Travel

The Great American Road Trip: New York to Minnesota

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NY -> OH -> IN -> IL -> WI -> MN

Week one was a bit of a whirlwind and probably entailed the most car time. The goal was to get out to South Dakota so we could start camping in week two.

For this travel series, I’d like to write in depth city and trail guides. That being said, this week left little room for lingering in places, so I thought it’d be best presented with a photo recap.

Here are the highlights…

Day 1: We drove 8.5 hours out to Holmes County, Ohio to visit Amish country! Apparently, this area is the largest population of Amish people in the world. The scenery is sweeping and peaceful, with rolling hills, farms, and horse and buggies everywhere you look. We’re staying in an airbnb pop-up camper on a farm between the towns of Millersburg and Berlin. It’s at the end of a gravel road, in a clearing on a hill. The owner is very sweet and helpful and the camper oozes charm, with dainty little tea cups, candles and lace fixtures. It monsooned the night we stayed here and a lot of daddy long legs took shelter in the camper with us. (mild heart attack for me, but hey! I did just sign up for months of camping right? So buck up Alina!) Despite the two queen beds, we ended up cocooning ourselves in sheets and sleeping in the same bed, laughing so hard thinking of the adventure we had just gotten ourselves into for the next couple months.

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Day 2: We woke up early to the dew covered fields, sun and birds chirping. The owner’s dogs came to greet us on our way up to the main house for showers. Smiles all around! This little camper is so idyllic and romantic!

Today is another driving heavy day so we wasted no time in heading out for the day. Our first stop was Kauffman’s Country Bakery for coffee and breakfast. There were so many fresh baked goodies; I wanted to buy them all. Homemade breads, pastries, jams, spices, mixes and son on. But this is day two; pace yourself Alina! I settled on a jar of peach jalapeno jam. Next stop of the day was directly across the street at Heini’s Cheese Factory and Store. This is cheese heaven! I swear we sampled 35+ cheeses, fudge, sausages, jerky, mustards, and dips. Yet another place I wanted to buy everything. I bought guava jam, BBQ jerky, pumpkin cappuccino mix and a buckeye (because Ohio). Remember, I am on a camping roadtrip. After this week of hotels I won’t have access to refridgeration, so purchases will need to reflect that. There are a lot of pb&j sandwiches, noodles, canned beans and dehydrated backpacking meals in my future.

My favorite part was the free tour led by Atlee, an elderly Amish man who worked at Heini’s since he was a young man. He explained the history of cheese and how at the beginning, Heini’s only made wheels of swiss cheese. He then showed us where they make the cheese on site and explained the process and where all the ingredients come from. He was so sweet and informative! We left happy and full, ready for a five hour drive to Nashville, Indiana.

Tip: In Amish country, most businesses here follow daylight hours and close at 5/6pm.

We arrived at 5:15pm and most shops were closed for the day. It is a pocket-sized artists town with artists walks, cafes, ice cream shops, and restaurants. It reminded me a lot of Calafate, Argentina or Woodstock, New York. Dinner at Big Woods Brewing Company, ice cream at a local parlor, windowshopping and then back on the road to Crawfordsville, Indiana.

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Day 3: We’ve dubbed today our Nancy Drew day! Crawfordsville is a tiny little town. Two or three blocks really, but it is where my paternal great grandfather  and grandfather is from and there is a lot of family history here. We spent the day sifting through the antique stores here (amazing inventory by the way!) and ended up finding our grandfather’s high school year books! We also learned the mayor is a relative and found all our deceased relatives graves. Great and emotional day!

We spent the night with my cousins in the Chicago suburbs. They treated us to the most delicious deep dish pizza (my first – I am a manhattanite after all and NY style pizza is my favorite!) and ice cream. Although short, I was so happy to connect with cousins I don’t see every often and enjoy a night of wine and laughs.

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Day 4: Day spent in the car again. We stopped in Madison, Wisconsin for lunch (cheese curds, local beer, and a salad with local cherries) and ice cream again (coconut almond). I think it’s safe to say I made the most of visiting America’s dairyland haha. We spent an hour walking around the University of Wisconsin and Lake Mendota. Back in the car to stay the night in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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Day 5: Minnesowwwwta bound today! I’m very excited to see Minneapolis, as all I ever hear are great things! My boss (ex boss now – sad) spent his law school years here and sent me with a few recommendations. We walked around Hennepin Avenue, the sculpture garden, Nicollet Mall, and the warehouse district.

Our little cousin is flying in tonight for ten days of the trip so we killed time at the Butcher and the Boar beer garden and the Crave rooftop. Minneapolis is nothing if it’s not a drinking town! There’s a very young and outdoorsy demographic. Every year it sits in the top American cities for fit and healthy citizens.

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South Dakota tomorrow and the camping begins!

Keep adventuring!

xo Alina