one not appreciate a town named “Ball Club”?]

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[The Big Fish Supper Club, hard by Bena, I believe has been featured here before.]

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[Pretty famous school name around these here parts.]

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[And Akeley has its Paul Bunyan.]

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[At the end of every great trip, all roads lead through Nevis.]

Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. ~ Susan Sontag

Up next:  Somebody’s birthday?

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