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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Big Country Little Car Tour II: Chicks Dig The Long Haul

Submitted by on July 29, 2011 – 2:35 AM86 Comments


It’s back — and it’s smaller than ever!

…Just kidding. The trip is waaaaay bigger; the car is the same modest size, but will have cruise control this time oh thank sweet achey Jesus.

Big Country Little Car Tour II: Chicks Dig The Long Haul started out as part of the 2011 contest; one contest winner gets a beverage delivered by me, dressed in my tomato outfit, and Miss Lucy (who does not, to my knowledge, have a steamboat) asked for a gin and tonic to come to her in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Then the Couch Baron’s birthday present got folded into the trip (long story). Then I thought, what the hell, I’ll visit family in Boulder. Then I disappeared down a clickhole and now it’s a whole thing, yay!

My tentative itinerary is below; my EZ-Bake Oven with wheels and I hit the road July 25. Watch this space for updates and possible meet-up opps! And please suggest a few fun things to do if you’d like, with the understanding that 1) camping and/or BBQ is not going to happen but 2) minor-league baseball totally must.

7/25 NYC to Akron: Akron Aeros, 7 PM

7/26 Akron to MIL to Madison, WI

7/27-7/28 Madison, WI

7/28 Madison, WI to MIN

7/29 Save The Day Contest beverage delivery

7/31 MIN to Dyersville, IA

8/1 Dyersville, IA to Madison, WI to ???

8/7-8/9 SF, hopefully

8/9 SF to Utah

8/10 Boulder?

(This is a bit sketchy right now; waiting on some more information, plus the car double-back has put me behind.)

updated 7/29/11




  • Sarah in Bishop says:

    During your “Nevada somewhere to SF” I highly recommend swinging through the Eastern Sierra, possibly via Hwy 95 in NV to Hwy 168 west, then 395 north through Big Pine, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and Lee Vining (all awesome small towns with great scenery, not that I’m biased or anything) and then heading west on 120 through Tuolumne Meadows (the high country of Yosemite), which will funnel you towards the Bay Area. I can offer homemade cherry schnapps, limoncello, and/or kahlua (preferably not in the same drink) or other drinks on me:)

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    “Schnapponlua”? Hew. And thanks for the drive suggestion — maybe I’ll see you in Bishop.

  • Beth says:

    Oh my gosh, you will love the Field of Dreams field. My dad & I stopped there on a cross country drive a few years ago, and it was a highlight of the whole trip. We had a brief moment of confusion as to where the corn in the outfield was, until we remembered that we were dummies, it was early May, and the corn isn’t that tall yet. The field is a gem. Have fun!

  • Jana says:

    Nebraska? No fucking way. I’m guessing it’s out west somewhere. Sounds awesome.

  • Janice says:

    DANG! The St. Paul Saints are on the road when you’re due in MN–I live super-close to their stadium, and there’s no better way to spend a summer evening than watching the trains roll through the outfield and getting a chair massage from Sister Rosalind.

  • WendyD says:

    Yay Iowa! The Field of Dreams is awesome. It is a couple of hours from Iowa City (my stomping grounds). But if you actually stay in Iowa that evening, you should totally do a meet up!

  • Mary says:


    I love Boulder. It’s so crunchy and devoid of reality. Be sure you get breakfast at Lucile’s, everything there is great.

    If you swing through Pittsburgh for any reason, you can go to a Pirates game. It’s sort of like watching a minor-league team.

  • Kermit says:

    No Duke City? Isotopes Park is one of the top minor league parks in the country.

  • Kat W says:

    DANG. Apologies if this double-posts, having computer glitches…

    If you find yourself with a free night in SF, I’d love to buy you a beer, miss Sars! So delighted to have you in our fair city. I assume you already have plans made but if for some reason you want recommendations I work in a restaurant here and I’d love to help you out. And of course there’s always Giants baseball.

    Right. Reigning myself in now. Hee!

  • Jenn says:

    Beer in Chicago on way to Milwaukee?

  • Michael E says:

    RE: CLE. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a gyp. It’s over-priced, which I could handle, but so is the Hard Rock Cafe, if you catch my drift.

