Truth is, we had driven into town early to devote an hour to the Fishermen's Hall of Fame before our bowling outing. We were disappointed to learn the Hall of Fame closes for the season on November 1st. So we had an hour to kill when we noticed, a block down the street, a sign for Wildlife Museum and headed over to it.
When we drove up, we were surprised to see beer signs and a bar, but also a museum sign. Okay, so what was it a bar or a museum? Well, honestly, it was both!
When we entered, we found ourselves in a bar; it was 11am, and about a dozen bar stools were filled with mostly men in hunter's garb, nursing beers. We asked about the museum and the bartender perked up, the rest of the bar looked up, and all assured us that the museum was well worth our time and money. It felt like the whole town was surprised someone was actually biting at the bait to pay an admission fee into the back room of taxidermy. We had no idea what to expect next!
We paid our admission and were buzzed into the back room. I had expected the worst and was ready for a campy experience with some stuffed animals while the whole bar was having a good laugh at those silly city people who just got suckered into the museum.
It was pretty good. The room was much larger than I had expected and had more displays. We had just spent time at the Natural History Museum in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago, and the displays compared to their exhibits. This exhibit only showed local wildlife and some Arctic wildlife, but it had a lot to offer. As we were the only ones in the museum, we were able to get close and even touch the bears, deer, wolves, elk, and moose that were on display. The scenes were not cheesy (okay, maybe the two fishermen were a little cheesy, but that was it). They not only showed local wildlife in the forest but also had some fish that had been caught in nearby waters. The huge muskies were very impressive.
The kids were very interested in the museum, and we ended spending about 45 minutes looking at the exhibits. This was not what I had expected, and it was far better displayed than I had imagined it. When we left through the exit, we were back in the bar. Almost everyone at the bar wanted to know what we had thought—did we like it? I think there was an honest pride in this little local wildlife museum in a bar....or is it the bar in the wildlife museum? Oh, whatever, it was worth the visit.
December 20, 2004
From journal Thanksgiving on Spider Lake