A Day Of Food

Hello. It’s ME!!

IMG_1596

A day of food started with a breakfast-sized helping of sunrise.

IMG_1563

I know this to be true, because I had to potty at 5:25am, so this is the prize for the early bird.

Several hours later, we were touring once again. We saw downtown Bayfield.

Dash_00349

Then Mom picked up another coveted stamp.

Dash_00350

This was about the time of the day when the theme switched from nature to nourishment.

You probably don’t know about an Upper Peninsula tradition known as the “Pasty”. These hand-held treats, converted to unseemly “Hot Pockets” by “The Man” or “Calzones” by George Costanza, are filled with meat and spuds and are wrapped in a delicious pie crust that is to die for. Or so Mom and Dad told me.

In order to enjoy a pasty, we had to cross over into Michigan.

Dash_00351

Then we drove two blocks to Joe’s Pasty Shop.

IMG_1568

They were closed …

… but WAIT … Lady Proprietor #2 unlocked the door. Dad explained that we drove 2,200 miles to eat a pasty, and then Lady Proprietor #2 welcomed Dad in and pulled two hot traditional pasties out of the pile she was taking home.

IMG_1572IMG_1574

I’ll say this much … Dad is not a fan of spuds, so I got my fair share of Idaho’s finest. Pretty tasty! Nom nom nom nom nom nom.

When we were done, we drove two blocks back into Wisconsin.

Dash_00352

Down US-51 we traveled to the tourist trap known as Minocqua. Based on a recommendation from Grandpa, we drove back out of Minocqua and progressed seventeen miles to St. Germain … where we visited what is called a “Supper Club”.

What is a “Supper Club”, you ask?

Well, you won’t get breakfast at a Supper Club. Or brunch. Or lunch. You get to indulge in “Supper”. You won’t leave disappointed.

Let’s start with the basics. We ate at McGregor’s Blink Bonnie. When you walk up to the front door, you know immediately that you are in for the experience of a lifetime.

IMG_1577

Here’s how the “scheme” works. You put your name in, much like you would at Olive Garden (copy cats), then you are required to sit down at the bar and enjoy beverages. In marketing, this is called the “cross-sell”, and based on what happened to Mom & Dad, the cross-sell worked.

IMG_1587

You know, that camera angle makes Dad’s left hand look like massive, unusable appendage, don’t you think?

Mom ordered a Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet. We were told that they sell 300 variants of that drink per night … at just $5 a pop, you can see why (#math).

See the wine bottles behind the bar? They need a lot of those, too, when you consider what a $5 serving of wine looks like:

IMG_1592

The decor in the bar is top-flight, no doubt about it.

IMG_1578

Once you enjoyed the opportunity to consume a beverage, you are invited into the dining room. The place settings are right out of an episode of Downton Abbey.

IMG_1589

You have plenty of choices … but you are encouraged to enjoy a Filet or a Ribeye. Guess who enjoyed the Ribeye?

IMG_1593

Our server was stunned to learn that French Dressing is not a restaurant option for a typical Pacific Northwest starter-salad. Stunned. She repeatedly re-visited the table, inquiring about the mysteries of replacing French Dressing on a salad with various balsamics. Dad says the poor server was dumbfounded, flummoxed, maybe even dazed. At times, she appeared to be close to passing out. Ok, I made the passing-out part up. I wasn’t even there.

Dad let me sup on a half-dozen tiny cutlets of ribeye. I must say, I love every aspect of a supper club if it means I get to enjoy a half-dozen tiny cutlets of ribeye after every visit!

No drinks for me, however.

Dash_00353

After dinner (you have to get there before 5:30pm, by the way, or it’s sheer chaos as the place really fills up), we drove to a hotel in Minocqua; I co-piloted the vehicle (visit the website if you cannot see the video).

We checked in to our hotel (#dogfriendly), and then Dad took me on a 45 minute walk through town. I decided to engage with a terrapin.

IMG_1597

But the whole process of engaging with a terrapin is rather empty … I’m a fast paced boy (#dash) and she was, well, a terrapin, barely moving at all. In fact, it looked like she was laying eggs.

So we went back to the hotel and Dad pulled out a big ‘ole bag of chewies.

