We escaped this morning at about 5:30 am.  We headed south, towards the Minnesota border, just like we had planned for last Friday, except that we are in the rental car and we are not towing The Villa.  The border is about 35 miles from Thunder Bay; we passed easily through, although when we handed them our US passports they immediately asked why we were driving a car with Ontario license plates…

Soon we were in Minnesota, and we stopped for breakfast in Grand Marais:

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Judy’s was a perfect roadside diner, full of regulars hanging out before going to work. Probably waiting for it to get light, or to get above freezing temperatures…

They did have a painting on the wall that appears to be a friend of ours, from Pasadena, in a former life:

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You know who you are…

We continued our drive southwest, about 135 miles to Duluth. This is what locals call the “North Shore”, and it is packed, all along the way, with waterfront vacation homes, motels, lodges, and the like. It was dark most of our drive, but we could see that it is a beautiful place. Once we reached Duluth it was clear that these houses along the shore are in a fabulous setting.

From Duluth we turned southwest and we crossed over into Wisconsin.  By 4:30 pm or so we were in Spring Green, a tiny town in the Wyoming Valley, also called the Wisconsin River Valley.

Wisconsin is beautiful farm land as far as the eye can see…..

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We checked into the Round Barn Lodge.

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It turns out it really once was a barn…

The Round Barn was built in 1914 and was used as a dairy barn; in 1949 it was converted to a truck stop diner.  Sometime after that it was moved 125′ closer to the road to be more convenient to the customers.

In 1952, the diner was renovated into a full service restaurant and bar.  In 1974, a 27-room lodge was added, designed by James Pfefferkorn, a former Frank Lloyd Wright student and Taliesin Associate. The two-story lodge wraps around a beautiful wood-domed indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna.

The Round Barn Lodge claims that onetime local resident, Frank Lloyd Wright, said about the Round Barn Lodge, “They don’t build them like that anymore”.   Take that statement any way you like…

After sitting all day in the car we needed some exercise, so we walked through the nondescript neighborhood.  (Tomorrow we find out that “downtown” Spring Green is a lovely place – in fact, quite descript…).  We were able to walk over to Arthur’s, a traditional Wisconsin supper club.  (The Red Barn Lodge had given us free drink tickets, so it was a bit more difficult to walk back a few hours later…)

Dinner was nice, the walk home was refreshing, and an enjoyable time was had by all…