On June 12th I moved into the campsite in Rhinelander where I will spend a whole month. I am ready to stop, to rest, to get into a healthy routine again.
Last I wrote to you I mentioned toward the end that I had decided to sell my townhouse in Florida. More data, information, and offers have come in and now I am confused again. I will write about that toward the end of this letter. If you don't care what I have been doing between my last writing and this one, skip down to the bottom subtitled "Decided/Undecided" ha ha.
Too Much of a Good Thing
I love people. I need a little social most days. Since I last wrote to you I had lots of reunions and fun with fantastic people. People with big characters and something to teach me. People who make me feel valued, people who inspire me.
It has been fun, delightful, interesting, and ... I am sad to say ... too much. I didn't space out all my meet-ups and so day after day in a short span of time I was enjoying people and then going back to my campsite exhausted. Next time I will spread it out more.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
I arrived at Ottawa Lake State Park near Eagle, Wisconsin in the early afternoon. When I opened the back door I discovered ants had taken up residence in the back door jam, complete with eggs. I sprayed the area with a bleach-based cleaner. That worked very quickly. Deadly stuff!
I had invited Laurie, my son's mother-in-law to come visit my site. I was thrilled that she accepted my invitation. We had a wonderful chat.
I was so pleased that my son married into such a nice close-knit family. We had a great visit. Laurie said, "I am so glad your son and my daughter found each other. They are good together."
I agreed whole heartedly. She told me she thought my son was so patient and so kind. "He is wonderful," she told me. Wow, makes a Mom proud!
We took a picture and I texted it to our shared Granddaughter and asked if her ears were burning. Ha ha.
Ottawa campsites have electric only. Some sites (the ones closer to the lake) don't even have electric.
Across the road and surrounding the park is the Kettle Moraine Forest with lots of hiking trails and some dirt-bike trails too.
I only had the time and energy to do one of the trails. At one point they had a selfie sign. It is a shelf that holds your cell phone so you can take a selfie with a nice vista in the background.
June is a big month. My daughter-in-law's birthday and my granddaughter's birthday are in June. Father's Day is in June. And June 19th is Juneteenth day when the slaves of Texas were finally told they were free two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was declared a National holiday by Congress. Finally something they agreed on!
Also, June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.
Back to talking about my whirlwind of reunions...
We lived inWaukesha, Wisconsin, for over 25 years, there were lots of people I wanted to see. I didn't allow enough time to see them all.
Friday, I went to John and Sandy's for breakfast. It was lovely as always. Post COVID we were able to move our meal inside when it started to sprinkle. Yay! A year ago, we would have had to sit in the rain or pack my meal up and send me away.
We were able to take a long walk, some of it on the Bug Line Trail.
I headed over to the Post Office to see if I had anything in General Delivery. Nothing!
In the afternoon a friend I had met when I worked at a non-profit in Milwaukee in the early 90's came to visit my campsite. Jeri Jackson came for dinner. I am learning it seems like a lot more work to prepare a meal in my campsite. It wears me out to prepare something special to serve others. This is new to me, I have hosted so many gatherings at home with many people. Now, (is it because I don't have my co-host, George?) the work seems to take more out of me.
Jeri and I sat close together in the small amount of shade on my campsite. It was hot! But we had a great visit anyway, catching up on family and life stories. I got to show her my little camper.
Saturday was my daughter-in-law's birthday celebration. What a delight to be invited to spend more time with them and Mel's family. Mel invited me to arrive early and help decorate and set up. I loved that! I get so little chance to spend time with them, it was fun working as a team to get ready for the event.
Every time I visited them on this trip I was just so amazed at how much healthier they both appeared.
This is a picture of Jeremy before he started his weight-loss journey.
Mel and Jeremy have a young nephew who brought his new pitching machine. I even got to try my hand at swinging the big red bat at the plastic balls thrown by the automatic pitcher. Hey! I made a home run!
Sunday I went to visit Jo Maupin. She became a widow shortly before me and we have enjoyed sharing our stories and transition from couple to living as one.
It was a fun to see how she has simplified her home. She said she only has one decoration per wall and one per flat surface. "Easier to dust," she told me. She also painted all her walls white, and it really was a lovely feel, less stuff, less distraction, more peace.
As I was leaving she pointed out that the ash borer got into the trees on their street and all the trees lining the curb had to be cut down. A neighbor with a 3D printer got creative and has decorated the stumps with little plastic creations. Smiles!
I had a bit of time before my next stop, so I strolled through downtownWaukesha. The triangle-shaped ice cream store is now a little burger joint owned by Guitar for Life. The guitar shop was a little store next door to the ice cream shop that I didn't think would survive. Now it has expanded into a few more spaces and diversified what it offers.
