Wednesday, 10th May 2006

Starting Point:
Champaign, IL, 8:45am CDT
Ending Point:
Minneapolis, MN, 6:30pm CDT
Total Distance Traveled:
1449 mi / 2318 km
Total Drive Time:
24 hr 20 min
Total Fuel Consumption:
28.4 gal / 107.5 litres
(51mpg / 4.6 litres/100km)

Thanks to the advantageous time change, we managed to get on the road before 9 o'clock today. Illinoize flew by pretty quickly. Madison came quickly too, but I learned today that Wisconsin is a very big state. And even more into cheese than I'd ever remembered.

I was intrigued by a particular place name on the map: Wisconsin Dells. I'm not very familiar with that word, dell, other than remembering that it is the place where the farmer is, so I set off to investigate. It turns out, based on what I could see from the freeway, that dell means waterpark. In the Wisconsin Dells, you have your choice of the Noah's Ark Water Park, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Waterpark, and about 17 others. Remember this the next time you sing about the farmer with your children. Hi-ho the derry-oh, the farmer in the 10-story multicolored waterslide.

Jessie told me some time ago about a strange Wisconsin invention called cheese curds. Apparently after making all their chesse wheels and cheese horns and sliced cheese and non-dairy processed cheese food and cheese shaped hats they still have a lot of cheese left over that they don't know what to do with. Since there have been no major advances in the field of cheese presentation in the last century, other than string cheese and Cheese Whiz of course, they just form it into these random bits called cheese curds. They look a little bit like styrofoam peanuts and squeak just like styrofoam when you eat them, although they do taste quite a bit better.

Here's another thing about Wisconsin: they don't number their highways, they use letters. Some of them are very confusing, like two exits in a row for highway N and highway NN. The best was this one, highway EW.

There are also a great many small military outposts in the middle of Wisconsin. When Canada starts loading up the war canoes and paddling across Lake Superior, Wisconsin will be the sacrificial first line of defense. The theory is that the Canadian Legions will find so much joy in the cheese and beer that they will lay down their arms and plant our glorious Maple Leaf in the black earth and claiming the new province of South Ontario in the name of the Queen. America's "Operation Get Behind the Cheesies" will cost her some cheap beer, her only domestic source of cheese curds, and an inconsequential NFL franchise, but the safety and security of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes will be ensured.

Speaking of all those lakes, by six o'clock we'd passed through Monona, Waunakee and Menomonie and arrived in the Land'o'Lakes. Minneapolis is much bigger than I'd remembered, and also much nicer than I'd thought. Josh Tjaden, another Antarctican, gave us the tour around the lakes and the multi-ethnic mid-town enclave of Little Mankato (or something like that), where the Sons of Norway live together in peace with the Daughters of Sweden, and traditionalists continue to brew their own beers just like in Little House on the Prairie times.

We met up with another Antarctiqueña that is also on her way to work in Alaska. Too bad she couldn't have driven with us too. We all thought it would be great fun to ring the icy continent in the middle of the night. Winter is beginning to take its toll on them...we listened to previews of the Drew and Andre radio show, where Roney will check in live from there power plant via the microphone with the really long cable, where the mid-winter zombies have seized control of the power grid. To prevent needless carnage, they have devised their own color-coded warning system: Aquamarine, Chartreuse, and Magenta.

We'll keep our own scale set at aquamarine for today, but may elevate that to chartreuse tomorrow as we get closer to Saskatchewan. I'll keep you posted. Until then, be well, and work hard—


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