Monday, September 8, 2008

A Couple of Things

It got chilly last Tuesday, the day school started. I guess that's appropriate: the last day of summer, Labor Day, was 89 and muggy hot; the next day, the first day of school, cool and dry. Anyway, Katie and I were preparing to go out on our morning ritual of feeding the fish, watering the flowers, and watching the DeSoto bridge demolition. I opened the door to the deck and got chilled by a northwesterly breeze with a real kick, and I realized that Katie didn't have any real cool weather clothes.

See my previous post Feelin' Groovy Fashion Show for some of her summer outfits, but these are a little bit skimpy when the mercury dips below 50 in the morning. So off we went to the local department store where they had lots of fleece pullovers in camo for boys, but absolutely nothing fallish for girls. So then we went to T.J.Maxx where they always have cool stuff, and sure enough, we found some:

Then we headed to a couple of boutiques downtown where we found even more hip pint-sized fall fashions. So Katie is ready for action, and that's what we had today.
Soulmate went to aerobics this morning and Katie power-slept for a 2 plus hour nap. After a quick lunch, we headed to Lake Wobegon itself, Freeport, MN where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all of the children are above average.

Just north of town you take a right on county road 39 and go a half mile, passing cornfields on the right and left, and suddenly you spot Reindeer and assorted exotic creatures on the right. You have arrived at Hemker Park & Zoo, the best-kept secret in Stearns County. The Hemker family has collected and cared for exotic animals for 35 years, and opened to the public in 1996.

Katie was delighted to pet the rabbits, kudu, Thompson's gazelles, baby Reindeer, red deer, sheep, a little donkey, and a yearling Holstein. She laughed at the capuchin monkeys, the ring-tailed lemurs, and 6 cute raccoons, as well as tropical birds, butterflies, a dromedary camel, a zebra, a wildebeest, kangaroos, and musk ox. The penguins and the ostrich were on loan to another zoo apparently. Here's a slide show of what we saw:

After re-visiting the monkeys and little rabbits (for one final petting of the bunnies), we headed back into Freeport to take in another well-kept secret: Charlie's Cafe. OK, if you've ever driven west of Saint Cloud toward Alexandria, Charlie's is no secret, with a giant billboard and the entire side of a barn painted with their sign.

Word is that Garrison Keillor, host of Prairie Home Companion radio show, lived for a short time in Freeport while getting started as a writer. He used to hang around Charlie's drinking coffee and watching the people. The Chatterbox Cafe is the radio incarnation of Charlie's, and many of the characters in and around Freeport are immortalized in the show's cast of characters.

Anyway, a guy can get a pretty good burger there, and some pretty good pie too. At least we did. Katie charmed everyone, and seemed to enjoy the booster seat like it was an amusement park ride or her blue swing at home.

I promise I'll upload my videos of the DeSoto bridge demolition tomorrow. I know you're breathless.

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