Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Walking in Willmar

Last Friday I thought I was off granddaughter duty -- as my granddaughter was going directly from school to her job during the evening. So I decided to head out for one of the Volksmarches in Minnesota that opened on May 1.

I chose Willmar because it was one a bit further away, one I thought I could do when I had time from 8 AM - 8 PM. After about a 2 hour drive I arrived in Willmar..

Willmar is located in Kandiyohi County. The word, Kandiyohi, comes from the Dakota language and means something like this: the place where the buffalo fish come. Further research reveals the buffalo fish are/were huge fish, weighing 30-40 pounds (13- 18 kg). These fish came into the lakes around what is present day Willmar to spawn during the early spring. Most of the rest of year they live in the Crow River.

Willmar started as a railroad town in late 19th century. It is named for Leon Willmar,a Belgian man, who was an agent for the European bondholders who were funding the construction of the St.Paul and Pacific Railroad.

The route started from the southern edge to town and went rather straight up towards the business district through a residential area.

This house took my eye; I though it was charming. 

But most homes in Willmar are quite modest, perhaps built right after World War II. 

Spring was having a very difficult time making it presence known. In Saint Paul we had just experienced a 5 day rainy spell, moving April 2014 to the 2nd rainy month in the weather records. I chose Willmar for the walk because the weather was improving with good weather coming from the west. My Weather Channel app said the day would sunny in Willmar. Well, it my first picture it was, but 10 minutes later when the took the photo above the clouds had rolled in. The temperature was 48 (8C) when I started and only 53 (11C) when I finished. I wore my jacket fastened up for the whole time because there was a rather stiff west wind blowing.

I did find this forsythia bush trying to proclaim it was spring. 

My route took me to a safe crossing of major railroad tracks in Willmar and then back west to the Berquist Wildlife Center. 

Not much spring here. 

A closer look, however, shows the trees are trying! 

In a few minutes I found myself along Foot Lake. This lake is named after the first European/New England settler who built a cabin along its shore. 
 I walked along the lake shore for a bit and then across a bit of land extending into the lake. In this residential area I found two other interesting houses. 

Then I was back on a trail with lake on both sides. 

Looks cold doesn't it! And the wind really did make it a bit uncomfortable. But soon I was turning a corner and walking up a bridge. On the top I got a good view of the rail yard. 

The business district was much smaller than I had anticipated. One thing which took my eye was this new restaurant. 

This is a sign of how Minnesota is changing.

Turning a corner I found the City Auditorium. 

This walk was certified for the Historic Register places, but nothing was listed in the route map. I had done some research ahead of time of possible places in Willmar, so I knew this was a winner when I found it. This auditorium was built in the late 1938 and placed in the Historic Register in the early 1990s. 

The last thing I needed to find a water tower. I had seen it while starting the walk, but got a much better view near the end of the walk. 

It has a cardinal on it because the high school sports teams in Willmar are apparently the Cardinals. Soon I was back to end. 

This walk allowed me to mark my event book, the distance book (10K), the water tower book, the historic register book, the lakes and reservoirs book, and also to mark Kandiyohi County in the Minnesota county book. 

Then I found a text message from granddaughter that she had forgotten -- and left her work clothes in my car, so instead of a leisurely trip back to the Twin Cities I had to hustle through rush hour to get her the work clothes in time.

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