For as long as I have lived in Minnesota, I have explored very little of the state beyond the Twin Cities and Duluth. It is my hope to rectify this situation. A City Pages ad for Ole Oppe Fest in Alexandria piqued my curiosity, it sounded like a perfect blend of small town charm and cheese and was a mere 2 hour drive away so I headed out.
As I was driving, I decided to swing into the Apple store to see what solutions they had for listening to music from my iPhone in my car. That led to a stop at Radio Shack of all places for an adapter. That led to a stop at another Radio Shack that had the adapter in stock. That led to the realization I had left my fitbit at home and a debate if I should return to retrieve it or carry on.
Two hours later, I headed out again with the top down, sunscreen on, fitbit off and music playing. 15 minutes later I was ready for lunch but decided to ignore that need until I hit my destination.
It felt great to be on the road with the top down and it made me even more excited for my upcoming adventure around the Great Lakes. Traffic was a bit congested at times but that is to be expected during a holiday weekend, even when leaving late due to random impulses and general putzing about. Black trucks seem to be in fashion in Minnesota and people with pontoons must always be late to the cabin.
Arriving in Alexandria, I was a bit underwhelmed by the lack of festivities. The main road through town, Broadway, was torn up so it was hard to see what was happening with the local shops. I headed to the Big Ole Central Park and starred at the giant Viking for a bit. As with all giant statues, they look super cool in pictures but in person they are less impressive.
I chose the Depot Express for lunch because it was there and the sign said it was historical; the outdoor patio was a bonus. The waitress insisted the stir-fry was the thing to try but I went for walleye; Viking stir-fry just didn’t sound good.
Most of my time waiting for my meal was occupied with listening to a child pound on the table and repeat loudly he wanted to eat NOW while his parents noshed on their salad. I understood the sentiment and wanted someone to give the kid crayons, a bun, anything.
The highlight of my visit was the Runestone Museum, an odd combination of city history, life of early settlers and a heavy dose of propaganda about the supposed validity of the Kensington Runestone. Everything I know about the Runestone says that it has been proven as a hoax, yet there was no indication of doubt here. The earnestness with which they explained the find and the stone’s meaning was nearly convincing. Skol Vikings I guess. The museum has several buildings of early settlement life and it was cute to see kids playing make believe around the grounds.
Ole Oppe Fest festivities picked up in the evening with some live music and people watching. It was a pleasant day in Alexandria and a gorgeous day for a road trip but on my next adventure I really need more sunscreen and a more effective way to store my hair so it is brushable again.