NORTHFIELD, MINNESOTA:  Where I Wrote a Letter Home From College

Dear Mom and Dad and Sis and Grandma and Crazy Uncle Charlie,

Greetings from beautiful Northfield which, as you know, is 25 miles southwest of MY Town.  What you probably DIDN’T know is that I have recently become a student of sorts at St. Olaf College.  In fact, I just enrolled this morning.  It doesn’t get much more recent than that, does it?  Ha ha!

Now that I’ve been in Northfield for at least a couple of hours, I can safely say that I’m enjoying it here.  But I am having a hard time figuring out how such a small town came to be the home to two of the most academically elite–and most expensive–colleges in the upper mid-west.  Sad to say, I can only afford to attend college here at St. Olaf for one day because the yearly $45,000 tuition is way out of my price range.  It’s a far cry from the days when I went to college the first time around, back in the late 1970’s, and paid about $1,400 per year.  But then, Northern Michigan University certainly didn’t have the same elite academic reputation as St. Olaf.  And it definitely was never referred to as being “The Harvard of the Midwest” like our cross-town rival, Carleton College, which has a tuition of $50,000 per year.

Mainly, I’m writing to let you know that I am quickly adjusting to the rigorous discipline of college life and so far I haven’t failed any classes, though I should forewarn you that my grade in “Remedial Mathematics” is likely to be a D-minus.

I seem to be assimilating into the campus social scene despite my advanced age and even more advanced awkwardness.  Luckily I have a knack for pretending to be all hip and cool and groovy, so that helps me to fit in.  Three or four of my fellow students actually said “hi” to me today.  Okay, it was TWO students and, yes, it was only after I said “hi” to them.  But, hey, that’s almost as many friends as I made in four years at N.M.U.  LOL!

I’m thinking of trying out for a part in St. Olaf’s upcoming theater production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.  I know I would excel in the lead role, even though I’d only have about two weeks to learn my lines and to work on my sub-standard singing voice.


I’m also excited to attend my first St. Olaf Lions football game. Nothing will make me feel like I am a welcome member of this scholarly community like sitting in the student section of the football stadium. GO LIONS!


Here is a view of St. Olaf’s oldest building from across a big, well-manicured lawn.


The Reckless Mr. Bing Bong and I climbed up the hill for a closer look.


The campus has some very nice stone buildings. That’s the main reason I chose to attend St. Olaf today.


More stone buildings. Gray skies. Very Scandinavian.


MY campus. (The students at the table are the ones who said “hi” to me.)


I’m hoping there will be a kegger tonight at Mellby Hall. There were kegs of beer EVERY night at N.M.U.’s residence halls.


Like a lot of my fellow college students, my bike is my main mode of transportation.  I pedaled over to the campus of Carleton College–our evil arch-rival on the east side of town–and through the historic downtown area as well.  I received some friendly nods and waves from the townies.

A scene from the Carleton College campus. It’s OK I guess.


I must admit that the Carleton College heating plant does have a really nice smoke stack.



Northfield. The Cannon River Runs Through It.


I mentioned the historicality of Northfield.  (Now the squiggly red line underneath the word “historicality” makes me question whether it’s an actual word.  Maybe that’s something I’ll try to find out in my “English 101” class today.  Anyway, if it’s not a word, I just coined a new one.)  Most of the historicality derives from THE GREAT NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID.  A Hollywood movie by that title was made in 1972 and it starred Cliff Robertson and Robert Duval.  The film recounts the famous bungled robbery of Northfield’s First National Bank in 1876 by Jesse James and Cole Younger and their gang of ruthless desperados.

If you don’t give a hoot about those Hollywood picture shows, you can still attend Northfield’s annual “Defeat of Jesse James Days” celebration next September.  One of the highlights of the “Defeat of Jesse James Days” is a live re-creation of the bank robbery.  It features local citizens as actors.  The actors shoot guns and it looks like people are really getting shot because the victims clutch their chests, gyrate, stagger, emote, and fall down in the middle of the street.  Now THAT’S some historicality.


The bloody gunfight takes place outside of this bank of great historicality.


I hope all is well back home.  I trust everybody is in good health and sis isn’t getting into too much trouble.  Ha ha, LOL!  I sure miss you guys.  A lot.  You’re the best family a college kid could ever have.

By the way, I was hoping you could maybe send some money.  My college expenses are running a little higher than expected.  Just today I had to fork over $4.45 (plus tip) for a “White Chocolate Mocha.”  I mean, the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse was really nice and all, but golly, FOUR-AND-A-HALF BUCKS???  If you could send me, say, fifty dollars, or better yet, a hundred, that would sure help me out with coffee and food, text books, and miscellaneous party expenses.  Thanks in advance for your monetary assistance.

Your loving son,



Nice place.


I’m not sure how I feel about this $4.50 White Chocolate Mocha.



Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

8 response to "BROADENING MY COFFEENEURING HORIZONS: Part Five (of Seven)"

  1. By: Bikerdockeith Posted: October 30, 2018

    Hi Greg,
    Ah, Northfield! One of my favorite places to ride back when I lived in MN. Not just the Cannon River Trail, but the country roads around the area. I had a nice loop that I could ride in about two hours, which was great for a pleasant Sunday morning when the weather wasn’t trying to kill you, which as we both know can occur any time of year in the Gopher State. BUT, I will say that Northfield coffee is more expensive than Paris coffee, if your experience is any indication. Four-fifty is a bit much if it isn’t the best coffee in the world, a point on which you didn’t elaborate.


    • By: gregblood Posted: October 30, 2018

      In regard to the coffee, let me just say it was far from the best in the world. I think it was the white chocolate that made it so expensive. I calculate that the minuscule amount of white chocolate added $1.50 to the price of what would have been just a regular latte. At that price, it must have been the best white chocolate in the world. The coffee drink that resulted from it was neither bad nor good. It was just a neutral coffee horizon broadening experience.

  2. By: Kathleen Jones Posted: October 30, 2018

    Dear son,

    We’re really glad to hear that you’ve matriculated at St Olaf’s, at last. We’ve been worried about you not being stable enough to do something like work for the same company for 30 years and then retire. But now we feel more confident. We look forward to hearing about the other people who say hi to you. That college town exuberance would be hard on me! Glad you can handle it. As requested, please see enclosed gift card for the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffee House.

    Your loving pseudoparent

    PS: We moved to Florida.

    • By: gregblood Posted: October 30, 2018

      Dear “Mom”
      Thank you for your quick reply and for the praise and encouragement. And that was a pretty funny joke about the gift card. Now, let’s get serious–where’s the CASH?

      • By: Kathleen Jones Posted: October 31, 2018

        Dear son,

        New phone whodis?

  3. By: Suzanne Posted: October 31, 2018

    Nice pictures of the campus. Good that you brought Greg 2 along for company. Just two hi’s doesn’t make for a very lively social life.

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: November 5, 2018

    Nice ride – it seems like someone from my high school went to St Olaf’s? I can’t remember now. I do remember Carleton College was at our “College Fair” – but it seems like most people wanting one of those really expensive private schools went to ones in the Northeast. I had a hard time convincing my parents to even help me with out-of-state tuition for a state school! (And it did take me 13 years to pay back the loans!)

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