Monday, September 14, 2020

A Spark of Joy


Sometimes you start moving forward or your are just plodding along with your life and then you encounter something that surprises you, thrills you, feeds your heart, and reminds you what is great about living.

Heather Cox Richardson has been writing a lot about our political landscape lately, but today she paused and instead of the news she shared a picture of a woman in red, on a dock, by an old white fishing boat, playing her cello.  A bit of beauty in a world in turmoil.  

 I left you last time after my sister and I had visited my grandparent's homestead.  

After that, I had a few fun things to do, but I felt like my summer was coming to an end.  I had all my reservations for my journey home, I had even reserved some campsites for after I get home!

One day I had a date to visit some friends from Waukesha that have a summer home about an hour from my campsite in Minoqua area.

Diane and Rick had visited me in Inverness a couple years ago and we went kayaking together.  On my visit they wanted to take me for a ride on their pontoon on the lake, but it was cool and windy.  

It was too cool to dine outside too.  I wore my mask for a while in their home, but then there was food and beverage to be had, so the mask came off.  

I was nervous.  Other than with my sister, I have not spent any time with other people indoors for months.  Certainly not without masks on.  Diane assured me they had been careful. We all have different levels of acceptable risk.  For example I don't dine in restaurants inside, and not outside if the staff don't wear masks.  Some people rarely leave their homes.  

We went for a long walk after a lovely lunch and before long we were pulling off our jackets. 

 One late afternoon I decided to burn the rest of the wood I had, since I would be leaving.  I got a nice fire going.  Mary came for a short while. 

She has a friend with dementia.  The friend (I will call her Theresa) lives alone and has been having a lot of false memories.  Theresa had called my sister and told her she had COVID.  

My sister was in a panic because we had just spent some time with this woman.  Fortunately my sister has Theresa's daughter's number and was able to call to check.  As it turns out, Theresa was having a false memory.  She remembered going to the doctor and being told she needed to go on Hospice and she tested positive for COVID.    The daughter confirmed this was not true.  Sigh.

 Another afternoon we met one of Mary's friends in a park and walked around.  The friend had brought wine, crackers and cheese.  Pretty nice!

I worry how the people in the colder states will adjust when it gets too cold to gather outside.  

After the one time that Mary and I had done Qigong on a lovely boardwalk over a wetland in Almon Preserve Park, I was hooked.  I returned to do a meditative walk on a cool morning.  First I walked a mile briskly to get my temperature up.  There is something about walking fast on a narrow path in the woods... after I warm up I start to run.  I never run!  What's up with that?  But it feels great and I wonder where I can find a rolling hill kind of trail in my area of Florida.

Once at the boardwalk I removed my shoes to get the full experience.

The thing about going barefoot in the woods is you sometimes step on tree sap and end up with a bunch of leaves or pine needles stuck to the bottom of your foot.

 Virtual Wellness Challenge

Yesterday, Sunday the 13th of September, 2020, the Virtual Wellness Challenge began.  And our team began checking off each of 10 activities that they did by the end of the day.  

Cardio 20 minutes

7 simple strength exercises

stretch, yoga, balance 


healthy Diet

Mental Stimulations

QUality Sleep

Stress Management

Vascular health

Own activity

Several friends in Inverness sent me pictures of the article about our team that was recently in the Citrus County Chronicle.   Thank you friends and local newspaper!

You can play along too!  It started September 13th and goes to October 10th.  If you want to join my team, you can sign up here and donate $10 here and let me know here.  This event is raising funds for Dementia Education LLC.  If you don't want to do the challenge, you can always just donate.

On a cold day I visited Mary and Dave.  Mary made wonderful lasagna.  Dave showed me the old coins he found while cleaning his closet.  He has a bag of coins and bills from his travels around the world when he was in the US Navy in the late 60's.


On one of my walks in town I found a fun looking children's book in a Little Free Library.  Mary and I are doing more ... light, positive, easy, relaxing reading since our world seems to be a bit more stressful than normal.

I finished the book fast and passed it on to Mary.


At my last Qigong session, it was about 40 degrees out.  Still I took my shoes off to feel the earth.  

One participant brought these magnets to put on our cars.  It is by a non-partisan organization, the League of Woman Voters.  If you go to the website it will help you figure out where you go to cast your ballot, what will be on your ballot (the issues and candidates) and they posed the same questions to all the candidates and their answers are up on the website in their own words.  So you can decide.

Mary and I finally opened the bottle of wine that I had bought at the winery in Vienna, Illinois.  I had dined there with a friend on my way up to Wisconsin.  I had reached out to tricycle riders on Facebook and found a wonderful woman who agreed to ride with me on the Tunnel Hill Trail.  One evening we went to Wineaux for a meal and I bought the wine.  I had bought the wine because I wanted "Wineaux" pronounced "Wine-o" on the label.  So I was surprised when we opened the wine to see it was "Cache River Basin" wine and didn't have the cool name.


