2016 MEA # 5: Mini Adventures

Of course, our Most Excellent Adventure was one HUGE adventure in itself and the major adventures within the MEA were our week long stay in South Dakota (even more to share from there in future posts) and our ten day stay in Louisiana (just wait till I get to the posts for that part), but we also had lots of mini-adventures along the way. I thought I would touch on those in today’s post.

Mini-Adventures are cool places we stopped for anything from a quick photo op to a few hours to check it out in more detail. Some were planned – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, Wall Drug in Wall, SD, for instance……and some were places that caught our eye and we thought “why not” – a Missouri River overlook, downtown Sioux Falls, SD, the Mystery Spot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and more fun stuff. We didn’t limit ourselves to a strict plan and timeline – other than a few things we had to plan around so the overall trip worked. We just set out to have fun and see and do all we could see and do! Here are some memories we made with mini-adventures along the way:

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Our starting selfie — Lylace, me, and Kevin in my driveway just before we headed out!

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Lylace and Kahlua “on the road”

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Me – watching the world go by

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I even drove a few times……

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…..and, the whole gang got on the way in Tunnel City, Wisconsin when we picked up Lylace’s sister, Donna

ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME – CLEVELAND, OH

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Yeah – I know, the guitar is upside down – I’m just that good!!! hehehe

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Me with Jane Scott – Cleveland’s pioneering rock and roll journalist for over 40 years

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Kevin with the ZZ Top car

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This room had blown up photos of the original handwritten lyrics from all kinds of wonderful classics and a brief synopsis of where they were written and what they were written on

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In addition to room after room on multiple floors of memorabilia and sculptures and photos, there were major displays that came from actual concerts……like this display from Pink Floyd’s The Wall

MICHIGAN’S UPPER PENINSULA

We took the long way around Chicago to avoid the city and get to Wisconsin to pick up Donna. We drove up through Michigan and crossed the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula. The objective, aside from avoiding Chicago – we could have done that without going so far out of the way – was to see the point where two Great Lakes meet – Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. But, we discovered so much more!

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Mackinac Bridge – beautiful!!!

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Lake Huron is to the right and Lake Michigan is to the left

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The Mystery Spot, St. Ignace, MI – apparently, there is some kind of gravitational pull right here that makes everything out of whack and seem unlevel, even though it is perfectly level!

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These people are standing straight up, but they appear to be leaning…..and it feels so strange – just like you ARE leaning! The floor is level, but it was soooooooo hard to walk across it – felt like we were walking uphill with resistance!

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It felt perfectly normal to stand on this slanted board…..and the girl beside me easily sat on a 2×4 nailed to the wall!

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And, to prove that it wasn’t just smoke and mirrors to make you think things were “off” just because the walls appeared to be built on a slant…..the bubble on this level was dead center on this slanted ramp and the ball didn’t roll at all…..and it wasn’t stuck there with anything – she sat it down there and it stayed!!!

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And, I had a famous Pastie – a meat pie that the UP is known for — it was OK – tasty, but not something I would likely ever eat again

CRANBERRY BOGS IN WARRENS, WI

Warrens, WI is the cranberry capital – producing more cranberries than any other state in the USA….in fact, according to their Cranberry Discovery Center, “Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with approximately 26 cranberries.” That’s a lot of cranberries!!! Most people that I talked to about seeing cranberry bogs in Wisconsin were surprised – they all thought that the New England states was the place to find cranberry bogs……maybe so, but not as plentiful as in Wisconsin, where about 70% of the nations cranberries are harvested in the fall each year!

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Kevin and Ace at the Cranberry Discovery Center

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Lylace checking out some of the displays

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Kevin checking out some antique cranberry harvesting equipment

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Me at an actual cranberry bog – the cranberries were getting close to harvest time – typically during the month of October

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A close up of the cranberry plants

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The cranberry plants are planted in these square areas of sand to grow until they are ready to harvest – then, the bogs are flooded, the cranberry bushes are racked, the cranberries float to the surface of the water, and they are skimmed from the top of the water to gather them up! We hoped to see some harvesting going on when we returned to drop Donna off back home, but no such luck! All the farmers were starting to harvest, but the day we were there, some were done and some were about to start, but none were actively harvesting so we could see!!! boo hoo!!!

