October 20, 2011

A visit to Minnesota (part 1)

We recently took a long weekend and drove to Minnesota to visit some friends who just moved there. We were very excited about this trip. We've only been to Minnesota one other time and really like it. Honestly I think we like anywhere but where we currently live. Our last move was abrupt and too fast. Nebraska was on our list of places we did NOT want to move to but somehow that's just where we ended up. We are trying to stay positive and make the best of it but it's not always easy. That's why I'm thankful that we can take long weekends to get away and spend time with wonderful friends.

It's very obvious when you leave the state of Nebraska, things just seem better. You don't need a sign to welcome you to Iowa, somehow you just know that you're not in Nebraska anymore. Our first stop on the way to Minnesota was in Elk Horn, Iowa. We've seen signs before promoting the Danish Windmill Museum but this time we decided that we should check it out.

My husbands family is Danish so it's always fun to experience places that connect us to his heritage. We were really hoping for some Danish food and this stop did not disappoint. Apparently Elk Horn, Iowa is the largest rural Danish settlement in the U.S. As we exited off the interstate and drove to this very tiny town we saw hints of Danish influence everywhere. Many of the homes were constructed with Danish architecture in mind. We only had time to visit the windmill and have a quick lunch but there are other places to explore like historic homes, farms and the Danish Immigrant Museum.

This mill was originally built in 1848 in Snede, Denmark. In order keep it from deteriorating
it was brought in pieces to the U.S.  in 1975 and built back up by VOLUNTEERS a year later.
What an awesome tribute to the Danish culture!
The actual museum was connected to the bottom part of the mill.



The inner parts of the mill still work.
View from one of the mill windows.
These boots were on display in the museum they were worn by Danish flour millers.
The bottoms could be replaced as needed. I mostly took the picture because it reminded me
of my husbands aunt who makes custom handcrafted footwear. You can check her stuff out Here.


Within walking distance of the mill is a little restaurant with some authentic Danish food selections. We both ordered the Open Faced Herring Sandwiches. The herring is pickled in a spiced vinegar solution which gives it a unique sweetness. 

What really made this place irresistible though was the  Kringle!  Kringle is a flaky pastry traditionally formed into a pretzel shape filled with marzipan. While we enjoyed are Open Faced Sandwiches we argued over what kind of Kringle to get. My husband likes the traditional Kringle but the baker decided to try something new and make a Kringle with Pumpkin. I just had to try it! Unfortunately my husband did not like the idea. Lucky for us the waitress brought us a sample of the pumpkin so that we could make a decision. O MY! It was AMAZING! What a brilliant idea!  We bought an entire Pumpkin Kringle to share share with our friends. They were fans! It didn't last long.               


After this fun stop we had to get back on the road again. We finally arrived a little after dark at our friends new house just outside Rochester, Minnesota. It was so nice to be greeted by familiar faces. They even had homemade Chili prepared for us which provided a warm welcome. It was DELICIOUS!

We are blessed to have such great friends! We've been on many fun hiking adventures with them when we lived in Colorado. Being outdoors is something we all enjoy so our plan was to go on a fall colors hike the next day. We were all looking forward to exploring new territory!

On our way out of town we had to stop at the local attraction. The covered bridge!


Blanca and Keltie were having too much fun running around.
Aren't they cute? So happy to be outside!

After seeing the covered bridge we all loaded back up in the car. Next stop our hiking destination.

My husband and Blanca lead the way.  Blanca always has to be in front of the pack, she has no manners.
This interesting rock formation was one of the "must see" stops along the hike.
They just had to climb in the bottom and explore!
While in there Mr. B our dear friend who is an awesome photographer gave my husband a photography lesson. Which took entirely TOO long! We got a new camera and the plan was to share it. He enjoys taking pictures just as much as I do. Supposedly I'm a camera hog though and he hasn't had any opportunity to learn about our new toy. Below are the results of the lesson.


The day ended up being much warmer than I thought it would be. The air wasn't exactly cool and crisp like you would think it would be during a fall hike. It was so good to be outside and this was the first "hike" I've done since having knee surgery. Even though it wasn't at all like hiking in Colorado it was still challenging for me. I long for the day when my knee will be normal again!


 

I really enjoyed the variety of trees and their enchanting shapes. In Colorado there are pretty much 2 kinds of trees, the Aspen and the Pine.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will share some more pictures from our hike and the rest of our visit.

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