We had a lovely four days in Bemedji, visiting with Sandra and Joe, our sister and brother-in-law. (She's Bill's baby sister, but I've known her since she was three, so it all kind of blends together sometimes.) We hadn't seen them for almost four years, since they moved there from the Northwest to be closer to their kids and grandkids. We stayed at the Bemedji KOA, which was within a mile of their house. Couldn't have been a better location for a visit.
One evening, Sandra and Joe had a family barbeque so that we could visit with both of their kids and spouses and grandkids. We hadn't seen our niece since she was a teenager and now she has teenagers of her own. Our nephew is proud father to a three-year old son who is a bundle of energy. Wish I'd gotten more family pictures. As often at family gatherings, I was too busy listening and talking to even remember I owned a camera.
Sandra is a birdwatcher, as am I, so one afternoon we just sat and visited and enjoyed watching the activity at her feeders. (That's one thing I miss that we had at our stick house.) I didn't expect to see the variety of birds that were there -- orioles and some other species I had only seen in Texas up until then.
Sandra and Joe took us around to see a few of Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes. I used to think that the State's slogan was probably an exaggeration, but after looking around Bemedji and Duluth and in between, now I think it's probably either accurate or understated. There is water everywhere! There are almost that many Lake resorts in the Bemedji area alone.
Minnesota is Paul Bunyan country and the Bemedji Chamber of Commerce claims that he was born here. Would they lie? This statue of Paul and Babe the Blue Ox is world famous. Again according to the Chamber, every other statue of the two is a copy.
We ate two of the local delicacies -- grilled Walleye (it's a Lake fish) and Wild Rice soup. Both delicious. We saw some of the places where the rice comes from (but it wasn't growing season). It's a different grain from ordinary rice.
We saw some ice fishing shacks (stored behind buildings for the summer) and thought it would be interesting to see those being used out on the frozen lakes, except BRRR. In the Winter, Bemedji often tops the list of coldest places in the nation. So on second thought, ice fishing will probably be one of those things we won't ever see.
We had a lovely few days and were happy that we had decided to take the Northern route back to Oregon, so that we could drop in on family. Sandra and Joe said they enjoyed it too -- all of the rest of their families live in the Northwest or Arizona, so they don't get a lot of drive-by company.
But when we were a couple of days down the road after our visit, we got a call that Sandra had been taken to the hospital at Fargo, ND (the nearest big hospital to Bemedji) and was scheduled for heart surgery. She was a pretty sick lady. Since we were still within a few hours drive of Fargo (from the other way -- we had driven past it when we left Bemedji), we went back to wait through her surgery. When we knew she had come through it well, we continued on our trip.
It was a scary time for everybody. Thankfully she continues to recover and get back to normal. Life is good.