Day 11 - Wisconsin to Albert Lea

Two hours into the drive today, we crossed the Mississippi heading West.  It came to my mind that, if things go roughly according to plan, we would cross the river going the other direction somewhere around August 10th, probably in the delta as The Big Trip meets The Big Easy. Between now and then, many an adventure shall ensue.

Today was, by design, a light day.  Back into the swing, we took off mid-morning after finishing the re-pack.  We had the choice to wait and really push Day 1, but it  seemed best to split the time getting out west into a couple days.  Those of you who have gone from Madison to Rapid City in one drive before can understand the grind of doing that all at once.  Man, I am REALLY happy to be back on the road with my family.  One of those happy's that you think you are, but you aren't 100% sure of until you are actually in it. 

We hit Rochester at lunch time and stopped off for a picnic at the Quarry Hill Nature Center.  Nice spot, took a long hike around the center which was your classic educational sort of spot, largely built around some reclaimed quarry land.  Did a little fossil hunting and then continued on to Albert Lea via Austin, MN.  Stopped quickly in Austin to have a SpamBurger snack at Culvers (Austin is where Spam originated...awesome) and also picked up some Spam swag at a nearby gift shop.  The Spam museum is under renovation, so just FYI if you are planning your next vacation around that spot...

We hit Albert Lea, checked in to our hotel, and headed back to Austin to hit a GEM that we found online for dinner - Tendermaid Sandwiches.  Classic Big Trip - a lunch counter diner opened and basically  unchanged (including the same grill!) since 1938.  It's a loose meat sandwich joint, no frills menu, get a sandwich, chips, soda or a shake.  A great woman was working the whole place  - she cooked, waited on us and gave us all kinds of history, and of course the food was great.  Back to the room and a little swimming gets us to this post.  A good chunk of driving and travel kitsch coming tomorrow.  Have a good night, y'all.

Ham and Spam, Austin MN

MK found this, pretty sure it was a cephalopod.  Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rochester, MN

It's off menu, so you need to know to ask.

Fans of the loose meat.  Tendermaid, Austin MN.

A classic, since 1938.