Episode Four : Amazing Aircraft, Superb Skyscrapers, & Fantastic Falls
Destination: EAA Airventure, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Sadly all vacations must end, but in Dan and Greg’s case their vacation from their vacation is the only vacation coming to a conclusion. Thus, another leg of the summer vacation road trip vacation begins as the Minnesota vacation from the road trip vacation ends. Both of the freshly rested travelers decide that travel via air might make up for the extra time spent in the land of ten thousand lakes and would be an appropriate entrance to the largest fly-in in the world, EAA Oshkosh. The engine revs loudly as the two climb high into the sky while marveling at the beautiful Brainerd Lakes Area.
View of Lakes Area from Cessna 172
No sooner than getting airborne, Greg notices from their elevated view that they forgot to do one crucial activity before they depart, Golf. Since the expense of a full 18 hole course would send both of the travelers into debt, a quick solution, mini-golf, is made. The two soon find out that “Pirates Cove Mini-Golf” isn’t just a catchy advertisement but is actually full of real “Lake Pirates”. After robbing them of all their money the Pirates also take their dignity. “Hey, at least I got to keep the putter,” Dan sighs.
Two Travelers Swindled by Pirates
With their money dwindling the cost of air travel is just too much for the two. It’s back to traveling in the old Civic. “Hey, it’s got us this far right?” Just prior to departing Brainerd, Dan’s friend Joe makes a call saying he’s in town and heading down to the Twin Cities on his motor bicycle. Being the great guy that he is he offers the two poor travelers a place to stay for the night in south Minneapolis. “Who would we be to decline the offer” Greg states. And so the three head south for a short drive to Minnesota’s only real metropolis. It was at Joe’s apartment (no relation to the movie) that the three received a warm welcome from Joe’s girlfriend, Kim, in the form of a delicious improv rice dish (Thanks Kim!). The food was so good that the decision to stay another night came effortlessly and the two were rewarded with another outstanding meal. This time Kim and Joe prepare Vietnamese stir fry with Spring Rolls. Dan sweats as he takes bite after bite, nothing a little milk can’t fix. With their belly’s full, a good “taste” of Minneapolis/St. Paul is had and the two hit the road again.
A short stop is made in Madison, Wisconsin to say hello to Dan’s brother Chris, who’s going to school at the local University. “Go Badgers” he yells as a gang of football players strolls down state street. The locals say that Madison is a lot like the Berkeley of the Midwest. Greg thinks that it’s probably a lot colder in the winter but otherwise quite similar. What do you think Jeremy?
Departing Madison is such sweet sorrow, but a plethora of airplanes and jets awaits the two only hours away. Upon arrival in Oshkosh the grounded travelers find that the air show has been invaded by the Germans. Whittman field, the home of EAA Airventure, is overrun by Folkers and Junkers in an attempt to secure a base to export all of Wisconsin’s delicious cheese back to Germany.
Da Germans Invade Oshkosh
With what little Duetsch Dan learned in high school he is taken hostage as an interpreter. “Wo ist die cheese?, I’m not sure, I’m from Minnesota” Dan exclaims. Greg knows that he’s Dan’s only hope and must find a means to defeat the invading…uh invaders. Knowing that all the typical fighter aircraft and jets are under tight security he makes a quick decision. Maybe he can slip through the air traffic control radar if he uses the smallest manned airplane ever to fly.
Greg prepares for combat in the smallest airplane in the world
Like a mosquito Greg slips through the visually impaired defenses and stings the German Luftwaffe where it hurts most, their beer supply. By tainting their supply with old moldy cheese (from California) the Germans are forced to retreat back to their homeland for refills. It is then that the Germans realize they don’t need Wisconsin cheese to be unique, they have their beer. With Dan released from his interpreter duties and Greg the hero of all Wisconsinites, the adventurers head south towards the windy city.
Destination: Chicago, Illinois
Entering the outskirts of Chicago, the two travelers are greeted by a mean thunderstorm. Lightning strikes are plentiful and the large cumulonimbus cloud spits out powerful downpours full of hail, wind, and rain. “What a welcome!” the two think as they pull up to the hostel on the Southside of downtown. Luckily the storm passes quickly and the two are able to take a walk through the streets of the windy city. “John Hancock sure has a tall building. I wonder what makes him so important” Greg thinks. Guess he’ll have to wait till they reach Philadelphia to find out.
Greg and John Hancock Building
The next day Dan suggests the two take their stunt kites down to Grant Park, only two blocks away, and experience the how windy the windy city really is. On the way to the park Dan feels the need to relieve himself. Luckily a public restroom is right there at the park entrance. When Chicago says “Public Restroom” they really mean public.
