The trip is going great, except we are in an area where the books are thin and the mosquitos are thick! The little buggers take to Ron especially well…he’s always itching & scratching and swinging his arms. I keep expecting to look around and find him completely drained of blood, nothing left but a tiny carcass, a little raisin lying on the ground, dressed in shorts.
We checked out of the St. James Hotel at Noon (okay, so we dawdled a bit today, but it’s a beautiful place and it was a sunny morning to walk around town and take in the sights).
Here’s a pretty little park just outside the Red Wing Shoes Corporate Headquarters right across from the St. James…
We visited some antique shops in town after checking out, some of which carried old books. I found a few at Al’s Antique Mall at 512 Plum Street…Hotel Bemelmans and There’s Only One Raffles…two nice books on the history of old hotels, a niche of particular interest to me.
We stopped at a small in-house book shop called “Book Nook.” It was closed (or so the sign said) but we knocked on the door and Nancy was kind enough to let us in to browse. There really was not much that suited our interests here, but we did buy one book.
We also combed the old Red Wing Pottery Works, a big brick three-story stoneware factory that is now filled with antique dealers and shops of other types. The few books we found there were mostly mediocre quality and priced on the high side.
After hitting every possibility in town (including the Salvation Army Store), we motored down Rte. 35, Wisconsin’s “Great River Road.” The views of the Mississippi and surrounding hills are lovely, and the road passes through many small quaint towns. We found one book shop along the way in Stockholm, Wisconsin; unfortunately, there was nothing there of interest to us, but we had a nice chat with the owner (Russ) and some of the locals.
When we reached Pepin, Wisconsin we turned off onto highway CC to visit the “Little House Wayside,” the place where author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born and spent part of her childhood on a parcel of land once owned by Charles and Caroline Ingalls. She wrote about her life experiences here in Little House in The Big Woods. It is about 8 miles northwest of Pepin.
(Click on the photo of plaque to make LARGER for reading!)
There is also a Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum on Rte. 35 in Pepin.
By now it was after 4:oo and we were really, really hungry; we were so excited about seeing the sights and book hunting that we’d forgotten to eat breakfast OR lunch. Many of the restaurants along Rte. 35 (and there weren’t that many) were closed on Tuesdays, which seems kind of odd. Ron was about ready to start chewing on my arm. At last as we rolled through Fountain City, WI we spotted a place called The Monarch Public House…an Irish Pub! Among other things, they serve Leprechaun Legs (how do they trap the little devils?). I figured out they are really deep fried green beans, because they weren’t wearing shoes.
I will tell you they make the BEST Bloody Marys we’ve tasted anywhere, and their Flagship beer “Fountain Brew” is a smooth and delicious chaser! They also serve some mighty good Galway Pot Pie. Our waitress, Amanda, does a superb imitation of a Long Island accent, which she didn’t learn from us. She also provided great food and service, and took us on a tour of the place…
They also have a lovely bar with nice original woodwork upstairs, and a large dining room, plus a loft dining area you reach via a spiral staircase. Next door is “The Irish Traveller Guest House” which would be a great place to stay after enjoying bangers and mash and Fountain Brew. But not us…we hit the road again and cruised into Madison at about 7:30pm where we took a room at the Red Roof Inn on the edge of town. Kind of a let-down after the St. James, but clean and quiet. Tomorrow we plan to visit Shakespeare’s Books at 18 North Carroll Street (250,000 books!), if it’s still there. (Book shops are disappearing across the country, remember?). I tried their store phone number tonight, and at least it rang–that’s a good sign. I’ll let you know tomorrow what we find in Madison!