Wednesday, July 7, 2021

2021 June Road Trip

6/13/21 – 565 miles Louisville, KY
Click here for pictures

We left home at 6:45am and headed to Louisville, KY. We got to Louisville Slugger Museum and were lucky enough to get a parking space right across the street. The parking meters only ran Monday – Saturday so Sunday was free. After taking lots of photos and walking around town, we left and headed towards Casey, IL. We crossed into the Central Time Zone. We ended up at a Hampton Inn in Princeton, IN for the night ($98). We had dinner at El Rodeo and the special was $5 (taco, enchilada, rice, and beans) which was fabulous! I was tired after driving 10 hours which is the most I’ve driven in years. I was so tired but tried to stay awake until 9 pm CT (which was 10 pm ET).

6/14/21 – 462 miles Casey, IL
Click here for pictures

After a complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we headed to Casey, IL, about 1.5 hours northwest at 7:30 am. . We ended up on some very rural roads that seemed like we were driving through farmers’ cornfields. We had a wonderful time in Casey! We saw a lot of the BIGGEST attractions such as
  • Largest Horseshoe
  • Antlers
  • Ear of corn
  • Yardstick
  • Bookworm
  • Mousetrap
  • Pencil
  • Pokemon Ball
  • Birdcage
  • Minion
  • Spinning Bat
And the World’s Largest attractions such as:
  • Pitchfork
  • Golf Tee
  • Wind Chime
  • Rocking Chair
  • Knitting Needles
  • Crochet Hook
  • Key
  • Barber’s Pole
  • Mailbox
  • Wood Shoes
  • Golf Club
  • Gavel
We bought a couple of postcards and got stamps from the post office in order to climb up into the mailbox and mail them. They will be postmarked from “The World’s Largest Mailbox.” We met some other tourists and Don gave them two stamps for their postcards.

We left Casey and headed to Madison, WI. Illinois felt like a VERY long state! We kept seeing a black cloud in the distance that looked like a mile wild tornado. What we were seeing was a chemical explosion! When we got to Rockton, IL, we found out that they were evacuating residents to shelters because that was where the explosion occurred. We just kept heading north to Wisconsin and didn’t stop. Rest areas were very rare. We got to Madison around 7pm and stayed at the Hampton Inn East, near a mall for $88. We were able to walk to Perkins for dinner.

6/15/21 – 375 miles Madison, WI
Click here for pictures

We drove downtown Madison and saw the Capitol. Then we drove around the University of Wisconsin and ended up at the Arboretum. Even though the visitor center was closed, we were able to walk around the grounds. Then we went to the Henry Vila Zoo which was free and it was a good zoo. We saw an orangutan, tiger, lion, giraffe, river otters, and a grizzly bear. After the zoo, we went to the National Mustard Museum (also free) and enjoyed the collection of vintage mustard collectibles. Next, we headed to the Pink elephant and the Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet where we bought cheese curds. Then it was time to head to Duluth, MN. That was a long drive and we got a room at the Comfort Suites in Proctor for $95. We were able to walk across the street to Perkins for dinner. After dinner, we booked a room for tomorrow night.

6/16/21 – 26 miles Duluth, MN
Click here for pictures

We got up early and went downtown to see what the parking situation is around the railroad museum. Once we found the parking area for train passengers, we decided to go exploring. We found a spot to stop and get pictures of the aerial lift bridge in action. Then we found a parking lot across from the Leif Erikson park that had 3-hour free parking. We walked along the lake for a little while. Then we drove around town trying to find the “Visit Duluth” visitor center but several roads were closed and we couldn’t get to it. All the parking we found was either metered parking or pay by license plate with a credit card. Eventually, we went back to the train parking and parked the car. We walked up to Starbucks and got mocha frappuccinos and made plans for tomorrow. Then we walked in the skyway and to the library before the train ride. Next, we went to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and then rode on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. The train ride cost us $14pp at Comfort Suites instead of $20pp at the ticket office. We had a nice 1 hour and 15 minutes. Luckily, we got our tickets at 10am which means we were virtually checked in. Around 12:45, they called you by name in the order that you checked in so we were the seconds one on the train. We walked to the back of the cars to the open-air car where we sat on the lakeside bench. That was the best seat! When we got back, we walked down to the Duluth Trading Company and bought some stuff. As we walked back to the car, we found an antique store where Don had a ball for a couple of hours until closing. We checked into our hotel, Tru by Hilton ($86) and it was very nice and modern looking. Then we went to Walmart to buy Don some M&Ms and stopped at Perkins for dinner.

