Tom and I were delighted to be on the first, week-long bus trip with OLLI@UND. It started when Grand Forks and Bismarck members gathered at the Hector International Airport in Fargo to board our bus to Door County, Wisconsin. After lunch in Sauk Centre, MN, we stopped at an Alpaca farm and learned about raising these amazing animals.
The next day we toured a cranberry bog owned by the Wetherby Cranberry Co. Third generation owner, Nodji VanWychen, explained the history of cranberries, how they're grown and harvested and processed from fresh fruit to juice. She was very excited because it was the first day of harvest, otherwise known as "raking."
Greeting us at Rowleys Bay Resort in Door County was a local storyteller spinning his tales about the beginnings of Rowleys Bay, the history of the area, and the changing cultures and owners throughout the years. One of the highlights was the famous Rowley "fish boil," and as the chef prepared the treat, the storyteller explained the tale. It was interesting, but being from North Dakota and Minnesota, it wasn't walleye!
While in Door County, we visited a lighthouse and learned how light plays an important part in navigation, as well as the unique lives of lighthouse keepers. In all trips food is important and this trip was no exception. Where else can you eat in a restaurant that has goats eating grass on the roof? No place other than a Swedish restaurant in Door County. As we go through our busy lives, we are often too busy to slow down and enjoy a beautiful sunset. We did just that as we waited to be entertained with a live performance of actors at the beautiful Peninsula Players Theater.
Not being football fans, we weren't really thrilled about visiting Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, however it was a very large and beautiful place. We walked out the same tunnel the players use and admired at the huge stadium where more than 83,000 fans gather to support their team. After our return home, a Packer fan informed us, in his opinion, "The stadium is as close to heaven as you can get while still alive."
Next stop was the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis, home of the annual "World's Greatest Aviation Celebration." It featured planes ranging from the Wright Brothers to "Space One," the first airplane to venture into space. From there, we traveled to the historic town of Galena, IL, birthplace of President Ulysses S. Grant. After a guided tour of the city, there was free time to explore downtown Galena and its many unique shops and stores. That evening we enjoyed our second stunning sunset while dining atop the Chestnut Mountain Resort.
As we started toward home, we stopped in Kalona, Iowa, and were shown the Amish countryside by our guide, Dan, who explained the many rules and customs of the Amish community. Later we were treated to a family-style meal in a local Mennonite home, perhaps the best meal of the trip. While in Watertown, SD, we toured the Terry Redlin museum, a very inspiring place to visit.
OLLI member or not, this week was very pleasant and well-organized. Connie Hodgson did an outstanding job of keeping everyone and everything on schedule. As with any trip, the use of local tour guides greatly enhances the learning experience, and the wonderful traveling companions add so much more to the adventure and to the places we visited.
Check out OLLI@UND! There are many upcoming classes and trips that will stimulate your mind and leave you yearning for more!
- By Tom and Linda Perdue, OLLI members in Grand Forks.