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Monthly Archives: August 2017

We were up relatively early and headed over to Mount Rushmore from our hotel in Hill City. Although we are out in the Black Hills quite frequently we spend most of our time looking for wildlife or hiking. We had a couple of Linda’s sisters along with us so we spent more time visiting traditional sites on this trip. It was cloudy when we arrived but as the morning wore on the sun came out.

We were lucky to see some Mountain Goats as we walked along the boardwalk below the carvings.

There were a few flowers in bloom at the Monument.


We recently made a quick trip to South Dakota stopping in Murdo on our first night. When we woke up in the morning there were some great clouds in the western sky as well as a rainbow.

We then drove over to the Badlands but the clouds were so low that we couldn’t see much. I didn’t bother to take any photos. Our next stop was Custer State Park where we were looking for Buffalo. It was rutting season so the cows, bulls and calf’s should have been together in a large herd. We took the wildlife drive and couldn’t find a single buffalo. The park interpreter said it was because of all the motorcycles in the park. the big Sturgis rally had just taken place. There were still motorcycles going through the park. We did managed to see some wildlife.


Begging Burrows

Begging Burrows

Prairie Dogs

My wife and I were in Lindstrom, Minnesota on business and had a break so we walked around town taking in the Swedish heritage. Since we had been in Sweden recently and my wife was reading the The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg we found it most interesting. The statue is of Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina who were the lead characters in The Emigrants.

The Swedish Coffee Pot Water Tower in Lindstrom.

The Kar Oskar Emigrant House.


The next morning we were up early and had a bite to eat at the hotel before walking along the water next to Kalmar Castle. It was a beautiful morning with some nice reflections in the water.

I managed to capture a few bird photos on the walk.

Mute Swan

Great Crested Grebe

While we were waiting for a ride we took a few photos of our Hotel. To say that it was a little quirky is an understatement.

We headed back to Skallby where we met up with the rest of the cousins for breakfast. This was a family home that had stood vacant for about 15 years. The cousins took it over and completely remodeled it. It is now a beautiful home.

We all piled into cars and headed for Vazjo and the House of Emigrants. It was actually closed but the family made special arrangements for us to get a guided tour. My wife had been reading The Emigrants which is the collective name of a series of four novels by the Swedish Author Vilhelm Moberg. They are rather graphic and depict the conditions under which many Swedes moved to America. Most of the history was news to me and I found it really fascinating.

After the tour we gathered at a local restaurant for a bite to eat.

When we returned to Skallby we stopped in the barn to check out an old car.

We then said a sad farewell to our Swedish cousins.

We made one more stop to visit the genealogists home. Linda and the genealogist had some work to do before we departed. He was the one who put us in contact with my wife’s Swedish relatives.

Part of the reason for taking the trip to Scandinavia was for my wife to connect with her roots. She had been working on her ancestry for some time and had developed a large tree with the Norwegian side of her family. She had been stymied on trying to develop her Swedish tree. About five months before we were scheduled to depart she found an individual in Sweden who was working on a family tree for the Olson’s as a favor for a friend. They were able to connect and the result was correspondence between long lost relatives. We modified our travel plans and scheduled a couple of days to visit relatives.

Early in the morning we walked to the outskirts of town to the local Toyota dealership. When we arrived it was closed and we were starting to be concerned when the rental agent drove up. He had been filling up the tank at the gas station and saw us walk by the station.

The rental car was a Volvo so we had to fiddle with the controls for a while and then go back and ask the agent about a few things. After a few minutes we headed out using our phone for driving directions. We hadn’t gone far when we encountered road construction and missed our turn. After a short stop to get oriented we made another attempt to get through the construction.

When we drove up to the cousins farm there were over a dozen relatives in the front yard waiting for us and the Swedish flag was flying at the farm house. Included in the group was the local genealogist who had reconnected my wife with her Swedish relatives. Just before we arrived a big American car drove by and they were sure that was us but we were driving a Volvo. We were invited in to get acquainted and participate in a morning brunch.

We then headed off to tour the homes of Linda’s ancestors. Our first stop was at Linda’s grandfather, Per (Peter) Olson’s,  birthplace. It was owned by a German couple who purchased it as a summer home. Apparently this is fairly common in this area of Sweden. They were very welcoming and invited us in to view the home. One interesting thing we learned was that most of these old farm houses can be purchased relatively inexpensively. A house like this would go for under $40,000 U.S. dollars. We are now thinking that maybe we could escape Trump by moving to Sweden.

