The best part about living in the Baldwin area?
“There’s no laws here about riding dirt bikes or four-wheelers or anything.”
That’s one of the first things 9-year-old Owen Pelarski told me on Tuesday night. I had stopped by his house to interview his parents Butch and Carrie about the place they call home. But Owen had plenty to say as well. When he wasn’t trying to get me to play board games, he was telling me about one neighbor’s horse and another neighbor’s trampoline. (Both the horse and the trampoline are “cool.”)
The family was part of the Baldwin boom earlier this decade, people looking for something suburban life wasn’t offering them. Owen was 3 years old when his family moved from Brooklyn Center to the Baldwin area. His father Butch just couldn’t take the “hubbub of the city” any longer. He craved neighbors like those he’s found here — not necessarily ones with horses or trampolines to share, but ones who are “friendly and not all wrapped up in the rat race.”
Butch wanted to be able to walk out his door, jump on his four-wheeler and ride. But in the Twin Cities he had to load his ATV onto a trailer and haul it to some distant trail before he could get started. Like his son, Butch loves that Sherburne County offers nearly 200 miles of trails for four-wheelers and snowmobiles. It’s common, and legal, for people to snowmobile out their driveways and straight down to the local bar or over to Sunday morning worship.
Owen’s sister Melanie is a fan of the area as well. The 7-year-old told me all about her huge backyard, compete with playground, playhouse and hot tub. (Her father says they could never have fit all that in their tiny yard in Brooklyn Center.) In the non-cold months, the family grows all kinds of things in that huge yard, including peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and peas.
While showing me his Pinewood Derby trophies, Owen shared that his mom and dad let him drive the golf cart around the yard: “You can’t do that in big cities.”
Shortly after that, Melanie insisted she and Owen be allowed to interview me since I got to interview them. Unable to fight that kind of logic, I fielded their questions. Among their inquires: “Do you like rap music?” “Do you like eating fish?” and “What’s your favorite thing to do in the car?”