Friday, 7 January 2022

KCC Road Trips - Number 4 - From the Land of 10,000 Lakes to America's Dairyland

Get your motor running, it's time to head out on the highway on the fourth of our KCC road trips, and this time we find ourselves taking some of the less trodden roads from Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes) to Wisconsin (America's Dairyland).

We start, fittingly, in the town named after KCC's most eminent literary figure, the best selling author that is Ben Graff. Well, I say "town", but that seems to be a bit of an over-statement, as it is an unincorporated community within Moose Lake Township, and Google Street View shows it to be rather sparsely populated. To say the least! If I were Ben, I'd think I warranted a rather more substantial namesake. One at least on a par with the 237 population Rogers, Ohio! (See Road Trip Number 3). The only claim to fame I can come up with is that it's "only" 124 miles from Hibbing, Minnesota, the childhood home town of the one and only Bob Dylan. Shame Ben's not called Hibbing, as then I would at least have had something interesting to write about!  But its still reason enough for a video of the great man.

A 127 mile/2 hr 15 mins drive from Graff brings us to the metropolis of Donnelly. Not that we are exactly in the big time here, either, but at least it has a population of 234 and since 1965 it has been the venue each August for the Donnelly Threshing Bee. Which looks as though it is rather more interesting than the Kenilworth Lions Show in Abbey Fields! Who doesn't like tractor pulling?

We could almost walk to our next stop in Morris, because its only 8 miles away. A bit like Noah and Patrick in the last instalment, its rather greedy of Will to put in another appearance, as he has already featured in our second Road Trip. The Minnesota version has an impressive population of 5,286, and is home to UMM - the University of Minnesota Morris, which may not be as famous as Harvard or Yale, but does rank in the Top 10 of Forbes' America's Top Colleges. The Wikipedia list of notable people is impressively long, but I've never heard of any of them, so instead I'll just mention the Stevens County Fair, held every August - but obviously not clashing with the Donnelly Threshing Bee!

It's only 43 miles/49 minutes from here to Watson - where we find yet another of our pushier members demanding a second mention in this series. I'm afraid we can only muster a population of 205, so other than telling you that the area code is 320, I really can't find much else to say! So lets head due east, and after 2 hours 20 mins and 124 miles we find ourselves in .... Rogers! What is it with all these KCC chaps demanding multiple mentions in these travelogues, when some of us haven't even managed one appearance?! At least this time, though, we have somewhere more appropriate to the name of the KCC Chairman. Rogers is now home to some 11,200 people, following the annexation of neighbouring Hassan Township in 2012. So when he's not hoovering up accountancy companies, he's annexing whole communities! At 21050 135th Avenue N, you can find the aptly named, from Bernard's perspective, Short or Tall Eatery and Drink Hall. Well, it's 50% aptly named, I suppose! Though I think I would prefer the nearby Clive's Roadhouse, where one wall is covered in classic rock album covers!

It's 196 miles and a 3 hour drive across the state border into Wisconsin to our next port of call in - thank goodness, a new name! - Wood. When the town was established in 1851, a government surveyor reported:- "There is very little good land in this Township. It may be described as second rate!" Sorry, Phil! Don't shoot the messenger. The current population is a mighty (compared to Graff!) 786.

Another 90 miles/1 hour 25 mins sees us arrive in .......... yet another place called ****** Morris! Only 485 souls reside here, and even if I had interesting facts to impart, I wouldn't bother as I'm getting fed up of these repeat attention seekers. But that's moot, anyway, as there is simply nothing for me to write. We are nearing journey's end now, and our next stop after 51 miles/49 mins is ...... yet another place called ****** Seymour!! As a protest I would have just driven right by, but how can you ignore a place (population 3,451) where the number one attraction is The Hamburger Hall of Fame?! Because this is the city where the world's first hamburger was served at the 1885 Seymour Fair by "Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen. Not the most imaginative nickname, but I suppose it does exactly what it says on the tin! Every August (what is it with August in this neck of the woods? Is the area under snow for the other 11??) Seymour holds a Burger Fest, and it was here in 1989, that the world's largest ever hamburger, weighing in at 5,520 pounds, was served. As nobody has ever challenged this record, they content themselves with a Big Burger of only around 190 lbs these days. To me, the most intriguing attraction at Burger Fest is the Ketchup Slide. I'm guessing that you probably shouldn't wear your best suit to this if you plan to give it a go! All this, and Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, is only 15 miles away as well. What more could you want from life?

We now need to gird our loins for one last time and travel the final 150 miles/2 hrs 30 mins due south to Center (population 3.,163). What, has Page gone mad? We don't have - and never have had - any member called Center, but fear not, I am still in possession of some of my marbles. Center (a nice chess related term in itself) just happens to be the location of the former settlement of Fellows. There was a post office here between 1887 and 1902, but that is seemingly the sum total of its history. OK, OK, I know that it's not quite spelled correctly, but given that the Americans can't spell centre properly, how could you expect them to get Fellowes right?  Give me a bit of leeway, here - coming up with this stuff is not as easy as you probably think. And it seems fitting that the start and end points of our latest road trip should have been places that hardly/don't exist!

And there you have it. A 790 mile journey that has taken us 13 hours 28 minutes, plus stops, visiting 9 locations named after KCC members. Tiring stuff - and there's still a whole lot of the USA to explore. Plus the rest of the world! This series could run and run. Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment.

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