Friday, June 17, 2011

Boiled Over
By Michael

Parked in front of the Kiewit Plaza in Omaha, NE on a Saturday.
Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered on the 14th floor. This
is where Warren Buffet comes to work every day. We swung
by on the off chance we'd somehow run into him, he'd be
taken by us and our story, and he'd offer up some stock leads
over milkshakes nearby. We were disappointed. 
We pulled in late last night to the Best Western motel in Sturgis, South Dakota. We’ve been offline the  previous four nights, holed up at my Grandma’s place in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. We holed up at my Grandma’s place in Scottsbluff, Nebraska for four nights because she makes really good cookies and because I arrived there with a boil the size of Texas on my right cheek and there was no way I could sit another minute in the car (or anyplace). Windy nursed me back to health using her NOLS Wilderness First Responder medical training.
Best Western has their act together. This is our second night in one of these, the first just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. The price is fair and the place is clean and tasteful. This is in stark contrast to the Carol Hotel in Omaha. I’m not describing what made it so bad because I’m embarrassed we didn’t flee. Coincidentally, we also had our worst food experience in Omaha: Maria’s Mexican Restaurant. Our desire for Mexican food completely eclipsed our knowledge that there is no such thing in Nebraska. I just hope we don’t break down again, enticed by billboard promises of authenticity and pictures of mouth-watering margaritas.

The Union: friends, beer, live music, and a sailing backdrop.

Madison, WI just may offer a decent Mexican option, but we instead focused on Asian cuisine. Our first night there, our friend Jooyup Lee served us his signature Korean specialty, Bi Bim Bap. Excellent, excellent. The following night, Jooyup, Tami, and 7-month Bodi took us four to a Japanese restaurant on State Street where a chef prepared our meals on a grill at the middle of our table. It was a entertaining performance and I learned that the secret to excellent fried rice is the liberal addition of sake.

Hoofer Sailing Club instructors preparing the J22 on lake Mendota.

We spent half of our second day in Madison at The Union Terrace, a lakeside recreation spot on the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus. For donating cans of food to Feeding America, the girls and I got a ride on an old J22 with a couple of sailing instructors. The winds were light, but the two young instructors were patient and spent about 20 minutes with the girls at the helm, letting them tack and jibe and tack and jibe, over and over again, between the small craft moored close in. Eleanor was attentive and really learned a bit; Frances wasn’t so interested.

Our new to-be-cruising friends at Ella's Deli.

Pretty cool too that we were able to lunch with Deb, the recipient of the cruising books we gave away a couple weeks ago. She and her family are planning to get out cruising in the next 4-5 years and it was a pleasure to meet her and her kids. She and her husband are both former ASA sailing instructors who taught locally.
Before leaving town, we stopped by the famous Saturday farmer’s market at the base of the capital building. It is a huge affair, but still manages to retain a small town feel. Unfortunately, it was still early in the growing season there. Only one farmer sold strawberries and they were small and expensive. But in addition to the farmers, there were tie dyed clothing vendors, bread vendors, and flower vendors. Small bands played on the sidewalk at several points around the market and the distinctive Wisconsin accent was everywhere.
Madison farmers' market.
Two things surprised me about Wisconsin: the high price of maple syrup and the lack of cheese-related signage and references. I expected maple syrup to be cheaper than it is in Washington, D.C. and I expected signs on the road like, “Fresh cheese curds, 500 feet.” Is this not the dairy state?
On the road to Omaha (from Madison, Wisconsin), we opened an email from a blog reader. She asked whether I’d gotten out much in the past, surprised I didn’t expect Niagara Falls to be so tacky-tourist and that I didn’t know interstates are charging tolls. It was a tongue-in-cheek observation, but one that rings true. Here are some more things I didn’t know:
  • In the Midwest, 89 octane gasoline is cheaper than 87 octane gasoline. Usually the midgrade fuel has Ethanol in it and is therefore taxed at a lower rate and is cheaper. Also in the Midwest, 85 octane gasoline is still widely available.
  • Based on billboard advertisements and personal experience, every motel and hotel across the country offers free in-room Wi-Fi. This makes sense considering the United Nations recently declared that Internet access is now a human right (my grandma doesn’t know this).
  • South Dakota is cool. If Fargo is your only reference to the Dakotas, you owe yourself a visit. Seriously. More in a later post.
  • Canadian border crossing agents can be surly and confrontational. Sure, maybe it was a mistake to speak to him in riddles as I did (Q: “Where are you headed?” A: “Mexico.”), I should not have replied to any of his questions with a challenge (Q: “What’s on the trailer?” A: “Oh, you name it.”), and I know we did not present well (Q: “What do you do for a living?” A: “We’re unemployed.”). We’ll see how the Mexico crossing goes.


  1. Kim did the same thing with the border agents on our visit to Niagara: Q: "Where do you live?" Kim: "Leroy, NY this week". Q: "What do you mean this week?" Kim: "Oh, we live in an RV. We lived in Pennsylvania last week." Q: "But what's your permanent address?" Kim: "We're not very permanent kind of people, ya know? I guess our mail forwarding service in South Dakota." Fortunately the Canadian border agents had a sense of humor. I insisted that I would be the only one talking to the US border agents on the way back in... (ie, Q: "Where do you live?" Me: "South Dakota")

  2. So, so fabulous that you were able to see Tami, Jooyup, and Bodi. I am insanely jealous because I haven't had a chance to get my mitts on that cutie pie. From pictures it looks like he is quite possibly one of the cutest kids ever. Safe travels!

  3. when you are in the neighborhood.

    From Pago,


  4. Andy wants to know if he gets any credit on the long distance consult??? Glad you are all well. Kyle was interested to know Franny was not interested in the sailing lessons - he is still holding out hope! Miss you all!


  5. I grew up in that you stoped at Elis Deli! Just want to wish you all happy happy cruising.....our days are numbered out here and cruising will be just a great memory soon.

    Your cross country trip looks like so much fun.....I see a possible motor home in our future.....thanks for the inspiration!

    Best wishes...the crew of Santosha

  6. Okay, I'm pretty amused with myself that I thought the boil was on Mike's face...

    Glad to hear you've mended. Give us an update to let us know that you made it over the Divide!

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