I am getting really busy and joyful these days. I am visiting friends and family and soaking in Wisconsin's spring weather and greenery.
I used to live in Wisconsin for over 20 years. My son and my sister and a few other relatives live in Wisconsin. I have connections.
I last wrote to you from the Des Moines, Iowa area. I had just discovered that the hinge on the back door of my trailer was bent and missing a screw. I will start up where I left off... seeking a solution.
Trailer Repair and Lunch with Long-time Friend
I got instructions from Regis, one of my Florida friends, for possible fixes. By the time I read his idea, I had already gotten an appointment to take it to a trailer place in De Soto, IA. That was about 40 or more minutes drive West from my campground. And frankly, I just didn't want to mess with it, let someone else with the tools and experience handle it.
On the same day, I had an appointment to meet up with my Wisconsin bike friend, Kay, (who now lives in Iowa) at 11:00 at a Panera near my campsite. As soon as the trailer guy told me I could bring my trailer in, I hooked up and pulled it over to I80 Trailers in De Soto.
I was worried about not making it back in time to meet Kay, but I left the trailer with the repair place and headed back East.
I got to the restaurant before Kay and got a chance to relax and practice some Spanish on the Duolingo App on my phone.
I had a great visit with Kay, we caught up on grand kids and mutual friends. Though we didn't really think it through when we planned our meeting place. We chose a Panera where you have to go in and order at the counter and then later go pick up your food.
One of us had to stay at one of the two outdoor tables in the shade and hold it while the other went in to order. Kay went first.
I went in to order when she returned with her buzzer that vibrates when her order is ready to fetch. Inside there was a long line all the way to the door. I kept thinking that Kay and I were supposed to be chatting and here we were separated. While I was in line I heard them call her name, her order became ready. Shoot!
By the time I got my food hers was cold. Next time we will do a sit-down restaurant with wait-staff. Though the food was good, we lost precious chat time. As it was we chatted until close to three!
I drove back to the trailer repair place and they were just finishing up. Each door latch item cost $35. And I got a latch for each back door. The repair guy noticed I had to shift the latch in order to close the door full, he put a screw in just the right place so that the back door closes without that struggle. See! An easy fix for an expert and an idea didn't occur to amateur me.
I thought as I drove away I should have had them add more D-rings for hooking things to the insides of the trailer when moving from place to place.
The other day I tried to travel with the microwave on a yoga mat on top of the fridge. The yoga mat wasn't sticky enough and the microwave slid off the fridge and banged up the wall a bit.
Thank goodness the microwave still works just fine.
When I got back to camp I packed up the screen tent and the bicycles because I would be leaving in the morning. While I was packing up a woman came over and chatted with me. They were from Michigan and heading to visit their son in Oregon. We connected, so I invited myself over to her campsite once I got packed up.
I took my chair and a drink over there and we talked of campgrounds, trailer maintenance, gardening, and facing our mortality.
They gave me some roasted asparagus from their garden. Real nice! A fun visit! We didn't exchange last names or contact info or anything like that. I didn't even take their picture.
I reflected as I walked away how that was a great and fun conversation. There was no talk of careers. I didn't even mention I write and blog. Sometimes these travel connections come with no expectations. Just a big hope for a few moments of connection and common ground, maybe at its best, something is learned.
Moving Into Wisconsin
It was pouring rain when I got up on Friday. I was glad that I had packed and left the trailer hooked up the evening before.
Google told me that to get to my next campground it would take a whole hour longer if I avoided the Interstate. I told it to avoid them anyway.
I felt the same combination of sadness and thrill as I pulled out. How is it that I can spend so many nights in one place and still have so much still to explore there? I didn't even touch many of the trails in the Des Moines area. I will need to return and spend even more time.
I left Bob Shetler Campground, admiring the views as I departed, wondering if I would stay at that campground next time.
After three hours of driving in the rain, I stopped at a shopping mall.
There I joined all the other walkers before the stores opened up for the day.
Before I pulled away from the mall, I stepped into the trailer to check to see if I remembered to put the microwave on the floor. Whoops, not yet! Fortunately it was still on top of the fridge.
This is what it looks like with stuff on the floor and fastened in place for travel.
I used Googlemaps to find a place to do laundry. I am finding that travel days are a good time to do laundry because the time is a break from driving and gives me a chance to check my email and texts and make any calls I need to make.
I passed this building up the first time I drove by. It looked pretty rough. It was, I think, owned by the automotive repair and car-wash adjacent.
