… is what the magical voice inside the GPS came up with when we forced her to recalculate our route to meet AAA. I’m not sure why the device recognizes MM as millimeters; I mean when does a GPS need to talk about a distance in millimeters? She was right tho: “Country Road MM” could be called “CR–Millimeters.”
The whole reason we needed to recalculate our route was because the Ironman was taking place in Madison today and it was close to impossible to drive across some of the main roads. (The geographical version of banging your head against a wall: “Turn right!” The end of the road, blocked off. Turn around. Recalculate. “Turn right!” The next road, blocked off.)
It was worth it though. The Ironman participants brought such an amazing energy to the city. Most were fit beyond belief, but some looked like they preferred eating to running just as much as I do. It was extremely impressive. We happen to be standing on the side of the road when the person in first place came jogging by, led by videographers on motorbikes. Sure hope he made it!
Madison was a great break to driving. But the fun started before we even got to the city: QT with AAA in her homeland. Unfortunately AAA had to catch a flight back to NY so she wasn’t able to tour guide us around, but she did make sure we were well fed before she left: we went to the Hubbard Avenue Diner, “Famous for Pies.” The waitresses’ T-shirts said [peace sign] of [pi sign]; they were awesome! We all pigged out on cheddar loaded omelets and buttermilk biscuits, and Andrew and I topped it off with ice cream; we were in “America’s Dairyland” after all. DELISH!! We also got to wander around the town of Middleton, home of… get this… drumroll please… the NATIONAL MUSTARD MUSEUM, where there is more than 500 flavors of mustard. WHO KNEW?
Other Madison highlights include:
The Capital Building…
Beer Garden/Pub with a giant cow out front… (I didn’t know I was in the first pic… obviously!)
Bikes!! Everyone rides bikes…
We trooped on past Madison, making it as far as Albert Lea, MN…
My tip for crossing the Mississippi River along I-90: STOP AT THE REST STOP!!
As we approached the state line, I sat with the camera ready –– which let me tell you, playing photographer in the passenger seat is sometimes more stressful than being driver. I asked Andrew, “When do we cross the Mississippi?” Within a couple of minutes we went over water with a sign that said “Mississippi River.” We looked out over miles of still water glistening in the pink and pale yellow sunset, trees and a bridge outlined in the distance. Wow! As we turned a corner along the water, we saw the rest stop that we could have turned off at a couple hundred feet back, and it offered a view of the river. Damn it!! They really should have one of those little overlook symbols on the sign, or at least a Kodak logo.
An attempt at capturing one of the most beautiful moments of the trip so far:
After crossing the water, MN was all trees and small hills. We were driving through national parks that we’d have loved to stop in if given the time. But it got us excited for the outdoors to come.
We drove in the dark from then on. Not far before our exit we saw rows and rows of red lights in the distance, all flashing in groups at different intervals. Airport? Military base?
Nope! As we got closer, Andrew exclaimed, “IT’S A WINDFARM!” And sure enough, if you peered in the dark (it was DARK!) you could make out the outline of dozens and dozens of windmills. They might not answer our renewable energy prayers, but there is something about windmills that I find tremendously calming.
Now we’re in a motel planning out tomorrow’s journey. We’re aiming to make it to Badlands National Park, which won’t be hard since it’s only 8 hours away. But we’re hoping to make it early enough to set up at a campground. Fingers crossed.
Anyone have any suggestions? Anything we can’t miss?
States: 1/2 Indiana, corner of Illinois, Wisconsin, 1/2 Minnesota
Highlights: AAA, cheese/ice cream and the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I River