After Boston, a slow start to Spring and just needing a break I decided this was the year to head up to the St. Croix Potters Tour in Minnesota and see a bunch of potters on one of the biggest tours in the country. Wrangled up the Miller brat pack and they came with gear and beer. We in our infinite wisdom decided to tent camp.
Mapquest estimated it would be a 13 hour drive........ no problem! It was 17 hours, many tanks of gas, tolls booths as far as the eye could see. We drove across the farm lands of Ohio, the RV museum in Indiana, the beauty of Gary, Indiana and then the Chicago Skyway, toll booth after toll booth we rolled into Wisconsin. The Cheese state, every bill board proclaimed the best cheese in the world and God, local churches and Jesus. Thus we began praying to Chee-sus just get out of the state! Please let us find the Minnesota State line, I swear I will eat cheese every day for the rest of eternity. But then in a twist of Wisconsin reality every few miles we ran into the HO-Chunk casinos. (I am not making this up!) So cheese, God and gambling........ and lots of cows! Being that it's Spring the cows were making more cows and boy were they cute!
Finally around 9:00 p.m. we rolled to campsite #32. We filled out the appropriate tags, stickers and permits to walk across the parking lot. I must be getting old because I remember pitching a tent and paying a couple bucks for a great weekend. It was an American right to go camping. We opted out of electricity and running water because we are WOMAN! We set up at dusk, unloaded the kayak and ate chocolate chip cookies for dinner washed down with beer, (because it was the only thing we could find in the dark and we were just to tired to fire up the stove) collapsing into tents, truck beds and sleeping bags.
DON'T POKE THE BEAR! NOT FOR MATCHES, NOT FOR COFFEE, NOT FOR BEER, NOT EVER!
Rachael arrived sometime in the middle of the night, never heard her pull in as I was quite dead to the world. The next morning we fired up the coffee pot, wiped the raccoon prints off the water jugs and cooler, rolled around the site basking in family fun, drank way too much coffee and got a late start to the tour. No worries, we are on vacation!
Off to the potters by 11:30 am.
Linda Christianson's place.
Bob Briscoe's place, looking back.
Bob's place looking forward.
Bob's place at night. This was the highlight of the tour! How great to sit around a campfire talking with other potters, drinking great beer, great music, and surrounded by some of the finest potters in the land; Dan Finnegan, Mary Barringer, Jo Severson, Mathew Metz, Kent McLaughlin, Hannah McAndrews (in from Scotland!), Suze Lindsay, Jason Trebs, and loads of Bob Briscoe pots! The place was rock'n.
Back to camp, made a small fire to keep warm, eat good food, drink more beer and hit the bags a bit after dark.
The next morning we were charged and ready to go again. There were a few places we hadn't hit yet. Three pots of coffee, campfire toast, and off to the races.
Again we ended at Bob's place. We were stunned to see the food put out for all to enjoy!
Mary rocked the food! We had shopped hard and we ate delicious food! I have never been so welcomed on a tour before. We are not talking cookies and punch we are talking pasta salads, artichoke dip on crostini, Black bean and corn salad, pastry, coffee, tea, beer (some home brewed!) wine, cheese........ if you walked away hungry it was your own fault! At Guillermo Cuellar's we dined off hand thrown plates and salmon rollups, salads, pastries and more. The beer was delish! We drank from hand made mugs at most places. Ok wrap your brain around serving hundreds, maybe thousands of people for three days off handmade dishes! I know I bought more pots because of this hospitality extended to all buyers! The weather, cold and blustery by Ohio standards did not deter the crowds. Every pottery we went too was busy and people were buying! This was awesome from a potters perspective!
By Saturday afternoon we were shopped out and potted out so we went back to camp for a bit of down time.
books and chili eating.......
Synchronized meadow swimming.......
family pyramid building
passing off the kayak to the oldest daughter.......
paddle well ......
An action packed couple days and we gathered one last time around a frozen camp in the dark and talked about our Wild Woman Weekend. We passed the Buffalo Trace bourbon bottle and told more stories than I care to talk about. We were wildly inappropriate and laughed until we doubled over.
The first morning of the festivities I had tucked $50 in a card for each daughter with instructions. "To be spent on the pottery of your choice by 6 p.m. Saturday night". Bring your purchase to the campfire and tell me why you loved it so much you had to buy it. We are all on a budget so I really thought a mug or bowl would be the choice of the weekend but the girls did themselves proud! (me too!) We have spent a lot of years traveling the world and we always come home with a treasure to remind us of our journey. This trip was no different.
Rachael: sees it, loves it, buys it!
Bob Briscoe mug, Kent McLaughlin salt shaker, Kent McLaughlin ewer and Delores Fortuna bowl.
Bravo Rachael! Yeah, there's a Miller teapot in there too.
Abby: the very careful shopper. Took pictures and then went back to make purchases. Every piece was picked up, weighted in her hand, turned over and over and put on the hold table.
Kent McLaughlin berry set, Bob Brisco tea bowl, Kent McLaughlin tea bowl and her favorite; Bill Gossman tea bowl.
and me........ fell in love with too much!
Bob Briscoe plates and mug, Sarah Jaeger mug, Suze Lindsay mug, Will Swanson yunomi, Sylvie Granatelli swan bowl, Kent McLaughlin salt shaker, and a George Lowe mug that failed to make the photo op as I was drinking out of it!
We hiked that afternoon and I knew we had been in the woods a bit too long when Abby announced she thought I looked like a great horned owl. There was no time for fishing, even though we had hauled our gear to the woods. Not even time for a paddle. And did I mention it was flipp'n cold? Saturday night the rangers had come around the campground shrouding all the faucets as they would have frozen. Sunday morning our water was frozen in the jugs. Abby said she was so cold she was afraid to fall asleep fearing she would never wake up ...... she reads a lot of books.
We stayed up all night laughing, passing the bourbon bottle around, telling stories and eating all the food we had hauled up to the site. Lasagna, chili, salads, eggs, corn chips, sardines, crackers, gooseliver, bananas (frozen), apples, cream cheese on anything including your hand. We rocked and we listened to Abby say everyday........ Chee-sus I hate camping. But where else could we go and be the wild women we are and not get kicked out?
Sunday morning the sun crested over the hill of the site and we were up.
The coffee was made and our hands were so cold we had a hard time holding the camera still.
Our feet were frozen, we smelled of smoke and beer and didn't want the weekend to end.
Headed down the road and making plans for the next Wild Woman Weekend!
Best Mother's Day ever! Thanks Chick-lets!