Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Touring Voyageurs National Park (VNP), International Falls, Minnesota


We were excited to implement our plan to visit International Falls, home to Voyageurs National Park (VNP), during our days off from volunteering at the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell, Minnesota.   We headed out by 8 a.m. on Maximus the Trike, traversing on MN-6.  It was a lonely drive for the first 45-minutes—only a half dozen other cars were traveling on either side of this roadway.   Then we reached Big Falls and the intersection with US-71.  While Dad fueled up Maximus, Mom and I read the interpretive signs.  Big Falls’ first European settler arrived from Scotland in 1877.  The town was originally named Ripple, but its name changed to Big Falls in 1904 when the town incorporated.  Its tagline is In the Heart of the Wilderness.  We visited the County Park in Big Falls, which is a hidden gem.  A beautiful setting overlooking small waterfalls, the Park contains 32 RV sites that have electric and water hookups.  A dump station is available as well.  Several of the sites are big-rig friendly, i.e., they could fit our Big Boomer/Suite Retreat set-up easily.  All for just $30/night.  Even better, you can book for a week ($180) or even a month at a time ($540).  Furthermore, I did a full inspection of their facilities and can report that the Park has ultra clean restrooms and showers if you need/want to use them. 

 



The "Falls" at Big Falls.




We drove the other hour to International Falls, arriving just as a storm was brewing.  This neck of the woods has suffered from an inordinate amount of rain and subsequent flooding this year, so much so that VNP has pushed back the commencement of Park boat rides from July 9 to July 17.  Bummer!  Our 3-day getaway here is over on July 14!  Oh well, we will do as much as we can on this visit.  We sought out a place for lunch, consulting Trip Advisor.  Unfortunately, 3 among the list of “best” eateries in International Falls are all shuttered and/or for sale. Seemingly, COVID lockdowns in 2020 and a drought in 2021 have severely impacted this tourist town of approximately 6,000 residents.  We settled on a small cafĂ©, The Chocolate Moose, at which I suffered Disappointment #2:  They do not offer chocolate mousse on their dessert menu!  It was while eating a rather mundane meal that I learned another disturbing fact: There are NO falls to be seen in International Falls!  What!  How can that be?  Apparently, the local paper mill dammed the Rainy River in 1905, which caused the falls to submerge into the reservoir.  And to top it off, up until 1903 the town was known as Koochiching (the Ojibwe Indian word for mist over water). This Rat feels it should be a criminal offense to call the town International Falls, knowing full well there are no falls here.  Talk about false advertisement!

 


Fortunately, my tirade subsided when my parents brought me to Smokey Bear Park.  I took my photo with the towering 26-foot statue of my favorite forest firefighting hero, with his timeless message, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  We walked along the business district, with my parents stopping to support a local shop.   Mom just couldn’t resist purchasing matching hoodies for her and Dad on a clearance rack BOGO (buy 1, get 1 free) sale.   Plus, Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing. Thanks, Mom, for saving some money and protecting my cheese inheritance!

 

Me with my fav forest firefighting hero and his pals.





 

Last shop before crossing into Canada.


We got to the Hilltop Lodge and Cabins for check-in just as the downpour began.    We were welcomed by Ryan and Amanda, a young couple who left Corporate hospitality jobs in 2019 to operate their own lodging outfit.  There are no employees here—Ryan and Amanda do it all—from cleaning to reservations.  And a great job they do on all tasks.  It is so nice to see people realize their American Dream.  I loved our rustic cabin!  It might look small, but it had every amenity we could want or need:  fridge, microwave, dinette, cable TV, and Wi-Fi.  Our $99/night rate even included a continental breakfast.  We ate dinner that evening at The Library, an eatery surrounded by literary works.  It was lighter fare, but Dad had vegan options, and all our selections were tasty and reasonably priced.  I slept fitfully, with a full belly and a happy heart.

 

Our little cabin--so cute!


An outdoor seating area for the cabins.

A very inviting setting at "The Library" eatery.


