We got up early at 7am this morning, heading from the camper to the old farmhouse for a hearty breakfast of wheat pancakes and more bacon. The sun shone warm and bright as we sipped our fresh brewed coffee, already a welcome change from the instant granules we've used the last few days. the pancakes were made from scratch and served with real butter and real maple syrup. We had just enough time after breakfast for Mary to take us out to Arne's studio/brewery and show us some of the beautifully embroidered fabrics she had collected or helped create through her fair trade company.After the brief tour, we had to quickly hit the road because Mary had clients to meet and we wanted plenty of time to get to our next destination.
We had a lot of ground to cover in order to reach the house of my friend Steven Blondo and his wife Beth in Kettle River, Minnesota. The Blondos are old family friends from when my parents lived in South Dakota, and even though Steven is more than a decade older than me, he treated me like a brother while I lived there. Now he is making a name for himself as a freelance archeologist in Minnesota. Virginia and I didn't find any attractions that caught our fancy along our route, so the drive seemed very long, broken only by bathroom breaks and a sunny picnic just over the Minnesota border.
When we arrived, we were greeted in the yard by Stephen, his twin sons Julian and Sebastian and a cavalcade of barnyard animals. The boys were eager to tell us about all the animals and show us around the property. Later, Steven gave us a tour of the inside of the house, where Virginia and I made special note of his refrigerator with a built in tap handle and keg system. After Steven explained to us that the three kegs a year he bought didn't cost much less than buying an equal amount of beer by the case, it cut back on the clutter of cans and bottles and tasted "a hell of a lot better," we agreed that we would ourselves need on in the future.
When it came to dinner, we all pitched in. The Blondos had been planning to make Chinese, so Steven fried up the first course of salmon cream cheese wontons. Beth, who had been busy with their youngest boy Ainsley when we arrived, helped Steven prepare teriyaki chicken wings, and Virginia chopped veggies for stir fry while I mixed up a sauce. The boys tried to help too, but the kitchen soon became too hectic with all seven of us in there so, with the boys and Virginia, I retired to the playroom until it was my turn to cook.
After dinner, everyone came along to take the dog on a walk through the woods. Next was a fire and s'mores. It was getting dark and the boys were getting worn out, so Beth took them to bed. As the embers burned down and wee too began to tire, we were jolted back to alertness by the frightened squawking of geese. We went to investigate and were surprised to see a bushy black and white tail disappearing under a feed bin. Realizing it was a skunk and not wanting to get sprayed, we hightailed it back out the barn door. From our safe vantage point, we checked in the skunk hole with a flashlight, but the critter had vanished for the time being.
We'd had enough excitement for one day, so Virginia and I packed in for the night. We had to watch our heads coming in the short basement door, and Steven said this was because when the house was being built the owner's father thought it would turn out too tall. To keep the two-story house from looking "like a damn skyscraper," the father took a couple layers of cinder blocks off the foundation. We weren't bothered by the low ceilings and bunked down for the night.