It is fun to go back to a place I moved from and identify and notice the changes. I missed sharing the moment with George. In fact, I did talk to him a couple times on my stroll through town.
My next visit was with Elizabeth. If you have been reading these letters for a while, then you know that Elizabeth and I go back over 20 years. She was new to this country and didn't speak English. I was a volunteer for Waukesha Literacy. I was very fortunate to be paired up with her. She was a persistent and dedicated student. I was a fumbling inexperienced tutor. I am very proud of her and all she has accomplished. I am very proud to be her friend.
Elizabeth was having a garage sale when I arrived, so we sat out in the yard. What fun that was because her daughter and son-in-law were there and her new granddaughter, Luna.
Her daughter Ile wasn't much older than Luna when I first met her, now she is a mom herself!
While I was at Elizabeth's I got a message from my friends Mark and Jane. I didn't expect to see them when I was in town because their youngest daughter was getting married that weekend. I knew they would be busy with family and activities.
They phoned to let me know they were done with wedding activities and wanted to see me. So off I went to visit them!
We sat in their back yard and I got to attend the small wedding through their descriptions. Soon there will be pictures to see! As I was leaving, Mark offered me one of his geraniums he had propagated.
Whew! Next time I visit the Waukesha area I really need to stay longer. As I was driving through town I saw new bike trails and I was disappointed I wouldn't have time to explore.
That was a whirlwind of visiting! I wasn't done yet. Back at Ottawa Lake Campground I prepared to leave my campsite for an early departure the next morning.
Then I took a small walk for a last look at Ottawa Lake.
Monday morning early I was on the move again.
First I headed to the Bug Line Trail. It was not far off my route and I don't remember riding it since they paved it several years ago. I rode my trike on the Bug Line for about six miles. I came across an Any Time Fitness in Sussex and worked out a while there before I biked back toward my car.
Fountain Lake Campground was my next destination, it is near Plover, Amherst, and not far from Stevens Point. I was going to camp in Liz Thundercloud's driveway. There were camp spots within the park for people like me, but Liz insisted it was better to have me close by.
Liz lives her Winters usually in Florida and summers in central Wisconsin. She and her husband park their motor home on a lot they own in the RV park. It is a nice location and a nice idea, to own the land you park on.
Liz had plans. She wanted to take me on the trail she rides and show me some of the lakes she kayaks on. The first day we biked 20 miles and then kayaked. It was a full day and it was hot, but so enjoyable!
Liz's dog Diego runs next her
her bike and then when he tires out he keeps looking up at her and she
stops and says, "Up," and he jumps onto her thigh and then climbs into
his basket behind her.
When he is ready to get down and run again, he claws on her shoulder. Sometimes not so gently. Once I was riding in front of her and she yelled, "AAAA, you little shit! It is a good thing I love you!"
I got a laugh out of that.
While kayaking we pulled into a swimming area and dunked ourselves. I admire Liz for her ability to connect with just about anyone. There were some young women in the water and she bantered back and forth with them. We were all laughing. One well-endowed young woman was wearing a suit that must have had a lower neckline than her previous one because she had a bright red sunburn stripe across her breasts. "You better cover up those poor girls," Liz told her. "They are going to be hurting."
The girls started singing a song from the play Oklahoma and Liz and I joined in. A spark of delightful connection and joy.
Diego is also a good kayak dog. Liz lays a rag rug on the top of her kayak and Diego sits or lays there. If the sun or the bugs get bad, he sits in the cockpit with his feet up on the rug and a towel over his head and back.
The next day we kayaked on a chain of lakes for about three hours and then ate at a Mexican restaurant. Liz had to drive the car after that. I was toasted after one Margarita.
There was more to share with me, Liz said.
Liz wanted to show me all the wonderful lakes and more of the trail in her area of Wisconsin. But on the last day and I bowed out of the fun day she had planned of biking to the cute little town of Amherst and beyond on the Tomorrow River Trail. I have not done that part of the trail, but I was tired. Daily tasks had been neglected for too many days in a row. I had things I wanted to attend to.
She told me she was disappointed but was OK with that. She had put aside many of her tasks to take me to see the lakes and trails she loves in the past two days. She was falling behind in her tasks too.
I was so happy to have half a day just to be inside Lilac with her air conditioner roaring. I worked all morning getting book three ready for the Beta Readers. I was thrilled to get it done and on a thumb drive to take to the printer. Something accomplished!
What do you think of this title for this book about the period of time after George passed?...
Trippin' We to Me
or is this better...
Trippin' From We to Me
And some time out of the heat and by myself. Balance is good, and this was very good.
In the afternoon we drove to a park and rode the short trail there.
A woman took our picture for a local paper. She says she takes pictures of people having fun.
