Back in mid-November I made a post titled "American Gods Road Trip: A Proposal." The idea, in a nutshell was to plan out and execute a road trip that loosely recaps the major locations of the book. The trip wouldn't necessarily adhere to the chronology of American Gods, but instead would distill all the major locations in one massive north to south run.
The problem with road trips gleaned from works of fiction goes hand in hand with the first rule of storytelling, "Never let truth get in the way of a good story." And Mr. Gaiman gladly accepts that rule, and freely admits it at the beginning of his novel in a "Caveat, and Warning for Travelers" :
"I have obscured the location of several of the places in this book: the town of Lakeside, for example, and the farm with the ash tree an hour south of Blacksburg. You may look for them if you wish. You might even find them."
A quick search of Google, and of Wikipedia places Lakeside, Wisconsin about as far north and about as far west as it is possible to get in Wisconsin. The Website, Only the Gods are Real, works from this premise, and for what it's worth, the thought process makes sense, but that didn't stop a niggling doubt in the back of my mind. My doubt was confirmed by the quote "But this is the farthest south and east of the yoopie you can get pasties" (Gaiman, 266). A further search of the text revealed these facts:
- Lakeside is south of Rhinelander and Eagle River.
- "'Up north of Rhinelander? Nope, that's Eagle River" (Gaiman, 295).
- While there is a White Pine River in Minnesota, around 35 miles from the actual Lakeside, Wisconsin, There is a Pine River south of Rhinelander, and near a few of the locations I will later propose as the factual Lakeside.
- "On one memorable occasion he watched an eagle snatch a silver fish from the middle of the White Pine River" (Gaiman, 363).
- It's west of County Road Q.
- "She refilled his coffee. 'You ever gone east on County Q?'" (Gaiman, 366).
- It's 20 Miles east of Camden, a nonexistent town. There is a Crandon, WI.
- "'Darren managed the Motel American over in Camden, twenty miles west of here'" (Gaiman, 299).
- South of Ironwood. North of Green Bay
- "'I reckon he was driving up to Ironwood, maybe down to Green Bay'" (Gaiman, 299)
- North of UW: Stevens Point.
- "'Darren Olsen met Marge at U.W. Stevens Point and he brought her back north to Lakeside'" (Gaiman, 299)
- Pelican Lake
- which fits most all of the facts
- Pine Lake
- which fits many of the above facts, but doesn't have a lake..
In the next installment of this series I'll be examining The House on the Rock, providing a brief history, and from there to Madison, Wisconsin.