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Beneath Tropical Seas


Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polished smooth, and except for the gentle sounds of the surf is eerily silent, peaceful and serene. Not even a single insectís persistent whining buzz splinters the mood of pristine tranquility.

Although reading like one of those tourist agency advertisements for some South Pacific Island paradise, the location described in the opening paragraph above is far away from any place so exotic. Could it be somewhere down in the Caribbean then, out in the Indian Ocean, or perhaps maybe one of those isolated rocks that dot the Sea of Cortez?

The answers, however, to each of these questions remains no, as our quiet, wave lapped shoreline is to be found much more closer to home. Somewhere right here in southeastern Minnesota in fact, since it is time and not distance that separates us from this seemingly mythological destination.

To reach our beach we must first travel back into the heart of the early Paleozoic, the "Era of Ancient Life" somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 million years ago. More specifically, we are in the Ordovician, a unit of geologic time lasting some 65 million years and named for a "Stone Age" Celtic Tribe that once inhabited Wales where rocks of this period were first identified.

From outer space the Earth, while certainly recognizable, probably appeared far different than it does today. For starters, all of the present day continents were most likely fused together into a single gigantic mass of land. Known as Pangaea, this island "super-continent" straddled the equator placing what was to eventually become todayís Minnesota well within the worldís more tropical zones.

As was the case in the immediately preceding Cambrian Period, shallow saltwater seas cover much of future North America. The name of this earlier period 500 million years before the present has Celtic connections as well, being derived from "Cambria," which is what the ancient Romans called the Celtís homeland of Wales.

The Ordovician shoreline, on dry land at least, is equally alien and unfamiliar. There are no trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, nor are there any ferns or mosses. Away from the waterís edge, the landscape is barren and desolate, almost as lifeless as the moon. Without vege .....
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Escape from America

Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Iím a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like itís going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Industrial Cooking

Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
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Monday, March 26, 2001

You may have heard of "old wives tales". I have an "old farmer attitude" when it comes to cooking. When it is my turn in the kitchen, I tend to press on to get the job done regardless of obstacles. If I donít have an ing ..... 
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Something smells fishy

Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
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Monday, April 2, 2001

A lot of people have been asking me why the county is dumping the county engineer, Steve Voigt. "What has he done wrong?" they ask, implying that there is some smoking gun somewhere that would point to malfeasance or insu ..... 
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Weller sentenced to 10 years

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, February 26, 2001

Lloyd Albert Weller was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Robert Benson in Fillmore County District Court on Thursday, February 22.

As part of a plea bargain agreement, Weller had plead guilty to one co ..... 
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Planning Commission puts Eagle Cliff on hold; deals with sub-divisions

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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By John TorgrimsonMonday, March 26, 2001

The Fillmore County Planning Commission tabled for 30 days any action on a request by Eagle Cliff Campground for a conditional use permit to establish a Bread & Breakfast at their campground in Holt Tow ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Concerns raised about damBy Mike McGrathMonday, March 26, 2001

At its regular meeting last Monday evening, the Lanesboro City Council held a discussion with representatives of the Bank of Cashton, Wisconsin about the fate of the building known ..... 
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Caught in the path of progress

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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Monday, March 26, 2001


There is a big change coming to Preston. Yes, the ethanol plant is going to expand, which will probably mean a taller stack and a stronger odor. But that change may be dwarfed by what the Minnesota Department of Tra ..... 
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Ecuador revisited

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2001
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By Al MathisonMonday, March 26, 2001

I was told that there is a new super highway, an engineering marvel of sorts, that runs from Ecuadorís capital, Quito, high in the Andes Mountains, down to the Pacific Ocean, that cut ..... 
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