Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet 16, Part II: Enchanted Highway

(If you have not already read "Sweet 16, Part I: Beautiful Music," please do so before reading this post.)

Besides the girls' band concert in the morning and the handbell concert at church in the evening, Susan and I didn't have anything else planned for our 16th anniversary last Friday. So I suggested to her that we go see a nearby attraction that, for whatever reason, we hadn't yet checked out in our three years of living here: the Enchanted Highway. I thought it would be fun to take a leisurely drive along the highway, viewing the giant metal sculptures and enjoying the scenery. Well, it turned out to be even more fun than that!

After Abigail and Suzanna had played in their concert, we picked up sandwiches from Subway and then headed east on the Interstate without telling the girls our intentions. About 10 miles east of Dickinson is the exit for the Enchanted Highway, marked on the north side by Geese in Flight, the world's largest scrap metal sculpture (according to the Guinness World Book of Records), which we have driven by many times over the years. We took the exit and drove the winding gravel road up the hill to Geese in Flight, where we found a gravel parking lot, an information board, and a covered picnic area. We had no idea that it was set up as a tourist site! The sculptor, Gary Greff, has even welded hundreds of metal geese to metal fence posts that line the drive from the highway to the site--impressive! After posing for a few photos, we ate at the picnic table and tried to get trucks on the Interstate to blow their horns for us.

Geese in Flight is even more impressive viewed from its parking lot than from a moving vehicle passing by on the Interstate!

The anniversary couple! I'm a little more silvery than I was 16 years ago, but Susan's still looking youthful.

The girls thought that picnicking there was our surprise activity for the afternoon, so when we left, they wondered why I continued south on the highway instead of turning back onto the Interstate. After guessing correctly that we'd be driving the Enchanted Highway, they wondered what to expect--and we couldn't help them there. I assumed that we'd be looking at huge metal sculptures off in the distance, slowing down the vehicle once in a while in order to snap a few pictures before driving to the next sculpture. As it turns out, the site of each sculpture is set up with a parking lot, an information kiosk, and a picnic area, so we got to pull in and spend time at each one.

Driving south on the Enchanted Highway from Geese in Flight, one next encounters Deer Crossing. When we pulled into the parking lot, we discovered a maze set up just west of the sculpture. The girls squealed and headed for the maze, where we spent a lot of time chasing each other through the twisting paths formed by upright sheets of rusting metal with various designs cut into them. That explains the setting for these next pics of Suzanna, Abigail, and Hillary:

A sign on the highway near Lefor, ND. Love it!

Before we reached the next sculpture on the Enchanted Highway, our camera's batteries died (Boo! Hiss!). Fortunately, we had our camcorder along, so we took videos at each site instead (Yippee! Yay!). I'll share with you some video highlights in a moment; but first, here's an explanation of what you'll see:

  • Grasshopper's Delight -- The girls frolicked on two miniature "rocking" grasshoppers on springs and on multi-level metal scaffolding set up like playground monkey bars. We were the only visitors at the first two sites; but at this sculpture and the remaining ones, we had company: several out-of-state vehicles caught up to us and followed us the rest of the trip.
  • Fisherman's Dream -- After the deer maze and the grasshopper playground, the girls were expecting that every sculpture would have a children's play area. Alas, that didn't pan out. However, they did climb around on the fish and hide behind the metal seaweeds.
  • Pheasants on the Prairie -- We had fun peering through the wire mesh covering the birds--up close, it's see-through; but from a distance, it shows the paint job that gives the pheasants a realistic look. The girls climbed around on the metal stems of grass near the birds' feet.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Rides Again -- Set in front of the pipe outline of President Roosevelt is a stage coach pulled by wooden horses. The girls and I boarded the coach for some imaginary Old West traveling!
  • Tin Family -- We could stand on the base of each tin person and look up into the hollow body to see the engineering that went into the construction of each sculpture. I suggested that each person needed some tin underpants, which was met with eye rolls by the girls.
  • Enchanted Highway Gift Shop -- Entering Regent, ND from the Enchanted Highway, one finds the Enchanted Highway Gift Shop, where we got some ice cream cones and visited with the woman working the counter. Outside are some smaller metal sculptures: a metal Christmas tree, some buffalo, and a pretty big "whirlygig" of a household whose inhabitants move when one presses a button to activate the motors throughout the sculpture.

Now you're ready to view the video:

After driving around Regent a bit, we took Highway 21 west and then turned north on Highway 22, stopping off in New England for a quick drive through that town before reaching Dickinson. We had some time available before the evening concert, so we had supper at Sanford's, where Susan and I shared a very flavorful dish: shrimp jambalaya with deep-fried tilapia, black-eyed peas, and piping-hot bread with honey butter. It was a great finish to our midday road trip and, along with the concerts that started and ended the day, and terrific way to spend our anniversary!

P.S. The girls were in fine form throughout the day, spouting off many gems that made Susan and me laugh out loud. I can't remember them all, but here are a few of the funny things that they said:

  • When Suzanna got out of the vehicle at the Pheasants on the Prairie site, she didn't like whatever it was that she smelled in the air, so she turned to us, waved her hand in front of her nose, scrunched her nose disapprovingly, and said, "The pheasants have pooped."
  • It was overcast throughout Friday afternoon, and it sprinkled on us a little bit. In response Suzanna declared, "A little rain won't stop us--we're the Mobergs! [pause] We really should have a theme song."
  • Suzanna had said something else pretty funny earlier in the afternoon, but none of us could remember what it was. Suzanna wondered why I was trying so hard to recall it, so I teased her by saying, "Well, it's not as if you say witty things all the time." Abigail gasped very loudly, turned to Suzanna sympathetically, and told her, "Take offense!"
  • When I told the girls that the Tin Family should have tin underwear, I said that it would cover up their tin naughty bits. Hillary thought that was hilarious and went off to report to Susan what I had said. But in Hillary's retelling, it was tin "noxy bits."
  • When we pulled up in front of the gift shop in Regent and saw the enormous metal evergreen tree draped in Christmas lights, Abigail promptly referred to it as "Faux Christmas Tree." That inspired the three girls to gather at the base of the tree, pose with the fingers of each hand interlocked, and improvise a version of the famous Christmas carol. Because you can't hear the lyrics in the video clip above, here's what they sang: "Faux Christmas tree, faux Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches / [repeat] / How fake they are and hard as tin / Made from metal, and it's such a sin / Faux Christmas tree . . ." They had absolutely no qualms about standing on the main street of the town singing their song while cars passed by. And do they get any points for having the word "faux" in their vocabulary?
  • Hillary fell asleep in the vehicle on the drive back to Dickinson. Someone must have been talking too loudly or making some kind of noise, which caused Suzanna--referring to her youngest sibling--to say, "You're going to wake up the baby!"

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  1. (laughing out loud)....way too funny! I was just trying to imagine what they were talking about during the recording at each tin creation.

    Always love hearing the one-liners from the girls! So cute :-)

  2. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon -- I highly recommend the side trip to all visitors to our fine city :-)