But during the summer after eighth grade, we went camping in Alexandria, Minnesota, site of the Kensington Runestone.
My junior high history textbook stated categorically that no Europeans made it to the New World before Columbus, so this was a startling discovery, and immediately controversial. The academic establishment decreed the runestone to be a fake, carved by Ohlman for financial gain.
The jury is still out on whether the runestone is authentic, but Alexandria loves its claim to fame. There's a runestone museum and gift shop, and a 28-foot statue of a Viking, Big Ole.
Today, regardless of whether they believe that the Vikings got as far as Minnesota, all historians recognize that they reached the New World before Columbus, and established a permanent settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
1. The Vikings who explored Minnesota were all male.
2. Olof Ohlmann was rather cute.
3. My junior high history textbook was wrong. The adults either didn't know about the Viking exploration of America, or they were lying about it. What else were they hiding? Maybe the upcoming "discovery of girls" that everyone at Washington Junior HIgh was always evoking was a lie, too.
See also: The Top 12 Public Penises of Minnesota