I had a great time touring southern Minnesota last week with my hunk o' burnin' love and our 26-year-old son. We're big believers in allowing plenty of opportunities for serendipity when we travel, so late one morning on an aimless drive through the country around Owatonna, my husband hit the brakes and our son said wow and we skated across some gravel and came to a stop.
We'd found a 150-year-old church in the middle of nowhere. Oh, it used to be somewhere--the village of Rice Lake, to be exact--but when the railroads came to southern Minnesota and bypassed Rice Lake, the prosperous little settlement fizzled out. The church is the only building still standing. We read all about that on one of the brochures left for curious people by the organization that recently decided to restore the church.
My husband is an architect who used to design churches, and our son is interested in old buildings. So for more than half an hour, I pretended to be patient while the guys tramped all around the church, peering into the windows (most of which still have their original wavy glass) and inspecting the new concrete-block foundation and talking about everything the restorers are doing right and wrong. (That's our kid in the photo, checking out the foundation.)
"I want lunch," I whined when my husband told me the roof wasn't original, that it and the bell tower had been destroyed by a long-ago fire. "Can we go now?"
"Not yet," my son said as his father took more photographs. "You have to come and see the outhouse."
I just looked at him. After seeing the ugly church, I had little interest in its outhouse. But he insisted, so I sighed and trudged around to the back of the church...and was enchanted.
Growing on the side of the outhouse were the most beautiful morning glories I have ever seen. How could they be that blue? I have morning glories in my garden right now, white ones and blue ones and purple ones and magenta ones, but no screaming blue ones like these. I want these!
I'm not sure what it says about me that the most thrilling part of my trip to Minnesota was discovering a vine-covered outhouse in the middle of nowhere. But these photographs are mementos of a very good day.