EXTREME CAMEL FACE IN 3-D!
(No, that’s not a typo in the title.)
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
Our Day Two visit to the Northern Wisconsin State Fair exposed us to familiar festivities, flavorful food, and one pro-Wisconsin propaganda poster. Also, there were, of course, animals. It was a State Fair. It’s what they do.
The camels weren’t always in your face. Sometimes they kept a respectable distance and waited for you to make the first move, preferably a move involving camel snacks.
Goats also wanted snacks, which the fair sold in handfuls to visitors for a pittance. Actual animal feed was the only option they offered, so I was unable to test whether or not old cartoons were telling the truth when they depicted goats as crude, ill-mannered tin-can gluttons.
In this State Fair side quest, if you fed the goats enough feed, they rewarded you by napping and looking really adorable. Trophy unlocked!
The cows also slept whether you paid attention to them or not. I call this scene “Cow Neapolitan in Repose”. Three different cow flavors in one naptime!
A few kinds of animals were kept in shrouded tents and required additional entrance fees before you were allowed to make eye contact with them. These premium wallabies commanded an extravagant four bits a gawker in their infrared lair. Their neighbors the monkeys got greedy and asked for twice that, so there’ll be no monkey diva pics here, because we had to take a stand. Sorry, reader.
Special event: li’l piggy races! Northern Wisconsinians watched and cheered as a small fleet of Babes dashed around a dinky racetrack for a single four-second lap. Timing was crucial — with such a narrow margin for error, one pit stop could cost them their victory.
The emcee introduced the racers with cutesy names like Kim Kardashiham, Brad Pig, and Christina Hoguilera. When he announced one as simply “Chris Christie” I recused myself from watching the rest or taking any more photos. Puns are cool; cheap fat jokes, not.
After the piggy races ended, the grand finale was one lone piggy belly-flopping into a tub of water. And this little piggy went SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH all the way home.
…and those are the animals that were.
By the time we finished walking downtown Madison, checking out the State Fair, and logging four hours’ worth of interstate driving, it was early evening when we crossed the Wisconsin/Minnesota border and reached our next hotel in St. Paul. We had no time for tourist attractions per se, but we capped off Day Two with dinner at Brasa Rotisserie, a Creole-style eatery with two Twin Cities locations, recommended by both Man v. Food‘s Adam Richman and Bizarre Foods‘ Andrew Zimmern, who calls Minnesota home. Service wasn’t speedy since this was a Saturday night in the college-life part of town, but the wait was 100% worth it.
Pictured (clockwise from upper left): slow-roasted pork in garlic and lime; crispy yuca with citrus and garlic; and savoy cabbage dressed with a melange of fish sauce, sunflower seed, lime juice, and pickled ginger.
Loved it all, wish I could’ve had more, wanted to buy another gallon bucket of the yuca to go.
To be continued! Next time: Day Three begins with a return trip to one of the largest places we last visited in 2006…
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]