Washington Road Trip Journal

"Goin' on a Field Trip"

Day 2 - Black Falls, WI to Portage La Prairie, Manitoba

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

Aug. 30, 2007: Today we took the longest leg of our drive, nearly 775 miles.  It was a scenic day through Wisconsin and Minnesota.  There were also some EXTREMELY memorable experiences as well.

After a continental breakfast at the Super 8, Sol and I drove a couple of blocks away to get a photo of the giant orange moose.  There is an Orange Moose Bar & Grill in Black River Falls and this is their huge orange moose statue.  There are a couple of other statues around the little pond.


The Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI


A large mouse and cheese in Black River Falls, WI

It was a beautiful cool morning in Wisconsin and we next were on our way through the countryside to get to Cadott.  The drive through the rolling hills and lakes was wonderful.  It was made even better by the music I found on a radio station from Chippewa Falls.  It was polka music...so much fun.  There were corn fields everywhere and many silos and farms.  I really enjoyed the pastoral views. Following are some of the scenes from the drive.


We finally arrived in Cadott, WI.  Just north of Cadott is a geographical point, the 45th Parallel:


Cadott is on the 45th parallel.  It was named after Jean Baptiste Cadotte, above.

Cadott was named after Jean Baptiste Cadotte, a fur trader and explorer.  He and his sons settled in the area.  His sons married Ojibway Indian women and became influential as interpreters, merchants and mediators. His statue and info plaque sit in the same park as the sign above.  A very nice, cozy little park just north of town.

After Cadott, we headed further north into an area dotted with lakes.  The countryside was great. 

Our first stop in the lakes area was Shell Lake.  This was the first our "fish statue" stops along the way.  There are actually a number of places that claim to be the Walleye capital of the world.  Shell Lake is one of them.  They have an unusual statue in that it has two tails.


The Walleye Statue in Shell Lake, WI


Scenic Shell Lake


We next headed to Lake Nebagamon, which was quite a drive from Shell Lake. It is way out in the boondocks, but the drive was worth every mile as we were headed to see a giant twine ball. And we got much more than we anticipated.  After driving numerous back roads, we finally arrived at the corner of E. Minnesuing Rd. and Oakdale Rd. (Exact directions: From Solon Springs, WI, go north on US 53 to Wisconsin Rd. L.  Turn right on L and go all the way to Rd. P. Turn left on P and head north along the east end of the lake to E. Minnesuing Rd.  Turn right and drive about 2.5 miles to S. Oakdale.  On the right corner you will see a small house with a bunch of flamingos and ducks on sticks in the yard.  This is the place.)


Upon arrival you can see the hand written signs of "JFK The Twine Ball Man".  His real name is James Frank Kotera, but he refers to himself as "JFK the Real Twine Ball Man of the whole wide world."  In the sign, shown below, he claims to have received a vision from God that he should be the "real JFK" and should become the "Twine Ball Man".



The plaque on the left tells how JFK was to quit drinking beer and was to become the world famous twine ball man. On the right is JFK's 19,600 pound ball of twine. (More can be seen in my YouTube video)



And JFK now has a "junior" twine ball, that he says weighs about 46 pounds



JFK gave me his "business card" as we left


Check out my YouTube video on JFK's twine ball          Flash Version


The Milwaukee Journal did an excellent slide show about JFK a couple of years ago


Needless to say, Solomon and I left both astounded and awestruck.  What a trip this guy is.  But he has personality and the visit was well worth the drive.  People like James Kotera make this world an amazing place..the great diversity of this world of ours.


We still had a great deal of mileage to cover, so we were off and running after our hour long visit to JFK's Twine Ball. Our next planned stop was Duluth, MN, but we made a quick stop in Superior, WI to get some cheese curds and a bite to eat.  Gronk's Grill and Bar is another interesting place.  The entrance has a huge hand pointing at the door.  There are all sorts of chainsaw carvings around the place as well.  An interesting little stop.



Gronk's Grill and Bar in Superior, WI



Some of the many chainsaw carvings at Gronk's


After our visit to Gronk's, we crossed into Duluth.  It is a nice town situated on Lake Superior.  Duluth is the birthplace of Robert Zimmerman, better known to the world as Bob Dylan.  It is also supposedly one of the locations where Nordic explorer Leif Ericson set foot after his initial stop in Newfoundland.  In any case, there is a rebuilt Viking ship in Duluth that we planned to visit, but when we got there we found out it has become weathered and is covered by canvas until enough funds can be raised to build a roof over it.  This was a disappointment.  But, we did get to see the statue of Ericson...



Leif Erikson statue in Duluth.  Sumoflam with Lake Superior in the background.


From Duluth it was on to the lakes area of Minnesota.  Our first stop along the way was by Pelican Lake in Orr, MN.  This was an unplanned stop, but we couldn't resist.  There was another big fish statue...but not a Walleye...rather, it was a huge bluegill.  It looked good enough to kiss:


Kissing fishy.  Sol stands out on a platform on the picturesque Pelican Lake, near Orr, MN


Sol found a deer to feed along the way


We drove by Voyaguers National Park and saw a number of the lakes.  We stopped at Lake Kabetogama first and there was a nice Walleye statue.  It was bigger than the first one we saw and Solomon climbed aboard and rode it.




We next went on to Baudette, MN.  They also claim to be the Walleye capital of the world and they most certainly win if the statues are the competition as their Walleye Statue was huge!!


An absolutely huge Walleye Statue in Baudette, MN


Baudette, MN would have been a nice place to stick around and visit.  It is just a bridge away from Ontario and there were a number of things to see.  However, we had to press on.  It was nearly 6 PM and we still had to drive 45 minutes to War Road, MN to cross into Canada.  We could have gone into Ontario, but it would have been way out of our way.  War Road's entry point took us into Manitoba.


As we got into Manitoba, we just drove on straight highway all the way to Steinbach and stopped to eat.  It was almost a 2 hour drive.  We then went from there into Winnipeg.  I learned very quickly that the Trans-Canada highway was not like a US interstate.  Though it is a high speed highway, it slows down and actually goes through towns.  We followed it into Winnipeg and got lost in downtown Winnipeg.  I didn't realize that there was a loop road around the city we could have taken.  So, by the time we got to the hotel in Portage La Prairie, it was nearly midnight.  Sol and I were dead tired, but boy did we have a memorable day.


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