Saturday, September 5, 2020

Boo-hoo and Yippee and Wahoo!

 Hello hello, I am still in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

 I can't believe it!  September already and my departure day is fast approaching.  I have had such a great time, I don't want to leave here.  

For those of you just checking in, I have been staying at a campground in Rhinelander, WI about six miles from my sister's home.  I am camping my first season in a little Weeroll camper.  

It has been great to spend time with Mary and her husband Dave.  

It has been great to be in one place to work out the kinks of staying in a small space.

It has been great to escape the heat of the Florida summer, to meet new people, to be outside and enjoying life even during a pandemic.

The beauty of the north woods is sometimes like stepping into a fairy tale.  There was a moment when my sister and I were on a walk in Holmboe Preserve.  We were on a rise looking down at the dirt path in front of us onto a board walk over a brilliant green mossy area mostly in shade but dappled in sunlight.  It just felt like we were stepping into a Geographic Magazine picture or ????  It felt unreal.

That happens a lot here.  I wish I was a good photographer because maybe I could capture it and share the feeling and energy with you.

Yesterday, Mary and I had so much fun.  But I will get to that later.  I want to fill you in on a couple of things and exciting news first.


I joined a group called Northern Paddle and Trail.  They have a Yahoo group email.  So I have been posting when I am going for a ride and inviting others along.  I quickly learned that most of the riders are used to riding five to ten miles. 

This week I biked from just South of Boulder Junction to Manitowish on a paved trail that is an extension of the Boulder Junction Trail.  I wanted a longer ride, so I arranged for two meeting places along the route.  One where they could ride about 22 miles and one where they could ride about 10.

One person joined me at the 22 mile place.  We had a super duper ride!  When we would stop, other bikers often stopped to chat.  I think they were all working from home or on a break from work and anxious to chat with folks at a safe distance.  People were so friendly, just like on the Withlacoochee Trail at home.  

In Manitowish we stopped at Dixie's Coffee Shop that had plenty of outdoor seating.

 I was trying to take a selfie with the Dixie sign in the background and a couple with masks on came up and offered to take our picture with my phone.  I don't know if Jay was holding his breath, we didn't have our masks on.  I may have tried to hold mine.

One of the waysides we stopped at had lovely decks made with composite wood/plastic with a picnic table.  It wasn't looking over any view, there was no water.  It seemed strange to put in all that expense for a deck.  It gave the impression of big money, though.  So maybe that is the purpose.  

Jay told me that much of this part of the trail was paid for by one woman.  I didn't research the story.

The bike trails have helped the local areas, so the community is investing in even more trails.  I saw this sign announcing the up an coming North Creek Loop Trail.

I was happy to have a working speedometer on my trike now, thanks to the folks at the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point for picking it out and installing it for me.  I biked 45 miles and even with the many stops and some steep hills, I averaged 10 mph.

On the morning we were supposed to be doing Qi Gong class we got notice the class was canceled so Mary and I met at Buck Lake Almon Preserve to walk and do some Qi Gong on our own.

We walked to a board walk where the cool air touching the still warm pond water was creating a mist that was rising off the pond.  We did our Qi Gong there,   Another surreal moment.  I kept expecting the energy that we were pushing around would cause the water to ripple, but it never wavered.  My how my imagination enriches this Qi Gong experience.

In Qi Gong, an ancient practice, it is about re-balancing the Chi energy in your body and around your body.  The exercises have descriptive names like Fountain and Shake Your Tail Feathers and Flying Pigeon.

Many of the moves involve moving the spine and it occurred to me that the re-balancing of the chi is about allowing your spinal fluid to move as it should, and exercising your nervous system.  This seems very important to me, since George had a pooling of spinal fluid in his brain and when we did our exercises to keep him mobile I had a hard time getting him to flex and twist his spine. 

I am grateful for this time to learn just a bit of this ancient exercise practice, which is much like Tai chi but without having to memorize long series of movements.  