IMG_1601

A day of food left me stuffed … I collapsed under the weight of my own inertia.

IMG_1604

Wisconsin is a lot like an endless buffet of 3,500 calorie options. Anybody could enjoy a day of food. From what I saw today, some people (#dad) have enjoyed a lifetime of food. Is it any wonder I needed a 45 minute walk to burn off the calories?

Ready for this? Tomorrow, I may be introduced to my first-ever Thunderstorm. Not the puny 10,000 foot types that populate the Pacific Northwest a half-dozen times a year. Nope. We’re talking the 50,000 foot variety that may turn severe. Oooooooohhhhhhhh boy.

 

 

Gitche Gumee

Hello! It’s me.

IMG_1549

The legend lives on, from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call “Gitche Gumee”.

More on that topic in a moment.

We left our beloved site (7A) this morning, thanking Lady Proprietor for her hospitality. Next on the tour, we hoped, was this:

Dash_00335

Instead, what we found was this.

Dash_00334Dash_00336

Turns out Brainerd let their replica go to North Carolina, and the ones left in Minnesota were in Bemidji … on the US-2 route we originally planned to take (the one crossed out below).

Dash_00347

With our unfulfilled promise behind us, we motored toward Duluth/Superior … and if I may be so bold, State Highway 210 could not possibly be bumpier. Come on Minnesotans … if you can afford to adorn your highways with this …

Dash_00337

… then you can certainly resurface State Highway 210. I guess that’s another reason we should have hooked back up with US-2 sooner.

Mom and Dad stopped just shy of Duluth. I took the opportunity to offer the local laridae a handful of nature’s nachos, but was quickly rebuffed.

IMG_1538

I know, I look stunned, don’t you think?

Left with virtually nothing to do, I stopped to smell the flowers, and ended up with a tick attached to my face. Mom says you don’t want a tick attached to your face.

Dash_00339Dash_00340

In the distance, we could see the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Dash_00338

That’s Lake Superior, the Greatest of the Great Lakes. Somewhere at the bottom of this lake, you will find the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. So as we hopped on to US-2 (I know, isn’t it ironic, don’t you think) to cross over into Wisconsin, we couldn’t help but think of the famous ship wreck when we saw where iron ore was being loaded (26,000 tons more than the good ship and crew weighed empty in the fabled song).

Dash_00341

My view, from the floor of the RV, included the top of the bridge span.

Dash_00342

But as we finished crossing the bridge, we celebrated arrival in our destination state … Wisconsin!!

Dash_00343

A full 2,000 miles from our home, we arrived at the Northwest-most corner of the state. Instead of heading south, we elected to swing north and take in some of the coast line on Wisconsin 13. You can see where Wisconsin 13 goes north of US-2 here:

Dash_00348

But trees largely blocked the coast line, so we instead gazed upon this for thirty miles.

Dash_00344

#freedom

Speaking of freedom, unlike the Edmund Fitzgerald, the witch of November did not come stealin’. Instead, we found safe harbor just north of Bayfield. While I performed my duties, I saw Dad parking the rig, and decided that it was time for HAPPY HOUR!

Dash_00345Dash_00346

The views of Gitche Gumee were beautiful.

IMG_1540IMG_1546

In the song, the old cook came on deck and said “fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”. Not the case here. Dad enjoyed a full meal. Look at his salad … french dressing … #wontfindthatinthepacificnorthwest

IMG_1555

And Miller High Life!

IMG_1558.JPG

Let’s just say that if the RV goes down in a storm alongside Gitche Gumee, Dad will drown with a full stomach and happy thoughts.

I really dug the place (visit the website if you cannot see the video).

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead, when the gales of November come early. But when the mosquitoes of May come early, Superior welcomes all with open arms. On Wisconsin!

 

7A

Hello! It’s me.

Dash_00324

I thought our day started off on a relaxing note … not realizing that the energy would amp-up by late evening.

Dash_00313Dash_00314

But then Mom & Dad spent two hours at Wal-Mart, followed by fifteen minutes at a German Butcher featuring an impressive selection of assorted meats.

