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After another rest full night in the motel in AUSTIN, MINNESOTA, was up at 5:30 am...and on the road at 6:30 am. Since our motel was on the East side of town, we had to make our way through the residential district...then through the commercial district...then through a large mall...to finally connect up once again with US 218, which would take SAM and ME North to the town of OWATONNA, MINNESOTA, some 30 miles distant.
Making our way through the residential district of North Owatonna.
Please say HELLO to BRIAN...who stopped his car at the intersection adjacent to the VERY large HORMEL Pig Processing Plant...actually, one of two Hormel plants in Austin, to chat with me.
Brian has worked for years on the "Pig Line" (where the pigs are actually slaughtered...killed and cut up...one pig every 15 seconds). The Pig Line, says Brian is demanding work as a lot of stooping and bending is necessary to reach the pigs as they pass by hanging by their hind feet from a moving conveyor.
Lucky, says Brian, to be promoted to "Mechanic"...taking him off the Pig Line.
One interesting comment from Brian is that HORMEL has purchased a large motel in the town of Austin, where large numbers of "foreigners" are housed...foreigners brought into the USA to work the plant...depriving, say Brian further, local young folks from finding employment at the HORMEL plant in their own home town.
HORMEL Plant Administration Building.
HORMEL "mascot" found on the grounds at the entrance to the Plant.
So this is where SPAM comes from.
Please say HELLO to MARIAN. As I walked from the HORMEL plant, crossing under I-90 Interstate, I came to a dead end street. MARIAN hailed me from the adjacent lawn..."you looking for something?" "Yes...my way to US 218...my map shows it is somewhere through those trees (pointing to a stand of trees next to the cul-de-sac..."
...follow me, says Marian, as she points to a sidewalk trail leading into the tree line. I follow. We cross a slowly flowing CEDAR River, where the above photograph is taken.
Then Marian insists my blog also needs a photograph of SAM and ME.
SAM, contemplating the narrow concrete path...which does in fact lead past the town Cemetery...through the Mall...and onto US 218. M
Marian says Good Bye...and Good Luck, as she turns back over the river, disappearing beyond the tree line.
SAM and ME continue on, cross the Mall, and turn right on US 218.
US 218...which is about to produce a few surprises for SAM and ME.
Please say HELLO to BOB. Bob was cutting his grass as SAM and ME walked past.
Hailing me, we walked over to Bob, who proceeded to YELL that he was deaf in one ear and could not hear much out of the other...leading to our interesting conversation which the neighbors across US 218 had no difficulty in following.
80 years old, Bob served in the Korean War as a "tanker" (Battle Tank Crew Member) with the 14 Infantry (armored) Division, which was all but annihilated fighting early in the war. About to join the Yankee Baseball Team - as a Catcher opposite Yogi Berra, Bob experienced a vehicle accident, ending his sports dream...
...a VERY angry man, Bob is one of those I am eager to spend time with...so, we chatted for over one hour before I said Good Bye...Bob shaking my hand fiercely shouting that it is good to meet a fellow Norwegian countryman...the salvation of all that is wrong with the OLD good 'ole US of A.
In addition to these four fine steeds, at least 5 passing vehicles slowed, yelling to me - walking on the opposite side of the road - that they saw the ABC News Broadcast last night which featured the interview of yesterday, as SAM and ME walked toward Austin.
Apparently the news clip of SAM and ME was well done - I have not seen it -, resulting in the many comments by passing motorists.
One particular lady, MICHELLE, said she sat up until 2:00 am contemplating how to go about finding SAM and ME this morning...calling her friend, KATE, in the middle of the night to arrange a search pattern from my blog information. Around noon time, they found SAM and ME ...leading to our having the company of six (6) lovely ladies - and a young boy - for the next three hours...
...including 18 year old RACHAEL joining me for at least four miles walking US 218...then being joined by MICHELL - who pushed SAM for over one hour... and daughter ABBIE, who, together accompanied SAM and ME into the town of BLOOMING PRAIRIE...where another surprise awaited.
Please say HELLO to MICHELLE, RACHAEL and ABBIE.
My idea to have the two young ladies picture together with me...
Arriving at the SUBWAY Restaurant, another family awaited the arrival of SAM and ME.
Please say HELLO to TAMMY (Mom), DAX (4 years old), EZRA (7 years old), and AVA (10 years old)...having seen the ABC News Cast, drove out to find SAM and ME.
Each of the young ones shyly walked up to me, asked for a hug...and slipped a one dollar bill into my hand...their DONATION to help SAM and ME on our walk.
From TAMMY, I got no $$...but did receive extra hugs...
...all the while, the patient families of MICHELLE and KATHY waited for me to rejoin them for yet another surprise.
Please say HELLO to ME, AVA, DAX, EZRA, and standing next to me, TAMMY.
I would have liked to spend more time with Tammy, but they did arrive after the families of KATHY and MICHELLE, so I said Good Bye...to another round of hugs...two from Tammy, as I walked them to their car...and waved as they drove off.
