Let's face it, the thrill of traveling is seeing new places, learning new things and visiting sights we may have heard or read about. I'm constantly trying to research the cities and towns en route of where we might be going through or nearby, and have several books that I look through to help me with. Then there is always our "interests" to throw into the mix! Jack likes WWII museums and we both like factory tours for instance. We also keep in mind our family and friend's interest as well, just in case (we always have to be prepared for "shopping ideas" you know!). One such place came about when we were looking up a route through Minnesota. I discovered that SPAM was made in Austin MN and that Hormel had a museum and tour there! I have a son who loves SPAM! He's crazy about the stuff, so how could we not go there?
What a hoot! From the moment you enter, you are inundated with the famous little can! After you are cheerfully greeted, you enter through the cute "piggy" doors to the theater to view a short film giving you a nice over-view of how George Hormel came up with the idea for SPAM (using all the parts of the ham), how they came up with the name (an actor did, taking the letters for shoulder of port and ham).
Let's not forget the "real reason" we stopped...shopping! Who knew
there were so many kinds of SPAM? Wow! ...and so many things to go
with it too? What fun! The museum is closing Sept 28th until 2016 (building a new one) so we caught it just in time, phew!
Always another "Wow" find, are churches. You just never know what your going to find when you read about a particular one, and "how spectacular" it's going to be, until you get there. Such was the case with The Cathedral of Saint Paul, in St Paul MN. I guess the word "Cathedral" should have tipped me off...but it didn't...other than I figured it would be big. But "big" is relative, isn't it?
This Cathedral isn't just big...it's huge! It seats 3000 people, and that's without an unobstructed view of the pulpit and altar. The Cathedral exterior measures 306 1/2' high to the top of the cross (interior - 186' to the apex of the inner dome ceiling). 307' long from the front steps to the sacristy door; and 216' wide from north to south transept.
The Cathedral contains 33 different types of marble, from 11 countries and 4 continents. There are 97 different saints, prophets and patriarchs (several saints are pictured more than once).
All that is just "statistics"...what's hard to put into "words" is how very beautiful it truly is. Several times I just had to sit, to take it all in, it was almost overwhelming. I'm not sure what I thought was more beautiful, the inside with all it's statues & marble or the outside with the black domes against the white walls.
As beautiful as it is, and as much as I love seeing these great works of art...my heart always aches a little afterward. In their brochure they share that if built today, it would cost more than $1 billion. The restoration project in 2000 cost over $35 million. Yet all I can think of is how many poor people that could feed. I love all the beautiful churches, of all faiths, I really do, but at what cost? Are beautiful statues, art, robes, etc more important than the people inside? Sadly it seems so...
St Paul also gave us a bit of whimsy as well...as guess who grew up there? None other than Charles Schultz of the "Peanuts" gang! So...they have lovingly added sweet bronze statues throughout the city of all his various characters! Jack and I had a wonderful time tracking some of them down and "posing" ourselves with some of them! We even found a few of Snoopy's Dog Houses that various companies took advantage of using as advertising space! All fun!
...kicking back in Minnesota, Marie
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my
Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/