We try to get out west as quickly as possible…with a few stops in between.
Pitstop in Cleveland
Having to start a road trip in Philadelphia is unfortunate as we have to drive through half the country to see anything worth seeing (no offense “middle America”). Luckily, my parents live in Cleveland Ohio so we were able to break up our first day with a nice home-cooked meal and my childhood bed. The next day we found a lovely camp ground just past Chicago.
Camping Outside Chicago
Finding affordable camping options near Chicago proved to be very difficult. At least a dozen places were charging between $30 and $45 for a night of tent camping. I would never pay $30 to set up my own tent and sleep on the ground. Sylvie found a great campground called Mac Queen Forest Preserve in Kirkland, Il. The charge was only $4/tent. We were the only people camping there that night and the nice lady who lives on the property allowed us to take one of the cabins for no additional charge. The mosquitos were out of control and Sylvie got no less than half a dozen mosquito-bites on her face just during our time unpacking our car.
Driving Through Wisconsin
A quick stop through Mukwanago, WI was a must! It has been almost 20 years since I’ve been to the Elegant Farmer—a farm kitchen bakery that I visited once a year during my summer camp stay at BEBER. The Elegant Farmer is famous for their Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag. We split a piece for breakfast, along with their pickles that I still remember after almost two decades.
Afterwards we stopped by BEBER camp, which was just down the street and I was ecstatic to find that one of the loading gates was unlocked so we drove into camp and I showed Sylvie around my old stomping ground. The memories came pouring back and my heart was full of great memories. It was nice to see that the camp hadn’t changed much after all this time.
Before heading to our final destination in Minnesota we drove through Madison, Wisconsin where we walked down the main pedestrian street a path along the lake, and through some of their main college’s campus.
Couchsurfing in Minnesota
We were lucky enough to find a couple in St. Paul to host us for the weekend. Couchsurfing provides great exposure to the inner circles of locals along with getting a clean bed and warm shower to use…all for free! We actually showed up only a few minutes before our hosts were expecting their guests for a dinner party that they had planned. We felt incredibly lucky to experience such a great party. We enjoyed a taco bar with corn and fruit and homemade beer. Wade (the male host) home-brews quite often and actually brewed a handful of different beers that was served at his own wedding. He even built a 4 tap kegerators for the event and we got to enjoy it during our stay.
We walked around Minnehaha Falls, which was recommended to us from some of the party members the evening before but were weren’t that impressed. We enjoyed some vegan Korean ribs at a vegan cheese and butcher shop. Since we desperately needed some activity we ended up driving to “Mall of America” just to get out of the humid head and walk around for a few hours. I found the mall to be underwhelming—the KOP mall outside Philly is actually much larger and less ‘generic’ feeling. On the way back to our couch surfer’s home we stopped by an authentic Swedish deli where we enjoyed looking at and trying to pronounce all the interesting fish options.
We drive through Minneapolis and enter South Dakota…a very long day of driving!