    The West Side Market, on the other hand, is really gorgeous and large, and has wonderful desserts. I suggest checking that out after having breakfast/brunch at the West Side Market Cafe, which is probably my favorite thing in Cleveland. Oh! And go to the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Brewery! Because they won’t let you out of Cleveland until you have a beer!

    Unfortunately, I checked, and the house from A Christmas Story is closed on the day you’re there, but it might be worth a drive by.

    If only you were there on the 30th, you could catch Mike Polk’s stand-up (he did the Cleveland Tourism Videos. Who knows, you may even see that guy.

  • meredithea says:

    If you hit Pittsburgh on the NYC to CLE leg, let me know! Meetups! With Italian food and drinks! (Or whatever genre of food you’d prefer)

  • DriverB says:

    Woo hoo SF!

  • Sean says:

    Not sure how you’re going from Milwaukee to Dyersville, but if you dip down into Illinois, Rockford has a nice minor league team (… well, stadium, anyway, the team is sucking balls right now) that’s not far off the highway. They’re the Rockford Riverhawks, and they have a 12:05 p.m. game on 7/26. Tickets are cheap, and there’s a beer garden!

  • stacey says:

    OMG OMG OMG! Have to take the day off to see you at the Field of Dreams! You are totally going to be Right. Here.

    Will you actually stay in Dyersville, or in Dubuque? If you spent any time in Dubuque, I would recommend the 4th Street Elevator ( and the National River Museum (; on your way to Dyersville, you should definitely try to find time to see the House on the Rock (, and the ever awesome Dickeyville Grotto ( Now, I know that I’ve given you four days of stuff, so when you can’t do any of it, I won’t be hurt. Because The Field of Dreams is worth it!

  • PollyQ says:

    When you get to the Nevada/CA border you MUST go to Bodie.

    Words cannot express how super-cool a place this is.

  • Suzanne says:

    OMG the little car is baaaaaack; woo-hoo!

    I’d hafta catch you on the inbound swing. If you make it to Philly in some fashion: PHILLIES GAME; woo, Polanco!

  • Lisa says:

    Minnesota! No one ever comes to Minnesota on a cross-country road trip! This is awesome. July is prime patio-drinkin’ fun times season around here, especially in St. Paul (although Minneapolis is okay too, I guess).

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    OOOOOHhhhhhhh, pleeeeeeeeaaaase come to Seattle! We have microbreweries! We can go to Safeco Field and watch the Mariners lose! We can go to Jimi Hendrix’s and Bruce Lee’s graves! See the payphone where Kurt Cobain used to call his connection! Go to Archie McPhees! Spot a whale!

    Seriously, it would be a blast. Also, I can score us cheap pizza.

  • Juju says:

    The site of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sod house is near Walnut Grove, MN. There’s nothing left of it but a depression in the creek bed, though. Still, it might be kinda neat if you were into the books as a kid.

    A reproduction of her family’s log cabin can be seen in Independence, KS.

  • Bo says:

    Wow! That’s some haul in a little tomato. But adventures galore.

    I do wonder at those who think Pittsburgh is on the way between NYC and Cleveland, though. Although I suppose if you are driving so very hither and yon, the extra two hours isn’t an insane detour.

    Have a safe and enjoyable trip. Looking forward to the play by play.

  • JB says:

    Yay! Boulder, where nobody will bat an eye at a lady dressed like a tomato but may interrogate you as to whether you’re organic and heirloom. No minor league teams nearby, though, the nearest being 100 miles away in Colorado Springs. I am totally in for any activities that involve drinking local microbrews, as I am working on perfecting a liquid tour of Boulder County for when my college roommate visits this fall.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I should clarify that the tomato outfit will be worn once, in St. Paul, and then shipped home. July/August is no time to faff around in foam attire, plus I’ll need the room in the car.

