Published: September 11th 2012September 10th 2012
We landed in Wisconsin around dinner time and set up camp at a KOA outside Madison. I can’t even express the number of farms and cheese signs we saw whilst driving through Wisconsin. Crazy. Anyhoo, we went to dinner at a recommended Madison restaurant called the Great Dane, which had a fabulous beer selection and also delicious cheesy concoctions. We set up at a table so we could watch the opening game of the NFL season. Yay! Though the meal was outstanding, and I had one of the best restaurant salads I’ve ever experienced (it had mozzarella balls + everything was salted and peppered- win), toward the end of the meal, I dropped some mustard on my pants. I don’t know if it was sadder that I had mustard pants, or that I wasted a bite of Rob’s amazing cheese-filled slider.
That night, we cozied up by the fire to determine the next part of our trip. Rob informed us that he needed to get into Canada pretty soon, so after perusing a map for a while, we decided that Winnipeg would be the spot to cross over the border. However, we had a few stops to make before getting that far north.
The next morning, we packed up the car (in record time) and began our journey to Bloomington, Minnesota. Who can resist the Mall of America when it’s so close? On our way out of the campsite, we noticed a huge sign that just read “CHEESE,” so we of course had to stop and go in. Turns out it was a cheese chalet. Our poor friend Abigail is a lactard, so sadly, she wasn’t able to indulge in any cheese varieties. Aside from just dairy, however, they had cheese hats and popcorn and cow puppets and really anything else cheese-related. Rob and I tried many different types of cheese (who knew they made cheddar with maple or havarti with pesto?) before purchasing our selections and heading out of town.
Again, more fields and farms and cows along the way. We are trying to conserve moolah so we stopped at a grocery store for some real eats. We loaded up on sandwich fixins and canned soup for dinner, then had a lovely picnic on some bleachers of delicious gourmet sandwiches (with our new Cheese Chalet cheese, of course), fruit, and Dr. Pepper. Oh yea, and pickles. Winning.
We found a campsite right outside of Bloomington, so we could head to the MOA first thing the next morning. Rob and I went for a night run, where we found some sprinklers to run through, before being eaten alive by mosquitoes and mayhaps spiders back at the campsite. Turns out that Savage, Minnesota is 2 things: freezing and full of bugs. The little critters even got my face, and I looked like an acne-ridden teenager for a bit. I guess it was retribution for being in a seemingly bug-free environment all summer. Anyhoo, we made soup and sandwiches (still with new cheese- just can’t get enough) and headed to bed (in 2 pairs of socks and full body fleece) early in preparation for a day of shopping.
The next morning, we awoke with excitement at the prospect of a day of shopping. The MOA turns out to be nothing more than just an enormous mall with an over-abundance of stores. It was a weird time to be shopping at any mall, about 10AM on a weekday, so the place was a’bustlin’ (every day I’m bustling) with stay-at-home moms and little ones. Aside from that, the mall was pretty much empty. The roller coasters and other rides were literally running with one person on board (not any of us, just other randoms). We thought about living on the edge and riding some coasters, but they seemed to be going exceptionally slow, in addition to being indoors, which pretty much terrifies me. I just don’t love the idea of being slammed into a wall inside the mall. I must say, I’m pretty proud of the lack of purchases that took place by any of us. We spent some time in Michael Kors, trying on watches, but walked out empty-handed. We also went into every other store imaginable that has ever been in any mall ever.
After the mall, we went to Costco for some free samples and then took the car for an alignment. It had been pulling to the right, so long story short, we got a few estimates, and 2 new tires later, we were on the road to North Dakota. I’ve pretty much just skipped a full 24 hours, but who needs to rehash the time spent dealing with car mechanics who know we’re traveling through and can pretty much feed me any line of crap about my car?
However, I’d like to note that in that 24 hours (post-mall and pre-setting a towel on fire trying to retrieve some soup from the flames because we failed to purchase potholders), Rob and I went for a woods run, where we thought we were on a path, but ended up running on some prairie conservation and I had wet feet by the end. Then we got attacked by dogs. We’re ok though.
So the next day, we got some tires, ate some Outback (I had a gift card and Pablo, our waiter, was so nice. Plus, I love free steak for lunch), and headed up to Fargo. I’ve never experienced such a hard drive in my life. The wind was a’blowin’ at about 30 mph, plus having the bag atop the car just made for a tough 4 hours in the car. The wind was so loud, that we ended up just driving in silence without the radio because we had to crank it so loud to drown out the wind. Also, the cruise control couldn’t handle the gusts. We took a lollipop break midway through and finally drove into Fargo.
We found this awesome campsite right on a river, where we set up camp. It was such a pretty spot and we were so excited to use our newly purchased stove and pots. After the towel-fire incident and flimsy foil cookware, we decided to man-up and buy actual camping gear. Luckily, there was a Walmart nearby (actually, we had to drive back into Minnesota, but it was close enough) so we loaded up on chili ingredients for our first home-cooked meal. It was a little tough setting up the stove, making a fire, and cooking delicious chili in the pitch black, but it turned out so well. Plus, we had a ton leftover, which we had to store in ziplocks due to a shortage (lack completely) of tupperware. Classy.
Later that night, after bedtime, I woke up to pee in the middle of the night (which is actually an every night occurrence and quite a bitch when the bathroom is up the road from the tent and it’s freezing outside). On the way back, I saw something moving about in another campsite. It looked about the size of a golden retriever, but shaped differently. I was pretty much terrified because I had nothing on me but chapstick and a lighter. After a minute, it began running toward me, when I realized it was a raccoon (not that scary… but scary enough). I took out my lighter (my only weapon) and started yelling at it to retreat. It listened. I’m glad to know that I survived my first encounter with midnight wildlife. Check. And note to self- bring a knife on each subsequent bathroom run.
Our second morning in Fargo, we decided to begin the day with mimosas (because we’re fancy) at the campsite, and found a little local breakfast place nearby. Actually, before we even left for breakfast, I fell asleep in a chair outside the tent. Guess I can’t throw back like I used to. At the restaurant, we enjoyed reading the daily bible verse that was written on the whiteboard next to the specials. My breakfast burrito was delicious, and after eating we went for a little walk in downtown Fargo. P.S. Nothing is open on Sundays in Fargo. The downtown is a really cute area with shops and whatnot. We strolled about for a bit, discouraged at the lack of open stores, and then headed back to the tent for napping hour. I fell asleep in the sun, and shockingly got a little color. It’s amazing to me how hot it can be during the day and how freaking freezing it is at night.
After napping and jogging and showering, the gang indulged in some Target shopping and then ate some peanut butter and banana sandwiches. We live life on the edge. That night, after one of the most relaxing days thus far on the trip, we treated ourselves to bowling. With a belly full of leftover chili, we headed to the local Bowl-a-rama (not cosmic- quite a letdown). Turns out, Rob sucks at bowling. Not that I’m great either, but he’s pretty much bad.
Back at the campsite, we ran into some fellow campers who said that they, too, had witnessed some incredibly large raccoons about. So later, ‘round 2AM, when I had to pee, I went ahead and drove the 100 feet to the bathroom. Sue me. Don’t worry, there was poop on the bathroom floor. Good thing it was our last night there. Fargo was alright, but definitely had a lack of chipper-shredders in my opinion. Tomorrow, to Canada.