Sunday was our move out day. We started out with coffee at 6. Always maintain the priorities! Coffee first, then the rest of life!

We found a Catholic church just a few miles from the campground, St. Olaf’s. This is when you know for sure that you are in the land of Scandinavian descendants. St Olaf was king of Norway 1015-1030 or so. When he was young, 20 or so, he went to Normandy, France to visit his cousin, Duke Richard, ruler of Normandy. Ok, you ask, how is a Norwegian related to a Frenchman? Remember, the Vikings were the 8th and 9th century Norwegians who were tired of their little peninsula so they built boats and went harassing people. Some of the people they were fond of harassing included those living in Paris. Yes, that Paris! The king of France, or at least that part of France, since it really wasn’t that unified yet, decided to bribe the Vikings into leaving them alone by giving them a big chunk of land along the English channel. The Vikings took the bribe and settled down. But they kept close to their relatives in Norway. At least for a few generations.

By the time Olaf and Richard were alive, the Normans had all become Christian Catholics. And when Olaf came to visit his cousin, Richard persuaded Olaf to convert from his paganism. Apparently, Olaf, who had plans to become king of all Norway, not only converted, but, when he got back home, decided that all Norwegians should follow suit. He proceeded to become king and develop laws based on Judeo-Christian philosophy and morals. Needless to say, some were not happy with the circumstances and violence ensued, on both sides of the argument. Olaf was killed in battle at the age of 34, fighting for what he thought was right and just. However, since he was rather rotund, he may have just slipped off his horse. We will never know. But the bishop had him canonized within a year, so we figured he did some good.

St. Olaf’s church is too modern for my taste. I am not sure that at 7:30 in the morning I am ready for modern songs sung to the accompaniment of a violin and a flute. But the sermon was much better than many, being an explanation of mercy, pity and action.

Traveling though Iowa was a lesson in patience. There were often miles and miles of corn or soybeans along the road, dotted with hedgerows of deciduous trees and farm houses. The land is flat and easy to see miles to the horizon. Central and western Wisconsin is more like central New York, with rolling hills, smaller farms and many trees. Still enormous amounts of corn and soy. We can see where the ethanol comes from!

As we continued to travel west, the prairie was surprising to me, never having paid too much attention to what a prairie was. I can understand why it was one of the last places to be settled in the continental US. Before there were houses and crops, it was a rather foreboding place. Flat, dry, thick sod with a perpetual wind and few trees. No one would want to live there. Barely enough wood to make a decent log cabin. Today, that sod has been well worked and the crops immense. The houses, especially in Minnesota and eastern North Dakota are snuggled into treed wind breaks. Trees of 30 feet tall or more are planted in lines every so often to afford some protection to the crops from the wind. The wind seems less into North Dakota and the crops changed. There are now sunflowers by the acre