Monday, June 14, 2021

Of Viking Ships and Stave Churches - Part 2, Monday, June 14, 2021

[Continued from Part 1.]

Moorhead, Minnesota, attracted us to the Hjemkomst (pronounced yem-komst - Norwegian for homecoming) Center. I saw a glimpse of a Viking ship and a Stave Church in a tourist brochure. First thought? We must go see that museum! And it's right here in Moorhead, Minnesota, just across the state line from Fargo, North Dakota. Who knows if we'll ever be back to this area. 

Since it was 20 minutes back to the 5th wheel, we made a quick detour to eat lunch and say hi to the cat. By 2:00 p.m., we were at the museum. When you first walk into the museum, you can't help but notice the large Viking ship in the middle of the room!

Replica of the Hjemkomst Viking ship.

Upon entering the museum, you also pass
this mural of the history of Moorhead, MN.

We were chomping at the bit to get up close and personal with the Viking ship, but a little old lady in the ticket booth wanted to let us know all there was to do and see at the museum: history of the atomic bomb display, history of the 1918 Spanish influenza, local Native American history, a juried art show, tour of the stave church, and the documentary about the making and sailing of the Viking ship. 

For sure, we wanted do a tour of the Stave Church, so we bought tickets for the next tour at 3 p.m. We had about an hour to look at the museum displays and watch the documentary. Just when we thought the greeter was finished telling us about things in the museum, she started up again. We finally had to excuse ourselves and watch the documentary. Thankfully, it played on a continuous loop so we could see the whole thing.

Here's the gist of the story. A junior high school guidance counselor in Moorhead, Minnesota, Robert Asp, dreamed of building and sailing a replica of a Viking ship. Construction began in 1972 and continued slowly with Asp overseeing its maiden voyage on Lake Superior in August 1980. Asp succumbed to leukemia a few months later. He did not get to sail to Norway. His family and friends kept his dream alive.

In summer 1982, 13 crew members began the voyage to sail the Hjemkomst 6,100 miles from Duluth, MN, to Bergen, Norway. The crew included professional sailors from Norway with experience in square-rigged vessels, a truck driver, college students, and four of Asp's children. They arrived in Bergen on July 19, 1982.

The Hjemkomst route through the 
Great Lakes.

The route through the Faroe and 
Orkney Islands to Bergen, Norway.

The documentary was about 25 minutes. After it, we had plenty of time to look at and read about:

  • the history of making the replica ship, 
  • the shipbuilding techniques, 
  • what the parts of the ship are, 
  • all about the crew, 
  • who did the filming, 
  • what they used for the sea anchor, 
  • what the ship is made of, 
  • how it was based on the Gokstad ship (a miraculously preserved Viking ship),
  • what life on board was like,
  • what they did for water and bathroom breaks,
  • how a traditional bilge pump worked, and
  • what the interior was like (where people slept, etc.)
We then read about the Hopperstad Stave Church replica. Guy Paulson, a retired research scientist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, began the carving for the church in January 1997. The project took more than five years to complete. The pine structure includes 24,000 cedar shingles. The carvings of redwood, basswood, and pine include both Viking Age and Christian symbols.

Stave (rhymes with ave) churches, built using vertical wood posts known as staves, date from the end of the Viking Age in Scandinavia. Stave churches combined Norse building traditions and medieval Christian styles. The church in Moorhead is  a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad Church, built circa 1140 in the town of Vik, Norway.

All about the weather vane.

A photo of the weather vane.

On the tour to the 
stave church replica.

The replica of the 
Hopperstad Stave Church.

Interior of the stave

Looking up at the
ceiling inside the church.

The door of the church.

When we were finished with the tour, we had time to finish looking at the rest of the exhibits in the museum. The exhibit about the atomic bomb brought back memories of our childhood. I was in elementary school and I remember the Bay of Pigs incident in Cuba. My mom was so freaked out. People were making a run on the grocery stores because they thought we were going to war with Cuba. 

In our classroom, we had to practice diving under our desks and putting our hands over our necks. People were really in a panic. Can you imagine being your parents and worrying about your children? It was unlikely we'd survive an atomic bomb attack.

The danger zones.

The comic books addressed
our fears.

The next exhibit did a lot to erase the bad memories of the Atomic Exhibit. The juried art exhibit was fantastic. We got to vote for our favorite paintings! This was my favorite exhibit besides the Viking ship.

"Keita: I Like to Draw the Teeth,"
by Lisa Burns (see description below).

"Black Hills Bison II," by 
Barbara Benda (see 
description below).

"Desert Stream," by
Catherine Hearding (see
description below).

The next two exhibits were about Native Americans and the 1918 Spanish Influenza. I enjoyed those exhibits as well, although the Spanish influenza sure gives one pause about the similarity to COVID-19!

The Jingle Dress.

I love this story!

Healing through Nature: the 
Four Sacred Medicines.

And now we come to the exhibit on the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Wow. Pay attention to your history and try not to repeat it.

1918 Influenza Pandemic.

1918 Influenza Pandemic.

We finished our visit at the Hjemkomst Center in the gift shop. Lo and behold, they had a Dala horse refrigerator magnet. Yay! Even the Swedish store in Lindsborg, Kansas, did not have those. I looked in Lindsborg because I collect magnets (along with souvenir hat pins).

I'm so happy to have a Dala horse
refrigerator magnet!

We enjoyed our time exploring Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota. Tomorrow, we are traveling to Lake Elmo, Minnesota. We'll be there a few days and plan to do three walks: Minneapolis downtown (12k), St. Paul Capital (10k), and Minehaha Falls/Ford Dam (10k). 

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