Monday, September 29, 2014

Walking in Kimball

On Friday I left early in the morning and went to my auto dealer for an oil change on my car. When that was done, I went for a late breakfast and then headed towards Kimball, MN to do the walk there. I wanted to do this one primarily to mark off a K city for my Walking Minnesota Cities A-Z.

Its original name was Kimball Prairie when it was established as a railroad village. As the city's web site says, the coming of the railroad was a make or break action. It made Kimball Prairie and killed nearby Maine Prairie. Today the city's population is about 770 persons. It is a very pleasant community. My guess it is a "bedroom" town for those who work in nearby St. Cloud or perhaps even the Twin Cities.

The walk information directed me to the walk box at the Kimball Golf Club. I didn't quite know what I was going to see when I walked through the door. It turned out to be a small snack bar area, and the person at the desk knew exactly what I wanted when I asked for the walk box. But a funny thing happened while I was reviewing the route map and getting organized for the walk. A man walked up to me and asked, "Are you doing payroll?" I assured him I had a different agenda in mind.

From the Golf Club I was directed to back track to the high school and park there in the parking lot. I thought how different this was from some of the schools in this country that are being turned into police zones complete with military equipment. 

I walked along Spruce Street for a bit and then used a marked cross walk to cross over Minnesota Highway 15. From there I continued along Spruce for a bit.

I spotted a red house.

This is a infrequent color for a house in Minnesota. I think it looks great in autumn, but haven't seen one in the spring to see how it blends with colors for that season.

I walked to street that was a major west-east street and then turned to walk on Hazel. Shortly I walked by the elementary school where I also got a good view of the city water tower.

Hazel was a up to Highway 55 and then back to the cross street where I turned left and walked to Linden.

Here the map directed me to find an animal in a stone as a checkpoint -- a checkpoint being a report to prove one was at the place during the walk. Wondered how I would find this and it turned out to be very obvious!

It was up to Highway 55 and then back as well on Linden. By this point the day was getting very warm and I was looking for a place to stop for a bit of break and dig out my water bottle. This street didn't have a sidewalk so I tried stepping into the grass on the side only to discover this was very wet for some reason. Finally at the end of Linden I found a electric terminal box that turned out to be a good place to sit for a minute and enjoy some cold water.

From here it was only a short walk to Main Street where I turned left. An interesting thing was the Diva Salon. It has a great mural on the side of the building.

And here's the diva herself.

Now I had to wait for one of the North Dakota oil trains to roar through town. The oil boom is bringing a lot of money and social problems to North Dakota. What we see in Minnesota are these trains which have an unusual rate of derailing and bringing chaos to little towns.

Willow Park was the next destination. Here I found an amazing baseball field.

A sign explained this field was funded by the Minnesota Twins with additional funding from Toro and Land o Lakes.

The route map directed me towards a veterans' memorial.

From there the route map said to walk around the grassy knoll.

Then it was back to Main Street where I went by the historic City Hall.

The city hall was built in 1908 and today at least holds the public library for Kimball, plus perhaps other offices. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

From here it was a short walk back to Spruce Street and then the high school parking lot where I left my car.

This was a great walk to do on wonderful autumn day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Walking in Glencoe

Yesterday I walked a Looong 5K in Glencoe. This walk seemed much longer than 5K because there wasn't much to keep me entertained.

Glencoe is the county seat of McLeod County (think MCloud to pronounce it). McLeod is named for Martin McLeod who came to Minnesota from Montreal after immigrating there from Scotland. He was interested in fur trading, and the Minnesota Geographic Names book reports he did something quite remarkable. In 1836 he arrived at La Pointe, Wisconsin along Lake Superior. From there he walked during the autumn and early winter all the way to Pembina, a location then to be found on the Red River, a river that divides Minnesota and North Dakota. Imagine walking 600 miles during that season! McLeod is one of the founders of Glencoe, named after a historic valley in Scotland.

This walk also started from a Casey's gas station and convenience store. From there I walked down Hennepin Street for 8 blocks. I noticed a building along this street that had some interesting detail.

This is a bank building and had a clock showing the temperature was 67 (19 C). I had encountered rain sprinkles during my drive to Glencoe so was carrying my jacket in case I had to put it on quickly.

By the time I found the tree below I was getting warm in the sunshine combined with the exercise of walking.

My route took me into a city park and I was glad to find a picnic table, both to sit and rest as well as to have a place to stuff my jacket back into my backpack. The route map told me to look for a walkway into a wildlife area.

I was walking back and forth across Buffalo Creek. My names book is silent on how this creek got its name.

Then I came to fence as I had expected from the route map. But the route map said I would be seeing animals on the other side. This was such a large area and I walked a long distance without seeing anything other than grass that I wondered if something had changed since the route was designed. I got out my phone just to see where Google Maps would say where I was.

