It took a week for the truck to be repaired and we made the best of our unplanned stop in southern Wisconsin. Mabry and Hayes made friends with the kids at the next campsite and played with them late into the night. We swam, rode bikes, visited a local brewery, and tried to find interesting places to visit in the area. In a nearby town called Milton, we toured a museum called The Milton House. It was a hotel from the 1800’s and it gave us an accurate look at how some people traveled at the time. Lodging for the night cost 25 cents, and women and children slept in different rooms from the men. The beds were very small and we learned that 6-8 people would share the same bed, often with strangers, and they would sleep sitting up (they were afraid of swallowing their tongues). Sort of like the grandparents in the movie Willie Wonka. The most memorable aspect of this tour was in the basement, though. There was a tunnel leading from the hotel to a nearby cabin, and information linking this tunnel to the underground railroad was found in hotel papers.
Another day we drove to Madison, the capitol of Wisconsin. The city is really pretty with a large lake in the middle of town. The mascot for University of Wisconsin is a badger, and there were painted or otherwise embellished badgers all around downtown (like the art cows). Hayes made it his goal to take pictures with as many as he could find. We visited the capitol building too and it is gorgeous. Marble everywhere, murals, mosaics, even the bathrooms had marble countertops and wooden stalls. We rounded out our time in Madison with a visit to Trader Joes and Costco (first since leaving Houston…woo hoo!!).
Once the work on the truck was complete, we were happy to move on to some different scenery. We settled for a few nights in Baraboo which has a lot of history with the Ringling Brothers and the circus. We visited Devils Lake State Park and finally had a chance to try out or inflatable kayaks. It was so much fun to explore the lake and we kayaked about 3 miles! We also visited a lavender farm and tried lavender ice cream.
Literally as we drove over a bridge into Duluth Minnesota, a light came on the truck again and we were done. Benjamin found a new truck at a dealer in town and we traded in our Ford for a Ram. One problem: the title for our truck was in our safety deposit box in Houston, so he had to fly back in one very long day and retrieve the title. While truck stuff was happening, we had about a week to explore Duluth which is a cute city perched on Lake Superior. We camped in a marina the first few nights, and were able to watch freighters go through the harbor. We were within eyesight of a lift bridge, over a hundred years old, that allows cars to drive across until a boat needs to pass through the channel, and then cars have to wait for the bridge to rise and allow boats under. We rode our bikes, walked around, and explored the waterfront. One day, the kids played on the shores of the lake all day. The sand is a little rockier than we are used to but still a lot of fun. Temperatures in Duluth can get to 60 below during the winter and I cannot imagine living through that.
Now we’ve got a new, (hopefully!) reliable truck and we are on the road again, heading towards southern Minnesota to the banks of Plum Creek. We have learned our lesson about not planning too far ahead, as we’ve altered our plans several times already and we’ve only been on the road a month. Boundary waters, we will see you next year!