My wife and I are on a mission to visit all the oversized local landmarks throughout Minnesota. This blog chronicles those visits and covers other related topics.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Buffalo

August 16, 2009 - Luverne, MN

Giant Buffalo

On our way out of Luverne after our super awesome camping trip we stopped at this sizable buffalo statue. It is located just a couple blocks north of the interstate. The buffalo is a little bit larger than a real buffalo and it says "Those Blasted Things" next to it. If you look closely at the picture you will see that Those Blasted Things is the name of the store behind the buffalo. It also says Minnesota Rocks & Gifts below it... so it's some sort of gift shop. That's all I really know about it.

If you pay attention while in Luverne, you will notice that the buffalo seems to be a bit of a theme. The area around Luverne is prairie and the type of place you would expect to see lots of buffalo... if we hadn't nearly killed all of them. Woops. Oddly, the school mascot is the cardinal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

World's Largest Peace Pipe

August 15, 2009 - Pipestone, MN

World's Largest Peace Pipe

Pipestone... the bane of our Big Stuff existence. You see, we were in Pipestone once before. We went there for a friend's wedding in July 2003. It was about 98 degrees that day and the church lacked air conditioning and it was the full-on Catholic mass wedding ceremony. The country club did have air conditioning, though, and cheap drinks that were also very strong. All-in-all it was a fun day.

The problem was that in 2003 there was no Big Stuff Project. It was only a couple years later that my wife came up with the idea. Why is that such a big deal, you may ask yourself. Well, if you've ever been to Pipestone you know that the city of Pipestone is, in fact, not near anything at all. This is something that is easily illustrated by looking at the Big Stuff map (although I will be adding a point in Luverne, which is 24 miles from Pipestone). We really had no reason at all to go to Pipestone again and we liked it that way. But then there was the peace pipe. We had no idea when or how we were going to get that stupid peace pipe.

That's when the Big Stuff gods kinda, sort of, maybe slightly but not really smiled upon us. My youngest brother got a job in southern Minnesota and ended up moving into an apartment in Luverne. This was great. There is a state park just north of Luverne, so we thought we would pick a weekend where we could go camping and visit my brother. And this is what we did... and it turned out to be a very interesting camping trip.

We left from the Twin Cities Friday (8/14) after work. Due to our late departure and some road construction, we didn't get to the park until about 10:15 that night. We then set up our large tent, just the two of us, in the dark with two lanterns for light. We did a pretty good job. The most interesting thing was trying to partially inflate our air mattresses inside our Nissan Sentra so we wouldn't bother other people as much with our noisy electric pump. As we were getting close to being finally settled in, the people who reserved the site behind us showed up to set up their camp. It was after 11pm by then.

The next morning we woke up and it was raining. This put a damper on our plans for the morning. We sat in the tent and played some cards for a little while and then decided to try to make breakfast. It was still a little rainy and drizzly, but we managed to make eggs, pancakes, and heated up pre-cooked bacon on our camp stove.

Us 1
Nature 0

We then prepared to go hiking like we had planned, albeit later than we had hoped. It was still drizzling a little bit as we started, but that soon stopped. The air was humid but the clouds kept the sun from making it very steamy, which would have sucked, and there was a nice breeze. The weather was actually pretty nice for hiking. The rain did make certain spots on the trails kind of slick, but we weren't about to let nature ruin our enjoyment of nature..... stupid nature. The park was pretty neat (some of my pictures) and the campground was rather nice too.

Us 2
Nature 0

After hiking we ate some lunch and headed to Pipestone for the World's Largest Peace Pipe. On the way there it looked like the weather might just clear up a bit... until we got to Pipestone... where it was raining. We found the pipe and the rain let up a little bit so we snapped a few pictures and, with little to absolutely no fanfare, left Pipestone. We probably weren't really going to enjoy Pipestone anyway, so I think that's another point for us.

Us 3
Nature 0

Next we went and picked up my brother and went back to the campground. We got a fire going and made some pizza pocket sandwich things and apple pies with our pie/sandwich irons and later had some smores. During the evening we were watching the clouds. It looked like some storms were coming so we readied the campsite for a quick getaway if a sudden downpour came. There was some pretty good lightning, but that storm ended up moving north of us. The weather settled down and we had a nice night. Then at about 11:30 we brought my brother back to his apartment and we checked the radar. Wouldn't you know it, a big line of thunderstorms was headed our way. We had a decision to make. Our options were to a) go back and sleep in the tent and hope for the best, b) stay at my brother's apartment and crash there, or c) go back to the campground, tear down, and sleep on my brother's floor. We chose c, since we wanted to keep the inside of our tent dry as well as our sleeping bags, pillows, and mattresses. So now it's midnight and we do a quick tear down of the tent and leave the campground. We then enjoyed some microwaved smores before going to bed. I think nature won that round.

Us 3
Nature 1

We hold on to the lead and claim victory. Take that, nature!

About the Peace Pipe

The peace pipe, or calumet, is 30 feet long and stands outside the old Rock Island Depot near the entrance to the Pipestone National Monument. Native Americans used pipestone to make ceremonial or sacred pipes. Pipestone, or catlinite, is the second softest rock in the world and Native Americans were able to carve it for use as peace pipes. The Pipestone National Monument contains a large quarry of catlinite that is still in use today. Enrolled Native Americans are allowed to extract rock from the quarry and only use hand tools to do it.