I didn't sit down on the seats provided, as they and the wall were covered with greasy hand prints and shoe prints.
But the machines were clean and in good repair. It worked and I had the place to myself.
It was raining still when I arrived at my campsite, though it had slowed a bit sometimes. The temperature had dropped! I had to pull out my down jacket and gloves and umbrella. I put the down comforter back on the bed.
"Welcome back to Wisconsin," I thought.
I was at Grant River Campground which is a Corp of Engineers (COE) site. It only cost me $10 a night with my National Parks Senior Pass. My site looked lovely, if it had been warm I would have opened up the back doors and enjoyed the view over the river.
The park didn't appear to own any land other than the campground and boat launch. I didn't see any hiking trails. If you stay there, do something on the water. I was in site 30. Nice site!
I was fortunately there only one night and off to Brigham County Park near Blue Mound, Wisconsin. Driving there was a wonderful pretty drive passed lovely hilly farms and steep valleys of South Western Wisconsin.
Brigham Park is on top of one of those hills.
Each night many of the campers, local love birds, and teens with hammocks gather at the side of the hill that overlooks a field and the bluffs beyond. On a clear day we can see (about 35 miles) as far as the mounds in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Here are some of the sunsets I saw during my stay.
I didn't pay enough attention when I booked this campground. I wanted to visit my son in Janesville while I was here. Googlemaps pointed out it is over an hour drive to his place.
I took the back roads. It was a lovely drive! Part way there I pulled into a little park to use their facilities. It was at the top of a hill overlooking the farm lands and forests surrounding it. It is called Liberty Park. A sign told me that a US flag was mounted on a pole on top of that hill during the start of the Civil War. Men would walk to the hill and camp there and then the group of men would walk to Janesville to join the Union Army.
I was giddy to be in that beautiful spot and learn some of its history.
I got to spend time with my son and his lovely wife!
Last July when I visited he was having trouble breathing and his wife Mel was going into the hospital during COVID for some surgery. They both looked much healthier this time.
Before I arrived I asked Jeremy if he needed any help with projects, I would love to help. A couple years ago I had helped him make shelves for his garage. He replied with a list of garden projects, weeding, removing Christmas lights, mulching.
Jeremy told he he has lost 155 lbs! He was moving around doing yard work. Though he had to rest often, it was an amazing difference. I am so grateful and I sure hope his better health and weigh-loss last!
I love to weed, so I got to clear out the weeds from one of his gardens.
And pet and love on Hero, their therapy dog.
When I got back to camp, I didn't even get stuff unloaded and a large friendly man approached me.
"Tell me about your trailer!" he said.
His name is Scott and after I told him about Lilac, he began to tell me his story. A few years ago he had low energy and he went into the doctor. They took tests and then the doctor told him, "You have some uncommon form of Lymphoma. Get ready, you have about two days to live."
You can imagine the shock. He was a weightlifter at the time and was in excellent shape. They put him in the hospital right away. The next day the doctors conferred and came to him.
I should mention that before the diagnosis, Scott was a competitive power lifter.
"You are in excellent shape, we would like to use you as a case study," the doctors told him.
The study was to treat him VERY aggressively. He agreed to do it. What did he have to lose?
He said it was hell. The cancer was in his brain, he got twenty spinal taps.
"Oh my!" I said, "I heard those are one of the worst for pain."
Scott said they were nothing compared to the 20 bone marrow ... here I don't remember. 20 times they drilled into his bone. 20 transplants seems REALLY extreme.
Anyway, Scott lived and worked in Montana at the time but they doctors moved him to the best Lymph hospital in the US in Madison, Wisconsin.
He survived after all that major treatment, married his girlfriend in the middle of the treatment plan. She is in the medical field and helped him through it.
We talked a bit about the trails in and around the park and he said he and his wife and 14 year old dog were going to walk five miles to Blue Mound State Park and then five miles back!
I was impressed. Again, a neat conversation but I didn't get his full name or exchange contact information.
I realized as I was driving to see my son, I forgot to puff my hair. It was looking really sloppy.
When I got back to camp I warmed some water in the microwave and washed my hair and cut it.
How's it look?
I am not posting the first picture I took, inside the trailer. The lighting was terrible and every one of my wrinkles was highlighted. I find myself thinking... I am almost 70. The thinning blotching skin, the arthritis, I am fortunate it isn't much worse. BECAUSE I AM ALMOST 70!!!
Some of my friends remind me, "Your just a baby."
I am blessed with some nice older-than-me friends. Thank you very much!