Then, each of us in our own cars, were driving to a brewery where we met up with her husband Steve and two friends.
"What's the name of the bar," I asked her so I could put it in my GPS.
"Hinder," Liz said slapping her ass.
The bar was fun. And right there in front of us was the newspaper in which a future issue will have our picture on our bikes!
I had two beers and they were more potent than I was used to. I had to walk around a few blocks and then sit for a while sobering up enough to drive.
I would have walked further, but I was in pain. Earlier in my visit with Liz I had taken my bike and my trike to the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point for maintenance. It used to be mostly a recumbent bike shop. Now, under new ownership, the front of the store is full of electric assist two-wheel bicycles and dirt bicycles. The back is full of recumbent tricycles. I didn't see any two-wheel recumbent bikes.
But, I digress. The
reason I was in pain was while emptying the car to removed the bike, I
dropped a 12 lb. steel camp chair on my left foot. Ouch! I thought I
broke it. I have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis (ie: weak old bones). I have never broken a bone and I was really worried this would put a damper on lots of my travel plans. The pain and shock put me on my hands and knees for a while on the hot
Back at Liz's I iced it and that night I googled "walk in clinics near me". If the pain got worse during the night, I had a plan.
I was almost happy enough to do a happy dance in the morning. Much of the pain had subsided, I knew it wasn't broken. I could kayak and bike and even walk
short distances. I am very grateful.
I was getting anxious to get to see my sister and she was less than 100 miles away. So I cut my visit with Liz a day short. I will have to stop there again some year in the future, and do the other half of the Tomorrow River Trail.
Thursday, June 11th I drove to Rhinelander and set up camp just before the rain hit the area with threats of hail and wind.
This is my campsite until July 18! I am here now and ready to settle into a routine.
Last year we had to wear masks and worry about out close proximity due to COVID, but this year we hugged without masks. Mary and Dave are fully vaccinated.
As I mentioned at the end of the last letter I had made the decision to sell my 1900 sq ft townhouse in Florida.
I got a message of encouragement from Cindy to go full time.
I sent a deposit for a space at Oasis Mobile Home and RV Park. Just in case. It is across Hwy 41 from the trail and about 3 miles from downtown Inverness.
I learned from Liz Thundercloud that in order to go full time you need something on your drivers license to get auto insurance. My Weeroll would not qualify because it is considered a utility trailer, not an RV. When I mentioned that to Cindy, she said I could make their house my home residence. Wow!
After I got an estimate from a realtor, I am not so sure. She estimated $175,000 sale price and after costs I would get $162,000 or so. The smaller villas in the neighborhood are selling for $165,000.
The selling price was not what I had anticipated in a market where people are clambering to buy and bidding more than the asking price. I had envisioned more and in another part of the country it might get more. I could be contacting another realtor to get a second opinion.
Later I was contacted by a friend in Florida that was interested in staying in my house while I was gone and either doing work on the place or paying rent. Hmmmm. If I could get her to rent year round, it would cover my insurance and taxes...
I heard of a friend that might be selling her trailer that was close to the trail and downtown Inverness. I was thrilled and gave her a call. The price is right. A chance to downsize, the trailer will need some work.
I love my neighborhood friends and our yoga and exercise classes. I love it that my neighbor Jean can just pop over on her trike and surprise me with a spontaneous visit. I love that I can be out for a walk in the neighborhood and end up meeting someone walking their dog and walk and talk with them. I love that my friends Mari and Jerry live right next door and we can do spontaneous happy hours.
Debra and the realtor both told me my front garden is beautiful with color. Mari my nextdoor neighbor sent me a picture of my Angel Trumpet in bloom.
No rush, no rush, I have time to think, assess, negotiate. This saga of information gathering will continue.
In the meantime I will enjoy my time in Northern Wisconsin, by my sister.
Yesterday I went to yoga and met up with a woman I had biked with last summer. Cool, maybe we will ride again this year.
Then I enjoyed some deck time with Mary and Dave watching the birds at the feeders and admiring the view.
Back at camp I grabbed my snorkel equipment and went to the campground beach. I was the only one there. There were no boats on the lake either. I started swimming out.
The water is murky which made it a bit scary. My brain told me there were no sharks or gators in these waters, but my emotional side was wary.
After a bit I noticed I kept hearing a loon calling out. I popped my head up and the loon wasn't far away. I swam toward it keeping my arms and legs underwater. It continued to call, looking at me out of one eye and then the other. I got within 18 feet of it, maybe much closer.
I watched its lower beak chatter as it called out, I could have counted the spots on its side. We stayed like that a while, the loud call echoing on the hills behind me.
I then realized this might be considered "harassing the wildlife". I swam away and the loon dived.
The air was quiet again.