Traveling

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For all of my fellow Little House on the Prairie fans, greetings from Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Oh my goodness, Laura Ingalls Wilder lived here! I wouldn’t say there is a whole lot in the looking department at the early hour we visited, as the museum opens at ten, and especially since we only noticed Plum Creek on our drive out of town and didn’t want to stop, but still.

I spent so much of my childhood (and a summer as an adult!) deep in the books, reading them a couple of times, then watching the show, it was impossible for my heart not to overflow a bit. We also ate at Nellie’s Cafe, which is a cute little place with kindly service, the biggest sausage on a breakfast sandwich, and an amazing sticky roll, which was HOT from the oven.

A little blurry, I know, but look at my smile. The excitement of being in Walnut Grove!

At the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. I have always wanted to stop here! The corn cob murals are pretty spectacular, with such a variation in shades, and certainly worth the trip.

The downside of my 51 year old body is having eyes going farsighted and that the tiny little preview of photos on my camera look pretty great until I get home and see they are blurry as heck. Wah!

So, you won’t be able to see the wall to wall motorcycles coming and going from Sturgis lining the road in front of Wall Drug. The Wall Drug, with signs for hundreds of miles. I have even heard they have a sign in the London Underground. Fancy!

It was a mob of people with every kind of accent and shade of sun burn and tan, all gobsmacked at the masses of choices of goods on offer. You will not be surprised to learn I bought fudge, in my favorite amaretto flavor. If it isn’t illicit, you can probably find it here before finding solace in Jesus (or whomever) in the sweet little chapel. Welcome traveler!

South Dakota melting into Wyoming, beauty for mile upon mile! The old timey Frontier gas pump is located at the finest public restroom on our journey. Located on East 21st Avenue, just east of Main, in Torrington, Wyoming. It is clean and bright and filled with vintage charm!

Hey there, hi there! It’s Minneapolis-St. Paul. Hilly and lovely and friendly filled, but what a nightmare to the novice driver, as many a street turns into a highway without much warning. We did a lot of cussing and driving in circles!

The Patric Richardson recommended bridge in all its glory! How cool to wander amongst remnants of the old mills. Since we are early to bed and early to rise types these days, we did not get out after dark to witness the neon. I’ll bet it puts on a stellar show!

Running up that hill, with a serious nod to Kate Bush, of course. How cool is it that her ages old song is making all the hit lists this summer. YAY! The Sensual World, which I owned on cassette (!!) got some serious mileage in my Celica.

September Room – Mark Manders

The Claes Oldenburg Cherry is even more cheerful in person. I never knew it sprayed mist on passersby. Eeek!

Also, to the right, is LOVE – Robert Indiana

Woodrow – Deborah Butterfield

Hey, Portlanders! He looks like the sculptures as you leave PDX, right? A little trip down memory lane.

After Dream – Pierre Huyge

A tree full of chimes that together play every note of a score by John Cage. Very clever.

Spoonbridge and Cherry – Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

X with Columns – Sol LeWitt

Black Vessel for a Saint – Theaster Gates

This fella is the saint safely nestled inside the Black Vessel for a Saint on the right, with no actual access, only slots for peering eyes and camera lenses. Damn, so good!

For Whom…

Kris Martin

Cock – Katharina Fritsch

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was probably highest on our list of activities in the Twin Cities. Nestled pretty much in the heart of Minneapolis and full of fellow wanderers, it is a joyful and energetic space.

Lunch break! The best Banh-Mi we’ve had in a very long while at Trung Nam. They also have amazing croissants that are next level delicious. The lightest, airiest, crispiest I have ever tasted. PLUS, apricot filled?! I didn’t know this was a thing, but oh! Yes, it IS.

Cathedral of St. Paul

Hockey!

What look like rabies tags looking cheerful on a tree. Guessing some sort of inoculant against a devastating disease?

Every photo from the beautiful sandwich onward is in lovely St. Paul. There is probably some sort of secret way to really know the difference between the Twins, but, as outsiders, we found them equally delightful!

Historical homes lining Summit Avenue. Good golly, it goes on for miles and has beauty after beauty!

Not my monkey, not my circus…

Misty morning on the winding road to Marquette, Michigan. One of the biggest surprises for us on this journey was how frequently we were reminded of our Pacific Northwest days: the rain, of course, but also the heady scent of damp earth, masses of ferns and their slow loll on an imperceptible breeze, and tiny stream after tiny stream, joining forces in one great fall after another. Oh, and the hills and dales! I had only ever conceived of this place as a flat wood, dense with mystery and trees. How I love to be proven wrong and revel in the beauty of it.

Marquette Harbor and the Old Ore Dock on Lake Superior. Prior to our trip research, I had not a single inkling of the huge role mines played in the history of the Upper Peninsula.

