Since the last travelog, we left the Badlands of South Dakota, crossed over into Minneapolis to see old friends, shot across Wisconsin, avoided Chicago via the Upper Peninsula, and descended lower Michigan into my homeland, Ohio.
I have been remiss in writing about our travels. Since the last update about the Badlands, we have traversed the Upper Midwest and moved further East into Pennsylvania. Here are some highlights from the Midwest.
Our previous experience with Minnesota was limited to layovers at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. This time we actually put feet to ground to get a real taste of Minneapolis.
We stayed just outside the city at the Lebanon Hills Regional Park campground. With big campsites, trees, and a well kept appearance, this Lebanon Hills gets a "super nice" rating. The park situation in the Minneapolis area seems quite good. These regional parks are common as are parks around the various lakes in the city. We took advantage of the meandering bike trails around the suburban campground.
Our arrival in Minneapolis was particularly exciting because it would be our first opportunity to visit with long lost friends. With clear skies, daily temperatures in the mid-seventies, and a discernible skyline, Minneapolis seemed like the most appealing city in the world -- at least relative to Sioux Falls.
Minneapolis is known as the Mill City. We learned this and other exciting Minnesota trivia at the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis. Built inside the shell of a burnt-down flour mill, the museum offers fun stuff for the kids, history to geek-out on, and great views of the Mississippi. Recommended.
With the clock counting down toward our end-of-month engagement in New York, we felt like we had to hustle through Wisconsin. This is, of course, a shame because I have several fond memories of Wisconsin from high school (basketball tournament) and college (conferences). Alas, we only found ourselves in Wisconsin for one long day of driving and one long sweet night near Green Bay. Wisconsin, you remain on my hit list.
"Mackinac" rhymes with "chainsaw" and "pastie" rhymes with "nasty". These were key lessons that allowed us to blend-in on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
A pastie, which is apparently only available in the U.P., consists of a pastry filled with meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions. They are served hot, often with gravy. Pasties are decidedly simple, but we found them delicious (anything but nasty).
One of the main attractions of the U.P. is Mackinac Island and the nearby Mackinac Bridge. The bridge connects Michigan's lower peninsula (the mitten) to its upper peninsula (the crooked, accusatory finger). It also serves as the official dividing line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan which happen to be one body of water. The Mackinac Bridge was completed in the late fifties and remains one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. I found it beautiful and impressive.
Mackinac Island attracts tourists such as ourselves. No cars are allowed on the island, so bikes and horses dominate the roads. We found the island on a crisp, gorgeous Monday. Lake Huron was crystal clear; the sun was warm, the breeze cool. Horse drawn carriages clip-clopped through the town where we sat for lunch at the Pink Pony. Fudge shops dominate the storefronts -- the island is known for this -- and we indulged. The kids slept like champs on our two biking laps around the eight mile circumference of the island. It felt great to be back in our homelands.
Ohio, the heart of it all. — License plate slogan
Basically our stay in Ohio was characterized by aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles ogling the children. That and overeating. Good times were had all around.
We also took this opportunity to unload some extraneous stuff from Bernadette and to get a professional to work on her brakes. A brake adjustment, two new tires, and a new brake controller later, Bernadette is a smooth stopper.
After being off the road for almost a week in Ohio, we are now back on it. Staying in a house without wheels felt nice, being back on our adventure feels better.