Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Living on the Edge

Let's make this clear. I once was spontaneous. However somewhere along life's path I lost it. I think it happened around the time I turned thirty. I was a single mother of two (Isaiah was a baby, Breanna was 9) and I was determined to create a "better" life for my family. I headed back to school to finish my elementary education degree, I was working, and I was slowly building my savings so that I could buy a house. There wasn't time for spontaneity. When we did do fun things I planned. This may have come from a few camping trips in which I spent hours searching for a campground that had room for us. It is no fun when mama is tired, kids are tired, and you can't find a place to rest.

Quickly learning from my mistakes, I started planning our trips. I remember spending a month planning our trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a summer vacation. I even had a binder filled with maps, itineraries and confirmation numbers for the hotels and campgrounds that we stayed. I had each day plotted out. There is wonderful security in knowing that there will be a bed (or a spot to put up the tent) waiting for you after a long day of driving with two kids. So when my husband announced last week that our weekend anniversary get away should be without a plan, I had a difficult time. In the last three years of our marriage I've been the planner. I plan and then I tell him what is on the agenda. I know that things operate much smoother when there is a well planned plan in place (I know, I sound redundant but that's how my planning can be...I tend to go overboard). I cringed when he said, "Let's just head to Stockholm (art festival that I wanted to see) and go from there." I responded with a hesitant, "Are you sure?? Shouldn't we at least make hotel reservations?" "Nah, we'll find something." So we left without a plan. Living on the edge. And it was lovely.
We began our trip by heading northeast, traveling through the small towns of Eyota, Plainview, and Wabasha and ending at our first planned destination (I only planned our first two stops) of Nelson, WI. I was craving a Nelson Cheese veggie sandwich. Cucumbers, peppers, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, mayo, avocado and cheeses on a delicious whole wheat bread. Really, it's the best sandwich EVER! Although the heat was beginning to rise, we found a shady spot outside to sit and enjoy our sandwiches.

Stockholm Art Fair
 From Nelson, we traveled north along the Mississippi to Stockholm for the Art Fair. I love this stuff. Most of the pretties are too expensive for me but I love looking a the beautiful things and dreaming of being able to craft such things. I made two purchases. A used book on soap making at A+ Antiques and an ice coffee sweetened with real maple syrup from Farmer to Farmer.

As we left Stockholm, we decided to take a winding country road. A couple miles down this mystery road we discovered a sign to Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery. Here we had a few samples of apple wine and hard cider. I wasn't too crazy for the apple wine however the hard cider was yummy. 

After spending a couple hours driving the back roads, we decided to head toward Eau Claire. We figured that would be a good place to find a room. Our plan was to find a room, have dinner, and return to our room to enjoy a glass of wine from the winery. It didn't happen that easily. An adventure wouldn't really be an adventure without a mishap or two.

Let's just say that next time I will try to persuade my husband to allow me to book a room in the general direction of where we are heading. Waiting until 8 pm to begin our hotel search and then spending hours in pursuit of a hotel room...let's just say that I was hot, tired, starving and a bit cranky but I bit my tongue so that I wouldn't ruin the weekend. If we hadn't stopped at Days Inn (our third hotel try, also with no vacancies), we may have searched for hours. BUT Days Inn had an awesome hotel clerk, Heather. Heather informed me that ALL the hotels in Eau Claire were filled. She than proceeded to call hotels in neighboring cities and finally found us one in Durand (a city we went through on our way to Eau Claire). She even let me use her internet to book the room so that the room would still be there by the time we arrived. She was so nice that I bet she would have put us up at her house. Above and beyond service. I love it when I stumble upon wonderful people (they really are everywhere if you look). She made me happy at a time when I was feeling a bit cranky. So with our room booked, we headed out for a romantic, candlelit dinner....oh no, I guess was the anniversary dinner I dreamed up...no, we went to a pizza joint and shared a delicious Gourmet Veggie Pizza. My hubs is such a good guy, he sacrificed his favorite meat loaded pizza and ordered what he knew I'd like (I think he was just trying to keep on my good side.) He really is a good guy.
Some of the other places we happened upon:

Junque to Treasures in Rock Falls, WI ~ very cool store of antiques and crafty, re-purposed "junk"

Eau Claire, WI ~ farmers market where we picked up peas and raspberries to munch on during our ride.

Durand, WI ~ where we finally found a place to rest our heads.


Leinie Lodge
 Chippewa Falls, WI ~ home of the Leinenkugel Brewery and the Leinie Lodge. The temperature outside was hot but the temperature inside the brewery was hotter, well over 100 degrees. We decided to skip the brewery heat stroke tour and stayed in the cool lodge and sampled a few Leinie mixes.

Most locations had no name. We traveled beautiful, narrow roads surrounded by woods. Occasionally we'd see streams. The heat and humidity caused a fog that hovered over the water. At one stream we watched a group of teens "playing" in the water. I suggested we join them but Barry thought I was joking. ;) So we stayed in our air conditioned van, touring the countryside while my husband dreamed of making this trip next year with the MG that he is restoring.
Maybe next year this car will be painted red, finished and licensed for our fourth anniversary road trip.
Who knows what direction we will be traveling!


  1. You should have went and picked blueberries in Maiden Rock! We are from over by Hayfield and my sister lives in Stockholm.

  2. Ah,drats! I LOVE blueberries! I may have to return. :)