A Minor Dutch Invasion of Minnesota

This week I will wrap my blog back to our trip last month in Minnesota. This will be a blog about Minnesota seen through the Dutch eyes and some of the comments during their stay in Minnesota.

My hubby every Spring, has work in Minnesota with an American Company based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.  Each year he is accompanied by a small group of co workers, and sometimes their spouses.  They usually are in Minnesota for two or three weeks (short invasion, no need to build a wall across the Atlantic!).  These Dutch have been introduced to an entire new America. Different from the one presented to them on TV here in the Netherlands.  The closest thing to Midwest lifestyle viewed in The Netherlands are the sitcoms That 70’s Show based on Wisconsin or Fargo based on Fargo, North Dakota (ok… some of it takes place in Minnesota).

Over the years that the hubby and I have been together (twelve years now), his entire world has opened to a new America.  With each team he brings to the great state of Minnesota, I am proud to hear the comments from his fellow Dutchmen of how beautiful our state is, how much nature and wildlife there is everywhere. Cameras clicking at big houses, big trucks, big boats, large expanses of farmland. Eyes new with wonder at all that is Minnesota.

I often wonder,  will this start a bigger Dutch invasion?

Here is a photographic look at Minnesota through the Dutch eyes.  Comments provided by hubby, myself, and members of his trusted (invasion) team.

Eagan Blizzard 1

“Oh cool. Blizzard! It was 70F two days ago and now this. How is that possible?”

My answer: “Welcome to Minnesota! It is April. It’s Minnesota, anything is possible.”

When visiting the local Eagan Target the cashier actually sarcastically said this to one of the Dutch wives when she commented on how beautiful the snow was.

“Wait until you fall and bust your hip! You won’t think it is so pretty then!”

I privately laughed at what I seemed a rude and shocking statement to mention to someone who was visiting from somewhere else.  I think the cashier was having a bad day, but then after considering the last few winter storms I concluded the cashier was pretty sick of the snow.

That comment was awarded the “American comment of the day”.  The statement was repeated in the same sarcastic way between the wife and I several times while she was visiting just for a good laugh.

The weekend I went on my fly fishing trip (have you all seen a picture of my trout? if not view it here), the Dutch group went North to explore my old home territory of Carlton County. The plan was to make a trip through Jay Cooke State Park and then back down MN Highway 23 towards Askov to Banning State Park.  The hope was to see a black bear. Not out of the question in April, in Minnesota.

Jay Cook State Park 1

Thomson Dam at Carlton, Minnesota

Jay Cook State Park 3

Dutch invasion at Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cook State Park 7

St Louis River Valley at Jay Cooke State Park

Not seeing a black bear at Jay Cooke State Park, the Dutch were getting hungry.  They needed to eat! Since I wasn’t along to offer suggestions, they pulled into a local place along MN Highway 23.

Looks pretty American, doesn’t it?

HWY 23 salon2

North Pine Saloon in Kerrick, Minnesota

They were shocked as they were welcomed into the place by the following comment “What the hell are you doing here?”.

Not sure if that was before or after they informed the wait staff that they were Dutch, and came all the way from Holland to eat at the Saloon.  It was now dubbed the “American comment of the day”.

HWY 23 salon1

Old tractor seats at the Kerrick Saloon.

When I returned Sunday from my fishing trip I got to hear all about the place, the wait staff, the seats they sat on, and pull tabs.

“Yes, I have played.  No, I never win. Did you guys?”

“Hell ya, $2.00!” Was the response like it was $2 million instead of $2.00.

I made a mental note that maybe drinking was involved at this roadside location. Do you think?

Now full on food and beer, it was off to Banning State Park and then St Croix State Park, still in search of a bear.  Adventure arrived as the leader of the group (my hubby) decided to take a backroad to St Croix State Park.

To my fault, I had explained a backroad they could take prior to my leaving for my fishing trip.  My hubby immediately disregarded the suggestion.  It would be risky with the Spring weather and road conditions.

