Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hjemkomst Center

Today we explored Fargo's twin town - Moorhead MN.  The Red River is the separation of the states and that natural divide creates 2 towns.  Over in Moorhead, we went to the Hjemkomst Center.   Such a great place to see.

****Once again - shameless plug for reciprocal memberships!!!!!  Our Tellus Membership (ASTC) got us free admission into the Hjemkomst Center!  So seriously - if you have a membership anywhere.... check to see what great perks it might get for you in another city/state!***

It was a fun day exploring the girls Scandanavian heritage.  Tom's family hails primarily from Sweeden (with some English thrown in).  This area of the country was settled by large numbers of immigrants from Sweeden and Norway.  Which is the land of the Vikings!

So - we learned that Vikings NEVER had hats with horns on them!  Megan asked our tour guide what their horns were made from...  yeah - no, never.  It would impede them in battle.  So why do we always associate Vikings with hats with horns on them????  Artists in the Romantic Period (1700-1800's) confusing cultures in their artwork.  Evidently no one was really keen on being historically accurate - cause Vikings never drove chariots either (as some artwork shows).  Actually most archeological finds put horned helmets near Germany - not Scandinavia.

What they were known for, however, were their amazing longboat Viking ships!

Seriously, this thing is amazing - big, beautiful, and sea worthy.  how do they know?  Well the guy who built it (by hand), had a dream to build a ship to honor his ancestors and then to sail it back to his families homeland - Oslo Norway.  And in 1982, he set sail!  If you want to look up the story of it's sailing - the name of the boat is the Hjemkomst (hence, the centers name).

 Look at that rudder.

Once we had our fill of the Hjemkomst, we took a tour of a replica of a Stave Church.

 This is a replica (hand built) of the Hopperstand Stave Church, located in Vik, Norway.  It took 5 1/2 years of woodworking magic to recreate this amazing church.
 "Stave" means staff - or pole - hence the look of the church - it's made with poles - staves.
Back in the day, the Vikings were converted to Christianity, and were learning the "rules" of the church (Catholic at the time).  The Bishops had told them that to be a true church you had to have a row of windows.  Now if you've seen the Basicalla in Rome, or other churches of that time period (1000-1100), they all have rows of stained glass windows.  But if you live in an extremely cold climate like Norway, and in a place where the people did not know how to make plate glass yet... we'll you didn't really have a way to make that happen - so they made tiny little windows to satisfy the Bishops demands.
 This little window was the window available for sick people to come get a blessing or ask for forgiveness (if they couldn't come into the church due to illness).
 In the 14th century an alter was added for the common man, and it depicts the Christmas story.
 While in the Stave Church - we got a lesson on the REAL armor of the Vikings.

 One of my favorite parts was the history lesson we got of how the Vikings went from being a culture with tons of gods, to being a devout Christian culture.  I'd like to read a book on it!  Anyway - on the front door of the church, it is surrounded by the most detailed woodworking that tells the story (in generic terms).  I tried to take some pictures but it's covered to try to protect it from the North Dakota elements...
In the bottom corners, there is a lion... the lion of Judah..
Coming out of his mount is a vine...  Christian growth
 The vine shoots up and begins to choke out the many dragons all over the side carvings.  It's believed that each dragon probably represents a specific god of the Vikings - like Thor or Odin.
 And honestly - it's just a majestic piece of work!

We didn't spend a lot of time talking about the Viking stories of middle earth - with trolls, goblins, and elves.  But we did enjoy these friendly looking guys....

The Hjemkomst center also hosted some hands on learning activities.
The girls favorite was the area where we learned about the development of Braille (and all the forms that were used before Braille was officially adopted as the written language of the blind).
 The girls got to try their hand at writing their names in Braille.
 Then we went to the hands-on art exhibit.
I cracked up when the very first exhibit was a phone!  A good ole - this is what we had when I was your age - phone.

So the art medium was "touch and sound" - and it was set up to let the kids dial up old "a joke a day" sites and "tell me a story" lines.  I had as much fun as they did!

 Nicole and I had fun polishing the shine me art....
 Then the girls found the "carving station"..... I wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull them out of there.

We've been packing in a lot of trips around town, but we love having downtime at the hotel as well.  The mornings have been great to get school work done (since we are up since we take Tom to the office), then some chilling out time, some time at the pool, etc....

But my favorite is when we are in the room and the girls create their own games.  Today while I was working on a few things, the girls created a spaceship....

They were dying when they realized I took this picture - it was just so fun!  I'm so glad they have the imaginations to find the joy in chilling in a hotel in North Dakota.


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