Also in Marquette, and a must have on our foods to try list, a Pasty (pah-stee). It’s the English version of a calzone, made with a savory pie dough and stuffed with all manner of things. The predominant and probably most traditional seems to be ground beef, potato, rutabaga, and onion. We enjoyed a huge version, though technically the small size on the menu at Lawry’s, a family tradition since 1946! It was hot from the oven and absolutely fabulous, a tender crust and perfectly seasoned, though we probably committed some U.P. sin by giving it a nice splash of Tabasco and not ketchup.

The first of many of the little streams…

that joined with another…

…and became Canyon Falls. I read somewhere, though now I can’t locate the information, that the water has that root beer tint from the tannins in the trees. And now, how many of us, by virtue of suggestion, are craving a soda?

Isn’t geology wonderful?!

There were a couple of these fabulous murals honoring miners. Such heart warmers, with great detail.

In Ironwood, the nearest town to our second cabin in the woods and on the border with Wisconsin. There’s a distinct artistic vibe here, with live theater and galleries. Oh, and the very fine North Wind Co-Op, with super friendly service.

Lake Superior – very rough and ready at the time of our visit!

From our cabin, we were able to walk, rather carefully, a mile down the Black River Scenic Byway to Lake Superior. The suspension pedestrian bridge was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and completed in 1939. It was rebuilt, retaining the original look and character in 1968. It’s an absolute stunner and sways with the slightest movement.

Potawatomi and Gorge Falls, also just down the Black River Road from our cabin. Waterfalls galore!

Ironwood is also home to two very distinct statues. The first we visited was this giant Stormy Kromer hat, located, rather appropriately, just outside the Stormy Kromer Factory, where they crank out nearly 100,000 caps every year. If, like me, you didn’t know that a Stormy Kromer is an ear flap baseball cap, well, now you do! It was invented by the wife of its namesake when he asked her to fashion his hat to stay on and keep his ears warm. Done and done! Of course we both bought one, mine in a beloved teal and turquoise wool combination.

The second monument is in honor of Hiawatha. How little I am in comparison to its 52 feet gazing toward Lake Superior.

Hayward, Wisconsin was another early morning stop, where we had about a million other wonderful choices, but landed on fudge (maple walnut and peanut butter) before breakfast at Tremblay’s Sweet Shop and shall make no apologies for it!

LEGO Transformer at the Mall of America in Minneapolis! Oh, my goodness, this place really earns the moniker. Never have I ever visited a mall so, well, HUGE. There are four floors, an amusement park, and so very many people. Everywhere people! People from everywhere! Including us and our dog resting peacefully in the car park.

I was on a mission to visit Patric Richardson, also known as The Laundry Evangelist, king of fabric and stain knowledge. Greg and I have Discovery Plus and stumbled upon his show, The Laundry Guy this past Spring. I was so awed by his ability to remove stains that I rushed out and bought his book and a fancy fabric brush. With his guidance, I have never had such confidence or success in the laundry department. Yippee!

After much wandering and buying chocolate, even though we already had fudge in the car (vacation logic?) we found him at his shop. First, his hair is amazing, this perfect silver tousled wave. Second, he is as warm and wonderful in person as he is on the show! We chatted about laundry, of course, his stain removing bar, my homemade soap, and fabric brushes. Of course, I bought more supplies. Then we dished on the musts of Minneapolis. With his guidance, we ate a Juicy Lucy, one of the best burgers of our lives, and walked across the Mississippi on an old stone bridge. Kindness and generosity rules the day.

In the Lake Nokomis neighborhood, home of this adorable home and matching Little Free Library.

Another Upper Peninsula must try, Trenary Toast! Made in Trenary, Michigan since 1928. We bought our first batch, in Cardamom flavor, while visiting the first cabin in the woods. How to describe? Like cinnamon toast but the crispiest, crunchiest ever. Apparently there are three types of Trenary toast eaters: dippers, crunchers, and spreaders. Greg falls solidly in the dipper camp, in tea or coffee, enjoying each equally well. I am a definite cruncher; give me a slice, and I’ll eat it up. The spreaders are the lily gilders, for they slather it with butter before partaking. Try it and see where you lie!

At Patric’s favorite Juicy Lucy spot, The 5-8 Club. Greg is enjoying a cheeseburger style, while I loved the Buffalo chicken version. And seriously, these are so juicy and delicious!!

Now, to our best ever dog, Juniper Beulah! She is such an exceptional traveler, never getting car sick, mostly either window gazing or napping, sometimes resting her chin on the car hammock to say, HI!

Forgive me for the out of sequence story, but I forgot I had this picture on my phone and not my camera.

