Sunlight On Blonde Hair

…and green eyes

The Trip to DogCon 3: Day 8, Part 1, In which we see more garden gnomes than is probably mentally healthy, pick up a hitchhiker, take yet another walk in the woods and have a very terrifying moment.

(Note: All comments by Flash are in italics)

We left Fargo around 9:00 this morning and headed to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and our first roadside stop of the day, Garden Gnome World. It seems that Mrs. Ingrid Martin and her husband, Tony, really REALLY like garden gnomes, since they have collected over 15,000 of them, plus 8,000 assorted ceramic/concrete lawn & garden animals ranging from frogs to a couple of moose. They have also built 7 distinct villages for the gnomes, as well as gnome farms, mines, a sawmill and a fishing fleet. This all covers 15 acres of land, includes 5 garden railroads (the longest is 3.25 miles), 4 creeks, two ponds (AKA “lakes”, a man made mountain range and 2.5 miles of elevated trails for tourists to walk on.

The whole thing was rather surreal and cool and funny and impressive. I had no idea that these were so many different types of garden gnomes, but our guide (the Martin’s niece, Sandy) told us there were 1,700 kinds there, some coming from as far away as Russia.

For the record, I beat The Girls 2 games out of 3 in Kill Doctor Lucky while the humans wandered around looking at gnomes.

We left with not only the omnipresent fridge magnets, postcards & t-shirts, but with a family of VULCAN garden gnomes. I shit you not. A husband, wife, three children and a pet sehlat. Apparently, the line was produced by a ceramics loving Trekkie for a short time before Paramount slammed the door on them. They are highly collectible, but when I showed Mr. Martin a room full of garden gnomes on the Magic Bus, we worked out a trade.

Odds of one of The Girls peeing on those gnomes within a day of Dad putting them in his garden: 4 to 1. Assuming some crazed Trekkie doesn’t steal them first, of course.

From there, we headed east towards Wadena and The World Famous Pink Cows. As we drove along, I spotted a fellow hitchhiking by the side of the road. Now, I almost never pick up hitchhikers, but this guy looked very familiar. As we got closer, I saw that it was my old pal, Spider, whom I had not seen in person since 1995. I pulled over and he climbed on board.

I like Spider. He gave my sisters and I beef jerky.

Introductions were made and I asked him what the hell a California boy was doing in the middle of rural Minnesota. His reply of, “Oh, you know, just having a little fun.” told me that he was here because of a woman. His full backpack told me that he had more than likely slipped out of her house this morning before she woke up, leaving a sweet note behind for her.

When I asked him where he was heading, he said Milwaukee, on business. The less said about Spider’s line of work, the better, except to say that we were once partners way back in the mid 1970’s.

When we reached the town of Brainerd, Spider gout out because his car and associates were there. We then went to an ice cream shop and got some delish cones.

Green tea ice cream for the WIN!

We reached Lake Shore about 45 minutes later and drove straight to the lair of the pink cows.

Yes, they are pink. This is due to the farmer using ground up shrimp as a protein source in their feed (same reason flamingos are pink, carotene). There are 12 milk cows total and the place is a small working dairy. No, the milk is not pink, but it is very good, as is the cheese they make from it. Yes, all the usual souvenirs were purchased, as well as three 1 pound blocks of cheese.

Odds of Dad sharing his cheese with poor starving kitties and puppies? 2 to 1.

Moving on, we went to a local nature area that had a lakeside trail through the woods. Everyone enjoyed the stroll, especially the sight of some otters frolicking in a creek.

Despite the fact that they looked vaguely rodentlike, my sisters & I declined to mess around with them. Also, they smelled weaselly, which is never a good sign. Weasels can fuck your shit up.

We are now on a lunch break in Aitkin, which gave us a hell of a scare. Upon entering town, we saw a huge sign for the annual Lutefisk Festival. The eons old human fear of lye soaked jellified fish had us nearly in a panic until we realized that the date on the sign was from last winter. WHEW!

Yeah, jellied fish? I’ll pass on that.

After lunch, we turn south towards St. Paul where we will spend the night. More blogstuff later.

Destination Sign: The Barrier Peaks