I haven't taken a big road trip in over 6 months with the last trip being up toe Wisconsin for my bachelor party. The last job I had turned into hell where I was on call every other week and I didn't have a ton of time to myself. I decided to make a change and find a new job. I also made sure to have a little gap between jobs. With this gap, I was finally able to take another road trip.
I decided I'd go to Wisconsin for Easter and then since I was “in the area” visit Thunder Bay. I'd then head back to Texas and do this trip in the course of little over a week. Little did I know, my trip last year where I visited every Buc-ee's in Texas would go viral. I ended up extending my road trip a bit more. When everything was said and done, I made it to 4000+ miles (6400+ km) across 2 different countries and then all around Texas.
The pre-trip started on 4/16. Victoria and I had a lunch date and we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Dos Batos. I got a torta.
Wednesday 4/17 is Victoria's birthday. We celebrated at Reale's and I got an Italian Hero Sub. I was definitely getting my last tastes of Austin before I hit the road!
Now there were talks of these massive storms that were supposed to hit us. It seemed super overhyped and in the whole scheme of things, the storms weren't too bad. I will typically wake up if it does get bad and I slept solid. They must have developed east of us.
I packed light with my clothes and everything but food in a backpack. I had a separate tote for food.
I hit the road around 7am. There was a little rain along the way but I didn't run into much weather. I was able to drive 19 hours straight and drive it straight through. I made it to my parents' house at 2am. This was the first time I was able to do this driving up to Wisconsin.
In the morning I could hear sniffing under my door. Jordy was all excited to see me. When my mom opened the door, Jordy jumped on the bed and then laid down.
After sleeping a bit, I left Jordy outside to go to the bathroom. It was still a bit chilly and there was some snow sitting around.
After I was done with that, I changed oil on my car.
I then went into town and ran some errands.
Since it was Good Friday, I got myself a fish sandwich from Kwik Trip and visited my grandma. The weather was also starting to warm up a bit.
I visited my other grandma and then went home. My parents and I went to Lindsey Bar to get a fish fry. You gotta love Friday night fish fries in Wisconsin!
Later that night I met my buddy Jake and a few other people at the brew pub.
On Satuday, 4/20, we had family Easter at my uncle's house. It was definitely starting to feel nice weather wise!
On Easter Sunday I went to mass at Sacred Heart. They are tearing down the school to build a new parish center. It's kind of crazy to see this as I was third generation to do to this school. The building is over 100 years old so they definitely got good use out of it.
I then went home and we sat outside since it was a nice day.
On Monday, 4/22, I had to do laundry. Packing light means less clothes and more doing laundry.
My mom had the day off so we went into town. We first visited my grandma and I put the new registration sticker on the Cougar.
We then drove out to Stratford and went to the This & That Wisconsin Store.
On the way back, I stopped at a self service maple syrup kiosk.
We then went to Marshfield Mercantile and I found a cool old license plate.
We visited my other grandma and headed to Hewitt's Meat Processing.
On Tuesday, 4/23, it was time to say good to everyone in Marshfield and head up to Thunder Bay. It was a cold morning and I had a decent amount of driving to do. I stopped a Kwik Trip along the way and got breakfast.
I made it to Northern Minnesota. Since I had been busy the whole time Victoria and I hadn't talked on the phone much. On her lunch break she called me. Due to such limited reception, I stopped at a marina where I knew I'd have some cell phone reception.
I then continued driving until I got to Grand Portage. I filled up there and made my way to the Canadian border.
The border crossing was pretty easy this time. I was in Ontario in no time!
I first stopped by Metro to get my bearings and then headed to The Haven Hostel, where I'd be staying.
I let my buddy Ryan know I was in town and we met up at Prince Arthur's Landing. I took a few pictures along the way as we walked to Barbecupid and had some BBQ. Things were still a bit frozen over on the lake.
Walked back to car and then went to Maltese Grocery to get chicken peppperettes and heartbeat hot sauce.
After eating, we walked back to the car and then drove to Maltese Grocery to pick up some chicken pepperettes and a few other things. We then went back to the hostel. Ryan wanted to see the common areas there since he heard a lot of good things about it.
I dropped Ryan off at his house and then went back to the hostel to talk to Victoria on the phone and also charge my phone. Ryan and I planned to hang out later that night and go bar hopping. I offered to stay sober and be the designated driver so we could visit more place outside of the typical walking distance. Ryan was excited about some of the bars having pinball machines.
Our bar hopping consisted of going to The Hodder, Shooters Tavern, Cheer's the Village Pub, and then finishing the night at the Westfort. I had a little bit of gut rot from all the soda I drank.
I got back to the hostel and climbed into my bunk.
Wednesday, 4/24, was going to be a packed day. I had a lot planned. I started the day off with breakfast at the hostel.
I then wanted to get some more caffeine and check out St. Paul Roastery. I plugged the parking meter and then had some coffee.
