Summer Road Trip

Every summer I try to take a road trip.  Now a road trip is not the same as a vacation.  Vacations are about the destination, while a road trip is all about the journey.  Detours are welcome.  There is really no absolute timeline.  You can linger.  You are definitely supposed to stop at rest areas and play ball and use lots of change to fill up the car with vending machine snacks.  Omar has come to enjoy these, although if we drive longer than about 3 hours, he wonders if we're ever going to stop.

This time we drove over to Devil's Lake State Park where we met friends who were already camping there.  We spent 2 nights at the adjoining campsite, and Omar loved it.  There's a beautiful lake, carved out by the glaciers that once upon a time came through Wisconsin.  It's very shallow and not too cold this time of year so you can splash for a long time before your hands turn pruny or lips are blue.  There are kayaks and pedal boats, though we really never got around to that.  State parks are definitely going upscale now with espresso machines and wifi at the lodge.  Who knew that roughing it meant all the comforts of home?  Even the mosquitoes weren't bad this time.  We've had problems trying to camp in the past with tornadoes and thunderstorms.  This time, the weather was perfect.  We roasted marshmallows, did some hiking and just played together.  I enjoyed the adult conversation.  Omar had a blast playing with the kids.
Devil's Lake
From the lake, we headed to my aunt & uncle's place.  They used to farm, but now they enjoy life on a large piece of land.  My aunt made sweet corn and baked potatoes with delicious broasted chicken from the nearby tavern, Silver Dollar.  I felt spoiled!  It was great to be there under the stars roasting marshmallows.  You can see so many more stars when you're out in the country.  My uncle put on some classical music and we enjoyed the great outdoors with our gourmet s'mores made with Omar's chocolate bar of choice- Dove.
They have a great fire pit
The next morning we took off on the way to Minneapolis where we'd be meeting my husband for a long weekend of fun with his brother's kids to celebrate the end of Ramadan. You have to imagine that my little red VW car was packed to the brim with tent, sleeping bags, dirty clothes, food, etc.  I had to somehow make enough room for one more passenger for the long ride home again.  We had to eat everything we'd brought with us!

On the way we found a few remarkable places.  I often use www.roadamerica.com to find cool places to stop.  Thorp, WI had cows all painted up.  We found a few and stopped for a photo op.  We also found this cool Ford truck painted in Packers colors.  Then there was the Veteran's memorial complete with marble pieces and loads of flags.  Wisconsin is very patriotic.  There's a website where you can follow a state trunk highway and see all the sites, just in case you're planning your own road trip.  Here's the one we found for Highway 29.  We found a gorgeous old mill at Augusta.  There's a museum there too, but we didn't stop long enough to see it.  Omar took a drink in the lion's mouth at Merillan.  I remember doing that myself when I was a kid.  Certainly this is a replacement after so many years.  What is a road trip without some form of novelty made of fiberglass?  Very Americana if you ask me.

Painted fiberglass cows adorn Thorp's streets this summer

Loved the paint job on this old truck

At Cadott, the veteran's memorial

Dells Mill at Augusta, WI
We arrived at Minneapolis to find some of the kids sick, so we had to revise the plan.  We took the 2 older kids to a unique sculpture mini golf course at Minnetrista, that had been listed on tripadvisor, another of my favorite websites to find attractions.  You don't really need a tour book any longer as there are so many free resources available to you online and to your smart phone.  There were many places where I didn't get internet reception though so we did have a map and some addresses just in case we got stuck.  The next day we did Mall of America's theme park that is now all about Nickelodeon, whereas years ago it started as Snoopy theme.  I suppose kids today don't really know much about Snoopy.  Charles Schulz, the Peanuts cartoonist, had been from Minneapolis.  The dads sat by as the 2 boys and I did the rides.  Some of them were head banging and scary, but the boys didn't seem to be fazed by the experience.  I on the other hand had a few regrets...but I sure don't want the title of 'boring parent', so I went with them on most.  The kids who got to play had fun.  The ones who were sick definitely want a do over weekend. The road trip home was not much fun at all.  I hate to do the driving when it's just 7 hours of highway with no fun stops.  My husband had to get back to work, so I drove and he slept most of the way.  Omar stuck his nose into his ipad for the duration.  Then to make matters worse, we returned to laundry, an empty refrigerator, and all the unpacking still ahead.  Sure makes you want to run away from home again!  Ah, road trips are made for summer fun.  Where will the next one take you?

Mini golf inside of an upside down boat

The Avatar ride definitely is the one ride you only need to do once in your lifetime!

Dare to drink from the lion's mouth


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