Beef Pasties, an Omelet Store, and a Soap-Packin’ Grandma: Oddments of Another Road Trip

By August 12, 2009 culture No Comments
Country house charm.

Country house charm.

That’s right—I’m fresh off another Wisconsin road trip with my sister and her three tykes. Earlier this summer we took a “quick” trip; this was an overnighter, providing all the more opportunity for laughs and mishaps.

Monday morning we ventured off, heading first to Mayville, Wisconsin. The first few hours of the trip are not very exciting, but once we get into central Wisconsin, it’s lovely! We gushed about the bright blue sky, rolling hills, funky little towns, and interesting restaurants and shops.

Get your beef pasties at the Jamaican Oasis.

Get your English beef pasties at the Jamaican Oasis in rural Wisconsin.

One pub in particular caught our attention, not just for its unusual name but also for its featured dish. The Jamaican Oasis was serving Beef Pasties. First I thought an r was missing for pastries . . . but then that sounded extremely gross, so we wondered if pasties might be a Wisconsin thing—sort of like cheese curds and the Brewers’ Sausage Race. [A later Web search informed me that pasties are in fact English! The Brits eat pasties regularly. And I must admit that the recipe from Bon Appetit makes beef pasties sound rather appealing. Good for the Jamaican Oasis for going upscale and international.]

Our aunt invited us for lunch, however, so beef pasties had to wait for the next road trip. Lunch in Mayville was warm and comforting, like an Easter dinner. Then we went to see our maternal grandmother at her new digs. She is in a homey care center with just three other folks—there are plenty of great helpers, a menu I’m jealous of, and a kitty that is sociable and affectionate. Seems to be a great place.

An afternoon of visiting complete, we were off to our hotel in Beaver Dam. We got in a quick swim at the hotel pool before a dinner at Culver’s . . . after which, we felt the need for some walking (shocker!). Beaver Dam’s downtown seemed to be a good spot, just two blocks in length. We meandered about and browsed a bookstore—a simple treat.

Making grocery shopping fun for all.

No, Piggly Wiggly—thank you!

Tuesday was packed—while my sister and the kids went for a morning swim, I went to a coffee shop to wrap up some work.

Late morning, we gathered up a luncheon feast from Piggly Wiggly (I think the name makes grocery shopping more fun). The sign says it all: Shop the Pig. And we did.

We all say hooray for Piggly Wiggly!

We all say hooray for Piggly Wiggly!

We got to eat at a park and enjoy perfect weather. Sitting in this quiet place with a cool breeze on a warm day, I felt settled and rested in God’s presence, happy for the chance to be with my sister and her kids. What a treasured memory! I am blessed.

Lunch consumed, we were off to Markesan to visit our paternal grandmother who lives with an aunt and uncle there. Getting to Markesan is even more twisty-turvy than getting to Mayville—we love it! With no direct route, there is a lot of navigation (and experimentation) happening—every time we go for a visit there are different roads closed, requiring a new route.

How quaint!

How quaint!

During this stretch of the trip, Miss HM (my sister’s in-jest name for my niece, meaning High Maintenance) was constantly asking when we would arrive at the Omelet Store (i.e., the Amish Store). You see, we like to toss in some stops on the way to Markesan: the first is Hoekstra’s Market and Greenhouse (I bought kohlrabi, green beans, and tomatoes); the second is Mishler’s Country Store (no omelets here), the Amish supply (you say Amish, Miss HM says omelet) store where we load up on bulk seasonings and plain-packaged goods.

After crossing omelets and produce off our list, we spent a few hours visiting with our grandmother and uncle. She is a hoot, telling crazy stories of yesterday and chattering on about current events (she’s way more informed than I am). Her feisty nature is evident but her stories give us specifics. I now have a new favorite story: As she tells it, the first time she took our dad trick-or-treating, some neighbor “refused” to open his door and give candy. So she soaped his windows. I wondered if she went all the way home to grab the soap, so I asked her, and she said oh, no—she had taken soap with her for just such a case. Have you ever heard of a young mom taking soap out on the Halloween rounds?! Too funny. Perhaps she was a girl scout and had learned to always be prepared? It doesn’t surprise me that my grandmother used to “pack soap” (a la Dirty Harry).

And that’s what happens on a Wisconsin road trip. Well, on ours, at least.

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