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I haven’t been cliff diving, but I did find pie! I’m in Hermitage, MO at Pomme de Terre Lake State Park. In French, Pomme de Terre means literally “apple of the Earth” which in English, means potato. I’m at Potato Lake. The Hermitage side campground definitely rivals Thompson Causeway (IL) and Indian Lake (MI) for most beautiful campground I’ve stayed in. It may be possible I’m biased because there are more deer than people at this campground, as in, I have it all to myself. There is a ton of wildlife here, and I’ve even seen ANOTHER bald eagle. I swear, I’ve never seen a bald eagle in the wild in my life and now I’ve seen …

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The Ozarks (from the French ‘aux Arcs’ short for ‘out of Arkansas’) is a hilly plateau that stretches through southern Missouri and into Arkansas. It is known for its rolling forested hills, rocky plateaus, caves and ‘hillbilly’ culture (as depicted in the show The Beverly-Hillbillies, who were supposed to have come from the Ozarks). I am staying in a campground on the Lake of the Ozarks, which is a fingery lake surrounded by hills. Fall is nearly at a close, and the leaves are shades of golden brown. Most of them are oaks. It rained for several days, cold, with large drops hitting the trailer roof over and over, making me nearly insane. After the rain, however, …

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So I’ve been gone a month. That’s starting to settle in. I’ll be honest, the time has passed very quickly, especially since I spent two weeks with family. I’ve come what looks pretty far on a map, though I’ve definitely stayed ON the map. And I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet. Okay, so I don’t actually KNOW what I’m looking for, I’ll admit. I like old stuff and pie and I thought I might seek some of that out. I like traveling and road trips, so I thought I might do some of that. I thought I’d have been tripping over neat and inspiring stuff. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you have to look …

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Finally, after traveling all the way through southern Iowa and into Missouri, I have found warmer weather! I’ve not traveled much in the middle of the country. There are probably many things to see, but none of them are obvious. I am trying a few things out to see where they take me.  In this story, I headed for what I thought might be exciting campgrounds. My first was Geode State Park in Iowa. This is a misleading name. There were no geodes (as in the rocks with pretty crystals in them) from what I could tell. I looked. There was a very pretty man-made lake and many long trails, which Monty and Niko and I took …

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Tonight I’m staying in Muscatine, Iowa, a smallish town on the banks of the Mississippi. It’s much more farmy here and much less marshy, but still quite pretty. I was feeling a little tired of woods, so I ventured into town with Monty and Niko in tow. Muscatine was once famous for its Pearl Button Factory, which made tiny pearlescent buttons from the shells of freshwater mussels. The building is now a restaurant, but it’s surrounded by an historic district that is full of beautiful architecture. Surprisingly, unlike many small towns I’ve traveled through recently, the town seems to be on the up and up, almost metropolitan at points. (Almost.) I suspect some of this has to …

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I’ve been across the Mississippi many times, but I haven’t spent much time along its banks. I’ll be honest, the only thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Mississippi is Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. The fact that it traverses the entire country, snaking along the borders of 10 different states, should mean that more springs to mind than that. However, every story has to start someplace, and to be honest, there’s virtually a statue of Twain or Finn every ten feet down here. Mississippi culture is a kind of cliched, but it’s a charming cliche, one that recognizes that you have ideas about what it should be and it doesn’t want to disappoint you. …

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As a former employee of a craft brewery, I appreciate a micro-brew that is full of flavor, well-balanced, and has lots of character. New Glarus Brewing Company makes just such beers. New Glarus is about 45 minutes south of Madison, and is nick-named “Little Switzerland.” The town itself is small, but charming, with a few nice little bars and restaurants, as well as places to buy cheese and sausage. Lots of people come down from Madison to visit, so there are many tourists. I visited the brewery on a Saturday, and it was crowded. The tasting room had a line out the door, but for $6 you get a pint glass and beer to fill it with, …

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  Dear Wisconsin, Your state has nice beer and lovely cheese. Your people are generally friendly, and your sports teams are not detestable. However, you are not very tourist-friendly. Here are my complaints in order: 1. YOUR HORRIBLE ROADS. 2. YOUR EXPENSIVE, NICKLE-AND-DIMING, SHITTY CAMPGROUNDS. Please consider improving these situations, so that people can further enjoy your beer and cheese. Sincerely, Sarah Okay, so I don’t HATE Wisconsin. I just had an awful time, which probably had a lot to do with the season and the weather. A ton of the campgrounds were closed for the winter, which was a problem. Some of them left me no way of knowing they were closed until I had already …

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