Scandia, MN

9/25/17 – 1/15/18: It’s been several months since our last post, and many people have asked if we still intend to write about our travels. Our answer to them was (and still is) “yes!”, and here’s our first update after many months.

After Rhinelander, we travelled to Kate’s home in Scandia, MN, to visit with her parents and aunt. Our original plan was to stay a few weeks before continuing on our road trip, but some unforeseen circumstances caused us to stay until after Christmas.

Scandia is a small town (population 3,800), with a strong Scandinavian heritage. It is believed that the first Swedish immigrants in Minnesota first settled here. Dala horses can be found all over the town, painted in all different colors and patterns. There’s even a “Dala dalmation” in front of the local fire department. The area is a mix of woodlands, lakes, and farms, and is bordered by the St. Croix river. It’s rural, scenic, and quiet.

When we came back in July, Kate’s mom was diagnosed with A-fib, and had a cardioversion procedure performed to correct it. It worked for a few weeks, but she started feeling badly again. They typically only perform that procedure once, and if it doesn’t “stick”, they move on to installing a pacemaker, defibrillator, or a combination device. She had a consult appointment a couple weeks after we arrived this time to discuss the implant, and we fully thought it would be installed within a week of that (mid October). Our plan was to stay for a week or two after the surgery to help while she recovered. However, it turned out that they wanted more testing to determine which device was needed. One test turned into two, then three, then another consult (with a week between each test and appointment), and the surgery didn’t take place until the beginning of December! The procedure came and went with no complications, and after a week of recovery, she was back on her feet and feeling much better!

During our downtime between appointments, we kept ourselves busy. Kate’s mom and aunt inherited a farm from their parents which they wanted to sell. Before they could sell it, however, two barns, a granary, and the farmhouse had to be cleaned out. We also traveled to Rhinelander a few times to visit with Pat’s mom, as well to Rockford to visit with Kate’s daughter and son-in-law. And, we were able to catch up and have dinner with some of our friends from the area. It was nice to hear how things were going since we’ve been gone. We hope to get together again with them, and also with those we weren’t able to connect with this time around.

During our visit with Samantha and Brad in early August, we learned that Sam was pregnant with their first child. We were going to be grandparents! We were the first ones told, and promised not to say anything until they had told the rest of the family the happy news. It was a hard secret to keep, but we managed. One of our later visits to Rockford was to attend their 12 week ultrasound. It was amazing to see our little grandbaby; it was healthy and extremely active! As we write this, it’s now 26 weeks along; still healthy, active, and growing big! It’s due in April. Needless to say, Sam and Brad are extremely excited, as are we!

It wasn’t all work and travel, though. We spent a day at Franconia Sculpture Park, just outside of Scandia. Covering over 40 acres, this park contains over a hundred sculptues from artists all over the country. The sculptures rotate frequently, so there’s always something new to see! And, admission is free (although they accept donations). The sculptures are quite eccentric and unique, with names that don’t seem to represent the art. We had fun looking at the sculpture and trying to figure out what crazy name it had. There are also some that you are allowed to climb on – Pat even got to go bull riding on a giant lizard! It’s definitely an interesting place.

Just before Thanksgiving, we received some sad news. One of Kate’s aunts (her dad’s sister, Suzie) was hospitalized and diagnosed with cancer. They determined it was in stage 4, and had spread throughout her body. They started chemotherapy, but it was too far advanced. She was discharged to home hospice a few days before Christmas, and she passed away a week later. We visited her a few times in the hospital before she passed, and once was with Samantha and Brad. During that visit, Sam was at Suzie’s bedside, when she looked up and said, “You’re going to have a little girl, and she’s going to be born on my birthday”. Her birthday is April 14th. Wouldn’t it be something if Aunt Suzie were right?!

Pics of Scandia

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