At long last it’s time for our annual vacation trek to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming!   It’s a two-day drive, so we start relatively early, once the van’s packed. The coolers are filled with all sorts of goodies, both to consume during the trip and to “import”. Our menu today consists of grapes, cherries, corn chips and bierocks. Bierocks are a type of pocket sandwich shaped like a turnover. I make the slightly sweet dough in the bread machine, roll it into circles and fill with a combination of ground beef, onion, cabbage and a bit of cheddar cheese. After a short rise, they’re baked.  Besides being delicious, they’re also perfect because the filling doesn’t fall out while you’re eating them. 🙂

After leaving Illinois, we head into Wisconsin  into relatively flat farmland.  As we go further, it becomes more hill, wooded, and wild-looking. We make one stop each year in Mauston, a small town that’s home to an amazing cheesemaker, Sid Cook (http://www.carrvalleycheese.com/).  I read about Sid and Carr Valley in the book, Cheesemonger. The author mentioned Carr Valley so often that I looked to see where it was located and realized we drove by the exit every year. Now we make a regular stop there. Deciding which cheeses to get, though, is difficult as there are so many choices and every one we’ve ever tried has been good. (Photos of cheeses at a later date when they’re not being kept in the cooler.)

If you’re from Wisconsin or Quebec, you know about cheese curds, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheese_curd. Cheese curds are very, very fresh cheese, cut into curds. Ideally, they’re eaten the day they’re make or within several days and besides being tasty, they squeak. 🙂 Needless to say, we buy a bag.

After crossing the vast Mississippi River, we come to the wide open farms of Minnesota.  The sky is split: one side an enormous flotilla of grey clouds, dark against a blue-grey sky; the other half, the sunny side, with the fluffy, white flotilla.  Eventually, the clouds disappear behind us and the sky is sunny.  There’s been enough rain this year.  Lakes are full.  There are hay bales and hay waiting to be baled, the corn and soybeans look good.

Here are some pictures from our first day, including some whimsical sculptures we’ve seen each year but never investigated. We don’t stop much on the way out, since day one is 10 hours of driving time, so some of the pictures were taken from the van. Put on your seat belts, settle back and enjoy. For your listening pleasure, the 13-hour BBC production of Lord of the Rings is playing, something not to be missed and listened to every year.

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Comments
  1. cd1972 says:

    Nice sculptures and I like the bike 🙂

  2. vastlycurious.com says:

    I love the Vulture Sculpture !!!!

  3. annesquared says:

    A safe and enjoyable journey! As I recall, you have some horses awaiting you in Wyoming, eh? (Minnesota accent.) I grew up in America’s Dairyland and never heard of a cheese curd until I moved to an adjacent state years later which has a large Amish population.
    Maybe we never shopped where curds were sold, or they came on the scene after my childhood. Or maybe I selectively ignored the cheese selections…if there is a dairy nearby, the smell is akin to a paper mill. (Recollection is strong, and probably has been resolved due to EPA advancements.)

  4. The sculpture is great, especially the proactive vulture! Have a safe and wonderful trip.

  5. I love your story of the firs day, it reminds me of many family road trips!

  6. It’s a dream of mine to take a road trip across the US, even if it isn’t the full country. I’ve just seen so little of it, and this is exactly the experience I want to have! It’s beautiful- The iconic “summer vacation” if I ever did see one.

  7. Dear Janet,

    Enjoy the horses. I know how you feel about them. Bask in the moment. Great pics.

    shalom,

    Rochelle

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