Friday, July 15, 2005

Granite Falls (And It Can't Get Up!)


One of the nice things about being young and single when I first drove to Minnesota in 1994 is that I had virtually no restrictions on where I could go. No wife, no kids, not even a girlfriend or a pally to keep me from doing what I wanted to do on my trip. So, with an extra day to spend before having to drive back home in 1994, I took a day trip to the Minnesota River Valley. To a place called Granite Falls, to be precise.

Granite Falls is located in Yellow Medicine County, a place whose name evokes images of tepees and tribal healers who can cure any known disease with the most "primitive" methods imaginable. Of course, it was no such thing. It was another nice quiet Midwestern town that, like every other nice quiet Midwestern town, had a Hardee's restaurant for lunch and a Dairy Queen for dessert. I came to believe that people in small-town Minnesota must live off of food from these two particular establishments. If they did, I couldn't blame them. The fried chicken at Hardee's was very good, perhaps even better than Colonel Sanders.


In addition to Hardee's and Dairy Queen, Granite Falls also had flocks of seagulls hanging out by the falls. At least, I think they were gulls. I had seen some gulls up in Duluth the previous day and man, was I impressed. Those things were HUGE. I had never seen such enormous wild birds before. These gulls were not as big or as active as the Lake Superior breed, but they certainly are a formidable force when seen congregating alongside the foamy waters of the Minnesota River.


The Minnesota River Valley is also home to an amateur geologist's dream. To put it plainly, the oldest rocks in the world are located right near Granite Falls. If there are only seven wonders in the world, the granite gneiss must be one of them.

As you can see by the picture to the right, it is also a nature lover's dream. If I had more than a few hours to spend, I would have taken long walks along the river and maybe gone a little ways north to see more of the gneiss.


Of course, no drive across Minnesota between Saint Paul and Granite Falls would be complete without a stop to pay homage to one of the most impressive man made formations in the entire state:

THE BIG EAR OF CORN IN OLIVIA.

Who says that the rural Midwest is just flat and boring?
This is what roadside America is all about. I'll take flyover country over the big cities anyday.

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