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Last weekend my wife and I spent the night in Lansboro Minnesota. My wife heard that it was a cute little town, with a number of cute shops. We had purchased tickets for a play at the local theatre. The show for the evening was “Steel Magnolias.” We plotted out where we were going to eat. We found a place that had a picture of a barbeque burger on the ad. That is exactly what my wife was craving. The Old Barn Resort was in the town of Preston, about 12 minutes from Lanesboro.

With help and guidance from Siri, we set out for dinner. It wasn’t long before we were on dirt roads. Some of the gravel road was smooth, other parts were rough. My Kia Soul managed the miles. While it looked like we were way off course the turns looked to be correct. The restaurant was also a golf course. We went from corn fields to dense foliage. There was nothing that resembled a golf course.

And then there was. With amazement we followed the gravel road, leading us to the club house. There was one sign that gave us pause.”Bridge closed.” It was the end of the road.  There were no instructions as to where to go. We back tracked our route, reminded of every bone jarring divot. There were several rabbit trails we drove down, and had to retrace our steps.  Siri was in and out of service. At times we felt abandoned and orphaned.

 There were trees and corn,  nothing that resembled a golf course, until we were driving along a golfing green. We followed the road until we came to the parking area. At the far side of the lot was a blocked thoroughfare the other side of the bridge we could not pass. 

All told we went six to nine dusty miles out of our way for dinner, but my wife, who is kind of a burger aficionado proclaimed the BarBQue burger exceptional.


Several years ago I was listening to a book review on the radio. In passing it documented a not so well known part of our history. German Prisoners of War in the Midwest. One such town was Algona, located in the  north west quadrant of Iowa. 

There is a museum in town that provided information about the activities occurring in 1943, as well as World War 2. In 1943 the fighting was changing in favor of the Allied forces. There was an increased need for the US to house prisoners. Countries in Europe were turning away the influx of captured soldiers. The US made the decision to house German captured troops in the US . Thousands of POWs were  shipped to the Midwest, where they sat out the war.                                                                

POW camp Algona was a main camp, and oversaw 34 branch camps, spread out over four states. Some of  branch camps were located in Moorhead, Owatonna, New Ulm, and 31 others. The camps were built quickly and when they were done, they were deconstructed just as fast. The camp in Algona was built in 1943 and torn down in 1947.  It became the National Guard Armory, and a municipal airport.

 While the prisoners were there they lent themselves to the industry of the town. The POWs cleared land, detastled corn, and eviserated chickens. They were a great help to the community. Not only were they involved in physical labor, many of them were gifted artists, musicians, and wood carvers. Some of the prisoners carved a nativity, 60 pieces hand carved.   To this day it is cared for by the First United Methodist  church.

Many of the guards for the camp were deemed unfit for oversea service.  There were numerous escape attempts. Most returned to camp within a few days. One can only conjecture the reason why they came back.

“What is there to do in Iowa?”

There were a lot of predictions about the presence of Northern Lights last night.  To see them has been a desire of mine. 

The first attempt was a number of years ago.  News outlets promised a good showing. My adventure loving daughter asked to ride along. She had recently been diagnosed with Cronhs disease and was so weak, the best she could do was curl up in a blanket on the passenger’s seat. We had a choice of heading up to Milaca or over to Alexandria. We made the choice to go to Milaca. It was the wrong choice. The lights turned on in Alexandria and were a no show in Milaca.  We started out about 7 pm and didn’t return till 3am. Much of the time she slept. I look back on that night with tender fondness.

The second time was not a memorable experience. My wife doesn’t remember it at all, and what I remembered was that I felt bad that she was along for the ride when I had no clue where I was going. Yet, she stuck with me even in my confusion.

When we got to the lake, the scene was idyllic until we stepped outside. We were met by a reception committee of blood suckers. Frogs near the  shore called out with sounds like jaws harps. A few cars came and went. We were there from 9pm to 11:30 and did not see any Aurora Borealis like lights in the sky. We got home 12:30 and both agreed that we had made the right choice being closer to home.

What does it matter that I have not found the Northern Lights? Maybe I’ll find them and maybe I won’t. What is crucial is that we have been on a journey. On a journey, there is no guaranteed outcome. You can’t know what you will discover.

Ultimately the question I need to ask myself is, did I journey well?  Did I journey well  with my debilitated but determined daughter? Did I journey well with my kind hearted wife, encouraging me to find my dreams? Did I journey well yesterday as we chose adventure over frustration?

Maybe someday I will find the lights. But it will not diminish my sense of wonder of those I travel with. 

Superior is the other side of the channel from Duluth, as well as the city at the top of the Minnesota and Wisconsin border.  Up from Duluth on Hwy 2, we crossed a bridge that soared high above the back channels of the Duluth Harbor, and then landing us back down onto Harbor View Road.  We were looking for a restaurant called “The Anchor Bar.” The roads were all torn up and our GPS was sketchy.

I have to be honest, the outside was not what you would consider a 5 star dining experience. There were multiple types of siding on the wall, and we parked in weeds growing up through a gravel parking lot.  A plain sign on the front of the building identified it as the correct place.It was dark inside. Lining the walls was paraphernalia from boating and fishing. As we had been on the road for a few hours, B and I needed to use the bathrooms. I didn’t see the interior of the women’s, but the men’s was the size of two airline lavatories, squeezed together.  

We located the person we had come to see in the hall outside of the bathroom. It was my wife’s childhood neighbor and friend (CF). She and her husband are dairy farmers in Ashland Wisconsin, which is a distance from where we live. Whenever B would document our vacation trip along the north shore, CF would see it and contact us to encourage us to meet her in Duluth/Superior. This last time we set up a time to meet as we passed through Duluth. She was as good as her word. She drove the one and a half hours to do lunch with us.

We decided to meet out on the deck. It would be lighter and not so noisy.  The food there was wonderfully inexpensive and B pronounced the hamburgers there, some of the best she has ever tasted. Our bill for two people was $9. Pretty amazing.

B, a retired senior management  and CF, a dairy farmer, spoke of different career paths. But, when they got to reminiscing about the fates of the people they knew, differences melted away.  They were who they had always been, good neighbors and good friends. It felt affirming to realize that time had changed in some areas, but also their willingness to go out of their way to validate their bond. And we found a local burger joint to boot.