The Amish Have Got it Right

Amish in Wisconsin; BakeryTravel to the Upper Midwest, and once you get off the interstate, you’ll find long, winding county roads that can take you through miles of gorgeous farmland and forests without ever seeing more than a few other vehicles. Traffic? Stoplights? Nope. Just plenty of cows, corn and water.

Last Friday, we’re cruising along on Wisconsin’s backroads, going from our campsite at Harstad County Park, (about 20 miles south of Eau Claire) , up to Chippewa Falls to go on a Leinenkuegel Beer brewery tour and check out the towns. We’re driving along, and spot a “Farm Fresh Eggs: $1” hand painted sign outside of a homestead. I had to stop; what a deal! Then, as we approach Cadott, (whose claim to fame is that the town’s exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator), Jim spots another sign: “Bake Sale Ahead.” Below that, it says “Scratch and Dent Corner Store.” Our two favorite things; sweets, and bargains!

We pull over. Out back, goats and chickens roamed the grounds. We swung open the squeaky screen door, and realized that an Amish family runs the store. Neither one of us were expecting it; we’d never met an Amish person, and the closest we’d ever been to anything Amish is when Jim used to bake Amish Friendship Bread every week. Both of us wrongly assumed that most Amish lived in Pennsylvania. Turns out that in this area of Wisconsin, there is a large, Amish community.

Read more

We’ve still got a lot to learn…

don’t eat the feed corn… not about this full-time RVing lifestyle, we seem to be getting that down pretty good. But René thinks she wants to be a farmer, and this morning we discovered that we can’t even tell a field of sweet corn from feed corn.

On our morning run down the rural county roads near our home (this week) at Harstad Park, we couldn’t help but be tempted by all the corn in the fields alongside the road, just ripe for the picking. What we got serves us right for taking two and dashing home.

Read more

Grandma’s Got Good Tea

great long island iced tea at grandmaBefore I forget, here’s a quick review of a watering hole to hit for any budget-minded drunkard. Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth has $4.00 pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea! I think this may be a Happy Hour special, though I’m not certain. I do know the hour we spent there was pretty happy. We got four decent sized drinks out of one pitcher, along with a decent buzz. They weren’t too sweet and not too strong. Just right. A long way from the Square Cow Fun Bar drinks of so many years ago.

Upon arriving at the Lake Head Boat Basin Marina, we drove by the Garden and didn’t think twice about hitting the sports bar scene. But after hearing about this bargain, we were more than happy to follow advice from a couple fun loving locals down on the docks. What we didn’t care so much for was the particular racial epitaph one of these very blonde guys used multiple times to describe certain people in parts of town we shouldn’t visit.

Read more

Minnesota Milk Shake Goodness

The Discerning Ice Cream CriticI know what you’re thinking … This long on the road and you haven’t reviewed any ice cream joints! So that may not actually be what’s on your mind, but for the record, no parlour has yet been worthy. OK, the real truth is, we haven’t gone out for ice cream since we’ve been keeping some on hand in our RV fridge. After long days on the road the soft serve treatment is delicious!

There was that pretty good milk shake in Bridgeport at the roadside burger joint of which I can’t remember the name. And then there was the fast food “milkshake” we just had to get at a drive thru in Spearfish, ND because we were starving and it was nearly 100 degrees out. Then there was the cone we shared like two teenagers in love as we watched the drunks stumble around downtown Deadwood. But none can compare to the real thing directly from the source.

During our visit to the Crow Wing County Fair in Brainerd, MN we enjoyed one of the best chocolate milkshakes ever – sold by actual local farmers outside the cattle barn. But the farmers must have been busy milking because their kids were doing the serving. And yes they had a variety of flavors to choose from, but for the purpose of this review we chose the favorite old standby.

Read more

Road crew tip takes us to Hoven

Henry Huft sends us to Hoven, SDI think one of the hardest things about this trip will be trying to remember everything about all of the interesting places and colorful characters we are meeting along the way. There’s simply not enough time nor photos to tell this whole story.

For instance, we had planned to stay at Cow Creek campground one evening along the banks of the Mighty MO on our way to Fargo, ND. When stopped by road construction, the flagger walked up to ask about our truck and we ended up chatting for a bit. That’s whatchya do in these parts donthchyaknow.

By the time he waved us on, good ol’ Henry Huft had told us that he will never where a hat – though it was 106 degrees out – because he was born without a hat, and he’ll stay that way. He also told us that we just had to go on to Hoven for a steak at Boone’s Bar and Grill, and that for vegetarians they had big shrimp and a salad bar.

