We thought our far flung travels to the north had ceased for the project but there was one more in store for us. This was actually to be the longest trek we were to take on this project, over a 6 hour drive.
We left Saint Paul in warm light jacket weather and drove directly north to Bemidji for dinner. It was dark as we were leaving town and immediately it started snowing/sleeting. I was surprised by how much further we had to drive. Eventually, somewhere on the Red Lake Reservation, I realized that 5 plus hours in the car with my snow boots on was too long. I was HOT and I needed those boots off RIGHT NOW. Luckily, I remembered that my sister had given me special car shoes for driving with boots and heels.
Even though I grew up in the country and took many 2:00 and 3:00 am walks to stave off boredom from insomnia, I’m terrified of the dark. Comically so. Ask me about the Robot Zombie Monster noise or the Wild Rabid Chimpanzee scream sometime. Anyway, I was so hot that I found a random place to pull over, got out of the car and switched into my car shoes. Feeling the relief of cooler feet, I took a moment to glance around. We were clearly very remote, it was silent and dark and honestly a bit peaceful. Getting into the car I was giddy with excitement saying “Seth! That was one of the bravest things I’ve done in a long time!” We both laughed at my irrational fear of the dark and I started driving. Not even 20 feet down the road we came across two very large black bears!! I hadn’t realized just how brave I’d been!
After our late arrival to our hotel, we headed out right away the next morning, on our first adventure which lead us to the Pelan Pioneer Park.
There was a number a buildings that have been brought in to the Pelan Pioneer Park. Since this was the off season it was just us free to roam the space and take in the history of yesteryear.
This was our first harsh dose of winter, it wasn’t our first snowfall of the year. But it was cold and the high winds were unforgiving. It was a good reminder to properly layer for our outdoor adventures this winter.
I had a work call to make so we drove up near the border to Canada and found a nice place for Seth to walk around and take photos. I worked in the warm car while he grabbed a few shots.
We took a drive off the beaten path and the paved road turned to a dirt road and that eventually transformed into a grass road with a dusting of snow. We didn’t venture too far down this road but it was a nice isolating feeling to traverse this road for a brief time. Out on our adventures that day I spotted a little thief looking for a snack among the cornfield. A number of birds flew in from the trees across the road and grabbed a midday snack before retreating back to safety of the high trees.
After a quick stop to share a sandwich for lunch, we went exploring out near out Caribou, Minnesota to find an old Ukrainian Church.
Roseau is a small town of less than 3,000. It’s located just 10 miles south of the Canadian Border and hours from the nearest large town. One of the smallest towns that we stayed in so far this year. It’s home to Polaris, who has a small historical museum called the Polaris Experience. After working most of the day on Tuesday, we had just enough time to explore and learn about Polaris before our hotel dinner. Yep, you read that correctly, hotel dinner. We hit the small town hotel jackpot with the North Country Inn. They provide a hearty breakfast spread (breakfast burritos! Yum!) in the morning and two drinks and a free dinner for each guest in the evening. It very nice to have this as an option as there are not may restaurant options in town.
About a week before our trip, I stumbled on a video about a brewery in Northern Minnesota, Revelation Ale Works. Since I don’t drink beer, I try to find other reasons to get excited about breweries. With a historic building as number one on my list, atmosphere being number two, a house root beer as a close third, I could tell this was a brewery that we had to visit. Seth already enjoying their beer was just a bonus. So I quickly researched and learned that Hallock is only an hour from Roseau. Stopping at Revelation was now number one on my list. Sadly on the drive north, we learned that Revelation was going to be closed during our whole stay in Roseau.
At some point I came across the hours for that day and Revelation was to be open. Then, I went to verify the hours and setup our plan for the night only to read they were closed. So, I settled for their Peanut Butter Stout with a Halloween treat on the side. I did my normal check in on Untappd and commented on my disappointment of missing out of the taproom visit. A few hours later Revelation toasted it and commented back they were indeed open for a Halloween event until 9pm. An hour drive for us isn’t much of an ordeal these days so we quickly hopped in the car and got there at 8:55 to grab a quick pint. It was a fairly desolate ride with not many folks on the road anymore. The moon cast just enough light for us to take in our surroundings.
Despite our brief time at this re-purposed mechanic shop, it was a lovely experience and a fun day to drop in. They had some Halloween costume pieces available for posing with a Polaroid camera. I had to get some beer to go from this short excursion so I kept it safe and grabbed a growler of that delicious IPA I just had. I don’t normally care that much for IPAs but this was worth taking back a full 64 tasty ounces back to Saint Paul.
The following day we made a drive through Hayes Lake State Park. I had this park on my list for a few years for a place to camp out out. We’ll still need to get back there for some overnights and hopefully hear the wolves howl at night.
We then headed out to the area where some homesteaders tried to start up a community. Things didn’t pan out so well for them so there was a number of abandoned structures and all the old homesteaders had their names up on signs where they once attempted a new home.
There was a couple cemeteries fenced off and a few random gravestones peaking through the snow covered fields. There was even some fairly recent burials in a few of the cemeteries from just a few years ago. The one last destination we had was in this remote area of the forest where there is a church that is open for visitors at all hours of the day and night, The Penturen Church.
This building still has many visitors through out the year and even a few weddings have taken place here in recent years. We were the first to visit on this day as our tire tracks were the first to make an impression in the freshly fallen snow. Nearly 10 years ago, someone stopped by and grab the sign in sheets to make copies as a keep sake and left this note stating their intentions. It had gone missing for years and then they intended to return it back in 2013 but left it at home. It still hasn’t been brought back since they last stopped in 4 years ago.
After we finished up there we had a long haul back home. But first we had to make it through these slow going forest roads for a number of miles. I tend to pack too many locations into our day and I didn’t properly calculate or trip time for the journey home. Again, the solitude felt in this remote area was relaxing despite the quickly fading daylight and urgency to get home. We had a great time up in Roseau, extremely glad we had the opportunity to take a few days and explore the area. We have more to see up that way so it will be put on the list for further exploration.