Road Trip! (Part One)

2013
06.15

Is there anything better than getting into the car and taking off to see the world? Or even just 2,000 miles of it?  I don’t think so.

My friends Jean and Dave and I set out for Pittsburgh on May 16, eager to see the sights. They had been planning on driving their new car out there to visit their daughter Molly, and I begged them to take me along so I could visit my friend Cathy, who lives in that area. They readily agreed. (I hope they are not kicking themselves today.)

Just for the record, I kept track of gas prices along the way, because the day we left, Duluth was at its highest price to date, a cool $4.17 a gallon. Turns out it was the highest on the trip, with Smithfield, PA, being the lowest at $3.43. What gives?

Anyhow, our first stop was Chetek, Wisconsin, where we visited a very cool antique store whose name I’ve forgotten. On to Osseo, where we stopped for pie (Coconut, one of my favorites) at the Norske Nook. We visited another antique store there, where we were cautioned to not pet a very friendly cat. What the heck? We did anyway. We all lived to tell the tale.

It looked kinda like this one. Who wouldn’t pet him/her?

Later that day we reached one of the highlights of the trip, which I highly recommend if you like oddball stuff made from wild imagination and probably lots of money: Dr Evermore’s Forevertron, in North Freedom, Wisconsin. It was a little difficult to find, since the folks we asked hadn’t ever seemed to hear of it. If you need directions, just ask for “that monument place.” That’ll get you there.

Here’s Jean going into the post office to ask for directions, which they didn’t seem to know. There’s Dave going in to double check!

I’m going to post some photos of Dr Evermore’s in the next entry.

After the self-guided tour around Dr Evermore’s park, we drove to Baraboo, Wisconsin, which used to be the winter home of Barnum & Bailey, or maybe Ringling Brothers, but I don’t think it is anymore. Looked like a great little town, and we had dinner at a silver diner, which sounds like a line from a song.

I loved the toll roads (except for the paying part) and the Oasis stops with large clean bathrooms and lots of little shops and maps. We’ve come a long way from Stuckey’s, though you can still buy chachkes if you need ’em.

We spent the night at a hotel in South Bend, but got there just as every restaurant in town was closing. (And it was Notre Dame’s graduation weekend, so what the heck?) We ate a late dinner at the Steak and Shake, and went to our separate rooms and slept like dogs. At least I did!

In the morning he drove through Elkhart, Indiana, and on to Toledo, Ohio, stopping for Starbuck’s coffee and caramel corn. You gotta have that on the road. We listened to a beautifully poetic short story called “The Distance of the Moon,” by Italo Calvino, and read by actor Liev Schreiber. I want to read it or hear it one more time. I thought it was a perfect bedtime lullaby for adults and children alike. Gorgeous.

Near Sandusky and Norwalk, we stopped at an Oasis where Jean and Dave wisely ordered lunch, but I opted for Hershey’s ice cream. Think about it (which I did when I saw the sign.) What could be better than ice cream made by Hershey? Turns out, just about anything would be. The ice cream was marginal (they only offered about 3 flavors) and when I asked for hot fudge, they said they didn’t serve that. They had sprinkles, though. So I had a cup of grocery-store quality ice cream, for a mere $3.69, and that was that. I also bought a bottle of water for the road, only to discover it was actually sugar-free Sprite, or something like that. Foiled again!

We arrived in Pittsburgh around 5:00 and were directed to “The Strip,” which was a fun touristy area of town where I discovered Lidia Bastianich has a restaurant, which might have been fun to visit. (The short haired lady from the Create channel’s “Cooking with Lidia.”) We visited the public market which seemed to be closing up, and tried to buy a drink somewhere but nobody would acknowledge our presence (take THAT, Public Market!) and visited a wonderful antique store where we didn’t buy anything but the friendly owner gave us a lot of tips on what to see and where to eat.

My cheap TrackFone apparently does not work outside the confines of my car, so Jean had to use her phone to call Cathy and Cathy’s husband Pat, to give them directions on where to find us in the seemingly busiest section of Pittsburg on a Friday night after work. One of my favorite memories of the trip is Jean on the phone, walking down a busy street waving and guiding our friends to a parking place. Had it not been for Jean, I’m not sure how we’d have found each other. Are there public phones anywhere anymore? I never saw one.

So, part one of the trip. Part two to follow. Pictures of Dr Evermore’s Forevertron on the next page. Go there. You’ll love it. Take a lunch and have a picnic. They’ll let ya.

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PS: Three more auction boxes to give away, so sign up now and get yours before they’re all gone. Leave a note here, or send me an Email at pjackson@pattjackson.com. It’s fun!

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PPS: I’m not proofreading this, just so you know.

4 Responses to “Road Trip! (Part One)”

  1. Cathy says:

    Oh, fun reading all the details of your trip out here. Now onward to the best part….when you visited us for PIKE DAYS!!! Mile after mile of yard sales and blue grass music in a big dusty barn! Funnel cakes. Dinner by a river, complete with ducks!

  2. Patt says:

    I know! I had to break the trip up into two parts because there is so much to write about. I loved everything. The evening in the barn for the bluegrass music was just wonderful. More to come!

  3. Cathy says:

    PS – Stuckey’s! Remember them? All I remember is the fudge.

    I remember (when I a kid) how the turnpike was the WORST place to eat, but you were a captive audience so you didn’t have much choice. I suppose you still are a “captive” audience, but the quality of food has really improved, as well as the rest stops themselves. (Outside of that Hershey’s ice cream you had. I’ve never tried it “on the turnpike.”)

  4. Dave Kirwan says:

    Oh, yeah. Right. That stuff all happened! I’ve forgotten great gobs of details already (am remembering the pie, though). For the record, Patt is the perfect traveling companion; much laughing all around, and she were relentlessly cheerful (even in spite of the whole Hershey’s Ice Cream thing!)

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