  • Rebecca says:

    So Boulder is not Denver, but it is very close to Denver, and you might end up going through/spending time in Denver. And while I plan never to live in Denver again for a variety of reasons, my one great reason to move back there would be this restaurant (hit the mute button before you hit the link, their website design is in no way reflective of their food). Whenever ANYone I know goes to Denver I insist they eat at J-Ru’s and order the vegetarian combo. I had a friend who took my advice joke to me recently that she’s moving there just for J-Ru’s but I’m not sure if she was totally joking (she is actually moving there, after all…)

    Also, Boulder-to-Utah I highly recommend stopping in Moab. Easy to stop quickly and see some really amazing stuff while you’re there!

  • Emma says:

    If you plan to come through South Dakota at all on your way from MN to NE, you might stop by De Smet. There’s no soddy, but you can visit the house where Laura Ingalls lived on the shores of Silver Lake. It’s not too far off the route if you do the I-90 W to I-29 S path. Unfortunately the last day of the yearly Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant is 07/25. :(

  • attica says:

    I totally agree that the Rock/Roll HoF is To Be Missed. If you go, it will make you angry how craptastic it is.

  • Nicole says:

    In Milwaukee:

    Frozen custard–

    I’d recommend catching a Brewer’s game, because the park is my favorite of the ones I’ve been to and there are sausage races (delightful!), but the Cubs are in town when you are and prices are higher when they play the cubs.

  • Des says:

    any chance you’ll be swinging thru the So OH/KY area on the way homeward?

  • joan says:

    The Akron Aeros are playing the Trenton Thunder July 25,26,27 in Akron. they are AA Eastern League; the game starts at 7:05. Akron is about 30 minutes south of Cleveland, depending on where you are staying. if you are coming in on 80, you would just go down 77 south.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Aw, the Thunder. How fondly I “remember” their ladies’ nights from back in the day (how far back? they were still a Detroit affiliate). Good tip.

    Not sure which way I’ll go to get back, honestly. On the one hand, I’m tempted to swing south, because it’s country I haven’t seen and it lets me avoid 80 East through PA, which is just torturous for me after umpteen trips that route. On the other hand, there does come a time after two weeks+ in that tiny car that I just want to get where I need to go like yesterday.

    But I just can’t say. Part of the point is to leave it a little loose, so keep an eye on this entry to see where I’ll be.

  • Hawkeyegirl says:

    If you are in/through/around Des Moines, hit me up! I would be thrilled! We could go to an I-Cubs game or stare at corn fields, whichever is more exciting that day :) Too bad it wasn’t later in August, you could go to the world-famous Iowa State Fair, complete with butter cow :)

  • Carrie says:

    In the “Utah somewhere/Nevada somewhere” leg of the trip, I think the Zion & Bryce Canyon National Park areas are a must-see. The entire southern Utah area is incredibly beautiful, and those parks have some truly stunning sights. You could stay in the very nearby Cedar City, UT, which is a very sweet small town, and hosts the Utah Shakespeare Festival during the week you’ll be there!

  • Ty says:

    You’re really going to STAY in Nebraska? Usually people just zoom through on I-80! My husband’s family is from there, and its (slightly bleak) beauty warms my heart. For weirdness, you can’t beat Carhenge. And for history mixed with good Midwestern cheese, you could have a chuck-wagon supper at Fort Robinson, an old cavalry fort that’s now a state park. You can even rent a room in the officers’ quarters and wake up to sunrise on the prairie. It’s a beautiful little slice of America.

  • Jules says:

    Would love to see you in Colorado, maybe a brewery tour! Mmmm Fat Tire.

  • Emily M says:

    Oooh, the Strib in Minneapolis just today published an article about 3 excellent patios:

    Psycho Suzi’s is awesome, plus who doesn’t love a tiki bar? Also, Moto-I in the Lynlake neighborhood of Minneapolis has an excellent roof deck, and happy hour is CHEAP.

  • GracieGirl says:

    Looking forward to another series of roadtrippin’ posts!

    Would love to see you in Dallas, though I can’t exactly say I recommend it given that it will probably be 212 degrees here in August.

  • Miss Lucy says:

    I do not have a steamboat, but I can totally rent one. So excited for the beverage delivery!!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Make sure the steamboat has a bell.