Early the next morning, we headed towards VNP, stopping along the way to visit the statue of Big Vic in the Village of Ranier.  Big Vic is a symbol of protest that stems from the National Park Service (NPS) using eminent domain to confiscate people’s private property to create VNP.  Those property owners who did not wish to sell their property to the NPS were subjected suddenly to condemnation or limitations on the use of their lands.  Vic Davis, along with others, believed this was government overreach.  So, he sued the government.  But the powers-that-be just printed more money, giving them unlimited resources to countersue.  Mr. Davis then came up with a way to inconvenience the NPS:  he purchased the island of Little Cranberry and sold small parcels to others for a mere $20/parcel, inundating the NPS with paperwork and additional landowners with whom to negotiate purchases.  Furthermore, he commissioned the creation of the Big Vic statue, which once stood proudly on Cranberry Island as a big middle finger to the NPS.   Eventually, the NPS won the land acquisition war, but not without a good fight from Vic Davis.  We walked a bit around the rest of the historic village, but the place was a ghost town.  Most of the businesses were sandbagged and the docks underwater from recent flooding.

 

The Statue of Big Vic.

A quaint country chapel...




The Village of Ranier was still underwater in mid-July.


Water cisterns sit on top of Ranier docks to keep them from floating away!


We arrived at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center within VNP.  I collected my Junior Ranger booklet, watched not 1, but 2 very interesting films, and enjoyed chatting with the Park volunteers.  VNP consists of 218,000 acres, the majority of which are waterways.  The Ojibwe Indians frequented this area, building birch canoes for their semi-nomadic lifestyle.  They hunted, fished, gathered, and traded here.  Furthermore, for nearly 200 years, employees of the Northwest and Hudson Bay Company traveled 3,000 miles each summer to trade goods for furs.  They rowed 16 hours a day, 50 minutes each hour.  That is one major workout!  Then when they encountered waterfalls, they had to portage over land, each carrying a 90-pound bag for several miles over primitive terrain—and they still had to return for the canoe!  These voyageurs had plenty of strength, endurance, and good spirits (both in attitude and alcoholic beverages). 


Family photo with Monte the Moose!



One of the Visitor Center's interesting exhibits.


VNP is open year-round, offering a completely different experience in winter, with its trees glistening in a blanket of white and frozen waterways that become the “roads” for snowmobiles.  I sure would like to see that someday!

 


We departed the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and walked along the paved Recreational Trail under ominous clouds.  But the sun won its battle to shine. So, we continued to trek, this time along the Oberholtzer Loop Trail, sampling a wild raspberry or two along the way.  Unfortunately, we could not complete this hike because part of the trail was submerged and other sections were impassible due to downed trees.  So, we did some backtracking.  We saw a little wildlife:  a red squirrel, a gull, a few tiny tree frogs, and one Super Ant who singlehandedly moved a dead worm.  We also caught a glimpse of a blue heron and eagle as they flew overhead.



I was gonna sit at this viewing bench along the trail--but it was completely submerged.

Downed trees made the rest of the Oberholtzer Loop Trail impassible.  Time to back-track.
 

Butterfly enjoying some nectar.



The next day we visited the Ash River Visitor Center, hiking along its Blind Ash Bay Trail and a portion of its Kab-Ash Trail.  We visited the Beaver Pond Overlook.  I was told the beaver population in VNP is prolific.  Though I saw many fine examples of their handiwork and lodge craftsmanship, I spotted not 1 busy beaver.  Bummer!





Inside the Ash River Visitor Center.

A rustic cabin on the property.

I searched for beavers...


...but only saw their handiwork.

Mom's favorite:  daisies!

Dad wished he could trailer the boat and put it in the water for us to take a tour!


We also stopped at the Kabetogama Visitor Center, but there was nothing much to do/see that was different from the offerings at the other 2 Centers, though we enjoyed chatting with Ann/Paul, folks from the Twin Cities that we kept intersecting with over the course of our 3-day visit.

 

Yours truly with the walleye.