IMG_1531

And then … it was more of this:

Dash_00316

There may not be many jobs in Montana or North Dakota, but there’s plenty of room for ya if you need the space.

We stopped at a rest area – whew!

Dash_00318

Then, we blew past a few wind farms on our way to Fargo.

Dash_00319

When we arrived in Fargo, we did the first thing any reasonable person would do. We stopped at Hardees. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, where a shrine to the movie Fargo enthralled us all.

First, there were the stars who paid homage to the film.

Dash_00320Dash_00321Dash_00322Dash_00323

You prolly remember the movie, right? If not, here’s a few of the deets:

  • Jerry Lundegaard is a pathetic man, and an average car salesman.
  • He apparently needs money.
  • He contrives a scheme to get his wife kidnapped, and then will collect ransom, which he will use to cover whatever silly schemes he is involved in.
  • The kidnappers do not follow the script, and while not following the script, we are introduced to a thick, Upper-Midwest dialect that permeates the area, from Fargo to Brainerd (formerly home to Babe the Blue Ox – click here for the deets) to Minneapolis.
  • Mayhem breaks loose.
  • “Blood has been shed, Jerry” is what one of the kidnappers tells Jerry, much to Jerry’s growing consternation with his plan.
  • Jerry’s father-in-law decides to get involved in the recovery of his daughter, and pays the ultimate price, but not before putting a bullet through the cheek of one of the kidnappers.
  • Kidnapper with bullet wound in cheek comes back with some of the money after hiding money in a snow bank, splits money with his partner-in-crime (who killed Jerry’s wife), and takes the car as payment for a bullet wound in his cheek. Snappily, the kidnapper with bullet wound in cheek says “Are we square?”, and shows a gun in his pants.
  • Partner-in-crime kills fellow kidnapper with an ax (providing proof once again that you don’t stop a mad man with a gun by populating the landscape with other folks carrying guns, you stop the mad man by chopping him to bits with an ax), then grinds fellow kidnapper in the wood chipper.
  • Police officer Marge Gunderson catches partner-in-crime chippin’ his fellow kidnapper, chases partner-in-crime, puts a bullet in his leg (ax beats gun, gun beats ax, hmmm, something doesn’t tie out here) … and as a lovely going away present, tells partner-in-crime that there is more to life than a little bit of money. “Don’t you know that?” she says.
  • Speaking of more to life than a little bit of money, the movie ends with Marge Gunderson in bed with husband Norm Gunderson … Marge is humbly appreciative of Norm getting his work placed on the three-cent stamp. “We’re doin’ all right” she tells Norm. Never mind she had to shoot a serial killer earlier in the day. She listens patiently while Norm laments that his work is only on the three-cent stamp. Priorities!
  • Fade to black.
  • Fin.

Now, about that wood chipper. They have the actual one from the movie in the Visitor’s Center. But we arrived  at 6:30pm, and the center closed at 6:00pm. So we had to partake in a replica wood chipper. That’s when things got weird!

Dash_00327

Wait a minute.

I didn’t commit a crime!

Dash_00328

Let me out!

Dash_00330

I’m sorry I pee’d on the carpeting at that hotel in Montana, now LET ME OUT!

Dash_00329

Once I navigated my way out of the evil device, I tried to show Dad just what should be shoved into a wood chipper.

Dash_00331

At this point, I was perfectly happy checking in to the Best Western in West Fargo, and without a functioning water pump for another week (Thanks Amazon Prime for setting the table for a replacement pump), that made sense to me. But Mom and Dad wanted to put more miles behind us.  So that’s what we did. We crossed the Red River, and entered Minnesota. Did you know, by the way, that the Red River drains into Canada?

Dash_00332

An hour later, with the sun setting and pouring rain pelting off of the rig, we arrived in Detroit Lakes. Our first campground choice (with an adjacent bar & restaurant … sounds good to me) didn’t work – nobody would take our call.

So we progressed to another area campground, about ten miles away. With the “low fuel” light adorning the dashboard, we coasted in to the registration line on fumes. It was 8:50pm. For some reason, the OPEN light was still on. Here’s how the conversation went.

Dad: Do you have any campsites available for one night?

Lady Proprietor: I’m sorry, we’re all sold out.

