Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Location: Sturgis bound

NEVER VOLUNTEER FOR ANYTHING!...Two reasons: 1) Prostate 2) Warmer... Find out why at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis. Try on a phrenology machine for size and experiment with other devices of quackery. Minnesota competes with Wisconsin for "world's largest everything" but here you enter true Paul Bunyan country. Darwin, MN boasts the world's largest ball of twine measuring 12 ft. in diameter and weighing 17,400 lbs. (You don't see the world's largest ball of twine just any where.) Eveleth prides itself owning a 107 ft. hockey stick with a 700 lb. puck. Blue Earth harbors the Jolly Green Giant and is known as the birthplace of the ice-cream sandwich. Brainerd, of course is the birthplace of Paul Bunyan but before you leave the state, stop at the Benson Bowler on Minnesota Avenue for some of the world's best curly fries and knock down a few pins. It’s a "Bowltel" where you can throw a few strikes and rent a room for that nap between frames.

We made it to Mount Rushmore. We had to pick up the pace because we are being detoured to southern climates. We encountered a warm front, which brought welcome temperatures in the 40's. It was not warm enough to melt the ice and snow from the heads of our esteemed political leaders. All shared a bad case of psoriases and president Lincoln sported a nasty "Nose Klingon" 60 ft. tall. Leelee and I appreciated the beauty of the snow laidened tree scape when we heard a child giggle and exclaim, " President Lincoln's mole is climbing his snotcycle!" Leelee shrieked, sprinted, and body checked the youngster away from his "pay 25 cents and look through the big binoculars" on a post. She turned and gave me one of those "YOU forgot to lock the camper and YOUR monkey is defacing a national monument AGAIN" looks.

So how do you pull a monkey out of the president's nose? Well, do or do not follow or modify these instructions if you ever get into the same jamb. First, panic a few minutes. Second, go to the ranger station and speak with the friendlies. Ranger Rob was the gung-ho, by the book, type while his partner Ranger Andi (with an "i") was more laid-back, level Dead Headed, "No problem, it happens. Neat KTM jackets. You guys bike riders? Me too! " Ranger Rob scrambled for his climbing gear, looking for peetons, carbeeners, ice axes, static lines and other stuff and I went back to the camper for my fish finder. (Trusting O'l Lucas' story of treasure, I earlier taped it to a broom handle and with a few coat hangers, I fashioned a metal detector.) Andi grabbed her keys and left with Leelee.

An hour and a half later, Ranger Rob kicked ice and barked orders at me. Pucker factors escalated with each step higher. Mother Earth lay a distant 60 ft. below. I grew tired lugging my fish/metal detector and the 12V battery needed to power it. The excitement, this time I was the cavalry of emergency equipment. After what seemed like hours, we pinnacled the nasal drip to find Andi, Leelee and Tater sitting in Old Abe's left nostril, looking adnnoyed.
"What the... How the heck d'you get here so fast?" Andi replied "We just came up the maintenance path on the golf cart. Bobby can make things difficult." I asked her if she knew of the treasure legend. She replied, "We use the inside of Lincoln's head for storage. There's nothing here but a bunch of picnic tables and that big fiberglass buffalo nickel. You're welcome to look around if you want." We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about treasure and motorcycles and then we had to say goodbye. Detour ... Daytona !

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Location: Wisconsin

We are checking in from what seems to be the other side of the world. Normally, you would only consider vacationing in Wisconsin in the late fall or winter for skiing or snowmobiling however, we're headed west by northwest on a mission. We are laying a track for our planned Cushman Scooter run to Sturgis. Steinbeck mentioned something in ‘Sea of Cortez’ about carrying 2100 bottles of beer to stay healthy on a biological expedition. Leelee and I avoid the Rickets by packing jars of Tequila and Tang; our biological study would be Tater.

If you want to find the biggest anything especially if it is made of fiberglass, look for it in Wisconsin. Neillsville is home of the largest fiberglass cheese, a replica of the 17 ton cheddar displayed at some world's fair. Along with the largest cheese, Neillsville also lays claim to the world's largest talking cow. La Crosse, claims the world's largest six-pack at the Heileman brewery. The most impressive, world's largest anything, must be displayed at the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward. Unlike Big Musky the dirt digger in Ohio, this musky is the world's largest fiberglass fish as well as the largest fiberglass structure.

Not exactly the largest of anything yet interesting is the Brooks Stevens design studio in Grafton. Brooks Stevens began his career in 1934 and he and his design studio have compiled a long list of design accomplishments. Notables include design work for Willys Jeep, Studebaker, Excalibur, Harley Davidson and most recently Polaris ATV and Victory motorcycles. Arguably his most famous accomplishment appeared in the late 1950s. Brooks Stevens is the father of the 1958 Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile.

We found the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile stuck high in a ditch . While blowing out the carbon, the driver realized that the brakes were no better than you would find in a 1983 Husqvarna. It had been mothballed for some time and he had taken it for a spin. Luckily, we were able to "link" the camper to the wheeled lunchmeat and pull it on to dry road. Tater scrambled atop the vehicle for the ride. In the bright Wisconsin sunshine, he looked like Slim Pickens riding an H-bomb in that "Dr. Strangelove" movie. Old’ Lukas, the driver was so happy that he invited us to his house for a hearty fried baloney lunch with all of the trimmings including my favorite, baked beans seasoned with bacon and lard to taste. All during lunch he talked about his father working in the Civilian Conservation Corps at Mount Rushmore. He said the old-timers told stories of a great treasure hidden in the area and that if we were headed west we should try our luck... Why not, it is on the way.

*Photo courtesy of kraftfoods.com Weinermobile History, http://www.kraftfoods.com/om/history1.htm

Friday, November 04, 2005

No Grand Prize

Last night, I enjoyed a tasty venison chili. Later, feeling slightly bloated I mustered a burp. The instant I expelled, I also farted. In my life, that never happened before! I did not believe the cacophony possible without suffering some medical catastrophe. Indeed this event was special.

Alas, no strobe lights. No laser show. No master of ceremony to present the grand prize, Las Vegas style. Just fog. . . but, the dog sneezed.