We dined each day at Thunderbird Lodge, which was just starting to remove flood-protection sandbags from its property.  The outdoor patio of the restaurant had been 7 feet underwater just a week earlier.  Furthermore, a section of MN-11 right near the Lodge had been washed out and a temporary road installed.  With limited options, this became our go-to eatery for the rest of this trip and our subsequent visit to VNP in August. Yes, water levels receded finally, so we got to return for a Grand Tour boat ride just days before leaving Minnesota.  And it was terrific!  The Ranger gave a wonderful narrative over the 2.5-hour ride, touching on all aspects of the Park:  its wildlife, mining history, Ojibwe inhabitants, botany, and the Voyageurs for whom the Park is named.     Here’s a sampling of what I learned: American Island was the only profitable gold mine in all of Northern Minnesota; There are about 18 varieties of trees in the Park; The Tamarac is the only tree that belongs to both the conifer and deciduous groups because it drops all its pine needles once a year; Due to conservation efforts, the Park increased its mated pairs of bald eagles from 6 to 42;  Maple sugar and wild rice were valuable commodities with which the Ojibwe traded.  Taking this boat tour helped me complete my Junior Ranger requirements, scoring yours truly another badge!

 




Some of the other guests at Thunderbird Lodge.



Rainy is a regular at the Thunderbird Lodge.


Ready to sail!









VNP has native, invasive, and hybrid cattails.


The smallest island within Voyageurs National Park.

What was once a commercial fish camp operated by Harry Oveson.


We docked at American Island, a mining site.


What was once the mine shaft on American Island. 


View from the shores of American Island.



Considering that Minnesota has the largest population of breeding eagles in the contiguous U.S., they were eluding us for the longest time.  But I’m excited to say that we viewed at least ½ dozen of them while on this boat tour!

 

See the nest on this tree?


One of the many eagles we spotted while on the boat trip.



We could now cross touring VNP off our bucket list!


We visited several more places while volunteering in Minnesota, which I’ll tell you about in my next post.  Talk to you soon! 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Touring Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, Chippewa National Forest, and the Iron Range District in Minnesota

Our 4-day work schedule as volunteers at the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell, Minnesota, afforded us plenty of time to sightsee.

 

We began our exploration in Grand Rapids, the start of the 47-mile stretch known as the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway (EOWSB).  Paper mills are a major industry here, sitting along the banks of the Mississippi River.  We walked along the waterfront trails and also followed the art tour, admiring all the murals and creative designs placed around town.

 The Mighty Mississippi meandering through Grand Rapids.




 



Grand Rapids is the birthplace of Judy Garland.  Her childhood home for 7 years is now part of the Judy Garland Museum.  Remarkably, nearly 85% of the structure and furnishings are original to the home.   Born as Frances Gumm into a show biz family, Judy worked from age 2 alongside her two older sisters.  Like the Kennedys, all the members of the Gumm Family died young (under age 60), including Judy.  She passed away at age 47 in 1969 after 45 years in the entertainment industry.  Best known as Dorothy in the iconic film The Wizard of Oz, Judy’s wages for that movie were $500/week.  She was the lowest paid cast member except for Toto the dog, who brought home $125/week.   We learned about the ruby slipper caper, where 1 of the 4 original pairs was stolen right from this very Museum.  Not to worry, you can see another pair if you visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  Judy had a notable career as an actress, singer, USO entertainer, and tabloid topic.  She would have turned 100 years old the week before we visited.  I am glad we came to this museum.   I fear its appeal may soon diminish, causing it to go the wayside like the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum (Branson, Missouri) and Liberace Museum (Las  Vegas, Nevada).





A tribute to my Aunt Laurie, my very own Wicked Witch of the East (W.W.T.E.)


It was our good fortune that weather postponed the Independence Day festivities at Grand Rapids on July 4.  So, we had the chance to meet some fine folks from Wisconsin and witness the impressive fireworks display on July 5 at Pokegama Lake.  We hiked within Grand Rapids on several trails including a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail.  We have completed portions of this Trail in 3 of the 8 states through which it runs.

 

 

The boats lined up on Pokegama Lake to watch the fireworks display.