Our second stop was Linda’s great grandfather’s home. It is amazing how well kept these old homes are.

Our third stop of the day was a visit to the childhood home of Linda’s  Swedish grandmother, Carolina Carlsson. This home was owned by a nice couple. He was Swedish and she was American. They had remodeled and updated the home and it was nicely done. She is an avid gardener and the yard was beautiful. Linda has a photo of her great aunt standing in front of the house so she recreated the photo with her and the current owners.

We stopped on the way to dinner to check out the horses. Linda’s cousin rides competitively and she showed us a couple of her horses.

One of the menu items for dinner was moose. The young man at the table is an avid hunter and shot the moose. Apparently they also have a large number of wild boars in the area. We were a bit surprised that so much wild game could still be found in Sweden.

After dinner we drove over to Arby Church where most of Linda’s relatives in Sweden are buried. Unfortunately they did not use headstones until relatively recently. However, there is a headstone for of Linda’s  Swedish grandmother, Carolina Carlsson.

We were lucky enough to attend a Swedish church service. Fortunately the minister sprinkled a little English in the service as well as adding a little humor.

It had been an interesting day. We picked up our car and headed back to Kalmar. We had no trouble getting back. The agent told us to fill up the car and we could leave it at a parking lot by the train station. After filling up the car we noticed that the car would die every time we came to a stop sign. We really started to worry that we put the wrong gas in it. All night we worried that we were going to find a large bill on our credit card because we wrecked the car. The next morning we were driving with one of the cousins to Vaxjo and noticed that his Volvo died at every stop sign. Turns out all Volvo’s sold in Sweden have this feature to save on gas. What a relief!

When we got back to our hotel early in the evening we found it locked up. The restaurant was closed and there was no one at the reception desk. It was like the place was deserted. We wondered why we were given a key to the front door. Now we know. It was Sunday and the place closed down.



We were up early to catch the train to Kalmar, Sweden. Unfortunately we were forced to miss the great breakfast at the hotel and had to settle for something at the Central Train Station.
On our way to Kalmar we traveled over some of the territory covered in the late great Swedish crime author Henning Mankell. It was fun to see the land described in his books.
We arrived in Kalmar mid afternoon and soon headed out to explore the town. We walked over to the Södra Kyrkogården and then on to Kalmar Castle.

It was a beautiful spring afternoon and young people were taking in the sun around the castle fortifications.

We were able to get a quick look at the Kalmar Castle Chapel just before a wedding was to take place.

There was a display of the Medici Family in the castle and we spent most of our time walking through this display.

The castle was closing so we went outside and walked around the fortifications.

I was able to capture a little wildlife as we walked around the castle grounds.

Black-headed Gull

Hooded Crow


We then walked around looking for Old Town and finally found it after a couple of false starts.

We had a bit to eat before heading out again for a walk along the waterfront.

As we neared the end of the waterfront we found The Cavalier Town Gate.

We then walked over to Stortoget where the Kalmar Cathedral is located.

As we wandered past the old fortifications we encountered this water tower. We concluded that it had been turned into apartments. I Imagine the residents have a great view of the city and harbor.

We ended up back at Larmtorget where the New freemasonry hotel was located. Note the Ben & Jerry’s.

We finally decided to call it a day.

The next morning we were up early for a great Scandinavian breakfast before heading out. Since we were only going to be in Copenhagen for a day so we decided to sign up for the Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus Tours. We managed to catch the first red line tour of the day. We didn’t get off anyplace we were just interested in getting the lay of the land. After the tour we stopped at the visitors center again (restroom break) and then decided to catch the next bus on the red line. Turns out there are more red buses than we realized and we tried to get on the Grey Line Red Bus tour. We waited for a while and saw another red bus and hopped on it. We hadn’t gone far before we realized we were on a different tour. We decided to stick it out and ended up touring another section of Copenhagen. When we came back into town we exited the bus and walked along the waterfront.

There was a lot of construction taking place along the waterfront.

Black Diamond Library

We walked along the waterfront until we found where our waterfront tour would start. As part of our Hop-on Hop-off tour we were allowed one water tour of Copenhagen.

There were a variety of housing units along the waterfront. These are some of the conventional housing units.

There were also a number of Squatters Houseboats along the waterfront.

It was the weekend and there was a lot of activity at the  Copenhagen Street Food Warehousen. We were dressed in our down jackets but the locals were going to be out enjoying the spring weather regardless of the temperature.

