July 26, 2012

Pleasant Days

This has been a good week with a good start and a good end, so far. We've been in some of my favorite states. I love travling in the mid-west and always feel happier when we're doing that. And we've also had some pleasant experiences and surprises. I'll tell you all about it.

Last weekend was one of the best we've had on the road in a long time. We had another load of barley to haul from western Montana to eastern Minnesota. We loaded on Friday morning and could have gone home for the day on Saturday, but instead we decided to take an easy weekend and just putter our way across.

It was a great decision. Malcolm has been so tired and stressed out, and I knew if we went home, he'd spend the whole day working on the truck or other things, where as if we just took our time getting to Minnesota, he'd get to sleep in several mornings and get some rest.

In addition to his rest, we had some fun experiences. It started Thursday evening when we had dinner with his sister and her husband in Great Falls. Then Friday morning, after delivering in Fort Benton, Malcolm drove us down onto the main street along the river and we found this neat little coffee shop where we sat out on the deck and enjoyed lattes and waffles with blueberries. We also walked a short bit of the river walk they have there and read the historic markers the town has put up.

Finally we decided we'd been dragging around long enough. Time to get loaded. So we drove the whopping 14 miles to Carter and loaded up our barley. We puttered our way across 200 miles of scenic Montana two lanes, and stopped at a rest area for the night, waking up late in the evening to a magnificent lightning storm and down pour, which made the air smell so good and cooled things off quite a bit too.

Saturday we drove all of 350 miles to Bismarck, where we spent the evening telling stories and laughing the night away with Malcolm's other sister and her husband. They took us to a neat ice cream place for dessert and we stayed till almost closing. Then they took us back to our truck and we drove 30 miles to a quite rest area and turned in for the evening.

That had left 600 miles or so for Sunday. I expected it to have less of a weekend feel to it having so far to go. After a leisurely breakfast, we buckled down to business and headed east. I was glad we were getting past Minneapolis on a Sunday. I've never been through there when traffic wasn't thick and sluggish. But it flows kind of smooth on a weekend, and we got through with only one hang up.
still west of Minneapolis. Minnesota's rolling hills are pretty.

Our destination of Winona wasn't too far south of the big city. The previous weekend when we'd hauled this load, we'd gone across South Dakota on I-90. This time we came across North Dakota on I-94, thus having to deal with the big city, but also adding a new point of interest to our trip, though at the time, I didn't know we were going to see it.

We were south of Minneapolis, driving along the Mississippi River when I glanced up from my book just in time to see a billboard and all I caught, before it disappeared behind us, was the word Pepin.

Little alarms were going off in my brain. Pepin! Really???? So I snapped the book shut and zipped into planning on the GPS and typed in Pepin, WI.

Sure enough! We were almost into the city limits of Lake City, MN and Pepin, WI was just the other side of the river. I was thrilled!
Now, does anyone have any idea why I was so excited to be there?

hint: it has to do with a rather famous "little house."

Pepin, WI is the home town of my very very dear and beloved friend, Laura Ingalls Wilder! She was born in the "big woods" near the town of Pepin!

Lake Pepin was the lake that Pa drove across the frozen ice in the wagon to go to town, the lake where Laura picked up so many pretty pebbles that the pocket ripped off her dress and Ma had to scold her for being a greedy little girl. And Pepin is the town where the store was and the nice store owner who gave Laura and Mary each a stick of candy and Mary licked hers slowly to make it last, but Laura just ate hers because it was so good. At least I think that's the way she told me it happened.

Anyway, I think I've completed nearly all the main home sights......at 65 miles an hour. We've driven within 6 miles of De Smet, SD, passed the exit for Mansfield, MO, and now I've seen Pepin, WI....from across the lake. Maybe one day I'll get to actually go to these places!

At Lake City, the town on the Minnesota side of the lake, we were hungry, and I think Malcolm had noticed that I'd gone from bored to alert and glued to the window, so he found a parking place along the street, across from the marina...

apparently they like to sail on Lake Pepin

...where we were the only truckers in a crowd of summer tourists, our vehicle standing out like a sore thumb. But who cares!

We walked across the road to a little pizza joint that was run by a husband and wife. They were doing a booming business in delivery, but we had the dining room to ourselve,
and so we relaxed and enjoyed a really yummy cheese pizza and visited with the husband between his delivery trips. He was a very friendly fellow.

Look how patient he's being with me and my camera! He was really trying to indulge me. He even offered to take the pizza across the road to a picnic table, even though it was 95 degrees outside and we'd found the humid side of the country. That was really generous of him, but I was happy in the AC and quiet, so we stayed there.