We spent a day hiking and exploring the Joyce Estate on Trout Lake.  David Gage Joyce inherited a portion of the lumber empire established by his father.  From 1917 to 1935, David built a summer retreat for his family on the banks of Trout Lake, although most of the 40+ structures were in place by the mid-1920s.  The remote lake retreat was named Nopeming, which means place of rest in the language of the Ojibwe, the native Indian Tribe.  The Adirondack-style main lodge and several cabins all had electricity, indoor plumbing, and spacious rooms, quite upscale for the time.  Additionally, the property had recreational facilities:  golf course, tennis court, bathhouse, greenhouse, and trap shooting gun house.  David died at 52 years of age in 1937, leaving Nopeming and the rest of his estate to his only child, Beatrice.  Beatrice continued utilizing the property until her death in 1972 at age 49.  (Gee, this family all died young, too).  The property was sold to the Nature Conservancy and subsequently acquired by the US Forest Service. I was totally psyched to tour this place.  I read all about the Joyce family and their logging endeavors in the book Timber Connections.   I viewed photos of the property from days gone by, with its manicured gardens, ponds, and shade trees.  And I didn’t complain one little bit that the only way to access the complex from the parking area is by foot along a 3.5 mile trail. There were lots of downed trees from recent storms along the trail.  But nothing was stopping me.  We got to the end of the trail and then trudged through knee high grass to access the structures.  Sadly, only a half dozen structures remain, and they are in desperate need of repair.  In fact, a huge tree had fallen on the main cabin.   Despite leaving with 6 ticks on me, succumbing to 13 mosquito bites, and being pooped from hiking 7 miles round trip, I was glad we came.  Speaking of poop, I spotted some fresh bear scat, but I never ran into its owner.

 


Photos of the Joyce Estate from days gone by.  The picture in the center is the Main Lodge.

Here it is today, damaged by a fallen tree from recent storms.

The Main Lodge and one of the remaining sleeping cabins.

The forest has overtaken areas that once contained manicured gardens.

View of Trout Lake from the shore.


A stream along the trail to the Joyce Estate.


We did some hiking at the Laurentian Divide, the highest point along the EOWSB.  The Divide was formed 16,000 years ago by melting glaciers that eroded Minnesota’s mountain range into curvy hills and formed thousands of waterways.  Water on 1 side of the Divide flows north to the Hudson Bay, while water on the other side flows to the Gulf of Mexico.  I would just love to follow the raindrops to witness this phenomenon!


We frequented Big Fork to hike along the Big Fork Riverwalk Trail.  I learned much about the lumber industry at the town’s Interpretive Park.  Back in the day, logs were floated down the Big Fork River to mills.  Small boats called wannigans were equipped with supplies for the men charged with guiding the floating logs.  These men were nicknamed River Rats!  As one “rat” to another, I found this exhibit fascinating.  Big Fork may be an extremely small town (population 446), but it has several restaurants, pubs, and even a Performing Arts Center, where we attended an enjoyable theatrical presentation.

 

The "River Rats" Exhibit



All the comforts of home inside the wannigan.

                                                                  
Spectacular clouds


The Big Fork River


Theatrical production, Gracie's Fowl Play



Yee Ha!  We watched all the cowboys and cowgirls showcase their skills at the North Star Stampede in Effie. While most participants hailed from Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Canada all had representation.  We even had 1 participant from our Lone Star State of Texas!  From the barrel races to bull riding to the antics of the rodeo clown, I enjoyed every minute.  But nothing beats the steer wrestling!  I was happy that the Stampede had a sold-out crowd, and I was quite impressed with the level of respect and patriotism exhibited by everyone during the National Anthem.  Rodeo festivities included a parade downtown.  With a population of only 123, I reckon every Effie resident was involved in the event, whether as participant or spectator.  It was like Halloween for the kiddies with all the candy being distributed by hopeful political candidates.  Effie is the final stop along the EOWSB and is a farming community.  Who knew that Minnesota offers good soil and appropriate climate conditions for growing spuds!




Steer roping

The rodeo clown


Marchers in the parade

One of the MANY political floats in the parade.  I chose this one to display only because it had a giant stuffed toy like me as a mascot!


Hibbing is a rather large city by Northern Minnesota standards, so we visited on several occasions to view tourist attractions.  At the Greyhound Bus Museum we learned how Hibbing became the birthplace of bus transportation, from the 1914 Hupmobile to Greyhound’s modern passenger luxury liners.  Greyhound’s motto, Leave the Driving to Us, will be stuck in my head for a while.



1914 Hupmobile


They even had a bus the perfect size for this Rambling RV Rat!

The Bus Graveyard, Greyhounds from years gone by.