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Bogs have big ponds adjacent to the bog with a ditch all around the bog (see along the right side of the photo) – the trenches are flooded so that the water will gravitate into the bogs without harming the plants (no direct water pressure into the bogs). It was all very interesting to learn about!

THE HIGH GROUND VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, NEILLSVILLE, WISCONSIN

We visited an incredible veterans memorial park in Wisconsin. I may do a separate post to include all the memorial sculptures because it is by far the most impressive memorial park I think I’ve ever been to.

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The most emotional sculpture for me was “Fountain of Tears” – it shows a soldier in the background and a fountain that trickles water down to a woman and child representing those who are left behind when someone in the service pays the ultimate sacrifice……just amazing – I can’t look at the photo without feeling just as overwhelmed as I did when I saw it in person!

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In addition to MANY wonderful sculptures honoring the veterans of each and every war, there are brick walkways with names of veterans from Wisconsin.

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Lylace and her sister, Donna, have stones in memory of both their parents, some uncles, and Donna’s husband – here they are pictured looking at the stone for Donna’s husband

MISSOURI RIVER, NEAR LYMAN, SD

I did a post about seeing and really experiencing the Mississippi River…..well, we also saw the Missouri River! We stopped at a rest stop and there was a scenic overlook – we checked it out and discovered it was the Missouri River! The scene was breathtaking……

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LAKE SUPERIOR, WISCONSIN / MINNESOTA BORDER

Going over this bridge from Wisconsin to Minnesota, we rounded out my Bucket List item to physically see all five great lakes – the last to see was Lake Superior! Here it is!

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SIOUX FALLS, SD – SCULPTURE WALK

Downtown Sioux Falls, SD has a wonderful attraction — as you walk along all the downtown streets, there are incredible sculptures made by local artists. We heard about this, so stopped for a walk when we passed through Sioux Falls.

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Kevin, Lylace, and Donna walking past one of the many sculptures

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My favorite – the Maestro……he is wearing shorts with a top coat and tails and hiking boots, with his socks all slid down! There is a xylophone in front of him that people can play to make it an interactive sculpture!

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Another one I particularly liked……although, other than the Maestro, I’d be hard pressed to pick a second favorite – there were so many wonderful one!

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Everything from ones like this one that commemorate the history of Sioux Falls……

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…..to more abstract ones that we struggled to find the point of…..the looks on Kevin, Lylace, and Donna’s faces say it all! LOL

CORN PALACE, MITCHELL, SD

We had to stop at the famous Corn Palace — the facade and much of the interior is decorated with corn – husks, stalks, cobs, corn nuggets, etc……and the theme is changed every year. This year, the theme is Rock of Ages!

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I picked up this corn husk angel for my angel collection – so pretty!

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Across the street was a castle-look building – I think it was a museum of some kind – we didn’t go in, but I couldn’t resist taking photos of the artwork outside!

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An Indian and a Knight outside a religious themed gift shop – logical combo! The t-shirt that the Knight is holding says “Jesus Loves You, But I’m His Favorite” – I went in and bought one in pink!!! Had to have it!!! LOL

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Lylace and I found a friend!

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I found this Rotary Park on the way back to the car……couldn’t pass up the photo op!

WALL DRUG, WALL, SD

We were told we could NOT go to South Dakota without stopping at the famous Wall Drug Store! So, we did!

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This place was HUGE……it took up most of the block and had room after room after room of stuff…..all kinds of stuff……souvenirs, gifts, typical drug store items, oddities, clothes, boots, you name it – they had it!

