Wisconsin Day One: From urban to rural


My first day in Wisconsin was all about transportation. I got a direct flight from SFO-Milwaukee — on what I later saw was a kinda scary airline — and my trip was fast and pleasant. I got my rental car in my after-flight daze and just said no to all the scare tactic extras (“If you don’t spend $24/day more for supplemental coverage we will leave you and your car in whatever ditch you drive into. In fact, if this situation arises we will hire a local farmer with a backhoe to bury you alive in the rental vehicle and then sue your estate for a new car. Would you like to add the supplemental insurance so we don’t have to do this?”) and was on my way.

In fact, very soon after landing I was driving out of Milwaukee, listening to their local punk station, and heading west to Schullsburg which is in the South West corner of the state, closer to Illinois and Iowa than Madison or Milwaukee.

I wasn’t just going there so I could experience Gravity Hill, that was an added benefit:

No, I was going to visit Chris Roelli who makes the Dunbarton Blue and attend a gathering of Cheddar makers for a day of cheesemaking, fellowship, and education. Driving through small town Wisconsin was a great way to acclimate to a few days of cheese talk.

Unfortunately, as I got to Darlington, where I was staying I realized my big city ways had not prepared me for small town life. It was 9:15, I hadn’t eaten and nothing was open. Well, nothing except for the gas station McDonalds, and it was about to close too. I had to think fast… cobble together a meal of Pringles, powder donuts, and cookies from the gas station mini mart, or get my first McDonalds meal in about 20 years.

I’m an American. I did what I had to do. This may be one of the only food blogs in the US where the author will admit in print that they ate fast food but there you go. Oddly, or perhaps not oddly at all, the Big Mac tasted exactly the same as the hundreds of Big Macs I had growing up. Everything just seemed a little smaller than I remembered.

The mini mart did carry New Glarus beer so I bought a 6-pack of Spotted Cow to pair with my Big Mac just to prove I really was a snobby urbanite. It was terroirific.

6 responses to “Wisconsin Day One: From urban to rural

  1. What is truly sad is there is probably some farmer within the vicinity of Darlington that has no local outlet for his goods. It always makes me wonder how many small towns don’t even have diners anymore.

    • Very true, but one also can’t really expect rural anywhere to have businesses (except bars) open that late. I was on snotty urbanite time!

  2. Hi Gordon–Are you aware that sunset Mag has a new book, just out, The One Block Feast, that is very locavore: raise bees, chickens, veggies on your block, with fruit and nuts–and make your own cheese!! Fun Book!

  3. Justin Ritter

    What is our local punk station? Do you remember the frequency or call letters?

    • not 100% sure because I was tuning the dial constantly. It was the left-hand side of the dial, I think 91.7.

      I said “station” but I probably should have said “show” since for all I know it’s only like that for two hours/week.

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