Woke up to a lovely day in Mt. Horeb. Gallivanted around town, checked out the two antique stores and bought the most fabulous floor lamp. I had to. It was a steal. And I usually say that when the owners don’t know what they have but these two ladies knew that this was an authentic 50s art deco lamp in pristine condition. Now let’s hope I can keep it that way for the next 3 weeks in the back seat of my car. The shade is similar in style to the one I have from my grandparents but I can’t just have one. The ladies were surprised that someone so young appreciated these things and I explained that I inherited a lot of my grandparent’s and aunt’s furniture and I cherish it. I then thought, who will cherish it after I’ve gone and said that out loud. This woman, in her 60s I assume, said, “You enjoy it and that’s all that matters. If I thought about that with my kids, I’d be sad all the time. Even if they donate it when you’re gone, your things will make someone like YOU that appreciates antiques extremely happy when they find it in that thrift store.” So true!
Leaving Wisconsin on the country roads, I continually faced the MPH dilemma and was still shocked that I hadn’t gotten nabbed. It’s just so easy to go fast when you can’t see anything other than a straight road up ahead. So sure enough, I’m about to slow down for a 45mph bit when a little town cropped up, and I see the lights in my rear view mirror. I was already slowing down so I just pulled over without making him tell me to. I got my license, registration and insurance card out immediately and rolled the window down. When the officer approached the car, I laughed and said, “Ya don’t have to ask my why you pulled me over. Sorry about that.” I think he appreciated that. He said he clocked me at 76mph, 21 over the limit. Told me he’d be right back since he has to run my plates and such to make sure I’m not wanted in 3 counties. I was pissed at myself but figured it was bound to happen considering how much I had already gotten away with. He returned to my car and handed back all my documents and said, “In Wisconsin, this would cost you about $280 but I’m going to give you a warning. You just passing through?” I said yes and that I would be more careful and thanked him. WOW! Unreal. This would never have happened in New York. Even with a retired cop for a dad. And it worked. I have been slower on the road. But it’s weird because some states have a 70mph limit and others 55 so it’s hard to keep it straight. I didn’t say THIS to him of course. Ignorance is not an excuse to a police officer.
Soon after that, the craziest thing happened (maybe it was punishment for speeding). I was going the speed limit (learned my lesson) so this minivan behind me wanted to pass and it was a straight road, but a little dippy here and there. You know that type of road where you can see that shimmery black line where the road is about to dip down. So they started passing me and right as the road reached its slight peak, there was fresh road kill to the left of the dotted yellow line and the passing car didn’t see it. So they ran right over it as they passed me and it splattered all over the driver’s side of the car. I almost hurled. It reminded me of the time I hit that buck back in high school. I could already smell the stench. But I think that was psychological considering the windows were closed. And thank goodness the windows were closed. Can you imagine how offensive that would have been? As if it wasn’t already going to be nasty. So they pulled over and so did I and the man was just horrified. He apologized over and over again and I said it was okay. It’s not like he did it on purpose. He asked me if I knew what it was as if we’d have to notify its parents or something. His wife thought it might have been a possum. I’m not even sure what a possum looks like so I just nodded and said, “Yea, maybe?” So the man didn’t know what to do but handed me $20 for a car wash but he wasn’t from the area and didn’t know where the next car wash was. I said it was fine and appreciated his offer. Luckily, there was a car wash down the road and I got the “super wash” option. I mean, after all, there wasn’t a “wipe the possum off your hood” option. And no, I didn’t just go into the car wash like nothing was hanging off my tires and such. I explained what happened and I swear, it was as if they get this every week. Grrrroooosssss!
In Iowa, I strolled through both Marquette and McGregor, both incredibly cute spots. An old-fashioned diner in town with large black and white checkered floor and red stools at the counter. Adorable! Both resemble the type of towns in westerns where the train rolls through town through the mountain and folks nod and take their hats off when they walk by. It was so cute. And in McGregor, the buildings still look like Jesse James is going to come and rob the bank. There’s even a Savings & Loan like in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
So glad Maura’s friend recommended this town. The sad thing in Marquette was that the old schoolhouse was now an antique store. Ya gotta wonder where the kids learn? There didn’t seem to be another school nearby. It brought to mind the old grandparent mantra, “I had to walk 3 miles in the snow BAREFOOT to get to school.” I wonder if that’s the case now for some kids.
The real General Store in Marquette was just a riot. Chaotic organization is the best way to describe it. I swear the woman who ran the place must know where every nut and bolt is but walking down the “aisles” if you can even call them that was an adventure. You could buy everything from shoelaces to Christmas ornaments to doorknobs and scrap wood. So cool.
The one disturbing thing I overheard that day was in the antique mall in McGregor. These two older women were discussing the health care reform issue. One of them said about Obama, “He’s just not working for our people.” I guess I should be surprised that it’s taken this long (almost a week) before I heard such a comment but luckily she stopped there. I felt as if I would have said something if she continued. Not in an abrasive way but to see what she really feels. I don’t know…
Between McGregor and Mankato, I stopped in Waseca, Minnesota and saw the most amazing sunset ever! On the lake and all. The most beautiful colors and clouds. Just breathtaking. All that emotion made me hungry and I had to stop to eat. Found a place called Old Country Buffet. One thing I have noticed about these small town family restaurants is that folks aren’t bothered by having their conversations heard by others. This one table had two couples, one older, one in their late teens or early 20s, with a baby in a carseat. The young husband/father was lamenting about how they don’t have friends coming around anymore. Since the baby, none of their friends call or stop by for a beer or to watch the game. It was so bittersweet. I felt so bad for them. They were so young and so sad already. The other family in earshot of me was this couple in their 30s with an 8-year old son who was having behavioral issues at school already. School started Wednesday for some. So this mom was reprimanding him loudly for the entire restaurant to hear. I guess this just shocked me because when we were kids, folks used to come up to my parents and praise them for how well behaved we were in the restaurant. Granted, this was thanks to my father beating the hell out of me once when I was 3 when I acted out in Florida restaurant while on vacation. My sister Denise never let me live that down.
Some random observations: (1) Llamas roadside for sale in Wisconsin. (2) Amish aren’t just in Lancaster. They’re in Minnesota too. (3) Learned that executed prisoners in China are involuntarily having their organs harvested and the doctors (or government) are saying it’s the least they can do for doing something wrong, (4) Laura Ingalls shopped in Mankato, MN on Little House on the Prairie (thanks Erin).
Radio highlights: Steve Miller Band, Aerosmith, Blondie.