There is a neighborhood of tricycle riders in Inverness.  I am in a group with them on messenger.  They mentioned that we could teach each other stuff we know as something to do during COVID or after.  I said I could show them Qi Gong when I return.  We could do it in a park or on of their large yards.

After our walk, Mary headed home and I walked a different path.  I am glad I did because I saw a porcupine climbing a tree close to the path!

I took a picture but of course the camera was focusing on the limbs between me and the animal. 

Reconnecting with Friends!  

When George and I moved to Waukesha in the early 80's we joined the New Comer's Club.  We met and had fun with other families making their way into a new life in a new community.  We didn't know then that the friendships we were making would last a life time.

Stan and Debbie were one of the first couples to move away from Waukesha to Northern Wisconsin.  They had stayed in touch with some of the other couples over the years and George and I even attended the wedding of one of their sons a few years back.

Well, Stan had recently had a health crisis, an infection in his spine that had him in the hospital.  I had heard about it from our mutual friends and contacted Debbie to send love and support.

She said Stan wanted to come up and visit and see the Weeroll.  He had recovered enough to do an outing and my campsite was about an hour away from where they live.

Wonderful!  I was a bit nervous about cooking for them.  I decided to roast veggies over coals from our fire.  So I chopped veggies, wrapped them in foil and some ears of corn, to put on the coals.

They were to arrive at 11:00.  Time to build a fire, let it burn out and then roast the veggies in the ashes.

But it turned out the wood was all wet.  Debbie and Stan are seasoned campers, but even he had a hard time keeping the wood burning.  I borrowed a neighbors grill and we used the fire instead to cook the meal.  It turned out great! 

Debbie is also a writer.  She is writing a children's story and writes poetry.  She took a class this summer and brought to me some of the handouts for helping me get over some of the roadblocks to writing.

After they left I sat by the fire and read the notes.  One of the pointers was talking back to our negative self-talk.  We get held back by negative self-talk so we are supposed to write down positive responses to our negative phrases. 

I tell myself I am organized.  I and getting more organized.  I am focused.  I am getting more focused.

I posted about our visit on Facebook and another friend from that Waukesha Newcomer's Club contacted me.  They are only 45 minutes away.  Would I like to come visit, have lunch, and go for a ride in their boat?  

"SURE!!" I replied.  WOW, I am reconnecting with fun folks and loving it!

While I was sitting by the fire that evening I heard this huge clammer coming up the road to the campground.  Thunk-da-Clunk-da-Thunk.  "What the heck?"

Then into the campground slowly came a truck pulling an old, rusted, trailer shaped like an airstream.  The tires were totally shot and some remaining rubber was flopping around, but mostly the trailer was rolling on its rims.

There is a rented house on the property here.  The truck pulled that trailer into that rented house's driveway.  I wondered if they were going to cut the trailer up for scrap or fix it up and used it for storage or guest quarters.  I envied the ambition it took to take on such a project.

I wish I had taken a picture as the trailer went by me.  It was several days before I got over to take a picture.  By then, one of the walls had collapsed.  Did that happen on purpose?  Or did they start working on it and it just fell over?

Other Stuff

I am surprised to find I don't mind riding on my own.  I went for a road ride and stopped to sit by a dam.  While I was sitting there a frog jumped past me.  I had not thought of it before, but I guess frogs need to migrate to new spaces to get genetic diversity.

My sister wanted some chunky organic peanut butter and the stores in the area no longer carried it.  So I went online.  First I looked at Walmart.  They didn't have any.  

Then I shopped at Amazon and found some.  I got a text from my sister a week or so later.  The package had arrived and she thought the jars might be broken.

I was surprised to see that the package was a Walmart box!  I had ordered it from Amazon.  So Walmart is now selling through Amazon?   I guess if you can't beat them, join them.

I emailed Amazon and so far have not seen a response.  I guess I better check on that.  We lost three jars and I got a bitty cut on my finger cleaning the mess.


Come On Join Us for the Virtual Wellness Challenge

I am thrilled to announce that I have 13 people on the Susan Straley Wellness Trippers Team that will be supporting Dementia Education as they work to improve their wellness habits.  

