Tag Archives: Weird Stuff

Travel Tuesday: Nyberg Park sculpture garden

coffee cup sculpture

If ever you find yourself with a few minutes to spare in west central Minnesota on a sunny day, you must make time for a stop at Nyberg Park in Vining, Minnesota. The season is nigh!

nyberg park sign

Welcome to Nyberg Park. Please sign our guestbook.

Vining is home to 78 residents (according to the last census) and the finest sculpture garden you’ll ever see in such a small town. Nyberg Park is located unapologetically next door to the Big Foot Gas & Grocery on Highway 210 (you’ll see from where the gas station derives its name in a minute; let’s just say it’s not another Sasquatch reference).

self portrait sculpture

Artist’s self-portrait, I’m guessing. (Nyberg calls it “Shop Helper.”)

kenneth nyberg sigThe park gets its name from the sculptor who created the huge, whimsical sculptures found throughout Vining and Otter Tail County. The material of choice for Kenneth Nyberg, a welder and former construction foreman, is scrap metal that he hauls from job sites to his workshop. Some pieces are painted and some are left to rust. He enjoys playing with scale, and the results are strange and beautiful, like The Foot.

big foot sculpture

The foot is 12 feet high and weighs 1,200 pounds.

deer sculpture

You would not be surprised to find a deer in Ottertail County, though filling this one with lead won’t do a hunter any good. But how about an alien? Would that surprise you?

alien sculpture

This place is a head scratcher if ever there was one.

dad with cowboy

Both my dad and The Cowboy are friendly guys.

Nyberg Park, where everyday items become art, is a fun place to visit and collect selfies, for sure.


How about a slice of watermelon?

knife and fork

Who’s leading?

pliers sculpture

Look out, roach! You’re in for it!

Still not sure where Vining is? Nyberg helps with a map.

earth with vining

Begin on planet Earth and proceed until you see a sign.

See the signage? Here’s a closeup.

vining up close

You are here.

When my parents and I visited the park one fine June day two years ago, we stopped at the nearby Vining Grill and dined on the sort of delicacies one finds in Central Minnesota: Fried Klub (a Norwegian potato dumpling) with eggs and choice of meat and, for dessert, Rhubarb Custard Pie. Served on china.

strawberry rhubard pie

Now’s that’s a fine specimen.

Absolutely worth the stop.

Close encounters of a beachcomber

One can drive for miles on South Padre Island’s beach and see nothing but sand and waves. There’s a certain meditative quality to it.

Then, just as big events punctuate the hum-drum cadence of life, one happens upon a real find.


This strange space capsule sits on the beach on the edge of the dune several miles north of the municipality.

And it’s mine.

Can’t you see the spray-painted sign?


Wild, huh?

The other side has a message, too.


It might be a rescue pod from a ship, but in any case, it’s been wasting away on the beach a long time. A man was inspecting it as I approached, and he told me it’s been there at least 7 years; that’s when he first found it.


The man (who coincidentally happened to be from Willow Creek, Minnesota) told me someone had glued the crushed cans and lighters to the hull in the years since. I found this community art to be strangely appealing.


The man on the beach suggested we drive a few miles north, and we’d find another bit of community art, and we did.


Now one finds a lot of garbage on the beach including abandoned coolers, water bottles and clothing. But construction hats? That’s just bizarre.

Here’s what’s really weird: On our way back, the engine in the Escalade inexplicably quit within yards of the space capsule. It would not restart despite my Beloved’s best efforts. A Good Samaritan in a Jeep with a long tow rope towed us off the beach. While we waited for rescue (our cell phones had no service so we were at the mercy of passersby), the clock in the Escalade gained about 90 minutes (or lost about 22 and half hours, we’re not sure which). Only the battery worked the whole time; my Beloved suspects our fuel pump pooped out, not our electrical system.

So why did our engine quit, right there, next to the decorated space capsule? And if it really was the fuel pump, why did we lose time?

Cue theme from “Twilight Zone.”