The last time Amber and I laid over in Wisconsin while crossing the continent it was negative 15 and we spent our time watching boiling water vapor turn to clouds. This time spring was in full swing! The leaves were out. The grass was green and the air felt way too inviting to stay indoors much. We convinced our hosts to have a Mid-Western evening fire complete with lawn chairs, refreshments, wood splitting and some great wood fired grilling!
Amber chopping wood in Wisconsin
One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing how people in various areas live and overcome the challenges of their environment. For example, in Maine we attended that great ice harvesting event to learn how people in earlier times overcame the challenge of keeping food cold all year. And in Canada we saw gigantic fire wood processing businesses that supply the necessary resources to allow people to overcome the long cold winters there. During this stop in Wisconsin we were able to observe a local, using ancient methods to overcome the age-old challenges of igniting wood fuels, engendering premium cooking coals and positioning meat and vegetables in precise relationship to the heat to ensure perfect cooking. It is as much an art as it is a science and when done well is a thing to see and marvel at. I cannot think of anything that ties us more to our ancestors and family traditions.

Fire and grill
We opted to take the more southern route home and after quickly passing through Minnesota, headed into South Dakota. There is probably not a better time of year to cross the prairie. The grasslands were so green, the temperatures were mild and traffic is light as compared to the summer travel months. The South Dakota freeways are wide, smooth and straight – very straight. They stretch on for miles and miles with nary a bend nor hill. Looking out the window we saw farms, cattle, grasslands, fields, prairie grass and road signs. SD is big on road signs. Every town we passed had stationed emissaries at various distances, 20, 50, 100, even 400 miles away, along the road to attract visitors and business. Gas stations, breweries, restaurants, road side attractions and of course Yellowstone National Park all proclaimed their attributes and location for miles in advance. The most bombastic in South Dakota has to be the Wall Drug. We were able to capture a few of their, literally, dozens of signs.
Wall Drug billboard 1
Wall Drug billboard 2
Wall Drug billboard 3
Wall Drug billboard 4
With all the road signs promised we just had to stop! Unfortunately, we were approaching Wall late in the day and Amber took advantage of the 80 MPH speed limit to get us there before it closed. Even with her great driving efforts, the only reason we made it was because we passed into the next time zone! We made it twenty minutes before closing. We had just enough time to check out their bathroom and snap a few pictures.
Wall Drug sign
Stuffed cougar
6 foot jack rabbit at Wall Drug
We made a short stop at the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana. It is on a bend in the Little Bighorn River and according to the sign outside of the gift shop was where the battle began.
Sitting Bull statue
Lee and Col. Custer statue
I love it that these gas stations have a dinosaur to play on! It makes every stop feel like a magical summer vacation moment to treasure.
Lee and dinosaur
Amber had been texting with some friends who were headed East along the same route we were taking on their way to Yellowstone. We were able to meet in Missoula for dinner!
Amber with friends
 We hit Wenatchee on a Saturday morning. Both my father and son were thrilled with the presents I brought them from Maine!
We will be laying over here a couple of weeks to do some work, visit friends and family and trade in our winter in Maine clothes for our summer in China ones.