Kept walking with the fence on the left and finally glimpsed some animals inside the fenced area. Well, the animals spotted me too and one came running.

I stepped to the right to try to try to take a picture through the fince of other animals, and this little lady stepped to the right too. We did quite a dance.

Kept walking and found some goats. Loved the ears on this one.

 And then I found a sign for this place.

Next I continued through this area of park land and athletic fields. Found a memorial to the county's veterans.

 I was to note the name of the Glencoe high school teams from the stadium sign a checkpoint to prove I had really done this walk.

Thought Brewers was a strange name for a high school team.

The route back tracked on some of the same streets I had walked. I had "bookmarked" a coffee shop in my mind. Went into Gert and Emma's to have a coffee and muffin. There I noticed signs that indicated the name of the high school team is Panthers. I don't know who the Brewers are!

From this walk I only stamped my event, distance, and Minnesota county books. The other things were on a different 5K loop.  I had started late on this walk and had an evening meeting at home starting at 5:30, so skipped doing another 5K.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Walking in Litchfield

A sore foot and then a bad respiratory infection has put walking on the back shelf for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I thought I was in good enough shape to try the walk in Litchfield MN. I started Google Maps after stopping at a nearby gas station and from that location Google Maps surely took me on a journey, winding on county roads through Hennepin County. Sometimes one shouldn't believe Google Maps! On the other hand I've driven west so many times this summer it was nice to have a change of scene.

Litchfield started out being called Ness, a connection to Scandinavian immigrants who came here. It was re-named Litchfield to honor three brothers who were prominent in bringing the railroad to Litchfield. Now in the 21st century we may forget how important a railroad connection was -- it was truly the mark of whether one's town would live and prosper or would wither and die.

Litchfield is located in Meeker County. Meeker County is named for Bradley Meeker, who was an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1849 - 1853.

The walk started from a Casey's gas station and convenience store. This chain hosts many of the walks in Minnesota. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I'm always surprised when I walk into a place like this and ask for the "walk box" and the person at the counter knows exactly what I want. Looking at the registration pages, I found I was walker 42 for this route.

I turned right out the store and then turned right again going to Swift Avenue where I simply walked straight then for 12 blocks. I love this kind of route -- one doesn't have to think about turning here and there and trying to figure out exactly what the person who designed the route really means by statements such as "make a slight right" or "turn on 4th Street (no sign)."

The area had homes that appeared to be built in the mid-20th century.

I was glad that I was doing this part first, for while the route was easy, it wasn't very interesting.

I did find a water tower.

That makes #5 for this walking season, and I think I will find a few more before the walking season really shuts down on October 31. 

Then I saw a huge factory in front of me.

Closer I found a small park area across the street with the logo and flags.

Later at home I searched and searched for E9a -- what I thought the logo said. Only after extensive searching did I find these letters are to be FDA for the First District Association. This improbable name is for a dairy association in this area of Minnesota. This plant makes cheese and also uses the milk for whey and lactose products, but doesn't sell any fresh milk. While here I saw two big tanker trucks leaving the factory and then later in the afternoon I saw other tanker trucks arriving into the town.

Further down I laughed at this wooden figure in someone's garden.

I couldn't decide for sure if this related to the golf course that was across the street.

Soon I came to the end of the street and turned left walking by a picturesque pond. Having spent all summer really in Poland it still startles me that summer is over and I came back back to autumn in Minnesota.

The route directed me to start walking towards Lake Ripley. But before the map said to enter a garden through by the green poles. What a lovely surprise -- the Anderson Garden.

It was a a lovely place to sit and rest for a bit.

Then I wandered down to the Lake Ripley Beach Deck, as this was a checkpoint for this walk.

This lake got its name from an unusual circumstance. It is named for Frederick Ripley who froze to death by this lake during the winter of 1855-56.

Now the route went back by the gardens and up Sibley Avenue, which is also Highway 22. The first puzzling and interesting thing I found was Rosemary Hall.

It was built by Dorothy Kopplin. Wikipedia tells me that Kopplin was Minnesota Mother of the Year in 1949 and also author of a book, Something to Live By. Interested readers can find more about this book by searching the internet. Kopplin built Rosemary Hall to "provide housing for nursing students and professional women." There was nothing about the residence to tell me if it is currently in use. Rosemary was Kopplin's daughter who died at 6 years from leukemia. Anybody who knows more about this place -- please comment.

Soon I saw the county hospital.

Then I reached the corner of Highway 22 and Highway 12 and recognized something I had seen on my drive  into the town.

Then I walked through the business district which is regarded as a historic site.

On the other side of the street was a very traditional movie theater, but showing right up to date films.

The route directed me to the city park and the GAR building. This building is also listed on the National Historic Register.

GAR stands for the Grand Army of the Republic. This was a group of veterans from the American Civil War which banded together to continue friendship, honor fallen comrades, and provide support to widows of fallen comrades.

