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Hillary Clinton in Hibbing by Ann Treacy
October 25, 2008, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

I don’t usually blog about work here – but work was kind of interesting this week. On Monday night I headed to Brainerd to talk to the Minnesota Resort and Campground Association. My friend Jan and I talked about Web 2.0 stuff for tourism. On Tues I met up with my friend Bill to do some work with the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids.

But the fun (and noteworthy) part came Tuesday night. We heard that Hillary Clinton would be in Hibbing – so we headed up there. It’s not too far from Grand Rapids. I had never been to a rally like this before. It was held in the hockey arena and the place was jammed. We saw the line to get in and were worried we wouldn’t get in.

But we got it as did 5,000 or so other people. The place was filled but it wasn’t overly crowded. Everyone was friendly and I think every Democratic politician past or present within a 200 mile radius was up on stage. The strangest thing was a guy with a cowboy hat with McCain stickers in the middle of the room. He didn’t say anything and I think he eventually took of his hat – but it was strange to see him.

Also the security was pretty light. After the RNC demonstrations I pretty much expect a full militia at any public event. There were a few guards but that was it.

I taped most of Hillary’s speech.

See Amy Klobuchar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQZlIFafQOo

Jim Oberstar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3LTxokeqTM (I think)

Preston by Ann Treacy
October 18, 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: SE Minnesota

We’re on the way home now but here’s our vacation in a nutshell, minus the posts I’ve already done.

We drove down 52 on Thursday and stopped for lunch in Chatfield and headed to Preston. We stayed at a hotel in Preston because it was the only place I could find with a swimming pool. And now after driving around there for 3 days, I’m still sure that it was the only place with a swimming pool. We went swimming every day we were there. I have to say a swimming pool was something we really missed traveling in Ireland. A pool can take the edge off a rainy day and helps to make up for the dramatic increase in calories due to vacation mode.

We had dinner Thursday at a supper club in Preston. It was pretty good although I have to say it’s the first time I’ve ever had deep fried scallops. Luckily they were pretty good if you just peeled off the deep fry batter.

Friday night we went bowling. Lily rocked! She scored 130 on the first game. Patrick won the second game but the night really goes to Lily.

Lanesboro by Ann Treacy
October 18, 2008, 10:57 pm
Filed under: SE Minnesota

On Saturday we stopped in Lanesboro for a quick tour and lunch. Lanesboro must be the official or unofficial cycling capital of Minnesota. It is the center of tons of bike paths. We saw people off all ages on or near their bikes.

We took a trolley tour of the area. Lanesboro was settled around 1865 by some folks from NY. The goal apparently was to create a vacation spot for New Yorkers; but it’s a long way from NY to MN so it didn’t work out well – until about 100 years later when they started building the bike trails.

We stopped at the Lanesboro fish hatchery; it’s one of eight in the state. We had never been to a hatchery. It’s kind of cool – especially since we recently saw a movie about the Great lakes and sturgeon. This hatchery bred rainbow trout and brown trout. They can keep the rainbow trout outside but not the brown trout as they get sunburned. We fed the tiny fish in the ponds. I took a video, I hope it works out; I have never seen so many fish in one place.

It was amazing to see how big they rainbow trout get in three years; that’s when they release the fish to northern lakes.

In the trolley we got to tour the area and to see a survey of the local B&Bs. There are tons of them. We also saw a waterfall. Energy is created from the waterfall. There is also an ethanol plant in Preston and wind turbines nearby – so the tour guide pointed out that they were in good shape. There is clearly a focus in the area environmentally friendly behavior and alterantive energy. It was good to see.

We had lunch at the start of the bike trails and headed back home.

Iowa by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2008, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Iowa

Guess what? None of us had ever been to Iowa, until today. So we decided to have lunch in Iowa today – Decorah, Iowa. So Iowa isn’t significantly different from Minnesota – although the area around Decorah is very hilly and the colors were great.

