Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Travelblog, episode 4: High ho, high ho, it's on the road we go

Sunday morning we got up, packed our crap, loaded the cars, and headed out. What cars, you ask? Well...car 1 was a blue Chrysler Sebring. Not a bad ride, I must say, and if I was in the market and wasn't an import guy I'd think about buying one. Car 2 was a silver Jeep Commander, larger than the Cherokee but smaller than the Navigator. It seats 7, with the two back seats folding down to make a trunk space. We'd reserved two of the midsize sedans, but when we went to the Milwaukee airport on Saturday to pick up the second one they were out and instead cut us a deal on the Commander. This turned out to be a very good thing, 'cause the nieces and nephew all hauled along giant Samsonite hard-sided suitcases. Suitcases that would NEVER have fit in the trunk of a normal car. Never. And the seating capacity came in handy later in the trip when we did some sight-seeing. So all in all a lucky coincidence.

Anyhow, Sunday we loaded up, headed over to Cousin Sallie's house to pick up the seatbelt thingy that my friend Shelly had mailed us, and got on the road.

The gang posing with the mighty
Commander, ready to hit the road

Our destination that first night was the home of Monkeydisaster's John, Jill, Charlie, Kate and Maggie Moe in lovely St. Paul, Minnesota. Roughly 300 miles from Milwaukee / Oconomowoc. The drive that day was fairly uneventful, although we did drive through two or three nice thunderstorm cells, slowing to 30 or so thanks to the monsterously heavy rains. We finally rolled in to St. Paul in the early evening, maybe 6 or so, to find that Jill had provided a dinner of chicken, baked beans, salad, and some peanut butter square things (I avoided those, naturally). Well, since Logan isn't a fan of the rotisserie chicken (he's crazy, I know) we ordered him a pizza and dug in while Kate dragged Logan and Maya around the house showing it off. Unfortunately Charlie was at camp so Logan couldn't take a Lego break, instead being herded around by Kate and made to take pictures of various things. I don't think he complained...

The Moe's couch...the girls were smitten with tiny Maggie

After a warm night (the window-box air conditioner in the attic didn't so much condition the air as move it around a bit) we got up, imposed on the Moe cereal collection, talked to John for a while (he'd been in Seattle over the weekend for the Walk Through the Night and had gotten in at about 11 Sunday night), then hit the road again heading south on I-35 toward Aurora, MN, home of the Spam Museum.

Spam Museum!

The Spam Museum was spamerific, I must say. From the "wall of spam" when you enter (something like 3,000 Spam cans) to the "try on a Hormel Plantworker Uniform" display to the "Spam Exam" gameshow it was cheese supreme. Just what we'd ordered as an introduction to Americana for the British-born nieces and nephew. And just the place to buy some bribes for members of Logan's Scout troop who are strangely adicted to Spam. And what says "Spam Addict" like a Spam pennant? Nothing, that's what.

Wall of Spam

Spam worker outfits

Spam Exam!

From there we headed west on I-90 to a KOA about 20 miles from South Dakota where we spent our first night in the tents. After a taco dinner and much bug slapping we climbed in our tents, slapped the remaining mosquitos, and crashed out. Or tried to...those of us older than, say, 18 didn't sleep nearly as well thanks to aging joints and excess weight...

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