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The High Trestle Trail; Minnesota; “That’s Different”; A One Finger Wave; Many, Many Lakes; Few Words

On the last blog post, I mentioned that we were planning to ride our bikes on the High Trestle Trail in Iowa. Here are a few photos of this great bike path and unique trestle over the Des Moines River Valley.

The river is 130 feet below, except in times of flooding, when the river rises 50 feet or so. The foundations of the old bridge are in the valley below, and have been tossed around by the raging river…

On Labor Day, we arrived in the Far North… in Minnesota, to be exact. Fortunately, we got here in the two week period between Spring Thaw and Fall Freeze-Up, so there isn’t actually any snow on the ground (but tomorrow, who knows?). It was rather disappointing, really, because I had my snow shoes, arctic parka and wooden barrel of cognac all ready to go. Instead, I was in shorts when I stepped out of The Coach in Lino Lakes, a suburb of Coon Rapids. We even had to use the air conditioner last night.. but not to fear, this morning when we arose, the temp was down to 55F with a brisk northerly breeze, and out came the blue jeans and fleece sweaters. The locals were out in shorts and tee shirts, and a couple of young women were running in short shorts and tank tops. We were heading out for a bike ride, and My Lovely Bride had taken out long sleeve jerseys and jackets, but I convinced her that we would be immediately identified as turistasif we didn’t “dress down”. After all, we wanted to “fit in”…

We were fortunate to be able to have Terri of the Frozen North and her partner Pam over for drinkees last night and again today for pizza and a matinee movie (Burlesque, with Cher and Christina Aguilera). Suzanne wanted to test out the “surround sound” system in The Coach on unsuspecting guests, and fortunately, they appeared to have suffered no permanent hearing loss. The Coach was rockin’, believe me. It was a blessing that most of the campers had cleared out by 2:00 PM when Christina and Cher began belting out their songs. Otherwise we might be in a local court (or overnight holding facility) for disturbing the peace.

Fortunately, Terri had recommended a “cultural awareness” video to acquaint us with some local traditions and mores. After watching it, we learned about phrases like “You bet”, “That’s different” and “Whatever”. I also learned the “one finger wave”, which isn’t what you might suspect, but rather a casual greeting, normally used on two lane country roads, to indicate a greeting without the unnecessary exuberance of a full-hand wave. The hand must not rise off the steering wheel, and eye contact should not be made… that would be far too forward.

I was also intrigued by some of the local cuisine…  for example, Norwegian taco salad and hotdishes, the latter made of miscellaneous leftover vegetables and unidentifiable ground meats. It helps, when invited to a pot luck, if attendees can bring hotdishes (not misspelled… it is one word, not two) of the same color (white or off-white) so as not to appear Bohemian. Other popular dishes are deep-fried ice cream, deep-fried Snickers wrapped in bacon, or hamburgers with ice cream topping. Most residents here are of Scandinavian ancestry. Lutefisk (white fish soaked in lye) and boiled potatoes (below) were haute cuisine back in Norway. You may remember one of the cardinal lessons of history: the Vikings sailed from their homeland and began plundering southern Europe because they couldn’t get a decent meal back home.


I also wanted to describe the terrain here. It is mostly flat, due to the thousand foot thick ice sheet that covered this part of North America until a few years ago. During most of the year, Minnesota is “The Land of 10,000 Blocks of Ice”; during the very brief summer, these blocks of ice turn into lakes… well, many are actually ponds and puddles, but the effect is the same. You can’t find a straight road anywhere, because they have to detour around the thousands of lakes. And there must be 10,000 streets named “Lake Road”. How the heck can you find your way around here?

We also learned that Minnesotans are laconic, and not very talkative either. We were out riding our bikes and rode past three guys who had just hauled their fishing boat out of a lake. They were standing around jawboning, so I rode up and asked, “So, how was the fishing today?” They looked toward me (of course without making eye contact) like I was from another planet, and one guy said, “We weren’t fishing.” Then they turned back to one another and continued their conversation. Well, ex-cuuuuse me, dudes!




  • Jennifer
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I swear I had a dream about this "trestle" last night…The interesting shape of the trestle…

    Snickers wrapped in bacon?? That's the strangest
    recipe I have ever seen. Did you try?

  • Ty and Suzanne Giesemann
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Jennifer, Are you kidding? There is no way I would ever eat that kind of food… Imagine what it does to your cholesterol! Love, Ty


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