We are participating in the Virtual Wellness Challenge put on by Dementia Education, Inc.  

Starting on September 13th (the day I leave here) we will be checking a list of ten healthy habits and marking off those items we did that day.  It goes on for 30 days.   That is long enough for us each to maybe make a change for the better and add a new wellness habit to our weekly mix.  

It is not too late for you to also join in.  Click here to learn more and sign up.  It's only $10 and helps a worthy cause.

If you have trouble signing up, let me know and I can do it for you.


Book Report 

Well, I got my invoice from Amazon advertising for last month and it is my biggest yet.  

I had taken the Amazon Advertising Course by Bryan Cohen on August 12.  As a result I increased the number of ads I have been running.  I looked at my earnings, not as much as the outgo... but more than any previous month.  

Then I saw that I sold several audio books, which comes from Audible, not Amazon.  When I add the Amazon and Audible proceeds together, I came out ahead!

That's good to know.  So I guess I will keep trying and keep learning!

A Trip to the Past

So now I will tell you about our wonderful day yesterday.  It was so much fun!  
I had thought I would take a trip over to Phillips.  My grandmother's farm is there, we had spent many vacations on the farm growing up.  And then I had lived and worked in the area when I was 18 and 19.

I got hold of one of my cousins in the area via Facebook messenger and he agreed to meet me, Covid style, at a park in Phillips at 2:00.

When I talked to Mary about it, she wasn't enthusiastic.  She didn't really know if she would go.

I talked to her husband Dave the night before.  I told him I needed him along to help keep the conversation flowing with my cousin.  Dave is a good conversationalist in spite of his dementia diagnosis.

Since we would be spending so much time sitting in the car and sitting visiting,  In the morning I went back to Buck Lake and walked the trails again, fast this time... except when I got to the board walk I did the meditative Qi Gong walk.  Sooooo sooo lovely.

After my walk I went to pick up Mary and Dave.  Dave was tired.  He decided he wasn't going.  

Mary had already packed up water and jacket and was ready to go.

Cool - a girls day out!  

I drove us over to Phillips which is about an hour away.  We took Hwy D out of Brantwood, which is a blink-and-you-miss-it town.  Not even a store or a gas station.

We went straight to the Emory Town Hall and Cemetery where our dad's parents are buried.   We started hunting for the tombstones.  It had been at least 10 years since we had been there, I think.

This tombstone made me laugh.  It says, "Trust me, I know what I am doing."  The person buried was 20 years old.  Hmmm.


We found our grandparent's tombstones and those of Uncles and Aunts and our Cousin Don.  We remembered that near our Grandmother's grave was a wooden structure holding an antique doll.  The grave of a young girl.  The wooden structure and the doll were still there.  

When I was 18 or 19 living in the area I had crushes on several guys.  I saw one of their tombstones.  They died in 2016. 

Someone is still placing artificial flowers at the graves of our relatives.

Our next stop was the swimming hole at what we used to call Root Beer Creek for the brown tannin-stained water.   I stood on the culvert and picked up some rocks and giggled.  I remembered sitting here often and tossing the stones into the culvert to hear the plunk and echo.

I tossed some stones down into the culvert.  The sound was the same and we both smiled.


 The creek has a rock dam to make the swimming hole.  The dam was covered in grass, it looked totally different than years ago.

 We walked up the hill to Grandma's farm.  As we approached I saw the sagging roof.  Oh my, the house is still standing!

There was a gate across the entrance.  We stood.  I knew the neighbor that had bought the farm, though I hadn't seen him in probably 30 years.   Mary, said, "Heck with it, I am going in."  We walked around the gate, I am SO glad we did!  The memories came flooding back.


 "Grandma's garden was here," I said pointing to the right.  We walked in past a huge, 10 foot tall lilac bush.  There were quite a few jack in the pulpit.  


Mary said she would like to dig some up and put them in her garden.  It just so happened I had a trowel in the trunk.  We vowed to get a container in town and come back for some flowers from Grandma's garden.

We remembered the trees and the times we dressed Grandmas dog in doll clothes.  Grandma used to have a stage-coach style bench that we used to bounce on.

