Have you ever heard of the teeny, tiny Minnesota town of Vining?
I hadn’t, but my cousin Chad said it was one of those "must see," off-the-beaten-path adventures. And, since the little excursion Mom and I took to the north country was all about relaxation without deadlines, it fit right into our schedule.
Vining, located on Minnesota 210 between Clitherall and Henning, is home to about 65 residents and a rather unique sculpture park, thanks to local resident Ken Nyberg. Ken’s daughter, Karen, is an astronaut with NASA, and you can find an astronaut, made of welded steel, grasping an American flag at the front of the park.
Located adjacent to the town’s convenience store, the sculpture park is home to a life-sized elephant made entirely of lawnmower blades welded together. My favorite was the giant watermelon with the knife sticking in it, while my mom liked the little alien holding a rose. Other statues included a big buck, a pliers squishing a bug (shown here), and a potted cactus. This link will get you to another blog about the sculpture park, complete with pictures of the statues I’ve listed here, plus a few others found around town.
On the drive to Vining, Mom and I pulled off the road to take a picture of an abandoned church. It looked so pretty on our Sunday morning drive, with the beautiful blue sky above and the trees just starting to turn their varying shades of yellow and orange.
I’ve mentioned before that one of my hobbies is taking pictures of abandoned farm houses. I have pictures of a couple abandoned churches in my collection, and this one will be added to that photo album. We found the old church along Minnesota 210, not too far from Almora … another Minnesota town I’d never heard of.
I love how the sky turned out in this photo (capturing the beautiful blue sky is a trick Daily Globe photoguy Brian Korthals taught me a few years ago, and I use it whenever possible when shooting the great outdoors.)
I saw a couple of abandoned farmhouses on this trip, but wasn’t able to pull off to the side of the road because of traffic. There were also a few interesting barns, and the farm reporter in me was real curious about the potato harvest that was going on in the fields as we drove. I’d never seen potatoes harvested on a commercial scale before, so it was rather interesting to watch.
There were several spud fields in the area around Park Rapids, but we also took note of some sunflower fields in the area of Long Prairie. It was too early to see sunflower harvest, but I bet that would be interesting too!
While I was curious about the crops, much of our trip was spent admiring the changing colors of the season. We were a bit early for peak colors … northern Minnesota is actually behind southern Minnesota this year. Still, I managed to capture this image inside Itasca State Park. I apologize for the clarity … it was a windy and rainy day inside the park. I would think that in another week, the colors up there will be absolutely gorgeous.