Decorah is the home of Luther College. We took pictures at the Porter House Museum. We didn’t actually go in – but we couldn’t resist a picture of the wall around the house; it’s a hodgepodge of super cool rocks. I hope the picture comes out.

After lunch we went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum. Laura and the Ingalls lived in Butt Oaks when she 9 years old. They worked in the hotel and we toured the hotel.

The going rate in the day was $.25 per night – but there were 3 people to a bed and you didn’t necessarily know your bed buddies. We saw a replica of Laura’s first doll – a corn cob husk with a face painted on it. We also learned that you can make checkers by slicing up a corn cob and coloring half the pieces black and half red.

The hotel had chamber pots, which is also a big hit with kids. We learned how they churned butter and put it in a mold with an imprint. We even learned that butter is usually white but that Laura’s Ma used boiled carrot juice to give her butter a yellowish color.

We also learned about the 7 months of 7 blizzards. The town ran out of food and coal – because the trains were not able to come into town to deliver it. So they create “hay sticks” to burn in the oven and ground the wheat seed they had been saving for spring to make bread. When the winter finally ended the people complained to the government and their complete lack of support. Many people died needlessly that winter. As Patrick pointed out – it sounds familiar.

Last interesting fact – Laura Ingalls Wilder was only 4 foot 2 inches tall. Almanzo was only 5 foot 2. He seemed much bigger on TV.

Niagara Caves by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2008, 9:24 pm
Filed under: SE Minnesota

It’s MEA and we’ve decided to go to Southeastern Minnesota. Our neighbors came here a few weeks ago and loved it. We had planned to go somewhere so here we are.

The main reason we came was to see the Niagara Cave. It is one of the top 10 caves in the US. It’s cool. It’s just outside Harmony Minnesota, which has an Amish community. (You can tour the Amish community but that felt a little voyeuristic, so we just took pictures from afar like regular stalkers.)

Anyway back to the cave. It was discovered in 1924. A farmer lost a few pigs. They were eventually found in one of the first chambers of the cave. A couple of years later spelunkers came to take a closer look and eventually open the cave to the public. At its deepest point, it’s 150 feet below the ground.

We took a guided tour of the cave; I think that’s the only way you can visit it. It’s pretty well lit, for a cave. The tour guide offered to turn off the lights but the other (smarter, kinder) mom on the tour thought that would be too scary. I was disappointed.

The tour is about an hour. You climb a lot of stairs and walk through some pretty tights walkways. We saw the wedding chapel, where they have had 400 weddings. Apparently there are still a half a dozen or so a year. There’s an underground waterfall. There are a bunch of fossils, which are very cool. We saw the stalactites and stalagmites.

We saw huge stalactites; the tour guide guessed that they were a million years old. He was funny and clearly had grown up around the cave. He told us that while no one had ever been lost in the cave his brother had been stuck – twice.

Last June there was flooding in the area and apparently much of the cave was filled with water. They pumped much of it out. The guide said there were climbing around and that it was pretty cool when they suddenly noticed that the lights were on , which meant obviously that the electricity was one – so they hightailed it out of there.

Anita’s Shower by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2008, 4:09 pm
Filed under: St Paul

On Sunday we had a shower for Anita – who is expecting a baby on November 18. It was fun to see my some of cousins for the first time since we’ve been home and it was fun to see Anita’s family. Here are some pictures:

Tyrone and Ralph by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2008, 4:07 pm
Filed under: St Paul

On Saturday night we went to see Tyrone and Ralph at the History Theater with our neighbors Mary Sue and Jim Brooks. It was opening night – so that was fun. It’s the show about the building of the Guthrie Theater; Ralph Rapson was the architect.

So the play was right up Patrick’s alley. Joe Dowling was there and Patrick was able to talk ot him. The show was fun. It might seem as if the topic is pretty specific, but that’s the History Theater. Last year we saw the play on Baron Von Raschke at the History Theater with my family.

I won’t say which show I liked better – they were both fun.

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