(G) This was our first time on Interstate 90! Did you know that Interstate 90 is the longest Interstate Highway in the Interstate system? Weighing in at 3,020 miles it stretches from Boston to Seattle. In 1978, the east building team met up with the west building team in Blue Earth Minnesota and finished the highway with a four-foot-wide strip of gold painted concrete. Today, a historical marker commemorates the completion of the highway. I thought it was kind of cool to live in a place call Gratitude. I bet the people of “Blue Earth” think their town is cool as well.
(L) We had a two-day layover in La Crosse Wisconsin at Lake Neshonoc. The main reason was that our driver needed a hot tub and it was about halfway between Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana and our planned domicile, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Sunday was one of those perfect days. Light breeze, temperatures in the low seventies, puffy white clouds. Known as the “Cheese State” Wisconsin is chock full of the most picturesque dairy farms in the country. At this time of the year, the fields are just starting to sprout green and the roadsides and tree undergrown are strewn with white and lavender flowers. Our plan, as advised by the exceptionally nice person at the Wisconsin border visitor center, was to have BBQ at the Big Boar, Ice cream at Pearls in downtown La Crosse, and see the view from Grandad Overlook, the number one attraction according to Trip Advisor.
Our BBQ lunch was exceptional, and I sampled the “Burnt Ends” which was a question our team “Gratitude” failed to answer correctly at the Wheel House trivia night in Rock Hall. The “burnt ends” were wonderful and such things as well as the end of a loaf of bread or the first crumbled piece of pie removed from a pie dish were called “uglies” in my family and we all competed to be the lucky one to taste them. Gary tried the pulled pork with cold slaw. The server warned us that the slaw was not the creamy kind but was a house specialty. Gary approved.
The Pearl was a hopping place even on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. It is a superbly maintained old fashioned confectionary and ice cream parlor with outdoor seating so we could bring Sam with us. Two young scoopers made homemade waffle cones into which the creamiest ice cream was scooped. I had the Snapin’ Turtle ice cream and Gary had a chocolate malt the size of a small bucket. After the ice cream we took a walk down the parkway bordering the Mississippi River. Beautiful lush green trees, the thickest grass I can remember every seeing, and boats meandering down the river. We were surprised how fast the Mississippi ran this far north. Here in La Crosse, we are only 400 miles from the Mississippi headwaters in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. For some reason, I thought that the Mississippi would be narrow, shallow, and slow moving here. I remember all our special outings in the late seventies along the Mississippi from Blytheville Arkansas, our first duty station, to Memphis for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. There the river is very wide, fast moving, and deep enough to accommodate large heavy coal barges and river boats.
The directions to Grandad Overlook from The Pearl in downtown took us down main street lined with stately old and well-maintained homes and several county roads. In La Crosse County the county roads use letters. But what do the letters mean? As we travel, I like to look things up on “google.” Federal and State roads have a defined and predictable naming convention, like federal roads running east/west are two digits divisible by 10. The mile markers from east to west go in descending order. Not so for County roads. Counties themselves define road name and there is no predictable convention! If there is one, there is no expectation that that convention will be adhered to. The county roads from downtown La Crosse to Lake Neshonoc had names like “O,” “OA,” and “OM.” According the director of Road Maintenance, the convention was that county road name should be the first letter of the starting and ending city of a county road. But that didn’t work out too well and today county road names appear almost random.
(G) Currently we are spending a little over a week in our new residence, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Actually, we are at an RV park because our “legal” residence is a mail forwarding service that provides us with what is known as a Personal Mail Box (PMB). I really don’t understand the difference between a PMB and a regular PO Box. ((L) That’s PO, which stands for Post Office as in an official government organization. You can’t live at a PO either.) I do know that a PMB allows us to have a street address and become residents. So, we got a mailing address, driver’s licenses, registered our cars and registered to vote. I know many of you have never met anyone or know anyone from South Dakota. Now you do. The people from South Dakota are cool. At least the one’s you know.