Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Rochester, Minnesota

on October 23, 2012

THIS blog is about Rochester Minnesota, NOT Rochester NY, which is what everyone (including me) thinks of first.We went to Rochester for a Convention, and didn’t really expect too much from the little town. But, even if I had researched it and heard all about it, I probably wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

It’s one of those places that’s “too good to be true”. If someone told me: “wait till you go there – EVERYONE is nice”, I would’ve been skeptical.

And, granted, I didn’t meet all of the something-close-to 108,000 people who live there, but the ones that I did meet, lived up to the hype.

Well, I made up the hype. I’ve just never been any place like it – a town filled with nice, friendly, helpful people.

Apparently, Rochester has been included on Money magazine’s list of “Best Places to Live”, and has even been #1 on occasion!

Good for them – they deserve it.

For example: part of the City’s services include “Vacation House Checks.” Going on vacation and don’t live near friends who can check your house? Or maybe your friends are coming with you? You can contact the City of Rochester, Public Safety Communications Center, and they have a program in place, for your security and general peace of mind.

We stayed at the nearby KOA Kampground – less than 10 minutes from the Mayo Civic Center. We didn’t believe that either. From the KOA, there is absolutely no sign whatsoever of any town, let alone a thriving metro area of approximately 108,000 people. To get from the KOA to the Mayo Center, we drove passed a winding river, wetland areas, cow pastures and then BAM! Right into the city! (You can tell you are close when you see the looming Corn Water Tower.)

We saw so much corn paraphernalia on this trip, you’d think we wouldn’t care about the Water Tower, but I took a picture every time I saw it. (Yes, yes. I know – the pictures all look the same – it’s not like the Water Tower has different poses.)

OK. So, the Mayo Center has a LOT of great venues – everything from “The Price is Right” to Bob Dylan concerts (which was happening right after we were leaving).
http://www.mayociviccenter.com/

There are, I guess, Mayo Centers all over the USA, but this one in Rochester is the original. History shows that in 1883, there was a Great Tornado, which demolished a large part of Rochester – 37 people died, and about 200 were injured. Since there was no medical center, Mr. Mayo and his two sons cared for the wounded.

In 1889 (thanks to donations, the Sisters of St. Francis, and Mr. Mayo) St. Marys Hospital was opened. Wikipedia (under the subject “Rochester MN” subheading “History”) tells us that “The Mayo practice grew and is today among the largest and most well-respected medical facilities in the world.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester,_Minnesota, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayo_Clinic)

The same Wikipedia article mentions that some of the Rochester buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and then lists the former Chateau Theater, which is where Barnes & Noble bookstore is now. I didn’t know that when we were there, but the building was so beautiful and the setting was so serene, I actually did take pictures of it anyway!

Speaking of “theater” and acting – there’s a list of famous people who are from there – Lea Thompson (remember her – primarily (in my opinion) of Back to the Future fame) and a list of others includes Dan Bakkedahl, Warren Skaaren, John Towey, Sheree J. Wilson and Emily Sandberg, along with many sports figures, etc. (I didn’t really know most on the list, but I didn’t want to exclude anyone either…just in case…no hurt feelings…heh)

I’m sure there are many fine places to stay while you are in Rochester, but if you are camping, I recommend staying at the nearby KOA. I’ve never experienced such warmth and hospitality from ANY accommodation – let alone campground caretakers/owners. KOA’s are general good, anyway, from a security and amenity point of view (which is why we like to stay at them), but THIS one (family owned and operated, as many are, I think) was BY FAR the most pleasant, most accommodating, friendliest place I’ve ever been.
(http://koa.com/campgrounds/rochester/)

I could go on and on, but one of the things that stands out most – that puts them right over the top – is that: We were travelling with our two little dogs, Daisy & Coco, and since we were in Rochester for a Convention – 3 days, most of the day. Our plan was to attend the convention during the morning, come home for lunch, let the puppies out (by the way – they had air conditioning), go back for the afternoon sessions, and then rush back afterwards.

But! Katie (the daughter of KOA owners – Roger and Barb) offered to walk Daisy & Coco during the day! Well! That was an unexpected and brilliant surprise! Daisy & Coco loved their walks and loved Katie – when we got “home”, they were asleep – no barking, no accidents, no stress! It was the greatest thing ever!

Despite the fact that we were there for a one-time plan, we have decided we would go out of our way to go back to that KOA, and to that town, just because of the friendliness and the hospitality of everyone we met. Everyone.

One more thing that Rochester had to offer – FIREFLIES! THEY HAVE FIREFLIES!!!

Sunday, we are going to the place that promised “if you build it, they will come” and it’s true. They built..and we went.

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2 responses to “Rochester, Minnesota

  1. Amanda says:

    I really want my kids to see Fireflies and I agree we love KOA’s as well.

    • 4mygypsysoul says:

      I just LOVE fireflies!! They completely distract me from anything else I’m supposed to be doing or seeing at the time! (On this particular trip, our first “firefly” sighting was in Outlook SK!! )

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