After completing our top-secret mission yesterday, we’ve allocated our day today to exploring the ancestral homeland. My mother was born in Gary, Minnesota in 1939, although she quickly escaped to the fjords of Washington state. My grandparents, Paul (1917-1989) and Nora (1915-1998) spent their youth in Fertile and Gary. My great-grandfather, Peter(1880-1970), and great-grandmother, Christina (1885-1974) lived here until the whole family made a great exodus West after WWII.
But it goes back further still! My great-great-grandparents, Jens (1850-1939) and Marit (1849-1933) all lived here, too! And before them, Marit’s father, Ole Solem (1821-1902) and Jens’ father, Dyre…but there the records start getting murky. All I know is that Dyre was born in Storen, Norway at some unknown date, and died in 1874.
Our plan is to visit a cemetery or two, and drop by the towns of Fertile and Gary, and there’s the Prairie Smoke Dunes Scientific and Natural Area to check out (of course we’re looking for spiders as we go). Those plans were complicated by the discovery that the Polk County Fair is going on in Fertile today…so we might have to stop in there for a bit, too.
Man, this place is flat. We’re on the old lake bed of Lake Agassiz, and I guess I’m not surprised that a bunch of old Norwegians fled this place for one with evergreen forests, mountains, and an ocean. They were probably put here to crush their intrinsic desire to build fleets of longboats and go raiding.