I was more than a bit surprised when I heard him re tell the story of how he lead his team off road on an unexpected adventure.  Shockingly, to the fearless leader and the rest of the passengers, the paved road turned to dirt.  So the entire team and white Suburban rental was treated to a springtime brown look arriving at St Croix State Park covered in Minnesota mud. Cool huh?

Boat launch at St Croix State Park

Boat launch at St Croix State Park

Looking downriver on the St Croix

Looking downriver on the St Croix

Since they had a full day of adventure on Saturday, they returned to Eagan and rested for their big day on Sunday.

What best way to spend a Sunday in America and get a dose of Midwest culture?

How about attending an all American Gun Show.

This is America!  Everyone (minus at least one American – me) owns a gun or two or three.  Each year I try to explain the complicated relationship Americans have with guns and our constitutional rights to own them. This conversation is never easy. My job is even harder when the Dutch don’t have weapons of any sort in their country, minus expensive exclusive hunting clubs, and illegal weapons used by criminals. It is a concept that is so truly American and so not Dutch.

It is hard to explain the reasons why my fellow Americans seem to need one gun or own several. Some of the Americans they work with in Minnesota, explain that they own one gun for each type of hunting they do, but when asked about handguns or semi automatic they get the answer “personal protection”.

REALLY?

I have spent literally hours over the years trying to explain something I don’t actually know how to justify. I grew up with weapons, had an entire career with weapons.  I just frankly don’t see why in this modern age we all need to go around acting like John Wayne in the Wild West. But, I try my best to explain this complicated subject to my Dutch friends.

Anyway… the Dutch headed off to the gun show. I was busy catching a rainbow trout.

Gunshow 1

“Pretty cool, we could even purchase a gun to match our clothing or handbags. They even showed us how to hold it!” comments made by one of the Dutch.

Gunshow2

“Is it true? Can you buy these here?” One of the Dutch asked me as he showed me this picture. “Yup, you just have to pass a background check and pay the money.” I answered. “What do you shoot with that?” he went on to ask. “Good question. You would have to ask someone who owns one. I don’t.” was the only answer I could think of at the time.

My hubby walked away with a replacement sheath for his buck knife he has in my storage unit in Minnesota.  Sadly his purchase was not the right purchase, I feel another Gun Show visit will be scheduled for next Spring in search for the correct item.

It is always cool to see where I grew up through the eyes of people who find it new and exciting.  My hubby has given me years of entertainment with the wild questions he has about the Midwest and Minnesota. Each year his co workers don’t disappoint me with new questions. Of course there are plenty of opportunities for a full evening of conversation provided by either comments from my fellow Midwest Americans or sometimes the bumper stickers they have on their cars.

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Bumper Sticker at Eagan WalMart

It makes me happy that this special group of Dutch come to our state each year to add to the local economy.  They get to experience Minnesota nature in all its glory. They get to meet real Minnesota people who have real Minnesota responses.

Minnehaha Falls at flood stage

Minnehaha Falls at flood stage

Let’s face it, we Minnesotans, we act differently than those people on either coastline of the United States, we are not some TV sitcom, we are hardworking, tough people who take whatever weather is thrown at us. Yes, we like our fishing, hunting, big boats, big houses, big trucks, dirt roads, hot dish, and pull tabs.

Target Field 1

Target Field- Twins baseball field, days before season opener. Note the snow!

I think Minnesota will not have to fear a full on Dutch invasion anytime soon.  My hubby has made sure that all his co workers know, from his own personal experiences, how horrible the bugs are in the summer and how cold it gets in January.

Sunrise on flight exit flight, the Dutch heading back to Amsterdam.

Sunrise on exit flight, the Dutch headed back to Amsterdam. With plenty of Minnesota stories to share.

 

 

Photo credits for this blog go to S. Strangmann and J. Andeweg of the Dutch invasion team. 

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