Gorgonzola does America in a Month
Day 4: Madison to Sauk Centre: Tedium in Wisconsin leads to Frustration in Minnesota. But I did get to see a camel.
The first order of business was getting the hell out of downtown Madison, winding between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona and various constructon detours back to I-94. Next stop, Baraboo. I should have just taken US 12, I know, but this way I drove Wisconsin 33 through the Lower Narrows, a 500 million year old river gorge which was buried at the bottom of an ocean then eroded back out by meltwater from the last Ice Age.
I waste half an hour following signs towards a little county park that never appeared, then headed south to Devil's Lake. This is another loop of the same river gorge that was blocked by a terminal moraine. Then it's the Circus Museum on the Ringling Brothers' traditional wintering grounds. Camels and circus wagons and a giant Human Cannonbasll Cannon, now that's something!
Heading north out of town, I pass the Ho-Chunk reservation, a square mile off US 12 with a casino shoehorned in. Back on I-94 heading north into the Wisconsin Dells area. Halfway through a hike through Rocky Arbor state Park it begins to rain; just as I get back to my car the rain stops. As you go north, you begin to drive through very flat country with sandstone towers poking up here and there. If you stripped the vegetation away, it would look a bit like Monument Valley. 12,000 years ago, Glacial Lake Wisconsin filled the whole area and deposited sediments to make the area flat. The mesas and buttes stuck up as islands out of the lake. I begin to hike up Millf Bluff but it really begins to rain in earnest.
A few miles up the road, it begins to rain so hard everyone has to pull off onto the shoulder, stop, and wait it out.
Further along is a rest stop built on top of a high spot overlooking the Black River valley. A hiking trail takes you to a high point overlooking the Black River valley. As I climbed higher, the view widened more and more, but at the top was a couple trying to make out, so I beat a hasty retreat. I thought perhaps I'd stop for something to eat in Eau Claire but decided to push on instead.
One of the rituals of my journey was the acquisition of a state highway map the first time I entered a new state. I'd been lucky so far, but that ran out at the Minnesota Welcome Center, left unattended on Sunday afternoons due to budget cuts. Curse that Jesse Ventura.
I am at a low point here, having invested four days and 1500 miles with little to show for it. In this mood, I zip straight through St. Paul and Minneapolis, have dinner at a Chipotle in St. Cloud, and push on to my motel in Sauk Centre without even taking the Lake Wobegon Tour.