  • Rachel says:

    SARAH!! I was on vacation in Idaho this past week (the panhandle region) and I totally thought of you! We were in Wallace, Idaho (which is the Center of the Universe, apparently, and all-around neat town) and my husband got it in his head to visit Murray, Idaho (24 miles away and OVER A DAMN MOUNTAIN OH MY GOD [I drove] {It was scary}]) to visit a place called the Spragpole Bar & Grill & Museum. I mean, why not, right?

    It’s AMAZING. Nobody on earth has any reason to just “happen by” Murray, Idaho, but if you are ever in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene/Missoula I-90 corridor, you really would be well served to visit this joint. In addition to the Bar & Grill, there is a 10,000 square foot museum of what can only be described as EVERYTHING. From old beer bottles and buttons and bullet casings and mining junk and creepy dolls and weird souvenir bottles and wood carvings, there was also a couple of HUGE cases with examples of American currency and coins dating back to the early 1800s. As a fellow currency nerd, I was enthralled and almost had to be dragged back to the table.

    Sadly, I was unable to procure photographs, since I forgot to charge the camera and brought the wrong car charger for the magic space phone. But seriously (and this comment has become a novel), it was absolutely stupendous and the burgers weren’t bad, either.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    At last, the triumvirate is complete: that place, Bill’s Plumbing and Gift Shop (near Mt. Rushmore) and Bob’s Poultry Farm and Museum (VT somewhere). We also saw a sign that said “GIFTS — BAIT — OTHER GIFTS,” but it didn’t seem to have a name so we had to disqualify it.

  • Plantie says:

    If you’re thinking of checking out Laura’s sod house, you will love reading Wendy McClure’s book on visiting all of the Little House sites, “The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.” It’s my favorite book that I’ve read this summer.

  • Tylia says:

    If your driving into the Bay Area via the 580, you’ll be headed straight through my stomping grounds. If you want to take a break in Livermore, I and some really great wineries are only a five minute drive off the 580. I could take you my favorite wineries or we could have lunch/dinner at Garre Winery ( Their Open face Crab and Gruyerre sandwich is to die for and their Duck confit is delish. My treat. I feel I still owe you for giving my George mark fundraiser a shout-out.

  • Susan says:

    Sars, if you’re coming through Omaha and need things to do/where to eat/place to stay let me know.

  • Whitney says:

    If you do go through Omaha, the Omaha Storm Chasers are a good time (have not been there myself, but have a friend who worked for them for many summers). They have a brand new stadium, too (it’s where they play the College World Series).

  • rayvyn2k says:

    As always, if your return trip takes you through Tennessee, there is a guest room in our home you may take advantage of.

    If you are just passing thru, perhaps we can meet up. :)

  • Kristen says:

    Adding on to Carrie’s suggestion in Utah, I just happen to be going to those National Parks around Labor Day. But the main point of the trip is to visit this place: My parents loved their visit, and I am very excited to see it! Piggy Paradise! The Bunny House! Parrot Garden! CUTE!

  • Dayna says:

    If, on your great trek back, you happen to make it to LA, let me know. We could go to a Dodgers game, make fun of Frank McCourt, eat & drink and watch the game at Chavez Ravine.

    Or we could go to my fave Mexican restaurant. Decent food, tuck and roll booths and flaming margaritas. Yum!

  • Meredith says:

    Bo: I freely admit my geography skills are not great :D They’re better than my math, sadly.

  • AngieFM says:

    Just to jump in on the return trip options, if you want to skip 80 East (which I TOTALLY understand) and you decide to grab 40 across NC, do please stop in Asheville! Drinks for sure, maybe a place to stay. Would love to meet up.

  • Erin W says:

    Michael E and attica, you’re both nuts. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the awesomest. Every time my mom visits me we go to the Hall and stay all day long. The vintage letter from the editor of Rolling Stone asking the staff to quit having their acid trips in the hallway is worth the price of admission all by itself.

    (Though it’s missable if you’re only in the Cleve for one night, Sarah. Let us know where you’ll be and there’s a drink in it for you! And maybe a box of buckeyes.)

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