In the above photo, she nervously prepares for her inaugural row boat ride at the first cabin in the woods. We had this romantic notion of a family row around the lake. Since we are also occasionally paranoid pet owners and she is impulsive, the life jacket seemed a good idea.

Our afternoon unfolds in the least romantic fashion. Juniper hobbles in her life jacket to the boat, refusing to get in. As we keep encouraging her, she becomes more and more resolute. Greg resorts to picking her up and putting her in. The boat runs aground. We maneuver it far enough out, and Greg gets in. The paddles are so long that they hit the bottom with each stroke. Juniper, like glue on my side, is causing us to list in that direction. We nudge her over, inch by inch, until we are righted.

The oars continue to hit the bottom. Greg and I, in hysterical laughter, imagine an anonymous cabin owner watching us via binoculars: “Look at these jackasses! They’re rowing their dog in circles, and wearing life jackets, for chrissakes!” Because, it is at this moment, we realize, after bludgeoning the oars, stroke after stroke to the center, it is only three feet deep at the maximum. We could have walked to this point, and a hell of a lot quicker. Though, not with Juniper, and not that she’d care. She still hates water.

This here. This Superior-Michigan-Huron strip of land, said without real fanfare despite having plenty, is what started it all. I read a lot, every manner of media, and scribble little notes as I do. In magazines and cookbooks and stories, the U.P. kept rising, literally and figuratively to the top. The plan began.

Far away, with a solid twenty hours of driving, it was important to pace ourselves, to take in as much as we could without going over our self-imposed two-week limit. You’ve seen that wondrous journey to what became, for sure, the absolute highlight. The whole shebang!

These photos were our first up close and personal look at Lake Michigan. Just outside of Escanaba, which is another cute town, another friendly place. We enjoyed lunch at the Swedish Pantry, where kindly women are truly welcoming, and you can’t help but share the main (meatballs, sausage, rutabaga, coleslaw, bread!) because deciding between two desserts – walnut sour cream pie and a baked apple dumpling – is impossible. Um, yes.

This is the portion of our journey where I am honest and say traveling is sometimes hard. Juniper, in a rather stealth maneuver, ate one of these rotten fish, probably the size of a large sardine, and got sick. Not horribly so, but, let’s just say it could not be ignored.

Also on this leg of the journey, we got a lot of rain, gloriously big drops of sweetness from the sky. But our new windshield wipers, which Greg promised to install, were happily ensconced in the garage at home. My dismay turned into a fiery-quick rant before all went quiet and our wee ship was righted again.

Sand Point Light House. I expected to take more light house photos, but I think this may be it. A very fine example nonetheless!

Also, if you have been with me for a very long while, you probably remember I “collect” license plates, not in the literal sense, but a look-see at every passing car. On vacation, however, I am quite diligent and keep a pen and paper list, hawk-eyed until all fifty states, plus D.C., are present and accounted for. Normally, the same few states, Delaware, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Hawaii, are the trickiest to find. Greg was pleased as punch to point out, while I was taking my snaps, that Rhode Island was right in the parking lot. Squee-e!

This was actually my best ever collection. In addition to the usual fifty, plus D.C., I spied: Chihuahua, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. And on the U.S. Native side, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cherokee Nation, and Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Toot-toot!

The owner left us a bouquet of flowers.

Light from the water reflecting on the trees. Sigh…

Oh my gosh, how I loved our rustic cabin in the big woods! No electricity, save a wee bit of solar, no running water, and a cozy, sleep across from each other bunk bed situation did nothing to diminish the amazing lakeside location.

We initially kept Juniper on her very long leash, but eventually let her run riot, and she circuitously zoomed about: squirrel-water-oh, are you eating? This stay was our giant collective sigh, strolling barefoot, spending long hours reading, then tree gazing and bird listening before kayaking and watching the long and gorgeous sunset unspooling across the sky. We bathed in the sauna and skinny dipped in the warmth of the lake. We cooked nothing, grazing on cereal, apples and cherries, Grandma’s Kaukauna cheese spread thickly on crisp crackers, nibbling sausages and Old Dutch Cheesy Puffcorn. We drank tea and beer and Dr. Sprecher, some of the best soda we’ve ever tasted. As I am fond of saying, but only when true, it was the height of splendor, the height.

The Mackinac (mac-in-awe) Bridge – a beauty spanning 26,372 feet

Then there was this! Stunning view after stunning view all along our winding trip around the U.P.

Lake Huron at St. Ignace. We wandered, enjoying the shore, the shopping, and, of course, the food. As you can imagine, fish is a big deal here, and in particular, Whitefish, which we, and me especially, enjoyed. First, at a roadside shop, where it was super fresh and perfectly smoked. The whole package was devoured at a picnic table for breakfast. Then at The Gangplank in St. Ignace, a perfect fillet crisply fried and nestled in a tasty bun. Mercy.

