My wife and I have returned from a weeklong trip of 1,500 miles across central Wisconsin, crossing Lake Michigan on a ferry that hauled our pickup along with other vehicles, including a tour bus and a couple semi-trucks, and then north to Upper Michigan.
We returned home across northern Wisconsin, then south crossing the Mississippi River at LaCrosse.
Since we were going to be gone for a week and we wanted to take our favorite battery-dependent devices with us, we had to make sure our computer, e-readers, cell phones, and several cameras had their chargers packed in our bags.
The main purpose of our trip was to sample one of our favorite meals found in that region. Each day we would stop and have a pastie (pronounced PASS-tee).
They are also spelled pasty.
I had been collecting names and addresses for those places and entering them in my GPS for several years.
Pasties are found in that region because when the miners and loggers of long ago stopped for their midday meal they wanted something hot and satisfying.
A pastie has small pieces of meat, potatoes, and probably a few vegetables completely wrapped in pie crust.
They are about the size of your fist, eaten hot and are delicious.
Besides eating them, we bought samples at most of our stops and put them in the cooler with dry ice to serve at home.
Our freezer now has 24 pasties that it did not have a week ago.
Any pastie establishment we stopped at had to prepare their own and serve them fresh. That is what made them so individual.
When ordering, the first thing we would ask is if they made their own pasties.
Then we would ask about their menu and usually order one so we could split it between the two of us. They are filling.
That meant that we were eating at shops and restaurants where you were likely talking to the owner when you ordered or the owner is back in the kitchen preparing the day’s pasties.
These are probably small businesses in their truest form.
They took a risk, moved into a building, bought the equipment, and started doing something they loved, hoping other people would buy their product so they could stay in business.
In Kingsford, Mich., Rick has run the Prime Pasty King for 28 years in a very blue-collar neighborhood.
He helped us resupply our dry ice as he ships his pasties all over the country. I have every reason to believe he is the Pasty King.
He was typical of the people we met who greeted us with smile, asked what they could do for us, and listened to our story about our pastie tour.
The United States is a country of great resources.
After reading that sentence, many people would start thinking of our mines, forests and agricultural types, such as me thinking about farm land with grain and livestock.
There is another resource that is great in our country and that is the people who show up for work every day ready to do their job or perform their service.
We saw them everywhere all through our trip.
If I heard a cross word or a cranky attitude, I have forgotten it, because I saw so many smiling faces of people doing their jobs, from the store employees to the ferry boat crew.
It reaffirmed my belief that it is the people of our country who are our greatest asset.
That is why I returned from our trip as recharged as those battery-dependent devices.
Oh yes, and with a cooler holding 24 pasties.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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