Minnesota, Hail to Thee!

Before we headed across Wisconsin this morning, we had to run back over to the Michigan side long enough to have breakfast at Schloegel’s Bay View Restaurant. It has long been a family tradition that we stop there for breakfast and we always have their potato pancakes with extra-crispy bacon. Their pancakes are like lace…thin, delicate, and works of art. They are also darn tasty.

Then it was time to pile into the car and begin our trip across Wisconsin, heading towards Minnesota. Our route took us through lots of small towns, wooded forests, and farming country. Along the way, my brother insisted on stopping A LOT whenever he spotted an outhouse. He likes to photograph them. I’ll admit that we do use them quite often, too. This “his-and-hers” privy was in a roadside park.

This lovely outhouse was actually in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan but it was in such a lovely location and in such great shape that I had to include a shot of it today.

Look how immaculate the inside was. The lid over the hole actually closed slowly on its own, too when you’d release it. How high-tech is that? I told my brother that it was so clean and the view was so lovely that I thought I could almost camp out in it.

We stopped to admire this log-cabin outhouse today but it was locked so we couldn’t get inside.

Our final privy stop was this little gem in a cemetery, no less. My brother asked me if I wanted to use it and I told him, “No thanks. I think I have no inclination to use an outhouse with a big sign on the front that says ‘Cesspool Cleaning Company.'” He had no such qualms and said he figured it would be pretty clean since it was surrounded by deceased people.

We spotted this old schoolhouse with the lovely old playground carousel in the front. I had to take some pics. It looked like someone was restoring the schoolhouse, perhaps to turn it into apartments? John discovered two identical really old outhouses in an unusual hexagon shape out behind the schoolhouse. One would have been for the boys and the other one would have been for the girls.

In keeping with the school theme, we soon spotted this bar as we drove through the next town and had to laugh at the sign underneath the name of the bar. Apparently there were some early customers who were taking them at their word that “it’s always time for recess.”

After a very long drive, we finally crossed the bridge over the St. Croix River into Minnesota and arrived at Stillwater, Minnesota. Of course, I had to sing Minnesota’s anthem which John says he doesn’t remember ever singing. I don’t understand this because Mom and I always sang it at the top of our lungs whenever we crossed into Minnesota.

We checked into our hotel and then headed up along the river to the little town of Marine on St. Croix. It was here that our great-great grandfather and our great-grandfather lived for a spell. At one point, my gr.gr. grandfather owned this general store in town that catered to the lumbermill employees. In fact, this is the store that Garrison Keillor modeled his “Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery” after. Our ancestor also founded a brewery in this town.

We walked around the tiny town and also walked around a little path set up by the historical society. We knew that there were ruins somewhere around that point of the old brewery.

We THINK the stones near the bottom of this picture are all that remain of the brewery, overlooking the St. Croix River, but we aren’t entirely sure. Later this week, we’ll be meeting with a cousin who is much more knowledgeable about our Graf history and hopefully he can tell us more about this.

We ended the day by eating Mexican food at “Nacho Mama” which serves VERY generous portions. I only put a small dent in my selection. Tomorrow we’ll be heading off to the area where Mom grew up and to the cemetery where we will be burying her cremains. It will no doubt be a difficult day. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to this or to leaving Mom behind. It’s been enjoyable sharing the journey with her up to this point.








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