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(first picture is the replica of the Lighthouse tower built by Lisa’s Uncle Ralph. The second picture is Roger’s Unimog-GN)


I was gone last week; gone from my regular spot in the Northern Watch and gone from home. We took our annual vacation last week and kept it pretty local as our destination was Two harbors, Minnesota. I’d hoped to write my column from the road, however it didn’t work out so this week I want to tell you about our vacation.

My reference to “we” includes; our friend Theresa Hibbert, Jeanette Walseth, Lisa and someone to listen-me (just kidding girls.) Our trip involved lots of stops at antique stores. We typically avoid gift shops or fancy antique stores which are set up with different themes. We like antique stores that teeter right on the brink of closure by the local department of health; those are the stores that house real bargains. I found a hay trolley for $25.00 at one such store which, to those few who collect hay trolleys, was quite a bargain.

We stayed at Lisa’s Aunt Rosemary’s place in Two Harbors. Rosemary delayed her own vacation to feed, room and entertain us. I had met few of her family prior to this trip and they were unique and good people. I really mad a connection with Lisa’s cousin Roger. You see, unknown to me, Roger owns a Unimog. The Unimog is a four wheel-drive truck built by Merced-Benz which reminds me of an over-grown Tonka truck. It is strong enough to perform the duties of a tractor, yet can drive at highway speeds. I have tried to justify the purchase of such a unit for myself but there is not enough beer in the world to make it make sense. I started talking to Roger one night and the discussion turned to the Unimog. Roger and I both had a real appreciation for things mechanical and heavy-duty diesel muscle. After our discussion, Roger went home for the night leaving his wife, Jenny, to visit. A few minutes later, Jenny received a call from Roger that I should be in front of the house in five minutes for my first Unimog ride. It was awesome. I thought the people of Two Harbors would be shocked by the sight of this post-nuclear, Mad Max beast, however they seemed used to it. Apparently, Roger doesn’t let just anyone co-pilot as his wife confided to their daughters, “wow, I guess daddy made a new friend tonight!”

Lisa’s Uncle, Ralph, also lives near Two Harbors. Ralph decided to give me the tour of this lovely lakeside community that you don’t see in the brochure. Ralph showed me the local airport, where to get decent coffee, a tour of his farm, his beautiful chickens and some of the older buildings in town. We also sat along Lake Superior and watched a massive barge load-up next to a hulking, steel pier. Taconite pellets are derived from rock that includes iron as an element and are used to make steel. These pellets have also been used as gravel in certain situations and Ralph was determined that I would take some home. He said that by giving each person I met a Taconite pellet that I would become popular. He made sure that along with beets from his garden and a model of the Lighthouse along Lake Superior which he builds for visiting tourists, that we took home a bag of these pellets. I soon plan to test out his theory on the Taconite/popularity connection soon. I liked riding around with Ralph and his tour took place far from the beaten path and was very similar to the one I’ve received from my brother, David, when visiting his home.

That’s just a little of our trip, sorry I missed you last week but the time off felt good. I am back home; both at our farm and here in my column.

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