|Our newest resident by our home.|
How many of you have taken a little getaway at times? I have found that it is good for the soul and gives life to your perspective. It also allows for refreshment in your outlook on life. This last 4th of July we spent time away from Winona enjoying a children’s museum, wonderful rest stops with scenic overviews, and we ended with going to a hotel in the Twin Cities that had a wonderful waterpark. Although we thoroughly enjoyed being on the prairie, the waterpark was well enjoyed since the heat was excessive (100 degrees plus) for this time of year.
|Over looking the mixed prairie below.|
When traveling, we stopped at a rest stop that overlooked three states, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. The area is known as the Whetstone Valley Rest Area. It overlooks the Whetstone Valley. “The landscape was carved out some 20,000 years ago by a massive glacier which extended approximately 2,000 feet above the Whetstone rest stop, which carved out the valleys below. Thirty miles northeast between Lake Traverse and Big Stone Lake is a continental divide. This line separates waters which flow north to the Hudson Bay in Canada, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.”
One interesting item of discovery is that of the unusual “Mooring Stones” found by local residents. These stones were found to have holes cut into them, whereby early explorers put an iron bolt or rod in the hole to tie their boat to. They also have the carving of a horn in the stone. The horns were believed to have been used by the explorers for official ceremonies. Marion Dahm of Chokio, Minnesota (a expert in this area of archeology) believes the carvings were made between 1125 to 1175 A.D. “These individuals who carved into these stones were explorers who built boats and sailed across the Atlantic to the New World to colonize. They were mainly Norwegians (Vikings) and Celtic families who brought with them all the tools and supplies needed for survival. These stone images along with ancient Celtic writings have also been found in Minnesota, and Northeast South Dakota.”
I remember reading that some of the early explorers in area were surprised to see blond haired and blue eyed Indians.
|Looking North towards North Dakota|
This wonderful stop brought back many memories of Southwestern Minnesota, South Dakota, and the Wyoming prairies. In reading of the pioneers that settled these areas, one had to wonder, what kind of individual would it take to survive in this diverse climate? And yet, looking over the vastness of the rolling prairies before me, I could see in my mind the many wagons coming west with settlers that held dreams of owning their own land, wanting the freedom of starting a new life amongst the wilds of the prairie.
We have been reading to the children, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books. As I walked the prairie that day, with my two children, we talked again of their life here on the prairie. Anne said that she could almost see when looking at the valley below, a group of wagons coming up the hill with settlers looking for a new life. As we walked and sat on the land, I asked the Will and Abby to close their eyes and try to identify the sounds that they could hear. They heard cattle lowing, ducks in a pond nearby, and different birds singing in the prairie grass, many collectively we identified. The favorite bird sound that I was looking for and heard, was that of the Western Meadow Lark. Living in the Mississippi flyaway, we have many different birds to see and listen to each day, but on the prairie in the Dakotas, the bird sounds are very distinct among the grassy prairies. My brother Ken loved this land so much that he moved to Eastern Wyoming, a land filled with the same prairies as we were now looking at. He never wants to move away from the wilds of the western lands.
If this stop is of interest to you, it is located on Interstate Hi way 29, overlooking the three state area. Again, it is called the Whetstone Valley Rest Area and is staffed with wonderful people who are very knowledgeable about the history of the area.
|Elms still guarding the homes from the sun.|
When staying at Fargo, North Dakota we enjoyed walking through their mall and walking through their wonderful (old) downtown that they are renovating. The colorful buildings and friendly smiles are always present in Fargo. History seems to come alive in this location of the state. Railroads are teaming with activity, from people getting on and off passenger cars to that of freight trains heading east with oil and all sorts of goods coming from the prairie. Another interesting fact about Fargo that is unusual, they have been able to save most of their elm trees. Their streets are shaded with these gentle giants. If one looks closely, you can see a stripe carved into the bark with a tar ring around each of the elm’s trunk. This stopped the beetle that killed most of the elm trees in other locations of the U.S. I remember as a child having the streets of our town in Southwest Minnesota covered with these elms, they gave much shade to our homes in the warm summers. Now they are all gone, and very much missed. The University of North Dakota was able to save these trees in Fargo and thus preserve a part of the community's heritage and beauty.
|Train Depot Plaza in Fargo|
Well, this was in part, our 3-day trip in getting away. I do hope that you are able to enjoy a short get away trip in the near future as well.