We came to the house, the foundation had collapsed a lot, but the logs that my Aunt and Uncle had placed in there when they had inherited the place are still there.

The front door was wide open, though we didn't dare step inside, seeing the shape of the foundation and walls.  

Oh my!  There is the pantry!  There is the wood stove!  There is the sink where we washed our hands and brushed our teeth!  Look, the mirror is still there, and the curtain over the storage area!

The chicken barn was squeeking as parts of it blew in the wind as we approached.  The door was open and I stuck my head in.  It still smelled like chicken manure!

My Grandfather's sister and brother had a farm across the street.  Nature is trying to reclaim that house.  I so wanted to get close and peek in, but there was a dense growth all around the house.

I remembered my Aunt Martha made the best fried chicken from her the chickens she raised and butchered herself.

We had to get to town to eat lunch and then meet my cousin Robert.

I parked the van on the main drag in downtown Phillips.  As we were walking up the street I told Mary that I used to be a waitress at that cafe up there in front of us.  When we got in front of the place that used to be the Crystal Cafe about 48 years ago when I worked there.  It was open!

It is now called Red Beard Bistro.

We decided to see if they had anything for us.  OMG, they had veggie burgers!  When we were ordering I told the waitress I had worked there 50 years ago.  I was so excited to be there.  It was weird.  I felt like I had taken my Mom's place... an old lady returning to places of her childhood.  When did I become that old lady?


 I think the red booths are the same, but there used to be counter with stools on the right, I think...

Mary told me she was having so much fun.  I was glad because I really was too.

After lunch we rushed to get to Elk Park to meet up with Cousin Robert.  

What a fun visit we had!  Robert still is funny.  

We didn't know much about him or his family.  He had married and has grown kids.  It was cold in the shade, but he was on a medication that makes him burn easily in the sun.  Part way through our visit  I went and got more jackets out of the car.

We asked about all the relatives and tried to piece-meal a story of each one.  I was surprised to learn that one of our cousins is in a nursing home.

Before we parted Robert asked if we would ever have a family reunion again.  "We could have it here... reserve the shelter," he said.   

He then told me about the new city campground by the beach.  I told him that maybe I could arrange to camp here and just put the word out and have people RSVP.  We could even do it COVID style, have boxed lunches, people can bring their own chairs and spread out.

After we parted I drove over to the city campground to check it out.  It only has electric at each site.  So to camp there I would have to haul water and waste.


 Mary and I returned to our grandma's old homestead.  

Did I tell you that my dad was born in that house?  Did I tell you that my grandfather built that house?  Did I tell you that we spent a week each summer while we were kids at that house?  My dad returned each August to help them get the hay in.

There was no plumbing, we hauled the water from the well house.  The heat was the wood stoves, one in the kitchen and one in the living room and big vents in the ceiling of each to let the warm air rise to the second story where the bedrooms were at.

Often when we would visit, other relatives would come to visit.  At night when we children were sent to bed we would sometimes lay on the floor and look down through the vent and try to understand the conversations.

On the garden side of the house is a huge cedar tree.  We remembered the tree... much smaller when we were young.  Mary hugged the tree and came out smiling big.

There was a chicken wire around the girth of the tree.  It was probably put there when my grandma planted it, I am sure, to protect it from the deer.  Mary says that deer love eating baby cedar trees.

Mary dug up some Jack-in-the-pulpit plants and a few other things.  We hunted for a baby cedar tree, but didn't find any.

Second Cousin Kenneth, who now owns that property (I think), if you see this post, you will know that the people invading your property weren't doing damage... just trying to harvest some memories.  Thank you!


  1. Loved this writing Sue. Especially the visit to your grandparent’s home and cemetery. Brought back memories of my childhood. Priceless!

  2. What a wonderful, memorable visit. We are so happy you and Mary made the visit to your grandmother’s property. Those kinds of visits bring back so many memories.

  3. Love reading your blog. Keep enjoying life and keep well too. Carol M., a Fl Neighbor.


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