 

While in Hibbing, we stumbled upon the Hull Rust Mahoning Mine, which turned out to be a fascinating historic landmark.  With its 8-mile max length, 3.5-mile max width, and a max depth of 800 feet, it represents the world’s largest open pit iron ore mine.   It is often referred to as The Grand Canyon of the North.  Mining operations commenced in 1896 and continue today.

 

Hull Rust Mahoning Mine is the world's largest open pit iron ore mine.

This is one GINORMOUS Tonka truck!


Hibbing’s most famous one-time resident was singer, songwriter, Grammy winner, and 2016 Nobel Prize recipient, Bob Dylan.  So, on another Hibbing visit we walked by Dylan’s childhood home, glimpsed his local hangouts, and toured Hibbing High School, from which he graduated.    Built in 1924 at a cost of $4 million, the School is quite impressive with its 4 1/2 floors of Italian architectural design.  Inside is graced with solid marble front steps and pillars, brass rails, and murals depicting the history of the U.S.A. and Minnesota.  But its most prominent feature is its auditorium/performing arts center, modeled after New York City’s Capitol Theater.  Mom loved the brass and crystal chandeliers and painted ceilings.  Its main floor and balcony seat over 1,800 people, one of which is an infamous apparition who resides in Row J, Seat 47.  He must have been on a potty break when we were in the auditorium since he didn’t eject me when I sat in his chair.  What I admired most about Hibbing High School, however, was its tribute to the victims of 9/11.  Though far removed from the horrific events of that tragic day, the students here exhibited comfort and support to grieving families 1,400 miles away.

 

Corner property that was the boyhood home of Robert Allen Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan.





The Performing Arts Center--this ain't your average auditorium!


We attended 2 enjoyable evening outdoor concerts at Hibbing’s Bennett Park. one was Trop Rock (think Chesney, Buffet, etc.), and the other was comprised of original Country and Rock compositions.   Each visit to Hibbing included dining at Bach Yen, which offers Chinese fare freshly prepared and using no MSG.  Service is always responsive and personable, portions are always generous, and all entrees are reasonably priced.

 

One of the two outdoor concerts that we enjoyed.


Liberty, a 200-lb Mastiff, enjoyed one of the concert with us.


I loved the colorful decor inside Bach Yen...


...as much as the delicious freshly prepared food.


 

If you are an avid bicyclist, you will love Chisolm, where you can access the Redhead Mountain Bike Park and the Mesabi Trail.  Since we have ‘Lectric bikes, we passed on peddling along the Redhead, but we did purchase annual biking passes ($15/person) for the Mesabi (no pass is required if you choose to just hike).  The Mesabi Trail is 145 miles long and runs through 28 communities.  We rode and hiked through 4 towns over several sessions.  Chisolm is home to Iron Man, the 4th largest statue in the US.  As a tribute to the miners who built our Nation during the Industrial Age, Iron Man stands 85 feet tall, weighs 4 tons, and has a waistband of 228 inches.  That’s one big boy!  The Minnesota Discovery Center is also within Chisolm.  It has several Norwegian and Sami cultural outdoor exhibits and has a museum dedicated to Minnesota’s Iron Range.  Furthermore, it is an outdoor concert venue.  On Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. throughout the summer, it hosted Bands, Brew, and BBQ, wherein you could peruse the museum and exhibits plus enjoy the performances of local musicians free of charge.  I was glad my parents’ volunteer work schedule provided us the opportunity to participate in two of these events.   


Bicycling along the Mesabi Trail between Chisolm and Hibbing.

Dad saved several turtles from hit and run injuries along the bike path.

    



Veterans Park at the Minnesota Discovery Center.

Grounds of the Minnesota Discovery Center.
 

Replica of a sod house used by the Sami people.

Replica of a traditional Norwegian home.

What was once Hawkins Mine, the first mine in Itasca County.  It operated from 1902-1962,  extracting 25 MILLION tons of iron ore!


We spent considerable time within Chippewa National Forest.  I learned Chippewa, established in 1908, was the first National Forest east of the Mississippi River.  Within Chippewa National Forest is the area known as The Lost 40, which consists of red and white pines that date back to the 1700s.  The name references the acreage of old growth trees that inadvertently were excluded from a land survey completed in 1882, sparing them from being cut as timber.  As we hiked the 1.5-mile trail, I was amazed at the circumferences of these trees!

