I was out of town this past weekend – no, not in Europe – I went to Minnesota. My daughter and I drove over seven hours to see our friends. We are staying with my daughter’s friend and her family (thanks, H-), and exploring the town of Winona.
Saturday morning, we checked out the local yarn store, yarnology. The store carries a large selection of yarn, including Rowan, Malabrigo, and Be Sweet, a yarn produced by women in South Africa. If you are ever in the area, check it out – I highly recommend it.
On Sunday afternoon, we went to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. We didn’t know what to expect from a small town museum, but we were pleasantly surprised. Half of the museum focused on more contemporary works and the other half on classics. My favorites were the National Geographic underwater photos and the Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and others.
Monday morning, before heading home, we stopped at the lookout point at the Garvin Heights City Park. From this high point we were able to see the entire city of Winona, which I learned, is located on a strip of land between the river and two large lakes. The views from above were amazing!
The highlight of my weekend, though, was when I drove another 45 minutes to Rochester on Saturday afternoon to meet an old friend. A- and I have been friends since we were children, although the time we’ve actually spent together is minimal. Growing up, we saw each other for two weeks nearly every summer as my family vacationed at the resort A-‘s parents owned. Each year, I cried when we left the resort to go back home.
As we entered our teen years A- and I became closer. Since I had four siblings, the cabin was crowded; I stayed in the lodge with A-. It felt like we had a two-week slumber party. For the rest of the year, we became pen-pals. I anxiously waited for letters from zip code 56515.
We both grew up, though, and when we graduated high school, we went our separate ways. Eventually her parents sold the resort to another family. I didn’t know her new address, and I wondered if I would ever see A- again.
When I got married, I convinced my husband that we should vacation at the same resort. He was reluctant at first, but agreed and in time came to love our two weeks in Minnesota as much as I did. We vacationed at the resort as we raised our daughters – my husband fished, our daughters skied, and I sat by the shore reading or doing needlework.
Around the year 2000, I was surprised when we arrived at the resort and found that my friend, A- was going to be vacationing there the same week. I was excited to meet her husband and daughter. We connected like we had not been apart, even though it had been about 20 years since we had seen each other.
That year, A- and I walked uptown from the resort to have lunch and catch up with each other’s lives. Each year after that when we arrived at the resort, I would seek out my friend and set up a lunch date.
Since 2008, we have not been able to travel to Minnesota, like I had done all my life. It was hard for us to accept, but we continue to hope we will be able to go back to the resort some day.
In 2013, my daughter’s friend, H-, moved to Minnesota and since that time, I’ve been trying to work it out to ride with her so I could visit A-. Finally, this weekend we were able to get together. We met for lunch at the Perkins restaurant in Rochester, and spent five hours reminiscing.
When I was young, our family traveled to a few different places around the United States, but I loved the vacations to Minnesota the best. To me, vacation meant that I could see the friend that lived 700 miles away.
When you travel, you can, and should, make friends – friends that last a week or friends that last a lifetime. With today’s communication possibilities, it is even easier to maintain friendships.
Making friends can be a reason to travel, but visiting friends you already have is another reason. The main reason my daughter and I traveled to Minnesota this past weekend was to visit our friends. Striving to maintain and build these friendships makes travel necessary, but the rewards of the friendships are a blessing.