Dad: Ok, just thought I’d check.

Lady Proprietor: It’s Memorial Day weekend, you know.

Dad: Yup.

Lady Proprietor: I’m sorry.

Dad: It’s not your fault.

Male Proprietor: Hun, they only have a van.

Lady Proprietor: We’re sold out.

Male Proprietor: It’s just a van. Put ’em in 7A.

Lady Proprietor: It’s really wet down there.

Male Proprietor: They can handle it.

Dad: We need water (remember, no water pump) and electricity.

Male Proprietor: Will 15 amps do?

Dad: Yes!

Male Proprietor: Hun, put ’em in 7A.

And that’s just what they did. They created a spot for us out of thin air. We shared a power post with the folks in site 7, and we got our own water spigot. What more do you need?

Our day ends, on fumes in many ways, camping in the rain in site 7A. Lady Proprietor came down in the dark to make sure everything was ok. You’ll never meet two nicer people. And for their kindness, they got to put $37.58 in their pocket. And we have water.

Good night!

Standard Deviation

Hello. It’s me!

IMG_1527

Well, the big news is that we deviated from our US-2 strategy early this afternoon. It was time to check out NATIONAL PARKS!! And when you check out NATIONAL PARKS, you lose touch with US-2. So we’re resting along I-94 in Dickinson, ND tonight.

Dash_00311

First, let’s have a moment of silence for Dad’s SiriusXM connection, which loosened this afternoon and caused a genuine lack of listening options. Now Dad has to listen to the radio, and that’s not a situation that is going to end well for anybody.

Ok, back to the story. After entering North Dakota …

Dash_00291

… we deviated from US-2, and visited Fort Union Trading Post. This was quite the place back in the day … if you were trading pelts, this is where business happened. Sort of like modern e-commerce in Western North Dakota more than 160 years ago.

Dash_00294Dash_00295Dash_00297Dash_00298

Turns out I could care less about how people traded pelts centuries ago. Know why? Because outside, there were approximately 22,493,948 Prairie Dog Poop Pellets … or as I now call them, “Nature’s Nachos”. I became obsessed with the little nuggets … to the point where Dad sent me back to the rig for punishment.

Dash_00299

When Mom and Dad returned, we drove past the Fracking Fields … the places where large companies inject water into the earth and pull black gold aka “Texas Tea” up for consumption. For the small price of a couple thousand earthquakes and tens of thousands of poisoned wells, we all get to enjoy $2.29 gasoline. How else could we afford to drive an RV across the country and back?

Dash_00292Dash_00293Dash_00296Dash_00300

There are a lot of mobile homes on the landscape. In fact, the campground we are staying at tonight is populated with a hundred or so semi-permanent workers in travel trailers.

Mom wanted you to see a video of the excitement (visit the website if you cannot see the video).

Up next – Theodore Roosevelt National Park … by this time, we’re a good 80 miles south of US-2 … it’s becoming a hopeless task to return to the desolate thoroughfare.

Dash_00308

We took a 20 mile round-trip drive through the badlands … it sure was a pretty place, though I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Mom having to take pictures of me.

Dash_00306Dash_00307

See what Dad did? He put his hand right around my brisket, and then hung a nine ounce leash weight off my neck to keep me in place. Thanks. Dad.

Instead of focusing on nature, I wanted to sample more of Nature’s Nachos … in this case, buffalo chips.

Dash_00309

I asked Mom and Dad to take me to the source of this delicious waste product snack.

Dash_00310

Mmmmmmm … buffalo.

Dash_00312

It’s quite a place to spend an afternoon.

Dash_00303Dash_00304Dash_00305

Finally, we headed south toward I-94 … our new home for eastbound travel. We arrived at our campground in Dickinson … and then Mom and Dad introduced me to PIZZA RANCH … nom nom nom nom (visit the website if you cannot see the video).

We started the day with visions of a US-2 trip … the day was muddled with my incessant desire to sup on animal waste … and then the day ended with a belly bloated with PIZZA RANCH goodies.

