Cranberries and Cheese

Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
Trip End Jul 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Friday, June 25, 2010

Along the shortest route toward the farm, Oakdale Wisconsin is a small town where we planned to stay only one night.  It looked like an interesting area where they produce relatively large acreages of cranberries adjacent to more dairy farms run by a mix of "regular" and Amish operators. 

On check-in the KOA hosts wanted to know if we were there for the truck and tractor pull, one of their two busiest weekends in the year!  The tractor pull website ( calls it the "Grand Daddy of Super National Pulling" with the trucks, tractors and their drivers supercharged, turbocharged and running on high test.  As appealing as it sounded  :-) we didn't go.

The hosts did tell us about the 101 miles of bike trails in the area that ran along an old train track and included a number of tunnels, some of which were up to 1 mile long.  We thought that sounded interesting and we needed to get the bikes back into action so decided to stay an extra night and explore the area.

The bike trail was excellent and the tunnel was an experience.  They told us to take a jacket and flashlight since the tunnels would be cold and dark.  The one thing they should have told us was to take was an umbrella - the springs above the one tunnel meant it "rained" through the entire 3/4 mile tunnel.  With the tunnels being dark and the road bed being very slippery and rocky, everyone has to walk their bikes through so we were soaked when we came out the other end.

After the bike ride we drove around the area a bit visiting an Amish farm market and exploring a couple of other small towns.  The dairy farms aren't as elaborate as the ones in Pennsylvania but they sure promote the heck out of their cheese from this area.  There are cheese stores everywhere you go.

There wasn't much to see with the cranberry fields (called bogs).  The cranberries are to come into bloom soon but hadn't yet and the harvest doesn't happen until fall.  It was interesting to see the large white piles in the area that we later found out were sand.  Farmers flood the cranberry bogs after harvest so they freeze solid over winter, then spread sand over the ice.  In the spring the sand drops down around the cranberry plants.  Supposedly cranberries grow best in sandy soils.  I suspect it also helps with drainage and to keep the berries clean.

From here we'll head to Minneapolis for a couple of days.
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