As much as I love to write about country music I also enjoy posting about out-of-the way spots as a sort of country travelogue. Today I am in western Wisconsin with my father Dean and his sister Betty. They are excellent travel mates and right now they are arguing about who is buying lunch. Score. (I guess my payment for driving.)
Our first stop was at Rural Route 1 Popcorn on Highway 18 in Montfort, WI (just west of the town named Cobb which I thought was a missed opportunity, think of the marketing opps). Rural Route 1 has a huge selection of flavored popcorn and yummy plain popcorn plus bags of unpopped. I bought some of the latter for my connoisseur husband Dan. He’s not much on flavored but he loves to compare various varieties for popping and taste attributes. That’s the Iowa farm boy in him. Today my favorite flavored was the Crazy Sweet which was a mixture of savory and sweet. Yum..Employee Erin told me the Biddick family, who founded Rural Route 1, started growing popcorn in 1983 to diversify from the seed company the family started in 1906.
Next up was the beautiful 19th century estate Villa Louis in Prairie Du Chein. The historic sprawling estate on the banks of the Mississippi River was the home of a wealthy fur trading family from 1843 to 1913. The home is presented as a grand example of Victorian high life of a prominent family – .a little Downton Abbey in Wisconsin. Villa Louis opened as Wisconsin’s first historic site in 1952 and is operated by the Wisconsin State Historical Society. Our tour guide Victoria Rose was dressed in a costume to resemble one of the girls who lived there. The estate is open for tours (from 9:30 to 5) from May through the early fall.
We then spent some time on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River at McGregor browsing at a couple shops and at Pikes Peak browsing the scenic overlook of the Mississippi River where the Wisconsin River joins the mighty Mississippi. It is breathtaking. In McGregor we spoke to the shopkeeper at the Left Bank Shop and Gallery about the tornado that came through town just a week ago. There were several crews working in town to clean up debris and tree damage and we saw lots of broken windows.
We concluded our day with a pizza dinner at River Roadhouse in Desoto and a great little hotel in Ferryville. We tried fishing off the boat landing without success. Hoping to get on the fishing barge tomorrow.
Dad and Aunt Betty practicing taking a selfie.
On the second morning of our trip we headed north from Ferryille on Hwy 35 to Genoa, where we hoped to go on a fishing barge. But after surveying the access we realized it was not ideal for those with mobility concerns or older folks. You had to get down quite a few steps and then climb into the tender boat. Too treacherous. So we ditched the idea and found out there was a more accessible fishing dock at the Pettitbone Park in LaCrosse. The fishing proved to be a little ho hum (my dad and Aunt Betty each caught 1-2 bluegills and I got skunked) but it was a gorgeous day and it was fun.
After sandwiches at Greatest Grains we went to Onalaska to find more fishing but got lost trying to find the Best Dam Fishing Float. Eventually we found it…in Minnesota.
We decided it was too late in the day to start fishing so we made a few notes for next time and took off southeast toward Norwegian flavored Westby. Armed with new maps from the rest area, Dad and Aunt Betty politely debated our route. We went through Coon Valley and some gorgeous countryside on Hwy 14 and eventually to Westby. We got Lemon Meringue pie at Borgen’s Cafe and visited Treasures on Main.
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