Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, 3 August

A simple day today (tomorrow will be also). We got up early enough to take a walk around the campground before the day warmed up. Along the way, we were challenged by a feisty little Jack Russell terrier who was not on any kind of leash, contrary to the rules. He was not being friendly.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs and the newly-purchased kupwurst. Happy to report that Jean liked the strange food, and it was just as good as Gene remembered. Another success.

After breakfast we headed off for Norskedalen, stopping on the way out to complain at the office about the dog. They said they had other compaints and had sent for Animal Control. After a pleasant drive through the Wisconsin countryside, we arrived at Norskedalen ("Norwegian Valley"), a nature and heritage site. They have an arboretum, located on the old Running farm, and a collection of Norwegian immigrant buildings, rescued and arranged in groupings. Gene's interest in the arboretum was mainly about seeing the area, since his paternal grandmother was a Running, and that might have been the farm she grew up on. He couldn't remember her father's first name, so whether it was the same farm or not is still unsolved.

We found a shaded place to park that would be cool enough for YumYum with the vent fan running at take-off speed while we toured the "Bekkum farmstead." This is a collection of recovered farm buildings (not all from the same farm) arranged in the typical horseshoe shape common in Norway at the period.

The house was assembled from two smaller houses, a practice that was not unusual as farmers became more successful. Almost all the old buildings are log-built (a technique that was introduced to America by Scandinavian immigrants) and date to the mid-to-late 1800's. The buildings all have period furnishings, incuding farm equipment. Unfortunately, there was not a guide available, so the buildings were locked and we had to be content with peering in the windows.

However, Gene had been here before when there was a guide and remembered a lot of what he learned then. The outbuildings consisted of: a summer kitchen, a spring house, a granery (with a rare sod roof), an outhouse, an equipment shed, a stable, a cow barn, a blacksmith shop and ...

a tobacco barn that had originally been on the Running farm. Unlike tobacco barns from Virginia, the vertical boards are hinged so that every other board can be opened to allow maximum circulation for drying the tobacco. After about 1890, tobacco was the chief cash crop and was called the "mortgage burner."

After seeing what there was to see at this farm, we drove into Coon Valley where the other, smaller farm property is located. When we got there we were dismayed to see that there was no shade in the parking area, where we had planned to have our lunch. Shortly a very blond fellow named Karl came up to see if we wanted a guided tour. When we told him our situation, he sent us past the parking area to a spot near the little museum where there was lots of shade. Then he opened the employee lounge where we and YumYum could go in and have lunch in air-conditioned comfort.

After lunch, Karl gave an interesting and wide-ranging tour of the buildings. He talked about subjects ranging from who the inhabitants of the various houses were to the first projects of the CCC which started out working with farmers on erosion control.

After the tour, Karl told us about a more scenic route back to the campground. When we got back we saw that the Jack Russell was gone. In all a successful day.


  1. You guys keep finding different and amazing highlights on your trip.

  2. We all miss you and are enjoying the updates!