So we were driving along, fresh off my “I’m so bored why don’t we stop the car and take some pictures” tantrum when we saw a sign for a Taxidermy Shop. I wishwishwish I could think of the name now and I will update this post if I can come up with it, I swear. Anyway, we are strict animal lovers, vegetarians blahblahblah but where we’re from, you do not just RUN INTO stray Taxidermy shops. Oh no. In NJ, we barely even have butcher shops that are not inside supermarkets anymore. Pizza places, nail salons, dollar stores, we gotchoo. Taxidermy shops are a little harder to come by.
That being said, we were running on pure adrenaline when we ran full tilt boogie into that shop. It never occured to us until we were INSIDE the shop that we had RUN TOWARD a place that kills, skins and re-creates live beings for fun/profit. We just thought, “OMG, Taxidermy! I wonder if we can buy a squirrel!”
We knocked on the door and a man came let us in. He and his doggies seemed nice and we asked him a few questions before he invited us into his workshop (pictured in the last post).
He told us that he used to work in some other line of business that wasn’t doing so hot. He has always been an hunter and had always admired taxidermists’ work. He got an apprenticeship under someone he looked up to and soon enough opened his own shop.
Basically, after you hunt and kill the animal, you skin them and use their meat however you’re gonna (food, whatever). Then you dry the skin out. You have to buy plastic or foam molds for the specific animal you are using and then the rest is just artistic interpretation based on how they looked in life and how you want them posed.
Apart from the fact that he is a hunter, he is a huge animal lover. He has that cat you saw previously and two dogs.
They go hunting with them a lot. I think it’s the highlight of their year. He took time and showed us a photo album of him, his friend, his family and their dogs hunting in South Dakota.
The doggies were really friendly too and even showed off their hunting “pointing” skills for us, haha. I can’t say we weren’t scared. Because we’re from New Jersey, we are suspicious of everyone and were leery at times. Honestly though, this was just a nice, friendly man who probably was silly to let us suspicious NJ-ites in. We thought we were knocking on the door of an actual factual store but it turned out to be his workshop and showroom. He was really nice for letting us in and showing us around. Thanks Taxidermy guy!
We left there and hopped back on 90. We were starting to get hungry and the cheese/taxidermy mania of the day (and my allergies) were making us yearn for a place to stop for the day and rest. We made it into Minnesota!
We decided to stop in Rochester, Minnesota. Rochester, unbenownst to us until we got there, is the home of the Mayo Clinic and IBM!
We found a room at a weird hotel that had a Goth front desk clerk, went through our animal rituals and then drove around downtown Rochester. The downtown area looked like it had probably at one time been thriving but was recently kind of abandoned. There was a main strip of like chain stores, followed by a more neighborhoody main drag that seemed like it had a lot of potential but that the shop owners had been driven out by the chain stores.
Then there was another section closer to the Mayo Clinic that was nicer and maybe the reason why the downtown area was a ghost town. We found a street fair! Kristyn said, “I don’t know what the heck is wrong with this picture. Why does everyone look exactly the same?” I said, “They’re all white people with blonde hair and blue eyes.”
It was like being at a Barr family reunion up in that piece. I wish we had photographic evidence. Here I’ll provide a family photo instead:
Since I was feeling like cockypoo because of my allergies, we took a couple of fugly shots and beat it out of there. I’m usually down for street fair food but I needed to sit down and have a cup of tea, STAT:
On our way to find me some tea with a side of pancakes, we found this:
Right next to our hotel, there was a Denny’s. As we went in, I took this shot of the chain shopping area of Rochester:
Inside Denny’s I flipped the script and got a veggie burger and DEFINITELY a cup of tea. We sat and eavesdropped as a group of adults sat at a table behind us and talked about “the homosexuals”. There were two men and one woman. The one man and one woman were extremely anti-gay. Well, scratch that, they were ALL anti-gay, but just those two were like, foot down, don’t wanna hear about it anti-gay. The other guy was kind of more thoughtful about it. He said, “Now you can’t just judge someone for being gay. I know they say they’re born that way and I don’t know if that’s true but if it is, I cannot imagine the burden that must be on your soul.” The other two were like, “They’re not born that way! They choose it I tell ya! If someone in my family were gay, I wouldnt’ talk to’m anymore!” The other guy was like, “If someone in my family told me they were gay, I wouldn’t understand it but it wouldn’t make me love’m any less.” Then they kind of went into a discussion on whether or not the homosexuals will go to hell for what they’ve done. Kristyn threatened me with my life not to say something so I kept my big fat mouth shut. *sigh*
So we went back to our room, laid down and watched some TV. The news is really weird in Minnesota. I don’t know if you watch 30 Rock or not but a couple of episodes ago they went to Kenneth the Page’s hometown in the mountains to find a standup comedian to draw “folksy people”. Liz Lemon turned on the news and the reporter said something along the lines of, “Ethyl is going on vacation so Myrna will be watching her cats this week”. Liz Lemon said, “Yeesh, small town”. THAT is what Rochester, MN was like. They reported on the high school football team, bake sales, kindergarten’s first day…It was incredible. In order to be on the news in Northern NJ, you have to get killed in a spectacular fashion in public (small, non-sexy murders need not apply) or you have to find out where Good Day New York has sent their newbie reporter to freeze at. They always send whoever has the least time on the show to stand on some corner in Hoboken or whereever and interact with the locals. If you can find that guy, you can be on the news but don’t count on it. Seriously don’t.
On my Aunt Theresa’s suggestion, we kept looking up KOA Campgrounds to stay at because there’s a million of them along the way. Our original intention for this trip had been to camp the whole way and save money on hotels. Because I insisted on bringing a shitload of photographic equipment I did not use, we ended up not bringing the tent. So that meant we could only stay at KOA Campgrounds that had cabins for rental. Being that this was the week leading up to Labor Day weekend (it was late this year), a lot of the campgrounds were close to capacity. Also, if we found a cabin for rent, it had no blankets and no running water. Typically we could find an actual factual hotel with bathroom for the same price. Still though, we had KOA on our minds and had intended to make a little pitstop to Wal-Mart that night for bedding and supplies. We were just too damn tuckered though and so we watched the news until we passed the heck out, dreaming of disembodied heads and cheese wheels. G’nite.