Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Short Drive North of the Cities

I few years ago, something struck us as we were headed either to, or from a weekend kayaking excursion. Despite the fact that we live in one of the most populated areas of the state, if you get onto the right road in the right direction, it is amazing sometimes how fast you can find yourself out in the country. This Sunday evening we were feeling a bit adventurous, not wanting the weekend to end -and likely in need of a vacation. On a total whim we decided to drive north on Central Avenue (Hwy 65) just to see where we ended up and what we might see along the way. After going through Ham Lake and East Bethel, the city gradually thinned out and we soon found ourselves somewhere around Isanti. A brown sign for a county park caught our attention so we headed west towards the town of Oak Grove. At this point we realized from a map that we were surrounded by small towns in almost every direction. We decided on a destination of the town of "Oxlip" probably just because of it's odd name, and headed further west past Hwy 47 (or University Ave in the city). We found Oxlip to consist of pretty much just a few houses and a very large Evangelical Church. Just a 1/2 mile or so east was a nice old abandoned house. Unfortunately many old houses like this often sit on property located right next to a newer, occupied house, making me leery of stopping for a photo. This was not all the case, with no other houses for miles and I had a chance to walk around the property for just a bit. On the other side, you could see where the original frame was added on to. There was curious looking, angled entry way that jutted out even further from the addition. This side actually had a fair amount of white paint still clinging to the wooden siding, another hint at the history of the house. There was one more smaller building on the property, a sort of shed with a rusted metal roof but surprisingly intact glass windows. In hind sight I really wish I would have peeked inside there before leaving. We then set our sights on the next closest small town -Bradford. There were actually a few businesses here, including a newly renovated bar and restaurant called "Ravens" that called to us for a quick beer. Before heading back, we stopped at another abandoned house on the west side of Hwy 47 just south of the bar. This was a much larger house than the other, built in an "L" shape, with at least one dormer window and an added front porch. There were also two chimneys, one of which had almost completely crumbled away. The yard here was so overgrown that I couldn't even get that that close. A grapevine had attacked an devoured almost the entire front porch. At the back of the house was a porch that seemed to be part of the original construction -especially obvious by the layers of different colored shingles showing. There were a few barrels, a grill and even a mailbox tucked away behind the porch. Though much larger, I'd guess that this house was older than the other, simply by it's state of disrepair. Though the backside showed some paint the front side was mostly gray, weathered wood. I sure like this house and I wonder about who lived there.