After dinner, we packed up our left overs for a later snack (large cheese pizzas are perfect for meals and later snacks or second meals!) and headed on south. A few miles later, we were passing the south end of the "lake," which is just a widened section of the Mississippi River (Laura never mentioned that to me). And across the lake, through the summer haze, was the town of Pepin, WI. I waved as we went past.
By the way, did you know that aside being famous because Pa Ingalls drove across it with his wagon in Laura's book, it has two other claims to fame? Apparently, Lake City, on the shores of Lake Pepin, is where water skiing was invented. And also, Lake Pepin has it's own lake monster. Seriously! His name is Pepie. Laura never told me these things either. I think maybe she's been holding out on me, but I'll forgive her because I love her that much.

It was only maybe another 45 miles or so to Winona, where we delivered our barley right along the river, that evening. As we were leaving to head back north and to our morning pickup, we got to enjoy seeing a barge up close. As I said in last weeks post, this place was so close to the river that if we rolled too far, we'd fall in and drift over to Wisconsin.
We stopped once we got to the other side of Minneapolis. We were tired, but had wanted to get back to the west side of the city so we could skip Monday morning traffic. Our reload was on the eastern side of Minnesota in Benson. We loaded wheat there in the morning and headed out towards Colorado.
I can't for the life of me remember where I took the above picture. Somewhere between Minnesota and Colorado, and since it pretty much sums up the scenery for most of the trip, I posted it. South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and eastern Colorado = fairly flat and grainy (like corn, wheat, etc).

Sheridan Lake, CO is right on the Kansas/Colorado border, more or less. That's where the wheat went. And then we hopped 30 miles east to Marienthal, KS to load more wheat, organic this time, and took it to a mill north of Denver. That was an easy 250 mile trip and we were loaded and empty the same day. We got there 30 minutes before they closed.

Emptied out, we headed north towards Mitchell, NE, as scattered storms moved into northern Colorado.
The storms were just the ticket to get things cooled off, and we were able to sleep with the truck turned off and the windows open. We've been managing to do that a lot lately, which is nice because it's quiet and saves fuel.

We loaded great northern white beans in Nebraska and headed off for our drive to eastern North Dakota. The skies have been really pretty the last couple of days.
Scottsbluff National Monument in Scottsbluff, NE
pretty blue skies over the South Dakota prairie. That black area is what's left after a grass fire. There was a black scar for miles to the horizon where the smoke was still billowing up into the sky. Guess it was still burning it's way across the grasslands.
this morning in southeast North Dakota.
All those little puffy clouds have spent the day gathering together and now I'm sitting in a parking lot in Wahpeton, ND admiring tall billowing clouds with dark gray bottoms. It's also dropped in temperature to 75. A few more degrees and we'll shut the truck off for the day.

We delivered this morning west of here, and tomorrow morning we'll load sunflower chips across the state line in Minnesota. They wouldn't load us till morning though, so for now Malcolm sleeps and I'm catching up on a few things and trying to entertain myself.

Lucky you. It means I didn't have an excuse to put off blogging, which I've kind of done this week. I've been enjoying being in some of my favorite states and also had my nose buried in another good book. So you got neglected. Hope you don't mind.

We'll probably stop at the house on Saturday and then drive to Spokane, WA on Sunday where we'll deliver. So from last Monday to this coming one, our week will have looked like this.

I'm still trying to perfect my technique when taking pictures of the computer screen, got to get around that reflection somehow, but for now...the green lines are roughly the routes we took and the flags our destinations.

Sprinkles on the windshield! I would really enjoy a good storm right now! But a rain shower will work too.


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a long while, but I don't remember ever commenting. Sorry !

I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful time I have hearing about where you go and what you do. I had to sell my car the first of the year and am pretty much stuck here at home day in and day out. It's hard for someone like me, a 60 year old grandmother who still has a lof of gypsy in her soul, to just look at walls all the time. Your blog makes it easier. Thaks for writing it for us.


Badlands said...

What a cute & patient husband you have!

Muffy's Marks said...

Thanks for taking me along on your travels. Here I am, a Wisconsinite, and have never heard of Pepin. We'll I better get it on my bucket list!!
Safe travels.

Pure Prairie Soap said...

We are the lucky ones, Sarah. We loved Little House on the Prairie, too. It's nice to actually see where the story took place. Thanks for the lovely post.

Shirley said...

You sure see a variety of country in a week. I take it the new truck is working out well.
Looking at the photo of the sailboats, they all seem to have the same color of blue sails. Bet they are real pretty when there is a bunch of them on the lake at the same time.

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

Catching up - I so enjoy your blog and the traveling the areas that you go... usually recognize a few places and learn something new about others... we are in here in Minnesota land of lakes --- a few hours from Fargo, ND -- have family not far from Benson, MN.... happy trails!