Mary had told me about a place she like to snow shoe in the winter.  The trail is for dirt bikes, but I wanted to go there and hike.  One morning Mary was busy with stuff, so I drove to the Mud Lake Trail... or Muddy Lake... oh, I don't remember the name.  When I pulled up there was a little dog in the parking lot.  When I got out of my car he came running and jumped onto the drivers seat.

He finally got out after some coaxing, and I could close the door.


The trail was lovely, lumpy and rolling and fun to navigate.  I found myself again starting to run in places.


When I returned to the parking lot a family was just getting in their car with two dogs.  They were chastizing the little dog for running away from them.  "No more off leash for you!" they said.

My last day in camp was cold and rainy.  I got a text from Mary inviting me to come hang out, play cards, have lunch.

Those are my wet socks over the fireplace.

We played Spite and Malice while the rain constantly fell.  

Later the rain paused and Mary and I walked to the downtown area with our umbrellas.  There was supposed to be a chalk art festival but we only saw three pieces of artwork.  The rest were covered with tarps. 


It began to pour again.  We walked home, my socks wet once more.

Before I left my sisters, I was able to hug Mary and Dave goodbye. It occurred to me that these might be the last hugs I give and get for a very long time!  COVID shmovid!

Feeling a bit more sad about departing at this point, instead of being excited for the journey ahead.  That will change, I thought, everything changes.

When I arrived back at camp I saw my camp neighbors were gathered under an awning. 


 I stopped to chat.  Then I stepped inside my Weeroll and found a bright gift bag!


 It was from my camping neighbors!  Thank you Lisa, Mark, Tom and Julie!

I should have packed up the day before the rain.  Instead I didn't want to start making the transition.  I didn't want it to seem like I was anxious to leave because I wasn't.  This visit to Rhinelander this summer had been fantastic... and very short.

The consequences of waiting is to pack up wet muddy stuff.   I swept as much mud as I could off the ground mats and the screen tent.  Then I used the tarp that was given to me at the start of this trip, when I was camping with Sisters on the Fly in Florida.  I put it on the floor of my van between the trike and the bike and I put every muddy wet thing on top of it.  Except me.  I was muddy and wet, but well I guess I was just going to travel like that.


All morning while packing the tears were in my throat.  I could feel them, the sadness of leaving my sister, leaving the hugs, leaving the beauty of the North Woods. 

But as I drove the feeling of loss was being replaced by the wanderer's spirit.  I noticed the smoothness of the road, the fall starting to make some trees and limbs brilliant orange, red and yellow.

I pulled into a county park to stretch and found the place had camping.  No water, no electric, no dump.  Could I camp here?  Maybe for one or two night?  It was so pretty.  I started to think of the items I would need.

I pulled into my campground in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  I found I had reserved a site without electric or water or dump!  I wasn't ready for all that.  I need my electric for my fridge and my computer and to charge things.

So I made the call, paid the extra money and penalty for the change and got a different site.  I like it here!

 I put out all the muddy stuff to dry.

It was cool enough to sit inside my screen tent and admire the view into the woods.  The campsites are spaced apart and surrounded by woods.  I like it!


I noticed right across from me a woman seemed to be camping alone.  So I went over to introduce myself.  While we were chatting the couple next to me came to join the conversation.  They invited me over to their fire later that evening.  Which I did do, in my own chair.  They knew what six feet was, it was comfortable and enjoyable.

In the morning I decided to walk the trails right here.  I figured they would be wide and flat and maybe I would see a pond or a creek.  I expected the walk to be ho-hum.  But then I saw a sign to turn off for a scenic overlook.  And I began to climb.

I came to a T in the path.

I looked left, OH MY!!!

I found a flat spot and did some Qigong.  Not such a ho-hum walk after all.

I thought of who among my friends was still able to climb over rocks and enjoy this area.  Cindy and Regis came to mind, they would love this!  I wanted to share the experience.  I sent her pictures.  She texted back that they were on their own adventure with their trailer.  She said they were going to be staying a night or two in Arkansas.  

I said I had a reservation for the Tom Sawyer campground on the Mississippi River in Arkansas.  

She told me they had stayed there, didn't feel safe and had their windshield broken by some kids throwing rocks.

Hmmm.  Maybe I will change my plans.

After Qigon I headed the other direction and came to the official look-out.  I climed the interesting alternating step ladder.  I liked that style of ladder where the steps are staggered.

I filled up the rest of my day running errands and exploring on my trike.  I only did about 8 miles.

So there you have it, I am settling into this traveling again.  

There is a natural area near here called Catfish Eddy.  It shows up on Google Maps but I don't know if it has hiking trails.  I may check that out tomorrow and there are more trails here to experience.

I am feeling ok being here on my own.  My next stop will be in Sparta, WI where I will meet up with friends and ride the Elroy-Sparta trail.

Stay well!

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