I had a comfy, warm night and slept in until 7:30. I got dressed and had a stroll around the park (I wanted to get my money's worth!). Eric got up and started breakfast. We took our sweet time eating our eggs, bacon and toast and cleaning up. We left the park at about 10am.
We headed towards the Mississippi River in order to take Highway 35 (The Great River Road) north towards Minnesota. We didn't get far before we HAD to stop at Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin aka The Troll Capital of the World! We drove through town anxiously looking for signs that would justify the towns claim. We spotted several wood carved troll statues along the road as we drove. We were informed by a Mr. Gordon at the visitor's center that the town was settled by mostly Scandinavian peoples. They say that trolls protect precious things, in this case the trolls protect the friendly people that inhabit Mt. Horeb.
We walked along the main road and got pictures with several of the troll statues. They were hand carved by a local man and placed in front of various businesses. There was one with an accordion and we got a picture of Eric holding his accordion next the it. There was also a town mascot who was seen at many festivals throughout the year, a living, breathing, human-sized troll named Jorgen.
After our troll adventures, we continued towards the river. I realized that if we continued along this road, we would be going right past my 2nd cousin Mary Anne's place and that perhaps we could stay there for the night. I called and after a brief game of phone tag, I got a hold of her. She seemed very busy, but always happy to help and visit with us. We were told that we had to be gone by 9am the next day because she was expecting clients. It was no problem for us so we started towards her place.
We stopped at a wayside along the river for a lunch of BLTs (minus the L...) there was another couple stopped there who looked like they were about to use the picnic table to sit at (there was only one), but upon seeing us with our cooler promptly gave it up to us. I told them we could share the table and offered them some BLTs, but they politely declined. A few minutes later the male counterpart of the couple approached us and asked if we liked art. Of course we do, so he showed us a carving of a Green Man he had done and told us all about his tattoo parlor. He gave us a couple of hand made business cards and we liked it!
We realized that if we just talk to people they will probably talk back and be friendly and generous. We could actually meet some really interesting people along the way.
About 2 hours later we arrived at Mary Anne Wise and Arne's. She greeted us at the car with a much appreciated offer to sleep in their camper on a real bed. She showed us the outdoor shower she had built from concrete and lined with Mississippi muscle shells. Apparently they had been renting out their camper to people from the twin cities who want to get away from the city, and they built the shower so they would have a place to bathe when they stayed. We were very impressed and excited to use the outdoor shower.
We unpacked the necessities and I jumped in the shower. It felt awesome! I was naked outside! The water was warm, even though the air was becoming a bit chilly. There was a little window to look through while you were in the shower. I should mention how secluded their place is. The road dead ends into their drive way and there isn't a house in sight of their place as far as I can tell. They have numerous buildings (workshops) around their house and an abundance of vegetation and well kept gardens. Their artistic nature is obvious as soon as you pass through the 2 cement pillars that mark the edge of the yard. Their property is littered with various pieces of art and furniture they have created. Eric said that he would call a lot of their art "zen junk piles" because a lot of their peices include found items that have been repurposed.
We sat on their patio and had a dinner of pasta and sauce, salad, and squash (along with Arne's home brewed Octoberfest beer). It was all very delicious and we were very grateful for their immense hospitality especially since we dropped in on them with only 2 hours notice.
We caught up on what has been happening over the past 3 or 4 years since I last visited. Mary Anne has been working towards a fair trade textile business in Guatemala where she helps local artists get fair wages for their creations. She seems very fulfilled by this and is trying to expand to other countries. This keeps her and Arne very busy.
After a couple more glasses of Arne's beer and having to throw several slobbery half eaten apples for their welsh terrier, Max, we retired to the camper. We learned that this trailer was one of five spartan trailers that they own. We settled in under a very warm down comforter after listening to some NPR.