It had been three months of lockdown and I was going stir crazy. Who knew that Covid-19 would shut down the world like it had. What I had planned to be a welcome month of catching up on writing had continuously been extended over and over. I was at my whits end and I decided to start testing the waters of traveling again. I would be alone, I would stay away from people, and I would maintain a schedule keeping me away therefor not spreading the virus in the chance that I got it. Over the last couple of months, the first Superchargers had opened up in North Dakota, completing the contiguous states. I had been there the past winter, exploring in -20°F, but now it was ready to really explore without range anxiety. First, I wanted to stop and see the new Supercharger station in Alexandria MN.
As soon as I hit the road, I was filled with that exuberant feeling one can only get from driving a Tesla. I hit the “gas” and was punched back into my seat as a smile arose on my face. I had forgotten how much I relished being on the road. My exuberance was immediate. Knowing my end destination, I had no clue what I wanted my route to be. I decided I would just head south-west, knowing that I had more than enough battery to spare. Planning was the least of my concerns. The adventure was primary.
After a couple hours of speeding around farmland on the back roads, I ended up in the small town of Menahga and I promptly parked at the local beach alongside a gorgeous lake. Known as the home of Saint Urho, a fictional Finnish character that was created in Minnesota to help the early settlers celebrate their heritage, today Menahga was simply a beautiful town, far enough (and obscure enough) to be tucked away safe from Covid. I sat on the shore watching children run and jump off of docks, a loud smack coming from the water as they belly flopped against it. Kayakers enjoyed the lake in the distance, gliding across the water to their hearts content. I ate my lunch and smiled at the fact that areas outside of cities were still able to enjoy life to the fullest. Time was passing by quicker than I wanted though, and I had a charger to get too. Off to Alexandria I went.
I laughed to myself as I pulled up next to this huge viking statue. If nothing else, the mid-west has a pension for being over the top. Big Ole towered over me, spear in hand, smile on face, greeting visitors from far and wide to this small city. Alexandria has a humorous tale of being visited by Vikings back in the 14th century. As it goes, back in 1898, a farmer found a huge stone covered in runes on his land. He transported it nearby to Kensington and they decided it was a relic from the Vikings traveling through the Great Lakes.
The locals loved the tale and proudly claimed it as a victory for their Scandinavian roots. Unfortunately, the story isn’t backed up by and real evidence. Scholars from America and Scandinavia alike have ruled the stone as a fraud, as the runes are not ancient norse, and dating of the stone has not held up to scrutiny. The locals though, still love the tale, hoping it will be proven one day and so comes the statue of Big Ole right across the street of the museum where you can see the stone. I passed on that opportunity, choosing to spend time walking around the beautiful lake right down the street.
As I walked along the lake path, I couldn’t help but be taken in by the picturesque beauty of it all. The entire world seemed to be filled with complementing hues of blue between the lake and the sky. Clouds danced overhead. The song of birds filled the air. Every once in a while I would hear a distant laugh, proof that humans still lived here even though Covid was closer than one would like being halfway between two cities. I was alone on the path as I came up to a bench surrounded by geese.
Now, geese are notorious for being angry animals so one should always make sure to keep their distance, but luckily I had a telephoto lens on and I could click away without disturbing them. All of a sudden, a group of pelicans swam by, their beaks opening up to for a net to catch their nightly meal. I am always amazed by evolution when I see nature in this light. Bewildered by natures means of making the best out of tough situations. I told myself I couldn’t stay long though. Fargo was still the end goal for the evening and it was still hours away. I ignored my brain for a couple more minutes and sat in serenity, not wanting to let this moment go to waste.
Back on the road, I had one more quick stop to make before I called it quits for the night. Again, the midwest would surprise me with another giant statue in the middle of nowhere. This time, it was the worlds biggest prairie chicken.
Little did I know, but the fields of America were was abundant with prairie chickens. Over the 1800’s, as settlers moved west across the plains, habitat loss and hunting caused the population of these birds to dwindled to the brink of extinction where they remain today with privately managed lands being the only places you can find them.
Nonetheless, the small town of Rothsay has declared themselves the “Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota” and like all good “capitals” has constructed a giant statue as homage to this once abundant bird. The statue is absolutely enormous, standing about 15 feet tall and is the perfect place to sit down and have a picnic while stretching your legs on a long road trip. I was simply stopping by as it was on my way. It was a nice stop though that surly will bring a little chuckle to your heart.
Worlds Largest Prairie Chicken
544 Center St N
Rothsay, Minnesota, 56579
4404 MN-29, Alexandria, MN 56308