Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9 - Small Town to Big City

Granite Falls is a community of about 2,900 people. Like many towns in the upper Midwest, it's neat-as-a-pin clean and emits a feeling of community that I don't often get in other parts of the country. People were out on this warm Saturday in July doing odd jobs around the yard, working in the garden, hosing down the driveway... things like that. Unlike so many small towns we see elsewhere in the country there's virtually no trash laying around, no dead rusting cars in the yard, no piles of unidentifiable junk wherever you look... none of that. It's a community that reeks of pride... by people who apparently like living here. It shows.

Just a few miles down the road is the community airport. A local contractor and businessman, Ron Fagan, has a budding aircraft museum in a couple hangers out there. I wasn't expecting too much... but it turns out I should have. They have a great and nearly irreplaceable collection of some of the finest WWII fighter and trainer planes we've seen. P-38, two flyable copies of the P-51 Mustang, a P-40, and various other trainer craft... all restored to better-than-new condition by his own group of aircraft restorers. The facilities are top-notch and other WWII period vehicles, weapons, and displays really rounded out the visit. The main hanger is brand new and supposedly tornado-proof... a good thing in this part of the country. The museum is really just getting started and there's still much work to be done... but it's a stop I'm glad we made. If anyone is going to EAA in Oshkosh this year, watch for their P-51 Mustang named Twilight Tear... it's a crowd-pleaser for sure.

Downtown Granite Falls was like the rest of the town... neat and clean, but there was very little activity for a Saturday afternoon. Like most other small towns around the country, they've lost their commercial core to larger stores in larger towns.

We also stopped at the Yellow Medicine County Historical Museum and perused their collection of documents and artifacts. One of the more notable periods in it's history is the Sioux Uprising or The Dakota War of 1862, which began near here along the banks of the Minnesota River.


Yesterday, Sunday July 8, we broke camp at Granite Falls and headed east on US-212... a very agreeable drive with about 15 small towns along the hundred mile route. Nearing the Twin Cities, traffic and busyness increased but was manageable. We stay at Lebanon Hills Campground in Apple Valley when in town (this is our 4th visit in 5 years) as it's close to our friends Jim and Sue and is a pleasant cross between a campground and an RV park. It's a county park with distinct areas for any kind of camping... from tents all the way up to big rigs. We'll be here until Wednesday.

(I'll add more photos to this post later... check back.)