 

As we rode to The Lost 40, I spotted these pelicans hanging out near Turtle Lake.

 The Lost 40 Trail


This guy didn't survive a storm.

View from the trail.

Holy Havarti!  That's one tall, rotund tree!

Chippewa National Forest is home to several examples of the master craftsmanship of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  In addition to the wonderful structures right on the grounds of the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell that I showed you in my last post, we toured the Supervisor’s Office in Cass River and the Ranger Station at Norway Beach Recreation Area.  As we travel around the U.S.A., we realize that without the CCC, we would not have many of the amenities within our National and State Parks.    While it is important to provide those in need with financial assistance, it is imperative that every individual lead a productive life, one with purpose and with meaning.  The CCC met both of these objectives in its day.  We really need to bring the CCC back! 


The rustic, hand-crafted interior of the Ranger Station at Norway Beach Recreation Area.

The 3-story Supervisor's Office in Cass River.


The interior of the Supervisor's Office is another fine example of the masonry and carpentry skills of the CCC.


We purchased our Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Permit and explored several trails within Chippewa National Forest in Rat Patrol II, our Polaris 570 RZR.  We particularly enjoyed traversing the B&B (Big Fork & Balsam) Trail, which is nicely maintained by the Wilderness Wheelers, the local off-road club.  This is one high-class Trail—it even has porta-potties!  Local businesses sponsor boardwalk sections of the Trail.  Sure glad we have a smaller side by side since most trails within the Forest only are accessible with 50-inch-wide units.  We also checked out Clubhouse and North Star primitive campgrounds within Chippewa National Forest.  We enjoyed meeting and chatting with Lanette, the Host at Clubhouse, who would pop over weekly to EOWDC with her adogable English Mastiff, Maggie.  We would end each off-roading session with a meal at the Timberwolf Inn, one of the only lodges in the Edge of the Wilderness area with a restaurant.  And they even have options for Dad’s plant-based diet.  Chippewa National Forest has 925 miles of streams, 400,000 acres of wetlands, and a whopping 1,300 lakes.  Ironically, you don’t see many boaters on the lakes and I figured out why:  1) Many of the lakes are unnavigable, and 2) there is limited public access, so those living lakeside have almost exclusive use.

 

Wildflowers along the OHV trails.


One of many deer who reside in Chippewa National Forest


The Big Fork & Balsam (B&B) Trail is quite upscale--it comes with porta-potties along its route!



The patio dining at Timberwolf Inn, our go-to eatery after off-roading.

Lanette and Maggie


The late Spring really delayed berry picking seasons in Northern Minnesota.  In mid-July we still were gathering strawberries at Looney’s Berry Patch.   Blueberry picking at Lavalier’s Farm did not commence until August 1.  We made sure we got there several times before leaving Minnesota.

 

Grounds of Looney's Berry Patch.

Our strawberry pickins.

The grounds at Lavalier's Berry Patch, where sunflowers abound.

Looking good and ready for picking.

 

We took a ride to Bemidji on 2 occasions along Lake County Scenic Byway.  Bemidji is headquarters for all things Paul Bunyan. The tales of this lumberjack are vast and varied.  It is said that he dug Lake Superior as a watering trough for Babe, his blue ox.  Furthermore, his skill at cutting down acres of trees singlehandedly within just a few minutes is legendary.  Ironically, New Jersey and Minnesota have something in common:  they both have statues of this folk hero.  NJ’s may be familiar to you:  it was 1 of the scenes as Tony is driving near the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City during the opening credits of the HBO show The Sopranos.  Minnesota’s tribute to Paul Bunyan is small in stature (only 18 feet tall) compared to Chisolm’s Iron Man statue.  On another visit we clocked 5 miles along the 115-mile Paul Bunyan Trail.  After both visits to Bemidji, we dined at Keith’s Pizzeria.  Would you believe they offer a vegan pie with non-dairy cheese?  And it was simply delicious, with its thin crust, browned but not burned.  Who would have thought this possible in Minnesota!  Keith’s is a recipient of my Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese award.

 

Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox - Bemidji version.


A very cool playground setup in the local park.


Keith's vegan pie earns a coveted Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese award!  




We visited so many more places during our 8 weeks in Minnesota.  I’ll tell you about the rest in my next post.  Talk to you again soon!