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I was driving the motor home when we got here – I had to turn the corner onto the narrow street between cars parked along the store fronts and cars parked in the center of the street (see where that white truck is?)……well, I freaked out, but had no choice……just as I got into the turn, Kevin – who was in the back watching out the window – shouted “STOP!” – I cut it a little too close to a car parked in the first spot — I made it without incident, but Kevin said you couldn’t have gotten a piece of paper between us and the car and the lady who was standing next to her car looked like she was about to have a heart attack!!! I later chalked it up to skillful driving rather than simply blind luck……hehehe!!!

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The store is famous for their “free ice water” – apparently, that was the original purpose – to give out free water to dusty travelers in the gold rush days! But, we actually paid for our refreshments – ice cream at the soda counter!

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Me with my new pal, Calamity Jane

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KEVIN!!! Shame on you!!! Get away from that dance hall girl!!! 🙂

LAMBERT’S CAFE, SIKESTON, MISSOURI

We stopped for lunch at a place called Lambert’s Cafe on the advice of one of the guys working at the campground we stayed at in Arkansas. What fun that was! The sign said “Home of the Throwed Rolls”……what is a “throwed roll”, we wondered!!!??? Well, we soon found out! Lambert’s is a huge place very similar in look and food to Cracker Barrels – wide open, rustic, lots and lots of stuff on the walls, serves American comfort food…..that kind of a place. But, it is unique in two ways…….1) the wait staff continuously walks around with huge pots and stainless steel bowls full of “extras” they call “pass arounds” – black eyed peas, macaroni and tomatoes, fried potatoes and onions, fried okra – that they scoop out onto your plate with humongous spoons! and 2) they THROW their delicious hot fluffy rolls around the room…..yep – there is a guy who walks around with a big cart full of rolls and yells “hot rolls” and people just raise their hands to catch them and he throws them…..sometimes just a few feet, sometimes all the way across the room…..and he NEVER missed his target!!! It was so cool to watch!!!

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A waitress with a pot of black eyed peas……I didn’t get any of the “pass arounds” cause the meal I ordered was so huge I couldn’t eat it all, but it wasn’t cause it wasn’t offered! You could order just “pass arounds”, too, and you could have all you could eat of any or all of them!

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The roll pitcher……he threw this one across to the opposite back corner of the room! WOW!!!

FRIENDS ALONG THE WAY

We got to see several friends along the way, too……one stop was specifically to visit with a dear old friend of Donna’s, another of Lylace’s family friends lived near where we stayed in Rapid City, SD and came to see us while we were there, I got to see two special high school friends while I was in Louisiana and Pensacola, FL

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Donna and Lylace with dear friends Don and his son Arvid in Watertown, SD

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Chatting with Don and Arvid

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Donna and Lylace’s friend Charlie and his wife in Rapid City, SD

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Me with my old friend, Russ in New Orleans, LA

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Me with my old friend, Debbie, in Pensacola, FL

SITTING AROUND THE CAMPFIRE

You can’t go camping without enjoying a good campfire with friends, marshmallows, and smores……I somehow lived to be almost 60 years old and never ate a smore……so, that was a specific activity I planned to remedy! One night in Rapid City, SD, we had Donna and Lylace’s friend Charlie and his wife over and we built a fire in the pit……we talked and laughed and had a wonderful evening……and roasted marshmallows…..and made smores! So, I can say that I DID experience making and eating smores by the campfire BEFORE I turned 60 years old (barely, but let’s not split hairs)!!! 🙂 I can honestly say that I wasn’t missing much……don’t see the appeal – they were OK, but definitely not something I will ever want to do again! LOL

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I think that covers the mini-adventures…….still lots more to post about from South Dakota, Louisiana, and Florida……and, I also want to put together a post with all the cool stuff we saw on the road side all across the trip! So, keep coming back to check for more MEA posts! 🙂

2 Comments on “2016 MEA # 5: Mini Adventures

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