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Archive for the ‘Midwest’ Category

water carnival

Look up “good clean fun” in the dictionary and you’ll be directed to the Detroit Lakes, Minnesota annual Water Carnival. The community recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the event in the usual way: turtle races, boat parade, firehose water fight, “polka in the pavilion”, kid’s ship building contest, and 63 other events.

The money shot of the two-week festival is the Parade of the Northwest, involving every Shriner in a 200-miles radius, every emergency and service vehicle in the city (including the Kentucky Fried Chicken delivery van), assorted entrants (like the bed race champion), and local elected officials and festival organizers waving from towed pontoons.

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vinegar museum

How did Roslyn, South Dakota get to be the vinegar capital of America?

“Yes. Ok,” replied the amiable host at the International Vinegar Museum, who earnestly launched into his docent’s speech. “This fella by the name of Lawrence Diggs,” he said, pointing to the framed articles on the wall at the entrance. “He was living in California and looking for a place different from California. He happened to come through Roslyn and he’s been here ever since.” (What are the odds of this.)

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journey to the center of america

The wind blew so hard driving into Pierre South Dakota we nearly ran the DWR into a pasture. (Fun fact: it’s pronounced “peer”). Other drivers passed blithely by without seeming to notice but I was frantically searching on the iPhone for tornado warnings.

The next day the wind died down and we left behind a perfect morning at the country’s most retarded state park. Oahe Downstream Recreation Area has two kinds of signage: none or misleading. “Stop! All Campers Must Register at the Visitors Center” reads a small marker posted in the middle of a road where there is no structure or sign of life.

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detroit lakes minnesota

Ralph’s mother, a travel writer, has a lovely home on the water in Detroit Lakes—an unpretentious town with an intimate community surrounding two appealing little lakes where families from Fargo and Minneapolis have been summering for generations. We timed our visit to avoid the two annual events that overflow the local campgrounds with rowdy fans: WeFest, the largest country music concert in Middle America (which the locals call “Drunkfest”) and the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival (“Drugfest”).

When we arrived, DL was just recovering from 10KLF (“Minnesota is the land of ten thousand lakes,” explained Ralph’s mom, “but there are more depending on how many potholes you count.”)

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road to dl

Now a day behind schedule because of The Incident, we’re caught between the urge to hurry and the need to slow down so there will be no further mistakes. Up at 5am, we make our way carefully across Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

Lots to see in Montana along the I90; we’re in too big of a rush to stop but managed to check a couple of boxes:
☑ Prairie dog
☑ 25ft McCain/Palin yard sign

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