Mare walks into a Minnesota mini-mart as soon as we cross the border from North Dakota. She looks at some maps next to the cash register.

“Is there a more scenic route through Minnesota than Route 2?” she asks the clerk.

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The Paul Bunyan Bowl

The lady laughs. “This is Minnesota.  There’s nothing scenic about it.”

“Oh come on,” Mare says.  “This is the land of 10,000 lakes.”

“Doesn’t matter. The whole state is flat and boring.”

Well, the clerk proves to be correct, at least as far as the route we travel goes. After driving through Glacier National Park in Montana, and the Badlands of North Dakota, Minnesota comes up flat. We take one photo of the whole state and that is of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox in front of the Paul Bunyan Bowl. Yah, you betcha, we’re spending the night in Brainerd, “Fargo” fans.

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The view from the Crest Motel

As soon as we hit Ashland, Wisconsin, we cop a room for two nights for a total of $90, which includes a $5 fee for the dog. Our view of Lake Superior and the large, grassy front yard of the Crest Motel: priceless!

Lake Superior could hold all of the other Great Lakes, plus two more Lake Erie’s. Friendly folks in the local pub serve up whitefish, and plenty of special brews. They tell stories of wild rice and walking on water in the winter.

“You have to come back in February for the “Book across the Bay,” says Terry. As inviting as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing across Lake Superior in February sounds, Mare and I probably will pass.

During their morning run along the lake, Mare teaches our dog, Jack, how to fetch a stick from the lake. He performs like a showdog, probably happy to not fight the salty ocean waves of the Oregon Coast, and relieved to get a break from running with Mare. He’s a freshwater dog.

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Jack is not only well-travelled he is very smart!

Oh, what a nice oasis, and pleasurable break from driving. After one day off, it’s time to hit the road again. I have to leash Jack while he lies on the bed, because he does not want to leave.

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Summertime in Northern Michigan

The drive through Northern Michigan does not give us much of a view. Torrential downpours remind us of being stranded on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. (A great place to be stranded)

Ahh…the rain stops and after a long day of driving, our butts numbed and flattened, the scenic shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron open up under the Mackinac Bridge. Jack swims in his second Great Lake. We love the view from our $55 room overlooking the bridge and lake so much, that we order a pizza. Why go out when you have the best view in the town? The next morning, before heading out, we walk Jack to his third Great Lake, where he now fetches a stick in Lake Huron. We put our wet dog back into the truck.

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The Mackinac Bridge

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Thanks for the hospitality Mary Anne!

Next stop: the Shady Rest; a trailer park on a lake in the Ann Arbor area. Our good friend, Mary Anne, retired the same time as Mare. She treats us to some down-home hospitality, and her trailer is special because it has a sewer line. We drink, eat, and tell lies with her many friends. Then drink more, lie more, and…what a great time. Swans swim by with their families and when the wind kicks-up we build a fire. Okay…what happens in the trailer park stays in the trailer park. However, the long drive to Mingo Junction, Ohio the next day becomes a heavy-headed chore.

Ma and Pa are looking good in Mingo, and are happier to see Jack than us. I don’t blame them. We drink some of the hair of the dog that bit us last night, and food in every form appears in front of us. We will hang here for about a week and recoup. Our renters are running wild back in Phoenix, and we have lots of business to tend to. At least we do not have a house sitter to clean-up after.

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Home Sweet Home: Mingo Junction, Ohio