It was at first just three days, which soon was turning saying it was six weeks, followed by it has been 7 ½ months to then, a little over a year when people asked how long we have lived here. In a blink of time, this October marks 16 years of living Up North in a beautiful country full of lakes and pines!

We came to the area for jobs in hopes of finding a sense of community. We heard rumblings when new people moved into the area they were dubbed the name packsackers as they carried what they had on their backs and were not from here. We heard, be a bit wary as people are all related, or soon to be related, be careful of what you say and whom you say things to. Our eyebrows lifted a bit as we knew we were not fourth or fifth generation residents. Were we as well going to be considered to be packsackers, would we be welcomed?

Within three days of living here we found our spiritual roots at St. Andrew’s where we instantly felt welcomed. It did not matter where we were from, it did not matter what we did for a living, it did not matter that our kids were grown or anything else about our lives that may have been different. It did not matter that we were packsackers or that we were not related to anyone. We found a house in the city of La Prairie, that became our home, streets that became our neighborhood, and a town that became our community. Our careers moved to vocation, our love for the area deepened every day. A sense of purpose unfolded as our roots took hold.

One mid-August day this year, we unexpectedly came across a community closer to our children, our grands in a state close by. We wondered as we looked up at the white pines surrounding the house we were considering buying if the “Cheeseheads” of Wisconsin could handle two new residents and their golden retriever with strong Minnesota Viking roots?? We decided to take the leap of faith. Bittersweet as it is, we are now moving closer to our family. We are torn as we may not be your blood relatives, you have been family to us. To say that it is hard to leave is an understatement.

We have been blessed by your presence in ours, by the community we truly do love and by the gift of you in our lives. We appreciate being a part of the community, and collaborations we have been a part of, to have had 16 great years here. Itasca County is rich in resources, strives to have safe communities and to create systems change. We wish you the best in your endeavors to continue on a path for a healthy and vibrant future.

As we leave, we are blessed knowing a new family will come to live in our house and make it their home, their neighborhood and community. We are blessed knowing in our heart of hearts being here is always like coming home. Cheers to you always!

Audrey & Vic Moen, and fur friend, Dakota



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