From here, we take the path most traveled by. We’ll listen to FM radio as we drive to or beyond Fargo tomorrow. I hear we’re going grocery shopping in the morning. With luck, we can pick up a fresh batch of nature’s nachos for the trip #sayaprayerfordash.

 

Dash In!!

Hello! It’s me.

Dash_00286

I like to start each day with an honest assessment of campground threats. There are only three types of threats.

  1. Real.
  2. Perceived.
  3. Chupacabra (click here).

All threats this morning were perceived … thank goodness.

IMG_1507

So we headed back to the rig, and awaited a visit from “Mike”.

Mike’s job was to fix our water pump. And with a modest amount of embellishment, the conversation went something like this:

Dad:  The water pump doesn’t work.

Mike: Is there water in the tank?

Dad: Yes.

Mike:  Is the winterization switch on?

Dad?  No.

Mike:  Let me take this thing apart.

Dad:  Ok.

Mike:  This thing is broken.

Dad:  Ok.

Mike:  I have another appointment to go to. And the closest replacement water pump is thirty-five miles away. Or one-hundred miles away. You can probably get an appointment for Tuesday.

Dad:  That’s five days from now.

Mike: Yup.

Dad:  That’s not going to happen.

Mike:  Alright.

Dad:  Alright?

Mike:  I need to leave, but not before I get $80.

Dad:  Wut?

Mike: It should be $125, but I am not charging you for the trip up here.

Dad:  But you didn’t fix the problem!

Mike:  I take cash or check.

Dad:  I already knew the water pump was broken. Mom already knew the water pump was broken.

Mike:  Now all three of us know it’s broken. Haven’t seen a problem like this in twenty years. Ok, please write a check for $80.

Dad:  Fine.

As of press time, Dad is planning on purchasing a water pump in Williston or on Amazon and plans on installing it himself.

Dad was amply “corked-off”, if you know what I am saying (and Mom knows all too well what I am saying). So corked-off that he wanted to stay in a hotel tonight. More on that in a moment.

We looked for Mountain Goats, but to no avail.

Dash_00277

Then we crossed the Continental Divide – it’s all downhill from here!

Dash_00279

We enjoyed the last gasp of Glacier National Park from the rig.

Dash_00278

Dash_00280

Dash_00281

Dash_00282

As we drove away, Mom admired her stamps from Glacier National Park.

Dash_00284

Here’s a gentle observation about Northern Montana … it’s looks a lot like this:

Dash_00289

To be honest, the landscape bored me.

Dash_00287

So just when it looked like all hope was lost, and my mind would drift into oblivion for the next five hundred miles, this happened:

IMG_1511

Yes – that’s the DASH IN!!!! I am so popular in Montana that they are naming restaurants after me. Dad got a malted milkshake in my honor … I reveled in the glow of localized fast food.

Finally, the countryside took on a new personality.

Dash_00283

And then, a disjointed rainbow.

Dash_00288

The bottom of the rainbow pointed us to a pot of gold known as Glasgow, where we decided to spend the evening. I sat in the rig while Dad ate his way across Glasgow.

IMG_1517

That’s walleye and sweet potato fries, coupled with an ice-cold Old Milwaukee Light. Dad offered me some of the walleye – you know what I did with it? SPIT. IT. OUT. No boring whitefish for my discerning palette.

I ended the night searching for threats at our hotel. I decided that any threats were perceived, and for good reason. Any hotel with air conditioning units is safe from chupacabra.

IMG_1518

Wait … what is that shadow just below and between the units?

Chupacabra?

Nah.

Before I went to bed, I played some tug-of-war with Dad.

IMG_1516

Tomorrow, we arrive in North Dakota. I fully expect a parade when we arrive. Or a fast food establishment named after me. Sound good?

The Theme Was Water

Hello! It’s me.

IMG_1502

That’s me – soaking wet after a real deluge here at Glacier National Park.

Dash_00273

See, the theme of the day was “WATER”.

Water, as in our water pump failed. Some guy named Mike will make a trek to the KOA tomorrow morning to figure out what went wrong. It’s not the sediment filter, although to be fair, that thing was plenty clogged.

The day began with comfy temps and the Montana border within sight.

Dash_00270

Yup – Mom’s feet were up so that my feet could be down below.

