Nine years ago two Braham women took off on an adventure that would last year after year and provide friendship and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for others.
Dixie Randall had an idea that she shared with the women’s group at her church, Women Helping Others (WHO) of Braham Evangelical Church.
“I presented the idea and I needed someone to work with me, so I said, ‘Evie (Nelson), you’ll work with me, right?’ and Evie said she’d work with me,” Randall said.
The women worked together to find ideas for what would be the first of many adventures for themselves and their soon-to-be new friends.
“We started with doing a trial run after we got an idea of where we thought we would go,” Randall said. “We go out and we check the roads, check the places, get things organized and have lunch while we check out different lunch places.”
“We always have a good time looking for the right places to stop for our trips,” Nelson said.
Because they do all of the planning for the trip, Nelson and Randall are always the lead car on the day of the trip.
The first year a group of around 12 women ventured along behind the ladies as they hit the road.
“There were about 12 ladies that went with us on our first trip to St. John’s, where we took a tour of the abbey, then had lunch and toured Munsinger Gardens,” Randall said.
This year’s trip was a bit different, with the most road traveled to date: 200 miles round trip.
“This year’s trip started out at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, then lunch in Baxter at Black Bear, and after lunch we went to Safari North,” Randall said.
“We like to have two things to visit, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lunch is also really important, and we always make sure everything is around the same area, but this year we went about 200 miles, which was our longest, and it was definitely worth it,” Randall added.
This year’s trip hosted nine women, and of those nine the majority have attended most of the trips over the years, and each has their own favorite adventure.
“We’ve only been into the cities once; we went to the Gibbs Farm and Raptor Center,” Randall said. “The Raptor Center was really great; that was a really good day.”
Many of the participants agreed and found the trips that have animal involvement to be the most memorable.
“All of the trips have been fun, but my favorite was the Raptor Center and really any that involved wildlife,” Sally Olson said.
“The Raptor Center was one I really liked too. I just loved the eagles, and it was just great to see the work that they can do with them,” Sharon Savsten said.
For some of the participants,, trips that involved special memories stood out.
“They’re all my favorites, but if I had to choose one, I would probably pick Sauk Center because that’s where I grew up,” Dode Brabec said. “I got to take the girls to the Palmer House Hotel for lunch, which is noted to be haunted. It was a lot of fun to go back with the girls to where I grew up.”
For Nelson, a trip to Shell Lake stood out the most.
“We went to a woodworking place in Shell Lake. It was so overwhelming that one guy could carve all of that. There was a donkey and lions, and there was Joseph and Mary,” Nelson said. “He did huge carvings and really small ones, and people came from all over to see it. It was really something.”
For another one of the women, choosing a favorite wasn’t possible.
“I really did enjoy them all. I’m not sure I would be able to choose a favorite,” Lila Tix said.
“We find such a wide variety of things to do,” Randall said. “One year we decided to just go up to Pine City to the Fur Post and have lunch at Tobies and end at the Hinckley Museum. Many of our women haven’t been to either one of those, and it’s just in our backyard, so we really enjoyed discovering that.”
The group and their adventures are about a lot more than exploring the state, but focus on friendship and bonding with others within their church.
“This really keeps the women of the church together; we have become good friends and we like to do things together,” Brabec said.
Finding the next spot for a mystery trip is something that can take a whole year to plan for Nelson and Randall, and for them finding the next location and planing the trips out for the ladies is a lot of fun.
“You just never know when you’re going to find an idea for a good trip,” Randall said. “It’s been so much fun for Evie and I to plan these trips and surprise all of the ladies who don’t know where we’re going until we get there; that’s a big part of the adventure.”