The truly marvel-ous Soo Locks in Sault-Ste Marie. Many thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers for this awe inspiring feat, responsible for the free movement of more than 7,000 vessels each year!

The Pictured Rocks remind me of the turquoise waters along the coast in Nice, France. It is hard to fathom that this is not some vast ocean, but Lake Superior, and not terribly warm.

A final glimpse of our lakeside paradise. On to the Western U.P.

Happy Friday, gentle reader! Full disclosure, this gorgeous sunrise is actually in Iowa, but since it was the early bright of the Wisconsin segment of our epic trip, it made more sense to include it here. This was largely how we rolled, too, finish off one leg of our travels by rising in the cool quiet of the dawn. It raises the potency of the adventure via some unknown alchemy, heightening all the senses.

In New Glarus now, ultimate American soil Swiss Village, utterly bucolic and fetching.

The sweet, sonorous bells made for a more authentic stroll about town. Though, as we learned by chatting up the locals, they are quite the nightmare to live with on the daily, ringing and singing every fifteen minutes. It really is a lot, taken as a whole. Bless them.

Cool buildings, great light and shadows, and some fun eating and shopping, too. We shared most excellent smoked chicken wings and a yummy giant of a pretzel with beer cheese, of course, at Ott Haus, before a stop at the New Glarus Bakery, where we bought Anise Springerli. I have wanted to make these many times but have always been put off by the amount of time and work they require. How grateful I was for someone else’s labor but more so for their deliciousness! They were gobbled right-quick. We also purchased made in Wisconsin maple syrup at The Bramble Patch. Quite exciting, as I never knew it existed!

Usonian Home – Herbert and Katharine Jacobs – 441 Toepfer in Madison

For architecture lovers like us, no trip to Wisconsin would be complete without ogling some Frank Lloyd Wright structures in his native state. The above residence was definitely my favorite of the bunch. The colors are glorious, and I love how the wildness of the prairie garden contrasts with all the straight lines.

Speaking of gardens, Wisconsin had a profusion roadside flowers, which seem to be intentionally cultivated, or at least encouraged, often in staggering heights. I’ve never seen echinacea so tall, nor such a proliferation of blooms of every prairie variety. What a difference water makes in a landscape. It was truly magical!

Unitarian Meeting House

I needn’t wonder how churches of this variety became so popular after the construction of this beauty. Again, I love the contrast, the verdant flat of green roof and spike of sanctuary. Plus, the pattern of glass is gorgeous.

Harold C. Bradley House – 106 N Prospect in Madison

Look at that fabulously detailed cantilever, or is it called something else because it appears supported? I don’t know. I only play architect on this blog. Anyway, I digress, and EEK! How about the curve of the bump out, softness and strength and beauty.

Eugene A. Gilmore House – 120 N Ely Place in Madison

Called the Airplane house, I love the sharp angles and deep shade of the overhangs. What a respite they must be in the heat of summer.

Not a Frank Lloyd Wright but still a quite lovely State of Wisconsin building. The metalwork!

Caught goofing…

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

This, along with the soaring capitol building, lies on the isthmus (such a great word) between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona and the last of the Wright buildings we visited. The gardens were alive with birds, bees, and butterflies, and so cheerful, too.

Welcome to Kaukauna! In all honesty, I chose this town because Grandma Tess almost always had a plastic pot of their namesake spreadable cheese in the refridge (her word), usually port wine, sometimes plain sharp cheddar. Her love sparked my own and keeps me close to her in heaven. Besides, there are few better friends for a buttery cracker, in my opinion. No surprise, we bought a tub or three of different brands but similar ilk on our travels.

Also in the local food department, I have never seen such large frozen pizza sections. We visited three stores in Wisconsin, including two Piggly Wigglies, which was terribly exciting (truly!), as I have only encountered them in novels. Anyway, imagine the longest single aisle of a frozen food section with only pizza, and you’ve got it. An embarrassment of pizza riches, dear peeps. A kindly lady ran into us, almost literally because I was so flabbergasted, and we explained our behavior. Her laugh at us was pretty hale and hearty!

Of course we bought one, a Brew Pub Lotzza Mozza with sausage, and darn it if it wasn’t the best frozen variety we have ever had. Super cheesy, perfect crust. How do they do that?! Oh, and the lady we ran into earlier? She lent us her Pig Card at checkout, so we wouldn’t have to pay full price for our treats. Another fine example of Mid-West Nice.

Finally, the bridge, green, and flowers are at the 1000 Islands Environmental Center, a delightful oasis of birdsong and babbling water.

Get ready for Michigan…

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