Read more

This Small Town Versus That Small Town

George Michelson Bike Trail, South DakotaOne of the reasons why I wanted to leave Humboldt County was because in the nearly 10 years that we lived there, many of the great ideas that people have about improving the area, never get off the ground. With the exception of the Redwood Technology Consortium who won the fight to connect Humboldt to the real world with fiber optic cable a few years ago, it seems that most great ideas never go anywhere.

Every improvement from the badly needed pedestrian / bike trail connecting Eureka and Arcata, to the fabulous Bay Trail, to the Marina Center Project, requires 10 consultants and 100 studies, and 10 years later, guess what? Nothing. Now, that definitely isn’t the fault of great residents like my friend Jen Rice who are so dedicated and try to get things like the Bay Trail to happen. No, not at all. It’s just that there are so many darn factions and infighting in Humboldt, that nobody can agree on anything. Every great idea that comes up will have a fight on its hands by some group claiming to know what’s best, guaranteed.

So as we head out into the rest of Small Town U.S.A., we are taking note of which towns have leaders and citizens that can work together and get things done.

Read more

Onward and Eastward Over the Continental Divide

There’s so much catching up to do tonight after boondocking out in the Routt National Forest outside of Steamboat Springs, CO. Due to some crazy mountain storms, our satellite service was iffy at best, so we couldn’t get online. We had to find other things to do over the last few days, like fish, mountain bike, hike, knit, and play with Jerry. It was hard …

Read more

Mountain Biking in Moab, Finally

Rat’s Radical Ride in Moab, UTSince the first time my knobby tires hit dirt back in the early 90s when I regularly biked Mt. Tam in Marin, I’ve always wanted to hit the trails in Moab, Utah. Those red mountain single tracks, biking to the edge of a thousand foot drop on some mesa . . . all those things I heard about, there they were, at our disposal when we arrived in Moab on July 8. But there was just one problem: it was a record-breaking day weather-wise, a whopping 100-something, in a town that never gets that hot. Only a fool would ride under those conditions.

Read more

Too Darned Hot. Too bad.

Arizona’s canyon lands, painted dessert and red rock buttes are beautiful sights to be seen and appreciated. That being said, I am happy to say I can check that area off my list of potential places to plant permanent roots. I’ll never say never, but the heat and local societal attitude that I encountered – yes, first impressions do count in my book – throughout …

Read more

Biscuit Review: The Coffee Pot – Sedona, AZ

I gotta give Raul an A for Effort for the biscuits and gravy he made us yesterday. After all, they were the first thing ever cooked in our new fifth wheel’s little oven, he used Rene’s homemade “Bisquick” mix, and the gravy was from Tony Chachere’s Southern Pantry White Gravy Mix – a decent standby for quick homemade biscuits and gravy. But I must say …

Read more

Campground Review: KOA Flagstaff, AZ

Get to Know Your Neighbors in FlagstaffDo yourself a favor, and skip this area of AZ any other time of year except winter.

We don’t like KOA parks, but we decided to stop here because it was easy to meet my parents there, and we could use it as a base camp to explore the area south, Sedona. The tightwad in me also wanted to avoid the few overpriced RV parks closer to Sedona. So upon check in, we weren’t expecting much other than the standard swimming pool and hookups that would allow us to run our AC. But what we found out after check in was, this KOA is, simply put, a dump.

The place is run down, trash is everywhere, the sites are crammed together, and management is so cheap they won’t even buy toilet seat covers for the restrooms. Unlike other KOAs we’ve overnighted at, this one had no DVDs for rent, the office doesn’t open till 8am and you can’t even buy a newspaper until then because they’re in the office. And they don’t even have a pool! In Arizona!

As we sat in the cool comfort of our Fox’s air conditioner while the outside world baked in 100 degree heat (ok, it was 95, but is there really a difference?), someone knocked at our door. It was a KOA Flagstaff clerk, who arrived to tell us that we weren’t allowed to run our AC on their 30amp hookups, “because the park is so old it can’t handle it.” If we had been told this ahead of making the reservation, we never would’ve stayed there.

Read more

Bar Review: Sultana – Williams, AZ

Nowhere does a long neck Bud taste better than in a dark old bar in a hot dusty Arizona town. This bar has to be one of the oldest. And this town is definitely one of the dustiest. The Sultana Bar in Williams, AZ claims to have the longest operating liquor license in the state of Arizona. And they didn’t mind us bringing in Jerry …

Read more

We Got Our Kicks on Route 66

From Kingman to Williams Arizona we followed one of the last remaining stretches of Historic Route 66. Stopped in the tourist trap town of Seligman only to discover the authentic looking 50’s style diner was closed. What the!?!? Oh well, no root beer float. And we didn’t feel like Chinese food so we snacked in the trailer. Going on our way, we came across this …

Read more