Nearby was the Trinity Episcopal Church, also listed on the historic register.

Really enjoyed this walk.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Walking in Clara City

With jet lag just about conquered, I decided yesterday to go do the walk in Clara City, MN. It was a day when I didn't have any commitments so could do a long drive and walk.

Clara City is a small town; its 2010 census population was 1360. Clara City was founded in 1887, in conjunction with the first railroad line through this part of Minnesota with the interesting name of Rhinelander and Stoneham. There is a still a big railroad track through this city, but unlike others were I've walked in the area west of the Twin Cities, not a single train passed through town while I was there. Clara City is named after the wife of Theodore Koch, who was buying up farmland on behalf of a Holland syndicate; the idea was to form colonies of immigrants in this area.

Clara City is located in Chippewa County. It is named Chippewa for the Ojibway Indians by the Dakota who formerly lived in the area and called the area in the Dakota language, Manya Wakan, meaning beautiful waters.

I arrived at the start point for the walk about 9:30 AM and the cashier knew immediately where to find the Walk Box. This always amazes me-- the organizers for the walk do a very good job of establishing relationships with start points. The cashier pointed out a table where I could do the paperwork. I was # 39 to do this walk.

While driving out I had planned to stop somewhere for some breakfast, but didn't find anything in the small towns through which I passed except for fast food restaurants which didn't open until 11 AM. So after getting organized for the walk I had a "nutritious snack"--a coffee and a Snickers Bar.

Then I was off. The walk took me along a street parallel to the railroad tracks. I was following the directions to walk along this street until crossing a bridge for a creek. Then I was to walk along the creek through a park .

The view definitely made me think autumn is in the wind.

The walk then took me along the very western edge of the town and then back into the town. Truthfully this is a place with not much there, "there." And a lot of the town was dug up for a what appeared to be a water main project.

Then I was directed to walk north to the northern edge of the town.

In other words, on this walk I saw a lot of corn fields too. Finally I turned to the south and back into the town. I was pleased to find a little park that had a bench swing. I was ready to rest a bit because I have been having a bit of foot problem since mid-summer in Poland.

Then I walked along the street that had churches and the library.

More signs that the autumn season is upon us.

I'm doing a Volksmarch book about water towers. And this walk counted for that.

I was happy to see a sign that said Coffee Shop. I really wanted something more to eat and thought coffee and a pastry would work OK until I get find something else on my way home. But the Coffee Shop brought a surprise. It has a Friday lunch special.

For slightly less than seven dollars I had a nice hamburger, French Fries, vegetables -- that truly tasted like they had come from someone's garden, a brownie, and a drink. What a deal!

After lunch it was a short two blocks to where I had parked the car and I started home, of course hitting the Twin Cities freeways at rush hour -- a rush hour that now seems to start as early as 3:00 PM.

Monday, September 1, 2014

From Amsterdam to Saint Paul

I am home in Saint Paul again after a bit more than nine weeks in Europe. Believe me, coming home is as much a culture shock as leaving! I left Poland on Saturday afternoon, but not without making a mistake on the KLM kiosk. I thought the question was about how much luggage being checked when in fact it was about having a passport. So I had to wait in a line to show I had a passport and get a boarding pass. Other than that my trip between Warsaw and Amsterdam went smoothly, but I was very tired.

Got to Citizen M hotel at Schiphol Airport and couldn't check in. Turns out I had badly confused the computer when I made two reservations for the same night. This all stems back to when plans were up on the air in early June. I couldn't find any evidence of having made a reservation for my August return, so did it again. The attendant at the computer check-in area was very helpful, sorted out everything. The next morning I went brain dead again and left my hotel card at the cashier's desk -- for I was trying to juggle a plate of food, a cup of cappuccino, and my Kindle all at the same time--having figured that out I simply walked away! Went back to ask about it and it was all bundled up waiting for me.

Went to check in for the plane about 10:00 and then had to do the baggage drop. Had about an hour to wait before checking in at the gate. At the Amsterdam airport the security check is done at the gate. Got a funny question: the security agent at the end of the usual questions asked if I happened to having chewing gum. I don't know if he wanted some or this is really a security question!

The trip home seemed long, long, long -- the flight being about 8.5 hours due to some headwinds. On the plane as usual we were given the usual paper form to fill out for customs and immigration. Then inside the terminal we find computer kiosks that gather then same information. These were not there when I returned in May, so the Automated Passport Control (APC) is a new feature. I had to make a second stop for agricultural inspection because I was bringing home tulip bulbs for a friend.

All this done I took the light rail home -- home to an apartment I had lived in only one week before leaving this summer. My granddaughter, who lives with me, was at work, but had left the apartment in sparkling clean condition.

This all is quite mundane, but some mundane things are part of life. And the heading on this blog promises mundane once in awhile.