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STOP #219

"The Badger State"
is our 35th visited state


The Green Bay Packers are owned by the people of Green Bay (pop. just over 100,000). The NFL football team is a nonprofit whose fans support it, and the team supports them with a bolstered economy, plenty of charitable giving and even a Lombardi Trophy from time to time.

Today our travel day started a little bit early at 9:30AM. We have a pit stop to make on today's route, the Goodyear Tire Store in Maple Grove, MN.

One of THE PODs tires is wearing faster than the other three and I was hoping to make it last until we made it to Pennsylvania at the end of August. In August we are getting another upgrade to our solar package and I was hoping to upgrade to 16" tires and wheels on THE POD at the same time.

The tire just kept looking worse and worse, so today we pulled the trigger and elected to purchase just one new tire so we don't risk any major damage to the trailer with a blowout, not to mention danger to ourselves and others.

After a $185 repair and a quick $27 lunch at the Culver's Restaurant next door (famous for their frozen custard), we were back on the road, feeling safer and less hungry.

You all know how much I hate maneuvering THE POD around in tight shopping center parking lots. In campgrounds I'm fine, most people know how to act when there are trailers present by staying alert for anything. Remember there are no backup lights on a trailer, only on the truck!

THURSDAY - Today we were up and off the campsite by 9:00AM. One of the main reasons we are camping at the Highland Ridge Campground, other than the fact it's half price and only $12 a night for us, is because of it's close proximity to Crystal Cave.

You all know how much we like doing cave tours and today will be our 41st trip below ground. While Crystal Cave turned out to be just an ordinary cave as far as formations go, we had an extraordinary tour thanks to the very knowledgeable tour guide who led our trip. The reason we didn't see any of the large formations we are used to seeing is because until just 80 years ago this cave was filled with mud, not allowing the water to drip and thereby create the formations.

We were also surprised to find 17 other customers up early, ready to go on the first tour of the morning with us. Maybe things really are starting to get back to normal in the world.

Our knowlegeable guide leading us down into the entrance of the cave.

Eighty year old soda straw formations just an inch long.

On another note:

While we were underground this morning I missed a phone call. Not a big deal it was from an unrecognized number and I wouldn't have answered it anyway. Turns out they left me a 28-second long voice message.

It was United Parcel Service in Jamestown, ND wanting to know when I was going to be coming in to pickup my package. It was not "The UPS Store" where I had addressed the package to be delivered mind you, but a Customer Service Center, somewhere else in the same town.

They said it had been there for "a couple of days now" (more like 20 days) and just wanted to let me know it had arrived. Keep in mind, I originally scheduled this pick up for July 1st as I drove past their town. I then spent six days trying to locate it after the Tracking Data said it had been delivered at 10:14AM on July 2nd to "Clare at the front desk".

I started to call them back and then changed my mind. I already have the replacement package in my hands, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm good to go. They'll just have to figure out for themselves what to do with the one they have!

FRIDAY - Today we were up and out of the campground by 9:30AM. We are going sightseeing back across the border in Minnesota, Minneapolis to be more exact.

There are two sights on our list today, in addition to purchasing gasoline and a few needed grocery items. First up is lunch!

There is only one place in the country where you can taste an "Original Jucy Lucy" burger and that's at Matt's Bar & Grill in southern Minneapolis.

Waiting for the place to open!

A view of nearly the entire restaurant and bar.

There were seven of us standing outside waiting for the place to open at 11:00AM this morning and by 11:30AM the restaurant was nearly filled.

You are probably wondering, "What's the big deal, it's a hamburger". First off, it's not a hamburger, it's a cheeseburger, with one very big difference.

The Jucy Lucy is created by placing American Cheese between two thin hamburger patties and sealing the edges all around. Then it is grilled to perfection on both sides and served with diced grilled onions and pickles on a fresh bun. When you bite into it you'll know where the name came from.

What it looks like before you take your first bite. BTW - that's their half-order basket of fries.

After the first few bites I was thinking it should of been called the "Molten Lava Cheeseburger".

The burgers were delicious and worth the 60+ miles we drove back to taste them. That half-order basket of fries was more than enough for the two of us and we left almost as many as we ate.

Now that we have full bellies it's time to make a short drive to our second sightseeing destination of the day, the Mall of America. When it opened in 1992 it was the largest shopping mall in the United States and now attracts an average of 42,000,000 (that's millions folks) visitors a year, roughly 8 times the population of the entire state of Minnesota.

Neither Tricia or I are big shoppers, but it just seemed like something we shouldn't pass up. We spent nearly two hours walking around the mall and our combined purchases were a new top for Tricia, found on the 40% off Clearance Rack in the Eddie Bauer Store, a Starbucks Coffee for Tricia and a Tollhouse Cookie for me. Like I said we aren't big shoppers!

We spent a little bit of our visit "people watching" from the balcony walkways of the four story shopping mall, looking out over the Nickelodeon Universe theme park which occupies the entire center of the mall.

Here are a couple short videos for you.

SATURDAY - Today was going to be a "lazy day" but it didn't turn out that way. We did end up checking off four items on our Wisconsin Bucket List.

