Christmas in June

It’s been two days of weird getting from Altura, MN to Green Bay, WI and up to Christmas, Michigan where Santa is more than a person, he’s an attitude. To our eyes, he looks like a Santa interpretation of Mr. T. “I pity ‘da fool that passes by Christmas in Michigan”

It all started with donuts and laundry. Twenty miles east of Whitewater State Park was the 2012 Best Donut in Minnesota. Seven years later, Bloedow’s Bakery in Winona is still touting its epic win and we were all about checking it out.

The All-American town with the friendliest bakers gave us a tour of the donut case and we walked out with the best selling maple log, iced raspberry filled special, bear claw and cocoa iced cake donuts of which we we ate half while doing two loads of laundry at the B-Kleen a half mile away. While The Donut Bar in San Diego makes a way fancier donut, Bloedow’s wins on a pure sugar jolt of hometown goodness. For comparison, you could get half a dozen Bloedow’s for a single Donut Bar. Ahh, the economics of small town living. We cycled from sick to withdrawal and back again as Eric guided Betty down another 250 miles of the two-way, head on resurfacing project on I-90 that should be a mandatory test drive for car suspension testing. Unfortunately, Betty receives a C-, but hey, like Eric’s grade in his freshman Comparitive Lit, that is still a passing grade.

Six hours later we landed in Green Bay, facing another night in a Cabela’s parking lot. But first a stop at the trendy City Deck area to work out the sugar hangover, stretch the legs and get Sheri’s gears fixed at the Broken Spoke Specialized dealer. After a ride along the Fox River, we rode over to Bay Shore Amusement Park to check out what the locals are doing on a Tuesday night in Green Bay. The old style carnival ride vibe lives on!

Rounding out the ride with a stop at the 10,000 sq ft St. Vincent De Paul thrift shop where Sheri could have spent all night, we stuck to the hunt list – DVDs and a battery powered transistor radio. At $1 a piece, we rode away with 8 new movies, but no radio. Unfortunately there’s no electric in a Cabela’s parking lot, so we made dinner, bought some new camp chairs and re-stocked groceries at the Pick n Save across the street.

When you wake up in a Cabela’s parking lot after a fitful sleep a stone’s throw away from an interstate, you get very motivated to put some miles behind you and find yourself some peace and quiet in the Great White North. But first you have to get an oil change. After being rejected by every RV service center and quick lube joint, we googled “large truck repair” and found Rob at DeJardin’s Auto and Truck. Betty was too high for the bay, but Rob put his crew to work on Betty right in the driveway. If you had a mechanic like DeJardin, you would keep your cars forever. He is a vanishing breed in a world of Big Box Dealership rip-off car service experiences. You betcha, Rob!

Eric put 150 miles behind us before he made a left on HWY 13 through the Hiawatha National Forest. There were signs for roadwork ahead like this one. Never seen that on the DC beltway where construction projects are a way of life.

At one point we were escorted through the project. Betty didn’t like the 30 miles Eric saved by not sticking to the interstate but she made it, rear wheels spinning in the gravel trailing a huge cloud of dust.

Coming out of the forest we reached Escanaba, hometown of the pasties. Not pastries. Not nipple covers. Pasties, with a short A. It’s a meat and potato handheld pie with gelatinous gravy and an Upper Peninsula (Yupper) staple that can last years when stored in the chest freezer in the basement – just as good today as the day they were made 3 years ago.

From the southern Mexican Pacific Ocean borderwall to the northern Canadian Lake Superior border, our search for authentic America continues …

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