Quest For The Midwest

Summer is upon us, and in the wertoon household, that means pretty much one thing - planning to escape the Sacramento Valley heat. Every year we up stakes and head for Northern Ontario (Lake Matinenda, to be precise) where there is not a bloody 110° heat, but cool evenings and even a chance of the odd bout of rain. Much as I enjoy California weather, there are times that one enjoys a chill. So, cooler climes call us now, and plans are afoot to get us up to lake and tree and Molson beer.

Normally we've either flown or driven up together, grundoon and I, but this time there's a big difference - Christine is flying up in a few days and I will be following on about the twentieth of July. Main reason for this is that earlier this year the imp/buddah put her foot down and told everyone that she wanted to stay for part of the summer in Davis, rather than take the usual trip up to Port Townsend to stay with her Dad for the whole vacation. She's suddenly twelve, has finished elementary school and is off to "Big School", as we used to say. It's a big step for her to state her preferences this way, and one that we're happy to see her do. She's been doing ballet for about three years now, and has long wanted to carry on the summer classes and develop her skills, as well as be able to spend time with her friends. It's all part of growing up, and it's rewardng to watch her putting away childish things and being to fight her way out of the pupa, and begin become the butterfly that is a young adult.

So while Christine jets up to Canada, I'll stay an extra two weeks and once the butterfly flits off to Washington, I'm going to make my way, driving across a part of the country that will be new to me. Having driven up there once before on The Loneliest Road, now I plan an even more northerly route, taking in Oregon, southern Washington, then onto the new challenges of Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas (North and South, I hope) and Minnesota. I'm still planning the exact route, but I do have a few ideas (and would appreciate any suggestions from you, too).

Hitting the Back Roads Again

In the tradition of Blue Highways I am going to spend as much time as I can on the back roads, keeping away from the zoom roads, avoiding Freewayville with all its highway food, and find the old towns - last time I did this, coming through Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I was only moderately successful, although I did get off the main drag at mealtimes to look up Sal and Jenny's Chicken Shack, Mom's Diner and Al and Bob's Chili House. That experience was enough to confirm in my mind and heart that Real America is still out there to be found, and also that it's a much better place than the concrete and glass of MacDonalds and their ilk.

So here's the rough plan. I intend to set off from Davis on 20th July, head North on 395 heading up toward Spokane before heading northeast up to US Highway 2. This will take me through Idaho and Montana, then North Dakota. I'd love to be able to drop into South Dakota at some point, given that one of my hidden intentions is to add another few states to add to my collection. Then it's through Minnesota and onto the UP (as I believe the upper part of Michigan is known) to cross the border at Sault Saint Marie. (At the time of writing, there's a pic on my homenode of the rough route I intend, and a larger-scale pic at Picasa).

Then it's hit the narrow road to Blind River to join my sweetie, our friends and her family. I get three weeks there before we both fly back to blazing-hot and sunny California, all ready to move into a new rental on or about the 21st August. Of course, following that move, we'll be ready for another vacation.

Now, I Need Your Help

Now I have no real idea what's out there, so now's the time for you to tell me what I'm facing. I don't want to drive flat out and miss something interesting. I am intent on seeing a little of the country, metting the locals and share their food. I'm keen to find the tourist traps, a few nice views and perhaps places of historical interest. Being a beer lover, a brewery or good drinking place would please me too. Places to camp, eat or take a photograph - any and all of these could make a difference to the overall enjoyment of my trip.

So, gentles, tell me of anything you know in Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota and Minnesota that I might want to visit - also, let me know if I'm passing close enough to you to visit - I'm prepared to make a small detour or two, provided I don't use more than the eight days I have planned for the trip.

Of course if there's anything along the way that is noded (or that you want to node), let me know - I can add that to the list too. Write something for me and there may even be a small quest-type reward for you.

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