Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008 (5-26-08)

Today is the end of this long weekend trip to northern MN where we stayed in Bemidji at the Royal Oaks RV Park. In what we heard is very abnormal for this area there are many camp/RV spots open. The $$ of gas has affected RVrs and others who are staying home. We made this trip to see a new area of the state, to us. This is where MN earned the name of land of 10,000 lakes as there are more lakes than I've ever seen one after another.

This is RV, resorts, cabins and camping and fishing area. Home of the Chippewa , Crow and Ojibwe Indian tribes. Besides casinos, these Indians have many industries--bottling water, raising and selling wild rice, moccasins, etc. And their own license plates--these plates which I first spotted at Wal Mart are not MN but each sovereign tribe has their own plate. Have never seen that anywhere else in the country.

By the way, Bemidji has the busiest WalMart we've seen anywhere in the country. The mainstay of the town besides the huge statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox at the visitor center, is the Univ. of Bemidji. All brick buildings--many many dormitories. Not sure but think the primary academic is geology, natural sciences, and other similar outdoor scienes. Oh Bemidji is also home of curling---guess they need to amuse themselves during the long harsh winters here.
Saturday we went to the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park. I did not take off my shoes to walk across the rocks there as I thought I would. Call me a coward, but it was too cold with still the melting snow keeping the water icy--those who did the walk on the rocks barefooted were kids and 20 somethings. Another time when the water is not so high or cold! Lake Itasca has a fascinating visitors center full of history of the area and the tribes and the fur trapping and the French Indian wars of the 1700's. Many buildings of this park were built by the CCC in the 1930's making us wonder why we can't do such a thing today to put people to work--but then flash---back then those who didn't work didn't eat. Today the courts will say "ah no that's servitude or slavery" "Must not." Yet another lost American value becomes clear with reflection on history and seeing this visible monument to such efforts. In one exhibit two men now in their 80's wrote of being part of the CCC in 1936 where for the first time they got three meals a day, all they could eat, and a pair of boots-which came in one size. Large. One man said he will never forget those boots.

Itasca has a large drive around which is one way traffic so that we enjoyed all the sights from the truck seat. I saw hundreds of ladyslippers in bloom. This is the first time I've seen the MN state flower in bloom.

But primarily we cme north to attend the ceremony held today in Akeley,MN at the VFW Post where Kathy Swanson, AWON, and her mother received the last of her father's medals from WWII. Senator Norm Coleman presented these, the Akeley VFW, which seems to be the hot spot in this tiny town, went all out. The Legion came from Walker,MN slightly bigger but tiny. Coleman messed up the presentation by saying Kathy's father died August 17, 1949--then covered saying that was his own birthday! I don't think he ever said 1944. Kathy's father died the day she was born August 17, 1944. Cpl. Ed Newsome was a medic and wounded in the Pacific. He was to be sent back to the states but died in the hospital; his diary indicates bombs were dropping. His grave is memorialized in the Phillippines. Kathy never knew that her stepfather was not her biological father until she went to get her birth certificate at age 16. Then her mother told her Johnson name was not her name! That began her search and journey which finally led to today's ceremony. She found her father's family in Texas and has met those still alive. She has also seen her father memorialized in Texas in his hometown monument. She and her husband are very active in their VFW and have the display wall with service branch and brief life stories of each member. Bob Swanson created this using the WWII memorial model. They intend to sell out and become full time RVers. We will see them next in Tucson.

Weather turned cold today. Could have used some of the woolen sweaters from the Bemidji Woolen Mill which I did not buy when we visited it Friday!

On our way here we stopped at Camping World in Rogers MN where I got my tricycle at last!!I have pedaled it around this RV park but will prefer concrete at home. It has 3 speeds and handbrake as well as pedal brake--a nice big basket on the back where I can carry stuff. They had just gotten 2 in on the truck and assembled it. While we intended to stop on our way home, with only two I didn't want to take a chance on missing out--have had my eye out for one since I first saw it in CA in November at the Camping World in Rocklin.

We head home tomorrow. This has been a restful trip--maybe too much so. Yesterday I sat over three hours working the Wall Street Journal's crossword on the computer; no way to save it so I kept guessing away. My butt wnt to sleep!