Wisconsin, my home for the first 50 years of my life. Each trip back to the area is a trip down memory lane with visits, dinners out and card games. They say you can take the girl out of Wisconsin but you can't take the Wisconsin out of the girl, or something like that.
A whirlwind schedule had us booked solid and criss crossing the state. It was wonderful to spend time with dear friends and loved ones, unfortunately a few were missed and really were truly missed.
Each trip back always includes a few Brandy Old Fashions, hmm, just thinking about them has me adding brandy to my shopping list. For my island hopping friends it is like a Lemon Lime and Bitters with brandy added. I remember years ago on a trip when I ordered one and the bartender asked if I was from Wisconsin! Ha, I guess I am predictable.
Each trip also continues the quest for the very best fried cheese curds (another local delicacy) and this year two stood out as so superior I might even take a trip back sooner than expected just to feast on that warm gooey goodness. For those that have never tasted curds I'll try to explain.
In the very early stage of the cheese making process just as the milk has curldled and before the curds are pressed into blocks you scoop out the curds from the whey. This sqeeky piece of cheese needs to be enjoyed within a day or two before it just tastes like regular cheese. Now let's use that curd to make a famous bar snack. Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a batter, similar to one used for onion rings, and deep fried. Many menus have fried cheese curds but only a few really use fresh curds and that is what makes them great. Really really great. Melty runny stringy ooze great!
Iowa, in addition to a wonderful visit with my brother we toured The Bridges of Madison County. A collection of covered wooden bridges made famous by the movie of the same name in the mid 90s. Iowa has one of the largest collection of historic bridges in the country. Uncovered wooden bridges have a lifespan of only 10 to 15 years, covering the bridge protects the wooden structure. While no longer used for vehicle traffic, these bridges were built in the late 1800s and are very popular with both professional and amateur photographers.
The Ozarks, a region that comprises the southern region of Missouri and the northern territory of Arkansas. The area is known for its numerous lakes, fabulous scenic roads and mountainous Vistas. This area is a special destination for motorcycle enthusiasts but we braved the winding narrow roads in our Big Rig, often with my eyes closed. Branson is a bit of Nashville with country music, dinner shows and a variety of family entertainment.
Hundreds of Corp of Engineer campgrounds line the waterways and some of the best campsites we have found are here. We also had a chance to visit with more special friends.
We enjoyed the area so much that we have added it to the short list of places we would consider settling down. That is if and when that time ever comes, we do love this Nomadic life!
Hot Springs National Park is the smallest of the parks with only 6 thousand acres. Bathers have been flocking to the waters that were believed to be therepudic for centuries, waters that spring from deep in the earth. This is the first national park that you can't tell when you enter our leave and looks more like one stoplight town overrun with tourists. I am not saying we didn't enjoy it because we really did, especially my spa experience at the Buckstaff Bath House on The Row. I enjoyed a traditional bath house experience finished off with a lovely massage. A luxurious and pampered morning treat.
This was our last park of the season bringing our total up to 41.
We have 7 more to visit in the southwest and we will have visited all 47 in the lower 48 plus the Virgin Islands. That was our original goal but now we may decide to include some from Alaska and Hawaii.
Like we always say, our plans are written in the sand at low tide.
Does anybody read this stuff.....?