Our trip took us past the Royal Danish Naval Museum.

As we sailed past the training ship SJOKURS the cadets were out on parade.

We were also fortunate enough to see the Royal Yacht Dannebrog sailing toward the dock.

Copenhagen is all about the water. There were houseboats and boats everywhere.

Fortunately the tour boats were designed to fit under the historic bridges.

After the boat tour we boarded the Red Bus and rode out to Gefion Fountain where we got off.

From Gefion Fountain we walked past St Alban’s Church on our way over to Kastellet. We also encountered a pair of Mute Swans with their young.

The Kastellet was a popular place. It was a beautiful day and I was fortunate to capture a couple of birds in the park.

Eurasian Magpie


No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a stop to see the Little Mermaid. We had sailed past it earlier in the day.

We then hopped a bus over to the Botanical Gardens. As I noted earlier it was a beautiful day and folks were out enjoying the Gardens.

I was able to capture a Jackdaw on the walk through the Gardens.

At this point we decided that everything we wanted to see was within walking distance so we started walking toward Nyhavn. This place was jumping on the weekend.

As we walked through Nyhavn we encountered the relatively new Inderhavnsbroen cycling and pedestrian bridge.

We then walked back along the waterfront where we encountered this interesting grouping of cargo containers. I think these were used for offices.

We eventually ran into the Stroeget Walking Street and took it back toward Tivoli Gardens. It was sure great to find cities that appreciate the value of walking streets. We tried to get Duluth to adopt the idea but all of the local business folks were fixated on protecting their street parking spots even though there was plenty of unused parking spots in the ramps. The Duluth business community apparently doesn’t get out much and they still are thinking cities function like they did 50 years ago.

No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a visit to Tivili Gardens. After grabbing a bite to eat we walked back to our hotel after a very long day.

This spring my wife and I made a three week trip to Scandinavia. This is the first of my blogs describing our adventures.

We left Duluth, Minnesota heading for Minneapolis  to catch our early evening flight on Icelandic Airlines. My wife took this photo of me with my new Osprey’s Farpoint 55 travel pack. We both used these packs for the trip and found them to be a great find. When I get some time I’ll write a review of them.

The Trip was uneventful. This is my wife’s obligatory  photo of Greenland. For some reason she insists on photographing Greenland every time we fly over.

When we reached Copenhagen We took the train from the airport to Copenhagen Central Station. From there we walked to the Cabinn Scandinavia where we were staying for a couple of nights. Unfortunately Google Maps gave us a tour of Copenhagen on the way to Cabinn Scandinavia. Once we were at our lodging and had acquired a map of Copenhagen we discovered the route we should have taken from Central Station. We checked in and then walked back toward Central Station to visit the Copenhagen Visitors Center and plan what we would be doing the only full day we had in Copenhagen. On the way to the visitors center we walked past Sankt Jørgens Lake.

We encountered a number of different birds at the Lake. My wife complained the entire trip that I was taking bird pictures when I should have been taking photos of the city. However, even she had to admit that the Great Crested Grebe was worth watching. When we first saw it we thought it might be ill because it had a very disheveled look about it. We soon discovered the disheveled look was caused by baby grebes hiding under her feathers. The male grebe was hunting for food and when he came close the young came out of hiding looking for something to eat. Every time we walked past the Lake we looked for the grebes.

We also saw a number of other birds on the lake.

Eurasian Coot

Black-headed Gull

Mute Swan

Eurasian Magpie

I should add that I was able to get these great bird photos because I decide to leave my Nikon Cameras home and take a Sony DSC-WX500 that has a 30X optical zoom lens. This is a great little pocket camera that also takes great panoramic photos.

It was spring time in Copenhagen and the tulips were blooming all over town.

After stopping at the visitors center we started looking for a bite to eat. It is sad to report that our first meal in Copenhagen was at Burger King.

We then headed back to the hotel for the night.

These are some of the photos I took on a walk through the farm prairie this week.

Monarch Butterfly

Gloriosa Daisy



Honey Bee

A few weeks ago we visited the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota. This was our first visit. We were impressed by their facilities. We spent the afternoon at the center listening to various presentations and viewing the displays. We were fortunate to see all of the wolves on display. They have two Arctic Wolves in the pack. While we were in Ely we also stopped at Jim Brandenburg’s gallery. He has an amazing display of photographs at the gallery. The international headquarters of Crapola is also located in Ely so we stopped by to watch them make Crapola and picked up a supply of it.