6/17/21 - 148 miles Voyageurs National Park
Click here for pictures of Kettle Falls Hotel

See this post for more information

6/18/21 – 0 miles Voyageurs National Park
Click here for pictures

See this post for more information

6/19/21 – 383 miles International Falls, MN/Itasca State Park/St. Cloud

Click here for pictures of International Falls

We left Kettle Falls Hotel around 8:10am. The boat took us back to Ash River Visitor Center. After organizing our stuff, the visitor center opened and we watched a movie about the park. We left there and went to Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center which was closed but we found a huge patch of showy lady slippers that were pink and white. They were absolutely beautiful! Next, we went towards Rainy Lake Visitor center but stopped to take a photo at a Voyageurs National Park Headquarters sign. A photographer was going by and offered to take our photos for us which was so nice. We stopped at Rainy Lake Visitor Center and bought our magnets and Don bought a hat. Then we went into International Falls to see Smoky the Bear park and take pictures. It was a very small town. Since it was early, we headed to Itasca State Park and got there around 4pm. It cost us $7 per vehicle to get in. Then we hiked to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We decided to look for a hotel but were unable to find one anywhere close so we headed to St. Cloud. When we got in the area, we stopped and used to find a hotel and got one at the Fairfield Marriott for $126. We had dinner at Perkins and got to the hotel around 9pm.

6/20/21 – 96 miles St. Cloud, MN
Click here for pictures.

It was a rainy day so we relaxed in the hotel room and Don took a nap after breakfast. Then we went to the Munsinger Gardens and they were absolutely beautiful! It sprinkled rain a little bit but didn’t start raining hard until we got back to the car. The gardens were full of different varieties of hostas that really showcased all the other flowers. Then we went to an antique store called The Rusty Pick. Don spent 3 hours hunting for treasure while I knit. Then we headed to Minneapolis where we got a room at the Sheraton Bloomington ($76 per night/hotwire). We had dinner at Perkins and then watched TV until bedtime.

6/21/21 – 100 miles Minneapolis, MN/Red Wing, MN
Click here for pictures.

We skipped breakfast and went to the Minneapolis Sculpture Park where we saw the Spoonbridge and Cherry along with other sculptures. It was free and a lot of fun. We found Pay Parking but went around the corner and parked for free on the street. Then we left there and headed to Minnehaha Falls. There was a lot of parking but it was all metered so we found parking across the street that was free. The park was very nice to visit! After that, we had lunch at Perkins and it was Free Pie Monday! Then we headed to Red Wing, MN. We went downtown and found the Red Wing Store where I got lots of pictures of the Big Boot! Upstairs was the shoe museum that was very interesting. They had a clearance/outlet store downstairs but we didn’t find anything we wanted. Next, we walked down to the Duluth Trading Company and downstairs were their clearance items. Don found a pair of shoes there he liked!

When we left there, we hunted for a hotel and found a room at the Super 8 that was cheap ($60). Yes, cheap should have been a warning sign! Since we had a room reserved, we went to Colvill Park and found giant sunglasses to photograph. We met a cameraman and a reporter who was doing a story on the water level and drought. The reporter said the barges were hitting sand bars because it was so bad. Then we decided this park was open and safe enough to organize our car and clean it out. While we were doing this, a couple with a dog stopped and we had a nice chat.