I had some extra time on the parking meter and I noticed La Poutine had just opened. It was around lunch time, so I decided to get some Montreal-style poutine there.
I wanted to get some more pictures of the marina, so I went there after eating.
All the picture taking drained the battery on my phone and also I needed to sync it with Dropbox. I headed to the hostel to charge the phone for a bit before heading to the Waverly Public Library. One of my readers, Will Scheibler, wanted to give me a Thunder Bay flag. He read my Quest for a Canadian Flag blog entry and thought a Thunder Bay flag would be perfect for my collection. I met with him there and he gave me a flag and several other Thunder Bay related thing (Thanks Will!).
I then went to Fisherman's Park and saw how raging the river was.
I was soon back at the hostel again for a little break. I wasn't there too long before I met up with the Pink Gorilla and we explored all the great local businesses at the Thunder Bay Country Market.
After the Thunder Bay Country Market, I picked up my buddy Ryan again. The next day I was planning to drive to Silver Islet and then back to Texas. I didn't want to be hungover so I decided to stay sober again and offered to drive. Ryan took me up on that offer and we first went to Fastlane so we could BS with our buddy Kal who bartends there. This is where I got a burger and some more poutine.
We then got to experience some #ThunderBayWeird at The Apollo. I do love how quirky this bar is!
We then finished the night at The Waterhouse.
I dropped Ryan back off at his place and then went back to the hostel to get some sleep. The morning of Thursday, 4/25, came really fast!
Ryan was going to explore Silver Islet with me. I picked him up and he was surprisingly pretty awake for being out late and having a few drinks. We hit the road.
We made our diversion down Lakeshore Drive. This is a place I made a detour 5+ years ago. I had stopped into Crystal Beach Variety and had great conversation with the owner, John. I couldn't remember exactly where this was until I started doing some research. I decided to drop by there on my way to Silver Islet and then visit The Fish Shop.
After miles of narrow and twisty roads, we finally made it to Silver Islet!
Seeing the beauty of Silver Islet was great! I wish I could have stayed there longer, but I needed to get back to Texas. I headed back to Thunder Bay, dropped Ryan off at his house, and said goodbye. From there it was heading to Metro to get some Canadian groceries and then to the border.
When I was talking to the US border guard, he had remembered me from last time. He made a recommendation I check out High Falls. This was at the Minnesota Welcome Center half a mile up the road and a short hike. I'm glad I took up his recommendation!
I started driving towards Duluth and realized I needed gas by the time I got to Duluth. My Buc-ee's story was taking off, so I decided to go to a place the opposite of Buc-ee's. It was an unattended Sinclair station in the middle of nowhere.
Who says I35 only sucks in Austin? In Duluth I got held up in a traffic jam.
I eventually made good time until my tire pressure light came on. Looks like I had a nail in my rear driver's side tire. I used my air pump and got it to good enough pressure to keep going.
The tire didn't give me any grief the rest of the night and I was able to drive to a rest stop in Iowa about 30 miles from the Missouri border. I slept there for the night.
On Friday 4/26 I woke up and defrosted the windows. I then drove straight through from Iowa to Kansas before I had to put more air in my tire.
The tire seemed fine afterwards and I made it almost to Texas. I decided to check out Stuckey's.
I then fought the traffic jams and finally made it home to Austin.
I made it home by 8:30pm. I was exhausted and Victoria and I went to bed early. The next morning we'd be heading the Bryan for the Texas A&M Women's Chorus Spring Concert. We ate some turkey bacon and then hit the road. This time Victoria would be driving.
We made a pitstop at a Sonic for lunch.
We went to Victoria's grandparents' house. She visited a little while and then headed to practice for the concert. It was the 40th anniversary of Texas A&M Women's Chorus so the alumni were asked to sing. I got to hang out with Victoria's grandparents and we had a great time visiting. Before the concert, we went to Downtown Bryan and ate some Mexican foot at Papa Perez.
The concert went well and I can say it was my first time at a choral concert.
Later that night Victoria and I met up with some of her friends at Northgate. We went to Mad Hatter's and Paddock Lane.
We spent the night at Victoria's grandparents' house. The next day all of us met up with her Uncle Craig and Aunt Kathy and headed to Wings N' More.
We were soon back on the road back to Austin.
I could finally take a bit of a breather and look out my patio window.
The breather didn't last too long. KTEN wanted to do an interview at the grand opening of the Melissa, TX Buc-ee's. You can read about that adventure here.
After that, I was able to squeeze in getting new tires at Discount Tire. There was a whirlwind of media appearances with my Buc-ee's trip. I'll have to write about that once everything settles down. Looking back on writing this blog entry, it's amazing the sheer amount of ground I've covered in the last 2 weeks. I think I'll be good for a little bit when it comes to long trips and look forward to sticking around Austin for a bit while I start my new job.