Sunday, September 30, 2007

The REAL Vikings!

My kids are vikings!

We got sick and tired of Butch being out of town all of the time lately. He got a job up in Alexandria, MN where I used to go visiting an aunt's family who lives up there. When we were little, we would go to the local museum that had a replica of the first fort that was built there and all kinds of viking and Indian artifacts.

I figured we could get some education about these things, get out of the house for a short vacation, and spend some time with Butch all at the same time. So, off to Alexandria, it was!

It's only about a two hour trip (with bathroom and snack stop) so it was pretty bearable for me to do alone.

Once we got there, we stopped for lunch at Burger King. It was great because they had a big, blowup jumpy thing in the back and Niklaus had a ball. With all the "normal" kids in "normal" school, we pretty much had free reign all over that town! I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!
We next drove right to Butch's work site. They were building a small structure right in the middle of the downtown area and it was pretty impressive for Niklaus to see the crane up close. Daddy was busy working, though, so we headed to the Runestone Museum which was only a block away from the work site.

The history of Alexandria and the Kensington Runestone is so, very interesting! It seems that Alexandria, MN is one of the oldest settlements in MN, founded by two brothers. One brother's name was Alexander (thus the name of the town). A third brother stayed while the other two went on to other pursuits. That brother died shortly after settling and his wife, Clara basically held on with her children until she found another family to sell the settlement to. The husband of THAT family died early on, also, so his wife carried on for years. She is the true founder of the town and had a big hand in plotting out the town streets, and other functions. You can see on a map of the area her genius in forethought. There are tons of lakes in the area and the roads are so neatly, strategically placed around them. It's an enjoyable, beautiful place to visit.

The Kensington Runestone is a very interesting object that is the highlight of the museum. I won't talk about it here because I get all excited and some people might find the subject rather boring. You can look up that link and see what you think! Here is the actual stone with some weird kids standing next to it:

Totem kids:

The museum had a terrific, interactive, play area. It included: a cornbox (sandbox with corn instead of sand), viking games, dress up area, rune magnet board, coloring page station, and a cool painting of a huge viking to take a picture by.

"Katrina" in runes:

Peg game:


Outside is the recreation fort along with some relics from an older time. There was an old caboose, a school house from the turn of the century, a huge shed with old farm equipment and a 3/4 size replica of a real viking ship (didn't get a picture of that one, darnit) that was once part of a Smithsonian display, a viking cutout, a small stage for plays or speeches, a blacksmith shop, an old cannon, and a mercantile store:

After the museum, we went back to try to talk to daddy. Boy, was Niklaus surprised when Butch had him hop up in the crane to do some "work"...At the playground we went to afterward, Niklaus was trying to replicate his experience. I doubt it compared to the real thing!

It was a great trip and I really look forward to doing this sort of thing again. Maybe we can learn a ton more about our state (and then, maybe I won't have such a crappy attitude about the weather) and have some more fun in the future. I guess Butch's travelling a lot isn't such a bad thing after all? He always comes home for the weekend, and the "out of town" trips usually are in-state, so he isn't too far away.

OH! About the title of the post: My kids really are Vikings! Their dad is 1/2 Danish and 1/2 Swedish. It was kind of funny to see their faces when I pointed this out to them. I said, "Hey! These were YOUR people!". I am not one of them. I would be a tribal outsider, or maybe even a slave (my people were all from Germany). They really liked the thought of that!
Hmmmm, after doing a little bit of research, I found out that it is thought that Leif Erikson (famous, Viking explorer that may have even travelled to MN...who knows, maybe HE left that runestone here?) was educated by his GERMAN SLAVE!

I guess what goes around, comes around!