Then we went to check-in at the Super 8. We checked in and were worried when we saw unsavory characters hanging around outside. Then we went to the room through a smelly hallway. The room was dirty and smelly too. We left and looked for another hotel that was better. We found a room for $81 at the Nichols Inn which was clean and safe. When we checked in there, the receptionist warned us about the Super 8 when we kept saying how nice this hotel was! Then we went back to the Super 8 and checked out. They charged us a $30 cancellation fee but we didn’t care! Relieved that we had a nice hotel room for the night, we ate dinner at Rancho Loco which was wonderful! We had a hard taco, chile poblano, rice, and beans for $10.50.

6/22/21 - 96 miles Red Wing, MN/Pepin, WI
Click here for pictures.

After breakfast, we went to the Anderson Sculpture Park and it was nice. We found out later that Puffed rice and puffed wheat were invented there. Then we headed to Pepin, WI to look for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Birthplace. Along the way, we stopped at historical markers along the Mississippi River. We found a replica of the cabin she lived in which was about 7 miles off the main road. Then we went to the museum ($5 per person) and I found it very interesting. For lunch, we returned to Red Wing and went to McDonald's. Then we went to the Pottery Museum of Red Wing. There were several men who volunteered there and were willing to answer my many questions. I learned a lot from seeing the exhibits and listening to them. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Pottery Place Antiques and Don found some more treasures. We stayed at the Nichols Inn again and had dinner at Rancho Loco.

6/23/21 – 54 miles Rochester, MN
Click here for pictures.

After breakfast, we left Red Wing and headed to Rochester. We stopped at Sam’s Club and Walmart for supplies. Before going to the hotel, we found an antique store, All American Antiques which was also a Feed and Seed store where Don found more treasures. We had lunch at a place near there called Cheap Charlies. Then we went to the hotel for my knitting retreat.

6/23/21 – 6/26/21 – Zombie Knitpocalypse 2021

See the post about it here.

6/27/21 - 678 miles Ames, Iowa and Columbia, Missouri

Click here for pictures

We left Rochester, MN at 7:30 am. Then we headed to Ames, Iowa to meet my friend Angela Prince and her family for lunch. Angela and I worked together at Mauldin High School many years ago. It was so nice to see her and Larry again! We had lunch at Cornbred BBQ and it was delicious. We met their 10-year-old daughter Chloe for the first time. Then we headed to Columbia, Missouri where we spent the night at a Hampton Inn. I was exhausted and had to stop twice to stretch my legs.

6/28/21 - 687 miles Sevierville, TN

When we left our hotel, it was pouring down rain. Luckily we drove out of it. There was so much traffic, that we skipped St. Louis. We hit lots of construction sections and at times was only going 5mph! At one gas station in Eddyville, KY, we filled up with gas and went to the restroom. I left my phone in the bathroom by accident and didn’t realize it until we were 15 miles away. Unfortunately, the next exit was another 10 miles away! When I returned to the gas station, they had my phone. The traffic was horrible the whole day. We decided to get through Knoxville so that in the morning we wouldn’t hit rush hour traffic. We got a hotel room at the Best Western in Sevierville for $89.

6/29/21 – 181 miles HOME!

Total miles: 3647

Things I Learned:

  • A lot of stores have closed for good due to Covid.
  • Many stores have shortened hours because they can’t find people to work
  • Many dining rooms in fast food places are not open because they don’t have enough workers. I wouldn’t recommend another road trip this year because so many things are still not open because they can’t get enough workers.
  • I love looking for the biggest things!
  • I like unusual kitschy things.
  • I don’t like driving on long trips but I can if I have to.
  • Saturdays in Rochester is like a ghost town. The only thing open early in the morning was Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • Pannakoeken in Rochester had a good lunch!
  • There are very reckless drivers on the road!
  • We meet the nicest people on our trips.
  • Hotwire mystery hotels were all great hotels. I would use Hotwire again.
  • Most places no longer require masks. 

No comments: