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Thurs. May 9th: Rain Rain Go Away

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 5 – Wed. May 8th: Don’s 1962 Wagon and Mr. Jangles   | Trip Overview | Day 7 – Fri. May 10th: From Iron Mountain to Mackinaw City –>

Following a night at a St. Paul Super 8 that we can’t in good conscience recommend — maybe it was the guy we saw peeing outside near the front door that dampened our enthusiasm for the place — we awoke to rain. It rained all day and into the evening. It can stop anytime!

In the meantime, we started the day by returning to the Minnesota History Center to complete our research.  After finishing, we spent some time touring the Minnesota History Museum. The museum’s building is beautiful and many of the exhibits were cleverly designed. We shared the museum with 1,000 grade school kids who must have had sugar injections before they entered. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that many, but it sounded like that many!



We even located a Wurlitzer Juke box, so of course had to take a photo:



We definitely had a ‘blast’ at the museum:


By the time we completed the museum it was lunch time, Ann and I headed to a meeting with Jonathon McDonough, who with his brother Jim, operates the web company and data center out of St. Paul that powers eWillys. Jonathon is a jeep enthusiast who owns a yellow M-38 he’s had since he was 14.

At Jonathan’s urging, we met for lunch at Cossettas in downtown St. Paul. He made a great choice. Ann and I both loved the place. We both chose a lasagna packed full of tasty sausage and covered in a rich tomato sauce. It was fantastic.

After our lunch, we toured the market area of the restaurant. I feel fortunate that we aren’t towing a trailer, because it would now be full of italian food. Forced to limit our selections, we bought some freshly baked italian bread, a small chunk of sheep/cow cheese with black truffle, and some specialty butter. If you are ever near St. Paul, check out Cossettas. It’s a treat for the eyes and the stomach!


Picking one loaf of bread wasn’t easy.

During our meeting with Jonathon I received an email from Adam. He’s got a 1951 CJ-3A that has a pretty beat up body, but a strong power train. It’s even been featured in JP Magazine. Adam suggested we stop by Max-Bilt in Eau Claire, WI.

Max-Built is a jeep rebuilder and product manufacturer that was started a few years ago by Adam’s good friend Phil Norvold. The company’s first shop was the basement of Phil’s home, but after many late nights of basement work, Phil’s wife strongly urged him to find a space far enough away from their home so she couldn’t hear him working at 2AM.

So, in November of 2012, Max-Built moved into its new shop at 6129 Sandstone Road, Eau Claire, WI. It’s located on highway 93 one mile south of I-94. If you are driving by, you can’t miss the place with all the jeeps out front. So, thanks to Phil and his father Mark for entertaining us and showing us around.


Phil and I outside the Max-Bilt shop

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And, thanks to Adam for the suggestion. Adam actually works nearby at the local NAPA store, so we made sure to stop by and meet Adam as well.


Adam and I at the Napa Auto Parts Store


I liked the business card holder :-)

As darkness approached, we headed East through central Wisconsin. We discovered that there was a cheese factory along our route towards Michigan, so we stopped for some cheesy goodness at Hawkeye’s Dairy in Abbortsford, Wisconsin, a must-stop place according to Trip Advisor (and the following pics are from the same link … it was too dark and rainy to take good photos).

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After leaving Abbotsford, we endured several hours of 37 degree weather, fog and rain. Several times our phones lost service, so for a while we were driving blind, wandering from one-bar-town to one-bar-town (every place seemed to have Pabst Blue Ribbon signs). Eventually, we obtained service, discovering we didn’t get too far off course.

In due time we finally found a motel. So far, I’ve been using Priceline to arrange our rooms. I have been getting much better prices through that site than any of the other low-price motel websites.

Tomorrow (Friday) we will head to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, MI. Then we’ll begin our trek south through Michigan.

<– Day 5 – Wed. May 8th: Don’s 1962 Wagon and Mr. Jangles   | Trip Overview | Day 7 – Fri. May 10th: From Iron Mountain to Mackinaw City –>


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