LITTLE FALLS, MINNESOTA—Heading home after two weeks on the road, crossing into my home time zone yesterday at the border of North Dakota and Minnesota infected me with get-home-itis. Starting every day by riding into the rising sun as it paints familiar terrain covered with beans and corn in a welcoming, warm yellow light only makes it worse, even when traveling a new route, US 10. Along the way I passed several signs that would have been worth a quick detour a week before, but now rarely rated a second glance.
Until I passed the sign for the Lindbergh Boyhood Home, a Minnesota Historical Site in Little Falls, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Having read Lindbergh’s Autobiography of Values as well as several biographies, including Scott Berg’s excellent Lindbergh, I understood and appreciated the importance of this boyhood home in the formation of his stolid character. More than 90 percent of the artifacts in the home belonged to it when Lindbergh and his mother lived there, and he helped stage it before his death in 1974. The Minnesota Historical Society has done an excellent job, the staff are developing Lindbergh scholars, and I recommend a visit regardless on your interest in aviation.
The most interesting artifact that taught me something new about the man was his 1959 Volkswagen Beetle. I knew a bit about the car, thanks to a story about it that was either written by or quoted his daughter Reeve. Lindbergh drove is across the United States several times, sleeping in the Bug, using his shoes as a pillow. His shoes weren’t part of the display, but the things he left in the car, a took kit, owners manual, trenching shovel, canteen, air mattress, a can of soup, a spoon, and two tins of Brunswick sardines. That in itself struck a chord in me because frugal travel is part of my nature. But that’s the end of a story that I learned during a fulfilling three hour visit that was a needed antidote for my get-home-itis.
Lindbergh bought the car in 1959 in Paris, and drove it around Europe and the Middle East. Then he shipped it home and it was the Lindbergh family car at the Connecticut home. It was from there that he ranged out across the nation. He’d driven to boyhood home when he was called away from his trip, so he left the car in the garage they’d built for the 1916 Saxon six, which he drove to California that same year with his mother and uncle, when he was just 14 years old. It took them more than a month, and they didn’t return until the following spring. For perspective, this was three years before the US Amy made the first cross-county road trip that took nearly 90 days, and helped build support for the Lincoln Highway.
Eisenhower was a member of the military mission, which I’m learning about in the just started book, The American Road. This road trip contributed the his support and push for the US Interstate system that bears his name. Being so late in the day, I decided not to get back on the road, and I found a Super 8 at the edge of town, by US 10. Next door was Little Fiesta, a excellent Mexican restaurant. The Burrito Vallarta was excellent! And so my dessert, a Flat Land Brewing Company Northwest Passage IPA I found at the liquor store across the street. Tomorrow is another day, and I’ll make it home then.