Cambridge Fire Tower

Not really thinking about sales tonight.  Sorry.  Feeling all enrico sauve instead!  Andale!  Andale!  And when I am feeling hot, I think fire tower.  (You might, too.)

I want to share a picture of the Cambridge Fire Tower.  There are nearly 200 fire towers in Minnesota and I remember the Cambridge tower from my youth when my family loaded up the Ford station wagon and headed up to Big Sandy Lake for our summer vacation.  (There is a fire tower on the east side of Big Sandy Lake, too.) 

The highway through Cambridge, MN, was much more rural and simple then.  We seemed to sneak up on the tower because the trees along the highway blocked the view until we were nearly below it on the road.  Seeing the tower was a big deal, a highlight of the trip. 

This tower is no longer used by the state, but several of the remaining towers are still used.  I’m simply impressed this one is still standing.   The tower is more familiar to me now than it was when I was a kid.  I have seen it more in a week than I had in all of my childhood.  It still fascinates me, but it does so in a different way.

 I like this link to the past and sometimes I feel preoccupied with it.  The town has sprawled out around it now, but it still feels kind of rustic in a Smokey Bear kind of a way.  This is where I started daydreaming that I might be a park ranger or a “pioneer”, whatever I thought that might entail.  Now I just look at it — sometimes pull off the road and loiter near it — and feel good.  I am happy it is still there.

There is another piece of old Highway 65 nostalgia that sits rotting on the side of the original highway route that I’m sure I had seen as a kid.  It is a an old drive-in diner in Itasca, MN.  We never stopped at restaurants on the way to the lake.  We just got in and drove all 120 miles non-stop and we were happy for it.  The destination was more important that anything that might appear along the road en route.  Now I think I would drive my kids — and possible spouse — nuts with all the stops we would make.  I like to stop.  And guess what…I stop at this rotting old diner, too.

It is for sale.  I have looked in through the broken windows.  Sadly, it is almost certainly a tear down.  The highway was moved only yards to the east, but there is no easy access to the restaurant now.  Instead of a two-lane highway slowly carrying families to the lake, there now is a four-lane highway with high-speed traffic of all sorts whizzing past the place.  People eat at junk food places like McDonalds today anyway.  They miss the pleasures and experience of food.

That is an awfully cool little drive-in, isn’t it?  Kinda makes you want to stop for a coffee and a cinnamon roll.  No andale, andale…think Easy Rider instead.

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