Monday, September 17, 2012

Scenic Wisconsin

 By Claire

We began our journey through southwestern Wisconsin with an interesting sign warning us to be careful.  From there, we continued on the trail of horse droppings.  Sure enough, we passed a guy who gave us a friendly wave.

We weren't completely surprised by the beauty of this state; it's one of the reasons we wanted to see it.  The evidence of fall approaching, the rolling hills and the many trees and endless cornfields met our expectations.

Today was leisurely, with many stops along the way.  Our first was another state park, Wildcat Mountain.  We spent about 20 minutes with the ranger helping us pick out the best hike.  We were the only car in the parking lot and I have a feeling she had time on her hands.  The park and the hike were beautiful on this increasingly gray, 61° day.  Rain was predicted, along with thunderstorms.  Bring it on!  Here are some of the views we enjoyed on our hike.

Wildflowers?  Still?

Back on the road again, we meandered through tiny towns, suddenly finding ourselves in Hillsboro with an organic food store and a cafe called Holvy's.  We decided to stop for lunch.

Classic Wisconsin dairy barn

I ordered the egg salad sandwich ($2.79) and a cup of homemade chili ($2.59).  The bread was homemade rye.

Chuck ordered the Shuleke soup (chicken and dumplings, $2.59).  We asked about the name and found out this is a Czechoslovakian area.

We've had requests for more dessert pictures, so Chuck volunteered to order the pie of the day, homemade banana cream ($2.79), delicious! I must observe that in towns like this it can be cheaper to eat out than to shop in grocery stores.

As we were getting ready to leave, an Amish couple came in with another couple, civilians.  The Amish woman was in black, with a black bonnet, which she removed--only to reveal yet another bonnet underneath, encasing her hair.  She and her husband (with broad-brimmed hat and typical beard, minus the mustache) were laughing and talking excitedly with their friends as they sat down for their meal.  I tried to keep my eyes in normal mode.

 After lunch, we walked down to the organic food store where I walked through the small aisles completely enraptured.  I quickly grabbed two packages of muesli (oh, how I have missed it).  We were about to grab a container of Greek yogurt when we realized we'd have to get some ice.  Chuck asked the owner where to get it just as I realized we have free breakfasts for another week.  I'll save the muesli for later but yogurt is another story.  We ended up in a long conversation with him about the town and the area.  He told us he was from central Indiana and has lived here for 9 years when I asked him if he was a native.  He said he loved it here but wouldn't come again for the same reasons he originally did.  He went on to explain that he came for religious reasons, but left the faith.  He told us it's a great town with 3 chiropractors, 2 doctors and a hospital.  Not only that, there is a town nearby that has an enormous farmer's market and a Whole Foods grocery store. He believes the harsh winters and the resulting difficulty of travel require self-contained communities. 

He also mentioned that the climate dictates special planning at intersections so that in the winter motor vehicles do not need to halt at stop signs if it's uphill--they'd never make it otherwise, with the slippery ice on the road.  We talked some more about food in general and I told him how thirsty I've been at night, probably caused by too much salt in restaurant food.  He quickly showed us a bottle of kombucha tea--slightly fermented and carbonated; it was his favorite flavor, gingerberry, has live cultures and is very thirst-quenching.  Without even asking what other flavors he had, I told him I'd take it.  He responded with "but you don't know what the price is!"  Actually, I had noticed the price of $4.19, but didn't care.  I wanted to try it.  Meanwhile, Chuck grabbed a large container of chocolate covered coffee beans.  That drink cost more than my sandwich but I loved it. I'm afraid I could become easily hooked but at that price I think I'll have to let it go.  Maybe just once in awhile--it's even more expensive than a cappuccino at Peet's!

Returning to our car, we were just in time to see the Amish couple get into a gigantic Chevy Suburban (I guess that's redundant) with the other couple.  We were too shocked to notice whether either one got into the driver's side or the passenger side.  I must say, this is my one and only exposure to anything Amish, and I was pleasantly surprised.  For some reason I was expecting very stern people with nose to the grindstone.  I guess you don't need TV or the Internet to be happy, not to mention clothes in differing styles, Temperpedic beds, movies, Kindles, iPhones, iPods, iPads or a car for road trips.  At A&W we ran into two more ladies in identically styled dresses but sporting different patterns (yes, another stop for Chuck--for his now traditional daily fix of root beer float).  I guess A&W is on the allowed list for the Amish.

Winding our way through the back roads, we came to Devil's Lake State Park, our next destination.  By now the rain had started; but the ranger was very nice and helpful, mapping out the route through the park and some back roads to get us to our present location, Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Back in civilization (towns of about 1,100), we have noticed quite a few Obama/Biden lawn signs and announcements for town meetings.  One sign advertising a meeting said "Who cares?  Obama cares."  Another said "Don't Give More to the 1%."  We haven't seen a single Romney sign--but perhaps this is due to strong support, rendering such signs unnecessary?

I love this sign on a truck with Wisconsin plates.  I have no idea who the ass is; but surely there are enough of them to cover several States.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu