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July 10, 2017

WI to OH - the last few days on the road


The Mercedes Sprinter chassis makes for a nice sized RV while providing excellent gas mileage.  The downside is there are few non-dealer options for service as it has one of the most technically advanced drive trains on the planet.  Our 2008 chassis allows for up to 5% bio-diesel, but a lot of the stations in Midwest are up to 20%, well they do grow a lot of corn here.  Looking south from the Effigy Mounds is the bridge to Wisconsin and 5% bio-diesel.

We have not visited WI before, but still need to be in Ohio in a couple days, so it will be a very quick visit. 
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In order to add a new state sticker to our map we need to do something unique to the state and spend the night.  We’ve not collected Lake Michigan either, a quick decision is to head east to my father’s birthplace – Beaver Dam, WI.  It’s over 50 years since I’ve been here, but with the aid of GPS, we find the house easily on Haskell Street just below the dam.

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I’m not sure if the dam was ever really made by a beaver, it’s always been concrete to me.  Fishing for walleye is a common pastime below the dam.  I’ve never caught one, but this fella has just landed a nice one that is visible in his net.

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That short visit qualifies as unique, it’s a short drive to Port Washington, WI where I can put my toes in Lake Michigan and also add the lake to our map.
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Vines to Cellar is a bulk winery, buy grapes from all over and create their own label, with no vintner notes.  I asked to sample a dry red from local grapes, he responded they only have one and turned to open the refrigerator door.  I should have run away then!  With all the options that lined the wall, how bad could it be?  Pretty gawd-awful.

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To add Wisconsin to our state map we still needed to find a place to stay overnight.  Not all that easy traveling on the holiday weekend.  Happy Acres Kampground is a ‘family’ campground with lots of activities for all the kids that are there.  We were given an unlevel site just as the sky opened for another cloudburst.  Not the ideal place, but on a wet holiday weekend it worked ok.

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We drove through Chicago and into Indiana without stopping.  Indiana‘s McCormick’s Creek State Park charges a day-use fee ($7) to drive to the campground, which (unlike or CO experience) did have an open site.  An electric only site in a massive and beautiful state park for a total $31.  We unloaded our toad just to get around to see some of the options in the park.
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With its large public pool near the campground and historic inn about a mile away, with a tennis wall for practice.  This is where Fran will be, at the tennis wall, while I get Rufus ready for the last day of travel.
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There is only one trail listed on the park map as “Rugged”, Trail #3 ia a 1 mile loop from the inn to McCormick’s Creek Falls and back.  There longer trails, but listed as easy to moderate.  Allowing time for one trail, we choose to make it rugged Trail #3.  It starts out easy enough,
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but then there is a long staircase leading to the creek.
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The trail then disappears with the sign saying to “follow the creek up-stream”.  It is wet and slippery but starts out with a wide shoulder.
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But then is blocked with fallen trees, and finally disappears altogether.
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We have to pass through Bloomington, IN, where the Golden Globe and Academy Award winning Breaking Away was filmed.  A drive through the campus shows off the granite stones that were taken for the local quarry, the courthouse where Moocher gets married, the home of Dave Stoller, and with a bit of luck the sorority where Dave serenades Katrina.  We do make it to the end of East Empire Mill Road where the quarry is located, but alas there is no parking spot to leave the RV and continue on foot.  Note that Fran is snapping the few pictures on her phone while I’m driving around, so there is a bit of window reflection.  A more complete list of filming locations can be found HERE.
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Today we stop at Oliver Winery, Indiana’s oldest winery and vineyard.  The line on the right are those waiting to get into the tasting room ~45 minute wait! – it is a holiday weekend ….   I’m sure the wine is better than the previous stop, and a few folks have a mixed case in their basket, but we need to move on.
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We take a walk through their gardens, where the granite is taken from the same quarry we did not get to see.
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We are finally in Ohio on July 4th, 23 days after leaving San Diego … that could be a record, we do not normally travel this fast!  But wait till you see our return trip … 1800 miles in 7 days!  We could skip the Turtles concert or the eclipse, or put the pedal-to-the-metal.
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