Mmmmm cheese. Well we wouldn’t have named the blog ‘si con queso por favor’ if we didn’t love it! Known as the dairy heartland of America, Wisconsin is a lactose tolerant dairy lover’s heaven. One tacky Americana stop on any well respected ‘tourists’ itinerary has to be by far and away the ‘Mars Cheese Castle’ .
Matt had found his nirvana and upon entering was disappointed that there wasn’t a throne for him to claim (Cheese is Matt’s nickname for those who aren’t in the know, another reason for the blog name, as Sarah, also known as Bickies, is travelling con queso). More of a condiment and beer lovers gold mine, we still departed satisfied (of course) with several local beers, less free cheese samples (points deducted) than expected and a Wisconsin Greenbay Packers Cheesehead hat in hand.
Shooting across the farmed expanse of the rest of Wisconsin’s farmland, detouring to follow the Wisconsin River and pick up a huge free squash from a roadside farm (travellers tight arse tip…never pass up a freebie), we finally arrived at the Wyalusing State Park campground. With full amenities this campground is spectacularly situated for sunset 500 ft over the convergence of the Wisconsin River and the grand Mississippi River. Securing the last site with a view, and scoring a friendly $10 discount (it pays to talk to people) we spent the night perched high above the junction whilst being afforded a birdseye view of the mixing of the two muddied waters as darkness and the blood sucking mosquitos set in. Heading to the washrooms it was little freaky to be doing your business to some George Orwell 1984 style weather reports continuously droning from the speakers. This is something we’d find repeated at several rest stops across the country.
Leaving early against the back drop of an ensuing thunderstorm, we continued with Betty north along the scenic 35, meandering along the east coast of the Mississippi river with the state of Iowa just across the river to the west. We stopped only to take some pictures in awe of the sizeable barges that ply this part of the Mississippi, refuel and buy what is possibly, no, definitely the best tasting cheddar popcorn in existence, ever! Whilst stopped for fuel, Matt jumped out to take some pictures of the closely approaching thunderstorm that had quickly turned 8am into what looked like 8pm, with a local woman commenting that this was the worst storm she’d seen approaching in years. You don’t say! Continuing on the 35 against the back drop of the river, we were soon reduced to crawling along the road with Betty’s wipers on full speed (that meant slow…Betty doesn’t do fast) whilst Sarah jumped in the back to strategically place pots and pans under the several leaks that had appeared (side door, both roof flaps, back door, front vents, you name it!). Let’s be fair to Betty, this was a downpour with more force than either of us had seen in years. We didn’t blame her.
Arriving at La Crosse and making our eleventh state border crossing we arrived in Minnesota, where we paused only long enough to take photos of the incredible number of wind turbines this place has. Now we’re sure that this state has something more to offer (oh wait, it has the National Mustard Museum in Austin!) but with minutes turning into days and a wedding in Vegas to get to, Minnesota was unfortunately blitzed through. Crossing the state in a day we spent the night across state border number twelve in South Dakota.