Dash_00269

We put down the miles too, one at a time, until we arrived in the Mountain Time Zone. Then it seemed like an hour flew by without any progress whatsoever.

Dash_00271

As we arrived at the KOA, the sky turned a color we don’t see in the Pacific Northwest all that often.

Dash_00272

That’s what ultimately drenched my furry little mass of kindness.

Dad gave me a portion of his dinner tonight – Bison Meatloaf. The expansive flavor of Bison put me in turbo-charge mode … I explored our campground like a Bison might explore Glacier National Park.

Dash_00274

Dash_00275

Dash_00276

But here’s the interesting thing … some dude was playing Native American music on a flute. Now, let me cue you in on a little secret about me. I like odd sounds. Like whistles. Not referee whistles, mind you, but Andy Griffith theme song whistles. And I like the sound of a flute playing songs that might have resonated across the plains one-hundred-and-fifty years ago.

I stood in awe.

IMG_1504

But just as quickly, the music stopped, and I moved on … time to get some shut-eye before Mike the random RV repair guy comes to take a look at our water pump tomorrow morning.

What About Me?

Hello. It’s me!

Dash_00266

You’d think that when we are traveling, there’d be an even split of things to do, an even split of activities that align with Dad’s interests, Mom’s interests, and my interests.

But too often, I’m the forgotten one – like leaving the Son out of the Father / Son / Holy Spirit equation.

Case in point? Our trip across Eastern Washington today. My friend Erik told us to visit Dry Falls. So we did. First, we followed the Columbia River back to US-2 … in case I didn’t tell you, we are going to follow US-2 from Everett, WA to Ashland, WI … maybe a bit further depending upon how things work out.

Dash_00250

And then, it was back to US-2 … and Dry Falls.

Dash_00254

IMG_1492

I wasn’t all that impressed. But then I got on my tippy-toes, and to be honest, it was quite a sight!

Dash_00257

I wasn’t allowed into the Visitors Center, but I’m told that Dry Falls looked like this after the last ice age.

Dash_00267

Now THAT would be something to see!!!

While Mom & Dad marveled at the sights, I quickly bored of being locked out of the Visitor’s Center. Aren’t I a visitor, too?

Dash_00258

I had to express my displeasure with the situation. Humans have “Yelp” to express gratitude or displeasure. Dogs have “Whelp”. This is how you give one star on “Whelp”.

Dash_00259

Eventually, Mom & Dad figured out I lost interest, so we boarded up the rig Wiener Mobile and headed East.

Dash_00268

We battled dust devils … aka “Satan’s Spinners” once again.

Dash_00260

We strolled through Downtown Spokane.

Dash_00261

And after another hour or so, we crossed over into a magical land of potato-based bounty known as “Idaho”.

Dash_00262.jpg

It was at this time that I became FED UP with the situation. When were we going to do something … anything … that a lovable seven month old canine might enjoy?

I made my feelings known.

In a move as stunning as it is unrealistic, I took the wheel from Dad, and pointed us to the most popular stop in Sandpoint, ID.

Dash_00263

Amen, brother.

We eventually landed at an RV park down by the river (aka “We were livin’ in a van down by the river’ from Saturday Night Live fame”). We honestly thought this was going to be a nice place. But then we chose our site (lucky number 15).

Dash_00264

And while we greatly appreciated the generosity of having our own garbage can, peaceful thoughts were overwhelmed by the intense sound of locomotion.

IMG_1499

That’s a train about 25 feet from our rig. They roll through every ten or fifteen minutes, no big deal. And even though it is a well known axiom that every RV park is built next to train tracks, this is a bit close for comfort (#derailment).

Mom and Dad took me for a walk through downtown, then left me alone in the rig to scream myself to sleep while Dad elected to eat his way through Idaho.

IMG_1496

Dad brought me back a small morsel of trout – much to the dismay of the wait staff who dutifully tried to collect the sample as waste.

As I write this, my paws are tired. I’m ready for rest. We covered a lot of ground today (see the yellow-colored route – this is our total distance to date, with more than half of the ground covered today alone). Tomorrow, we enter Montana and change time zones. I hear that glaciers are in our forecast.

Dash_00265