Life can go along and all the blessings, the joy and fun can seem ho-hum after a while. Then something happens, a goal is reached, a plan takes shape, a fork is decided on.
The thrill returns.
Today is just such a day.
I have been in the Rhinelander area now for over a month!
Long enough that mushrooms are growing inside my screen tent.
West Bay Campground is wooded with lots of maple, oak and birch. The campground is mostly quiet.
Three times I have driven to the Bearskin Trail and rode the trail. Two of those times I rode solo from the woods into the town of Minocqua.
The trail is 18 miles long and has a crushed gravel surface. One end is in the bustling and touristy town of Minocqua, and the other end is out in the quiet woods near the the intersection of Hwy K and Hwy 51.
I love the stories of the early rail days that are told on the kiosks along the trail. When they were trying to create a causeway through the swamp to Minocqua for the railroad they would dump loads of sand and gravel until they no longer sunk. Once, they had a portion they thought was solid and they had several horses and mules pulling loads over the causeway when part of it sunk and they lost the wagons and the animals in the deep muck.
Once the railroad was operational, one of the trains derailed when crossing a long bridge over a swamp. The engine and three rail cars fell into the swamp. The workers arranged for two cranes to come and help pull them out. While pulling, one of the cranes also fell into the swamp. After much effort they finally gave up. The kiosk says that if you poke a long pole down about 50 feet in the right place you will hit solid metal. The peat and muck go about 90 feet deep. Wow!
One day I spent getting stuff together for the bike tour I am planning on doing on the Allegheny Gap Trail in Pennsylvania in September. I packed up the bike and decided I needed a smaller and lighter-weight sleeping bag and a few other things.
I think I will be able to fit everything into two bags and my tent bag. I am keeping my fingers crossed. The key is to keep the food items small. No big bags of popcorn!
A new friend I made while biking here let me try her two-wheel electric bicycle. I didn't care for the electric, but I loved her comfortable handles. I bought a pair, they were too long, I cut them to fit my bike.
It is interesting that I wanted to stay at a place on the water and with a beach. But I have only gone swimming in this lake one time. One evening I sat on the dock and read while the sun went down.
In early July I drove back down to Waukesha, Wisconsin. A friend had passed this past winter and they were having a life celebration. I had known this man through our Newcomers Club (that was still having potlucks 27 years after we were new to town).
I left Lilac in the campground and stayed in Waukesha with friends Mark and Jane. Mark was good enough to meet up with me when I got to town and ride the Glacial Drumlin Trail and a few country roads. It was a great ride and made the day in the car seem so easy.
Besides seeing people I knew from our Newcomers Club, I was able to meet up with the three woman friends who had agreed to read through the rough draft of my third book.
I received some great advice and of course lots of edit marks. Thank you beta-reading ladies, Sandy, Jeri, and Kathi. I haven't even begun to start working on the book. I am living life right now.
On my last morning in Waukesha, Mark and Jane and I went to breakfast and then walked over to the Farmer's market.
We have hiked together and John and I biked about 16 miles on the Bearskin Trail while Sandy hung out in Minocqua. Sandy is nurturing an injury that prevents her from riding right now.
We dined at a cool restaurant with outdoor seating with Susan Watson. She is that new friend I told you about with the electric assist on her two-wheel bike. We had a super time at supper time, laughing and getting to know each other better.
Pictured are Sandy, Sue, and John at CT's Deli in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
While all this activity was going on I was contacted by snowbird friends, Denis and Frankie. They were looking for a place to rent near Inverness and the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida. Did I know of any places?
That decided it. I had been toying with the idea of not selling my place, but renting it out while I am gone so much of the year traveling. I contacted a rental management company that was recommended to me by a friend and neighbor. Thanks Linda!
I am going to rent out my home to seasonal or short-term renters (3-7 months). That way I will have some time each year to go in there if I choose to. The paperwork is done. I still have my deposit in at the Oasis RV Park in Inverness where I plan to stay this winter, hopefully with Lilac (my trailer).
My sister asked me why.
I said that living in Lilac is simple. It is more outside time. And the money from the rentals will help pay for some renovations to my home... or more travel. AND I get to experiment and experience what long-term living this way feels like.
It is definitely something I couldn't have done with George. He would have wanted more luxury, stuff, and room. I would have needed a bigger everything to fit two people. This is just right for one... at least for now.
Another goal I have been working on is jumping up on a box. I am up to five risers on the step. Today I tried to do a metal step of the same height. I did it three times and then I began to doubt I could do it. I lost my courage and with it the ability to take the leap! Isn't that something? Instead I had to switch over to the rounder softer step. Then I jumped up on it for three sets of eight. Go figure.
I bought another few weeks of training. I am getting stronger, but the chin ups and push-up goals are still waiting to be achieved.
I reserved a U haul in Washington, D.C. for the end of our bike trip on the Great Allegheny Gap Trail and the C&O Trail. We will use it to haul us and our bikes back to our cars in Pittsburg. I tried renting a van, but I couldn't find any that fit our needs and was available.
I mentioned to Joan that maybe we will have so much fun we will just turn around and ride back to our cars. She was thinking the same thing, but said to keep the U haul reservation just in case. We are both going to leave our schedules open just in case...
In a day I move onto a different location but still in this area of Wisconsin. From that new campground home base I am going to set out on a mini bike tour to test my equipment. I haven't routed it yet or decided which direction to go. We'll see what happens... of course I will let you know.
Just as I am leaving this area, my friend John LaFave is going to be doing the Pedal Across Wisconsin (I think that is the name of the ride) and will be in Rhinelander! We will be just missing each other by a few hours. Later this week his ride will be in Boulder Junction. Maybe I will be there too. I don't know.
My friend Bev who was in my Creative Writing Class in high school suggested I look over my posts carefully to catch more of the grammar and spelling mistakes. I am trying to do better. It takes a few hours to do one of these posts. Sometimes the internet is crappy. Sometimes the post is sandwiched between activities.
For example, I took my bike in for maintenance and now I have to go pick it up before the store closes for the day. I am reminded of a wall decoration... "Bless this Mess".
Well, I just wanted to fill you in on stuff.
I am missing my Florida folks. Gosh, I want to list you all and send you love and hugs.
I want to thank Connie and Jerry for the surprise calls and texts. Thanks to Ann who has been advising me on what to expect on the bike tour in September. Thanks to those of you that respond to this letter and comment on the site or send me an email. It is great to hear from you!
I hope you too are finding things in life to celebrate and bring you joy and gratitude.