Our 16 foot Scamp now has a new name, courtesy of my wife Julia. It shall be called the Brew Hut. Last weekend, we hitched up the Brew Hut to the our Nissan Frontier and went on a two day adventure along the Mississippi River.
Day One: Our respite caregiver for our son Justin arrived at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. Because our campsite wouldn’t be available until 3 p.m., we planned to hike most of this day at Wyalusing State Park, south of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where I had camped and hiked by myself earlier this year.
The two hour plus tow was my longest to-date, and there were some challenges. The road, State Hwy 60, was curvy and hilly. Plus, my newly installed driver’s side mirror extension extended the width of the truck, so that I needed to be more aware of the road’s center line. When we arrived at the state park, I couldn’t find a good place to park the truck/trailer. All of the stalls that we saw were designed for a single vehicle. No double vertical stalls. We ended up driving down to the boat landing and parked in one of the truck/boat trailer stalls close to the Mississippi River.
Starting from the bottom of the bluffs, we hiked from the boat landing up the Sentinel Ridge Trail (1.6 miles), down the Old Immigrant Trail (2.6 miles), up the Old Wagon Trail (0.8 miles), and back down Sentinel Ridge (1.6 miles).
We were sweaty and tired, but the bugs were not as bad as we thought they might be. From here, we continued south, eating a hearty lunch at a bar in Bagley, and towing the Brew Hut to Nelson Dewey State Park. At the top of the bluffs at the state park, we hiked several short trails (lots of mosquitoes), adding another mile or so to the day’s total. We then drove to the Grant River Corp of Engineers (COE) Campground, just south of Potosi, Wisconsin.
Unhitching and setting up camp went smoothly. We drove back into and stopped at a little winery to buy some wine, cheese, and crackers. Back at the Brew Hut, we chowed down on our cheese, crackers and some strawberries we had purchased at a stand in Bagley. It was hot, so we turned on the Brew Hut’s air conditioning system for the first time. It worked fine, and cooled the trailer off to 72 degrees at the low setting.
We had been warned about the trains running close to the campground, day and night. Julia and I both like the sound of trains, but have never spent the night so close to the tracks before. When a train came through, the whistle rang loud and clear, and then the trailer and ground shook a bit as the train roared past. I slept ok; the air conditioner provided some white noise. But a storm came through with lots of thunder and lightning. Not the most restful night.
Day Two: In the morning, I cooked pancakes (a Julia favorite) on the cast iron skillet inside the Brew Hut. I brewed up some fresh roasted coffee with the cone filter and water just off-boil.
We did not discover any hiking trails near our campground, so we took off in the Nissan after breakfast for nearby Dubuque, Iowa, leaving the air conditioning on in the Brew Hut at the campground, so that it would be cool when we arrived back later.
In Dubuque, we found a hiking/biking trail along the Mississippi River between the casino and the industrial park. We walked about three miles round trip, and then drove a little further, finding a free parking spot a few blocks from downtown. As we walked towards City Hall, we discovered a wonderful Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, spreading out several square blocks around the City Hall. We walked up and down past the stalls, buying a few munchies and drinks here and there. During our stroll, we discovered a brew pub with a sour beer event beginning at 11 a.m.
As the Farmer’s market began winding down, we headed back to Jubeck New World Brewing for the special release of the barrel-aged Golden Sour, dry hopped with German Huell Melon Hops.
Julia mentioned to the brewer that I was a home brewer, and he immediately took me on a tour of the brew room next to the bar. He was very cool, and it’s always fun to be around someone enthusiastic about his craft. Some sour beers are over the top, but this sour was refreshing and delicious.
Feeling like we caught Dubuque on a really great day, we headed back across the bridge to our campground in Wisconsin. That afternoon, we took it easy at the campground, watching the Mississippi River make its way south.
After using the campground showers, we drove into Potosi for a planned visit at the Potosi Brewery restaurant for dinner. I had a Reuben sandwich and a Grapefruit Hefe beer, which is another wild/sour beer. It was more sour than the Dubuque beer, but the wheat softened the overall taste. I liked it, although I liked that morning’s beer better. We had planned to stay for the scheduled music in the beer garden, but a passing rainstorm resulted in the event being canceled. The rain stopped after a short time, but I guess it was too late to bring back the band. By the time we arrived back at the campsite, the skies lightened, and the temperature dropped into the low 70’s–very pleasant and no air conditioning needed in the Brew Hut. In the cool night air, I slept like a baby–until the first train roared past.
On the next day, I fixed a quick egg scramble with asparagus, toast, and coffee. The trip home was uneventful.