The Rat Takes the Cheese

Igor

Meet Igor, the 16 foot mouse sitting outside Carr Valley Cheese in Fennimore, Wisconsin

Tuesday was an unusual day.  Initially, I had decided not to go anywhere – the quick transition to autumn weather had brought with it a nasty cold and bronchitis.  A couple of pseudo-ephedrine worked wonders, however.

Revved up from the cold pills, I woke up at 3:00 AM with one thing on the mind – fishing.  But the weakened body just didn’t feel like herding the heavy van down the road, let alone sleeping in it in a strange location and without heat.  This time I wimped out and drove the Chevy Impala instead, leaving Serena at home.

Not surprisingly, since the destination was north and east, a little fishing diversion seemed like a good idea.  There were several fishing options but I ended up making a brief stop in Decorah and caught five very nice trout in short order.

Rapala Knife

I love this small fillet knife for use with trout and other smaller sized fish

After driving east about 40 miles, I crossed the Mississippi river into Prairie DuChien, Wisconsin,  stopping at an old favorite:  Stark’s Sport Shop.   Thanks to a $50 gift from work  (a retention bonus for showing up and meeting expectations) it was an easy decision to pick up a new fishing toy.  Stark’s had a great deal on a Rapala Superflex 4 inch fillet knife – one which you can also find on Amazon.  The small blade works best on smaller fish like trout, bluegills, etc.

Buttery NippleSince the store sells a lot of booze, I picked up a few “buttery nipple” flavored vodka shots.  In addition to being tasty, they do help with a sore throat!  The only regret was not buying a few more!  People always joke about how alcohol can make you feel better when you’re sick.  It does help a little, particularly when coughing hurts.  The creamy, butterscotch flavor also tastes better than slimy cough syrups.

The next stop was in the town of Fennimore, Wisconsin to buy some dairy products at the local factory and see Igor, their mascot.  Carr Valley Cheese is an amazing place.  This company makes over a hundred kinds of specialty cheeses.  My favorite is called “Casa Bolo Mellage”.  It is a blend of sheep’s, cow’s, and goat’s milk.  At $16.50 per pound, I can’t recall having ever spent more money on cheese but this stuff was worth every penny.  The complex flavors were delicious, both creamy, tangy, slightly sweet, and nutty.  Being a cheddar lover, I also bought a small chunk of medium cheddar and already thinking of some recipe ideas.

Grosso1On the way back home, the highway wound right past a grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin.  Being a sort of “Bapti-costal”, I don’t know much about Catholicism… but my sister does.  I took a few pictures of this amazing grotto for her and thought some of the readers might enjoy seeing the structures.  Please check out their link below.

The Dickeyville Grotto is well worth seeing if you are passing through the area.  Besides the spiritual meaning, it is also very patriotic.  The brightly colored materials used in the construction are from all over the world and include stones, shells, you name it.  It is a treasure.

GrossoAfter checking out the grotto, it was time to return home and fry up some of the fish.  The lungs and sinuses are better today and things are just about back to normal.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to the apple orchards as planned.  There was just no energy left.  At least there is still plenty of the autumn season left and lots of time to gather apples.  Hopefully, by the next post I can share one of the apple ideas in the planning process.

In the meantime, here is a recipe I put together for sweet corn chowder in a small crockpot.  It is easy, tasty, and will warm you up on a fall day.  It’s one that is going to be included in the cookbook which will hopefully be completed later this fall.

Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Brad, the Van Trekker

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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4 Responses to The Rat Takes the Cheese

  1. tinycamper says:

    Brad, sorry to hear that you were sick, but I did enjoy your laid-back trip. The Casa Bolo Mellage sounds delicious. I had never heard of a cheese made from three different kinds of milk.

    I also am a Bapticostal, but do find the Catholic grottos and such interesting.

    Hope you feel better soon. And I bet Serena does, too! 🙂

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the kind words. That Caso Bolo Mellage is the best snacking cheese on a Ritz cracker… smooth, creamy, and flavorful. Serena discovered it, too. 🙂

      It was funny – she wanted to go with on that little trip but it wasn’t practical. Next week I have to take the van out of town and the little girl will get her chance.

  2. Pleinguy says:

    Another nice little outing. I wonder how you know about all these nifty places. Must be from living in that area all your life. I enjoy following your adventures. Hope you get well quickly.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the comment. It’s amazing how many interesting places are close to home – wherever a person lives. Just when I think I’ve seen everything around here, there are other cool places to go. Some of the fun is just the slow pace – everything is more special!