Dan Enjoying the Outdoor Lavatories
With Dan’s bladder fully empty the time to test this great cities nickname was upon them. “I thought this is supposed to be the windy city”, Greg asks as his kite struggles to stay aloft.
Greg struggles to make a low flyby in the Pseudo-windy City
With the inadequate gusts from Lake Michigan both Dan and Greg pack up their kites and head to the “Magnificent Mile”. It is there that they encounter the very first pizzeria to serve deep dish style pizza, Pizzeria Uno. This is no ordinary Pizzeria Uno for those who have been there before. This is the very first Pizzeria Uno, Pizzaeria Uno Uno, if you will. Before departing the city the two enjoy a couple refreshments at the local watering hole. Funny enough, the bartender’s best friend’s father when she was young was Dan’s eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Belgie. “He was the first and only teacher to give me detention” Dan scowls, “But what a small world, huh?”. After another night’s rest in the hostel it was time to say goodbye to the Not-So-Windy City in search of more adventures on the road.
Destination: Niagara Falls, New York and Canada
After traveling many miles towards the great falls, the tired travelers choose to make an overnight pit-stop at Geneva State Park just east of Cleveland, OH. The next morn a quick stop to view Lake Erie is made on the way out of the park. “Not really that Erie” Dan sighs in disappointment. Niagara Falls is easily reached by mid afternoon, and it is decided that walking over to the Canadian side would provide a better view. The two find out that Niagara falls is actually two separate falls, the American and Horseshoe, plummeting into the great gorge below. Here Dan gazes into Canada from the bridge as the American Falls show off their might in the background.
Dan and American Falls
Upon arriving in Canada the two are welcomed by a “Enjoy your stay, Ahe!” from a lovely boarder checkpoint lady. As the two make the journey to the St. Lawrence River’s Horseshoe Falls the weather seems to change inexplicably. Although there is hardly a cloud in the sky, a mystical-like fine mist surrounds the two. “Oh no, not more pirates” Dan cries out. “Calm down Dan, it’s from the falls.” Greg reassures him as he steps up to the edge. “It’s pretty big….I guess,” Greg utters disappointedly.
Greg unphased by the grandeur of Niagara’s Horseshoe falls
Eventually, the water stops flowing and the falls become a stupid dried up gorge. The coolness is lost. The two get bored and decide to push on forward, or rather eastward. The evening is spent in a Motel 6 in Utica, New York. Dan and Greg rise the following day and travel on through upstate NY, across Vermont, which includes a brief trip through the Green Mountain National Forest, and lastly to the location of interest …
Destination: White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Despite the name of the forest, the surrounding mountains are green with trees and shrubbery. It is assumed that the mountains were probably once infested with large birds that had frequent bowel movements while in flight, thus creating an illusion of white colored mountains. They’re usually right about stuff like this. Greg and Dan camp at a lovely campground with the sound of a gushing river massaging their ears all night long. The morning gets scared away, so the two greet the afternoon as they emerge from the tent. The rest of the drive through the White Mountains is soon underway, but before they exit the forest, a stop is made for a brief hike along the Greeley Trail. So many emotions are experienced during this hike, words are insufficient to describe them all. What’s that saying, “It takes a thousand words to talk about a picture… no, uh,… pictures talk, but only with a thousand word vocabulary…” Whatever.
Greeley pond and the plethora of emotions that it evokes
The hike back includes a trip off of the designated trail, and it is during this adventuring that a few wild raspberries are found, eaten, and begun to be broken down by stomach acids. “Thanks Mo’ Nature for a happy treat.” It is also along this leg of the hike that Dan questions the reality of the pond. We’ve all heard of fake ponds that open up to reveal enemy secret lairs (James Bonds “You Only Live Twice”, hello). So he checks it out.
Once the car is reached, sweat-drenched clothes are exchanged for dry clothes. And once again, Dan and Greg are [to be read with Willie Nelson impersonation voice] “on the road again.”
You, reader, may be wondering what condition the car is in at this point. Though scents and odors cannot be shared via the internet just yet (Jeremy), here is a visual sampling. Can you find the sandal? No, really, it’s like a “Where’s Waldo” thing, can you find it?
The Civ’s backseat
The road is open and only one state away lies the next destination as well as the second major turn, from heading East to South, in the Macy-Roberts Road Trip Extravaganza.
... stay tuned for Episode 5, a vitalizing and vivid portrait of the northern east coast ...
See the intro again.