May 26, 2009
American Adventure
Posted by Gordon Smith

Ann Althouse is wondering what makes something "Americana"? This isn't the sort of thing that normally interests me too much, but yesterday I was talking to my 15-year-old daughter, who is excited for our upcoming drive to Wisconsin for a family reunion. I have been making this drive since I was 17 years old and a freshman at BYU. I have traveled every interstate highway between Utah and Wisconsin, most of them multiple times, and I occasionally take the "backroads." But with the exception of an occasional desire to see Mt. Rushmore -- which is somewhat out of the way, but has drawn me to the Black Hills at least ten times -- I generally don't look forward to the sites on this trip. This time will be different: we are looking for an American adventure.

So I have started my search for things to do/see/eat between Provo and Eau Claire. Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska looks like a must see, and it got me searching for uniquely American cultural experiences on the plains. Aside from the usual South Dakota sites, including Wall Drug, however, I haven't had much luck. Suggestions?

As for food, I am having a bit more luck. The Wooden Knife in Interior, South Dakota looks promising. And I am trying to plan the trip so that we reach Rapid City, South Dakota at dinnertime, so we can eat at The Corn Exchange. If we are lucky, we might even spend a few hours at Czech Days in Tabor, South Dakota (what's more American than a small town's heritage festival?), though I don't know how all of this is going to happen over one day. Once we get to Wisconsin, we will, of course, do some variation on The Cheese Trail.

Do people eat in Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming? If I can't find anything for the trip back, I may just have to stock up on cheese curds in Wisconsin, though they are never as good after the first day.

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