Just before lunch we went on a hike (#1) that goes around the perimeter of the campground. About halfway through the hike we took the time to locate the geocache (#2) that is hidden just off the trail.

For lunch we cooked up some hot dogs on the grill and then remained outside to devour them (#3) with some of my favorite Deviled Egg Potato Salad from Walmart, if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing. Much later we enjoyed a campfire (#4) before retiring for the evening.

Just like that, we had checked off 4 of the 7 bucket list items we try to accomplish in each state we visit. It's not hard to accomplish, but if we didn't have this bucket list we just might forget to enjoy the outdoors.

In between lunch and dinner we were treated to a parade, right in front of our campsite. It was the 10th Annual "Come As U R Dum Parade". I looked online for some additional information about the parade, but all I found was a short 5-minute You Tube video from 2012.


The campground host was able to tell us that the parade is sponsored by a local Spring Valley Womens Club and is run every year at this time to honor the Army Corps of Engineers for constructing the earthen dam back in 1968 that saves their small town of 1352 people from continued floodings throughout the year.

We weren't expecting much and it was all over in a matter of a few minutes, but as a show of support we joined all the other campers by sitting at the end of our driveway while the small parade passed by. I did score a couple of choice pieces of chocolate candy that were being thrown from the passing "floats", but most of what we collected was donated to the mom, big sister and three little girls from the campsite across the street from us.

SUNDAY - I forgot to mention that after our cave tour on Thursday morning we did a little sightseeing in the small town of Spring Valley.

On the edge of town is the huge dam that controls the water flowing from the Eau Galle Reservoir which is fed by Lohn Creek, Lousy Creek and the Eau Galle River. We drove all around the dam checking out the beach area, boat launch and picnic area. Finally we drove up to the scenic overlook where these two pictures were taken.

Our campsite is somewhere on the other side of the lake up in the trees.

Afterwards we went back into town to have lunch at Sneakers Pub & Eatery, a small restaurant on the main street going through the center of town. We ordered an appetizer of Cheese Curds to share, we are in Wisconsin afterall, and they were so much better than the ones we sampled previously while in North Dakota. The waitress explained that their cheese curds are deliver fresh, almost daily, and the other ones we had were probably frozen at some point.

We both ordered a personal sized 9" freshly made pizza which were also delicious. Amazingly we both had leftovers which we boxed to take home for lunch tomorrow.

I'd also like to mention that Sneakers participates in a program whereby the senior citizens who reside in Pierce County can come in once a day and recieve a special home cooked meal for just $4.00, today it was Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice with a beverage and a fruit cup. Just another perk for living here!

I'm bringing all this up now because after we mentioned how we like to "shop local" when we visit new locations, the staff recommended we also check out A Butchery Shoppe as we are leaving town. Also we should check out the Cady Cheese Factory & Shop just outside of town on our way back to the campground.

Back on Thursday we didn't visit the butcher shop, but we did visit the cheese store where I purchased a heavy loaf of Apple Fritter & Spice Bread and a 12-oz. bottle of Chokecherry Flavored Honey, because I liked the Chokecherry Jelly I purchased in North Dakota so much.

Tricia purchased I don't know how many different kinds of Wisconsin Cheese to share with the new friends we're bound to make at an upcoming Airstream Rally in September. All I know is our bill from this one outing was $65.83 when everything was rung up at the register. I was reassured by Tricia that she understood, since we are both now retired that we can't afford to do this very often. Tricia may be the accountant in the family, but I'm the one who manages our checking account and pays our bills.

This finally brings us up to today. When I asked Tricia what she would like to do today she said, "Let's go check out that butcher shop". I said, "OK, but I'd like to get another loaf of that bread and some more honey, they were both really good"! So off we went.

We stopped at the cheese store first, where I bought the fresh baked loaf of bread, but they were all sold out today. We did pick up four more 12-oz. bottles of honey (it never goes bad) and that's when I saw Tricia checking out the meat case. We selected some Bison Summer Sausage to try for ourselves and some Beef Summer Sausage to share with the upcoming rally friends. Total bill = $38.48!

Next we drove into town to the butcher shop. I selected a 4-pack of Red Birch Beer soda, a half pound of seafood salad (for lunch today) and some Cheese Curd Bratwurst (another MUST TASTE Wisconsin Bucket List item). Tricia found some meat products to go with the cheese and crackers she plans to share at the rally and some for us to eat for ourselves. Total bill = $56.09!

We have got to slow down on our spending!

Tricia kept busy this afternoon by getting out her sewing machine and taking care of a project she saved for doing after she retired. She had already made two foam pillows that we stuff into the exhaust fans in the ceiling to keep the heat in when it's cold out. Today she made two more pillows to stuff into our huge skylights to serve the same purpose.

They also do well when it's hot outside to keep the inside of THE POD cool when the air conditioner is running. One more thing off of her TO DO list.


it's pretty simple actually:

If the border color is then Tricia took the photo.
If the border color is then Phil took the photo.

and if it's a thin black line or no border at all, that means I screwed up
and it's up to you to try and figure it out for yourself!

Additionally, from now on if the type is italicized, then it was written by Tricia.

We are going to try and make this blog a team effort now that Trica is also retired.

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