Returning to my new families of friends, I am handed a BIRTHDAY CAKE.
It was MICHELLE who sat up 'til after 2:00 in the morning, mapping out the coming day...tracking down SAM and ME...joining us for nearly 6 miles of our walk...and treating me to lunch...and a BIRTHDAY CAKE. How she figured out June 30 was my birthday needed some detail sleuthing.
Extra hugs for MICHELLE...and what a hugger she is !
Please say HELLO to my two new families:
SAMMI...ABBIE...KATHY...MICHELLE...RYAM...and ME, holding tightly to RACHAEL.
I asked Rachael's Mom, Kathy, if I could keep Rachael...not my decision...in a couple weeks she heads to college (where Rachael has received a scholership for BASKETBALL)..., so I let it drop for the moment.
Talk about difficult Good Bye's...choked up a bit at they drove out of site.
So, SAM and ME packed up once again and set out North on 218, heading for the town of Owatonna, still 14 miles distant...
...but, we did not get very far...
Please say HELLO to (Mom) NIKKI...MILAYANA..., and HALEY.
Nikki also saw our ABC News clip...and intercepted SAM and ME as we walked past the Library.
Hello's, more hugs, and another 15 minutes of chats.
Daughter MILAYAN insisted on a photograph of Mom (NIKKI) and ME. I certainly did not argue...
I was beginning to like this afternoon of beautiful ladies paying compliments...feeding and dotting over SAM and ME...and just one more hug...well...OK, two more hugs.
Click click to see more closely.
Nikki, Haley and Milayana said goodbye...to one last hug...walking into the Library as SAM and ME resumed our walk.
Heavy farm machinery set the stage for the fast - and lonely - walk to reach Owatonna before dark...only three hours away.
Not too quick, there Mister, says the Policeman as he makes a "U" turn, stopping SAM and ME from progressing any further. Another 30 minutes of chat. Another policeman insistent on not letting SAM and ME walk through HIS town without joining the throng of folks greeting us all day long.
Finally on our way again...now no chance to reach Owatonna before dark, I once again make a comment to SAM...SAM, I say...we have a big problem...we are not going to reach Owatonna before dark. We need someone with a SUV to stop to offer us a ride the last few miles...
believe this...for the 7th time in the past two weeks...after saying to SAM...SAM, we got a problem...the first 6 times resulted in a car stopping within five minutes, offering exactly what I had just informed SAM we needed.
This time was no different...
Please say HELLO to KATE and Daughter LYNN...
...who, as I finished saying to SAM that we needed an SUV to stop and offer us lift the final few miles into Owatonna, pulled off the road next to us. KATE got out of her SUV...as I pushed SAM across the road to chat with this new lovely lady.
Hi, says she...I'm Kate...reporter for THE TIMES of Blooming Prairie...you have a few minutes for an interview!
Oh My, Yes!
We discuss the predicament of SAM and ME...well, says Kate, Lynn and I are actually on our way to Owatonna for an appointment, so I have only a few minutes to interview you...
Looking longingly at the low tailgate door, I wonder out loud if we can fit SAM into her car...finally inside, SAM stretches her front wheel all the way to the dashboard...narrowly missing Lynn's head. I twist and cram myself into the folded-down back seat...and off we go.
Kate asks questions as she drives...I reply. Lynn, says Mom...you take notes. As I answer Kate's questions, I notice Lynn is not taking any notes...she looks knowingly at my eyes...points to the small machine lying between the front seats..."...I'm recording !"
So engrossed am I in replying to Kate's questions, I am surprised when she pulls into a motel.
We unload SAM. Lynn whispers..."The recorder didn't record!"
I offer to do it all over again...no, we are almost late for our appointment, as she gives me my last hug for the day...except for the one I get from Lynn...Lynn saying...I have a good memory...and we can phone you if we get stumped.
Two hours later, as I carry my supermarket-bought dinner to a table, there sits Mom and Daughter. Well, says Kate, I do have one more question: How many shoes have you gone through? Five, I reply...
Lynn gives me another hug...Kate simply says Good Bye...and be safe.
I sit alone reliving our incredible day...which I will certainly do many more times...finish most of my dinner, walk slowly back to the motel, take a warm bath, and sit once again before my HP Mini Computer.
It is now 10:30 pm...five hours after starting this blog update.
...and how can such a day happen? ...Fantasies often fill my head, but to live such a day with so many incredible people fulfilling my oft-dreamed fantasy is...yes...
...incredible. I shall never forget this day...and will look forward to many such days to come. Age, it seems, has little to do with "relationships"...even those with beautiful ladies over 1/2 Century younger.
I truly wish you all safe travels...and know that there is an old man somewhere out there lovingly looking over you.
Tomorrow morning, SAM and ME will take the new road...US 14. Our destination being JANESVILLE, some 30 miles distant.