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Township Roads: The Train to Minot


Fri, Jun 27th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

My wife, Deb, and I took the train from Red Wing, Minnesota to Minot, North Dakota for a recent conference. Flying was expensive, as apparently only one airline wants to take an airplane out of service every day to fly it to Minot. Driving was practical, but we’ve done that. Boats don’t go to Minot. That left the train and the train was cheapest so that’s how we went.

We have been on a train before, but only on what Deb calls "kiddie rides". Kiddie rides are when you go from one place to another and back just for fun. We went on a train kiddie ride near Rapid City a few years ago. It was an oil-burning steam engine with Wild West style coaches. It was hot and the seats were hard. The oil smelled bad as it burned, but the engine could not use coal because coal caused cinders to fly into the brush. The cinders caused forest fires and I guess the Forest Service was against that. Our train traveled about ten miles from one tourist trap depot to another tourist trap depot and back. It was fun and it gave us a taste of what train travel must have been like a hundred years ago. It must have been terrible.

Not quite a hundred years ago, when I was very young, I had my first train ride. My mother, who had grown up next to the railroad tracks in Rochester, must have thought it was important for me to have a train ride before passenger trains disappeared entirely. She got together with our neighbor, Shirley Dubbels, to give me and Shirley’s daughter, Sheila, the rides of our young lives. My mother, Sheila and I rode from Rochester to St. Charles on the train they called the "400". Shirley picked us up in St. Charles and took us home. One thing I remember about the ride was that I thought it was a lot like riding in a car. I also recall wondering why they planted all those trees so close to the tracks so a person couldn’t see anything out the windows.

This time we got on the train in Red Wing. There are no ticket agents or other Amtrak personnel at the Red Wing depot so we held our luggage in our hands and our tickets in our mouths. The attendants actually looked at our tickets and checked our photo identifications to make sure that we were who we said we were. (In Minot, the ticket agents at the depot mocked us for having our driver’s licenses ready to show them as instructed by the Amtrak literature. There were two of them working side by side and one said to the other, "Here’s another one with a tick .....
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Another One from Flaherty: The Dormant News

Fri, Jun 27th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

We have in Flabbergast County a very fine County newspaper in The Dormant News who’s slogan is all the news that’s fit to print and even some that ain’t. I thoroughly enjoy reading it and what I find especially interesting are the social items that a ..... 
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Are you Game?: Pitching wins championships

Fri, Jun 20th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

At last the NBA Finals are over. Now begins the NBA second season where trades are made, players are drafted and veterans a little too long in the tooth call it quits.

There are many questions to be answered: Where will Jason Ki ..... 
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At Home in the Woods:My favorite places

Fri, Jun 20th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It's the third time I've been here this year, but the first time alone. The trail through the narrow valley of Shattuck Creek leads me deep into the woods. I look up at the big oak, maple, basswood and walnut trees and down at the green forest floor ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Jun 13th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

What if God had voice mail?

I have learned to live with voice mail as a necessary part of modern life, but I have often wondered what if God had voice mail?

I imagine praying and hearing this: "Thank you fo ..... 
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Township Roads: It's Eleanor's Fault, Part II

Fri, Jun 13th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I seem to recall mentioning how Eleanor Roosevelt set the standard for lawn care when she chased the sheep off the White House lawn, thereby turning a nice pasture into a no-man’s land of neatly trimmed grass. This was the beginning of the end for gu ..... 
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The Commute: Nancy Drew: girl detective

Fri, Jun 13th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It was 1970 and I was in third grade when I met Nancy Drew. I suppose it was our designated ‘library hour’ and I was searching the shelves in our small, Catholic school library—a room the size of a walk-in closet. I spotted two nearly identical yello ..... 
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