Big Adventures in the "Birthplace of America"
If Big Ole's shield says it's so, then it must be, right?
Yeah, somehow I still don't buy it, even after spending $6 to see the proof.
A friend told me that since I was going to be in Alex, I had to go visit the Kensington Runestone Museum...the story behind it basically being that the vikings were here in the 1300s, a bunch of them were murdered, the survivors wrote it down on a rock and fled...and this made Alex the birthplace of America (because obviously the vikings founded the US, I guess). The rock is at this museum, in all of it's glory.
So I checked into my hotel around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and went to the hotel's front desk and asked for directions to the museum. "The viking museum?" I think, "Is there more than 1 museum in this town???" But just say, "Yes." She says, "Turn left out of the hotel and go straight. You'll see it." (That's the basics of nearly all directions in rural Minnesota - take the only road until you get there.)
Sure enough, I came across Big Ole, who guards the parking lot for the Runestone Museum. Much to my relief, it was open...according to this sign:
I go inside and the chamber of commerce is also housed in the lobby of the museum, to the left as I walk in. Immediately, a woman dashes over to me from the chamber to ask if she can help me. I said, "I just want to see the museum." She said, "OK - you have to go over there to the gift shop." She points to a little glass-enclosed gift shop, and to a frantically waving and smiling lady, who calls me over. I walk into the little glass room and pay my $6 to see this museum. $6!!! The Smithsonian is free!!
The money-taker then says, "Oh, you'll have to start at the end, there is a woman's group meeting in the museum right now and they are right by the runestone...but they'll be done soon. So I'll take you the back way to the outside portion and then you can work backwards. Is that OK??" I agree to go through the museum backwards, and she takes me the back way to outside...through offices and changing rooms and a storage area - wow. A real behind the scenes tour of the Kensington Runestone Museum. It was....ummm...amazing?
I go outside and look at a bunch of fake "old" buildings at Fort Alexandria. But the cool thing was this caboose. I even got to go into it!!
Then I went in this big building with a replica scaled down viking ship. And tractors. And out board motors. I found that to be hiliarious. It sounds like the start to a bad joke: What do you get when you put a viking ship, a John Deere tractor and an outboard motor in a building? No, I don't know.
It was right after the outboard motors that I saw the hidden gem of the building and the museum. Santa's Sleigh. Yes, Santa's Sleigh is at the Kensington Runestone Museum in Alexandria, MN. They stole Santa's sleigh. It's not actually labeled as Santa's sleigh, but I think it's pretty obvious this is a cover-up. Alexandria may be the birthplace of America, but it's the deathbed of Christmas, apparently, as well.
This sign was on the door to the viking ship/tractor/outboard motor building. I didn't know what to think of it, so I just took a picture - which caused stares from the old couple that was walking into the potpourri building.
And as I walked around outside, I noticed that there was a civil warish-era cannon pointed at the viking ship and tractors...rather violent, I thought. I also suspected that there really weren't cannons like this in the days of the vikings ships...possibly in the days of John Deere tractors - but aren't people rather defenseless when they are riding tractors??
Then I finally got to go back inside. I took this picture just because it was funny to take a picture of a camera with a camera:
And then I saw IT. The Kensington Runestone in all of it's glory.
I know, it just leaves you speechless, doesn't it? And imagine, I was physically in the presence of the "document" that makes Alexandria the birthplace of America.
And then there was the video portion of the exhibit - where you get the history and all of that good stuff. Apparently, it is designed to be a romantic film, because there are only 2 seats in the entire room:
All in all, I have to say that I did have fun at the Kensington Runestone Museum. My $6 bought me 45 minutes of fun. And entertainment at watching a bunch of 50+ year old women in velvet pants suits conclude their meeting in the shadow of the Kensington Runestone. I wonder if that's how the invitations to the meeting read, "The next meeting of the Velvet Pants Suit Club will be held in the shadow of the Kensington Runestone, located in the Birthplace of America."