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New Friends Add Spice

 I was staying at Arbor Vitae Campground and after writing to you all morning, I took off for a bike ride to explore the area and find something to bring to the campfire at my neighbor's that evening.

While heading south I passed a sign for Madeline Hiking Trail.  I turned around and rode in.  As I approached the kiosk I noticed an older couple chatting with a woman that appeared about to start her hike.  I locked up my bike and as they ended their conversation I asked the woman if she was just starting.  

She said, "Yes"

"May I join you or would you rather walk alone."

"That would be great!" she said. "I was just about to ask if I could walk with you."


It was so wonderful!  Just as we started down the trail we saw these two dark animals racing toward us.  First we hesitated, should we be afraid?

Then we identified them as husky-style puppies.  Their owner walking fast behind them.  "Sorry," she said.  

I assured her there was no need to apologize.  She was trying to train them off leash, but they were still very young. 

They were so soft and friendly.  What a fun encounter.

Dianne and I walked for three and a half miles and talked the whole way.  She was a science teacher (recently retired) and had spent her summers traveling the globe.

I asked her what one or two places were her favorites, or stood out the most.  She said it depends on what you are focusing on.  If it is the people it would be Australia, New Zealand, or Taiwan (or did she say Tibet?)  If you are talking animals it would be... I heard "the Arctic" or "Antarctica" and a few other places (obviously she had been asked this question a few times and had thought about it.)  My memory is totally gone when it comes to where she named the best scenery... was one Russia?  (Dianne, if you are reading this comment below and remind me of what you loved.)

Antarctica, she told me in response to my need to know more, was a trip of a lifetime she fell into when someone she knew could not go on their National Geographic Expedition because of a family illness.  So she got to go in their place for two months on a ship with scientists and photographers.  Omg!  

Both of us marveled at our chance encounter at the trailhead.  She likes to kayak, hike, and do bike rides up to 30 miles.  Cool beans!  

The only bad thing is, she doesn't live in the area.  So I won't be able to connect again for outings until she returns to the area.  We exchanged phone numbers and took each other's picture for our phone contacts.

Madeline Trail wasn't anything to write home about.  It was very pretty like much of these north woods.  I was glad Dianne was with me, I might have gotten lost.  Though it was mostly well marked, it is an area with logging and there were some confusing un-marked intersections where logging trucks had crossed the trail.

After that I rode on into Woodruff, WI desperately seeking a bathroom and ice cream.


The campfire at my neighbors was strange.  The guy that invited me never showed up, he had invited me to his friends campfire and then didn't join us!  On top of that, he never told his friends that he invited me!  So here I was carrying my chair and plopping down on their site.  I felt as welcome as a notice from the IRS.  Not that they said or did anything to make me feel unwelcome.  

The wife of the man that invited me I knew ran each morning.  So when she showed up I thought, good, I have someone who will chat with me.  But she also seemed uncomfortable with me there, she didn't seem interested in chatting with me much.  Boo hoo!  I felt like an interloper... is that what it is called.  The uninvited guest. 

The campfire was at my neighbors that worried about me when I disappeared on my bicycle tour to the Waterfalls.  The person that was worried about me most is a paramedic and her husband is a police officer.  That explains their worry, as they see accidents and strange people all the time.  

They had a guest from their town of Wisconsin Rapids.  He rides motorcycle and was excited about his up-coming trip to Sturges, South Dakota.  He attended last year when many of us were worrying so much about the spread of COVID.  He said that many of the big-name bands had cancelled out of the event last year.  This year should be much better.

The conversation didn't flow.  I felt they were guarded and I was stinting their reminiscing.  I departed at 8:30.

The campground doesn't enforce quiet hours.  On the weekend I had campers next to me that stayed up talking and laughing until midnight.  The first night of their party it was hot and I turned on my air conditioner and that worked to overpower most of their noise.

I was missing my people.  One day I drove an hour back to Rhinelander and spent the day with my sister and visited Anytime Fitness.  

We took her dog to the dog park.  Arky is so friendly, don't let the Doberman coloring fool you.  Arky is not friendly to other dogs, though.  She barks and growls and snaps at some.

At Anytime Fitness I saw Marlena.  I knew her from the Yoga classes I took here in Rhinelander last year!  We had kayaked together and biked together.  She was anxious to kayak again.  We set something up for the next day!  I snapped her picture for my phone contacts and we laughed because she just finished a good workout class and was dripping sweat.

He husband provided a shuttle service and Marlena and her friend Sandy and I kayaked down the Wisconsin River through some areas where wild rice grew.   I was glad Marlena new her way because there were lots of water-paths through the tall grasses.

I had planned on going to Phillips, WI after Arbor Vitae, but it didn't excite me at all now.  I wanted to be by people I know. I decided to see if I could get into my next Rhinelander campsite a week earlier.  I wanted to be around my routine and some people I knew!  

Lake George Campsite was full.

When I whined to my sister, Mary invited me to park in her yard.  I was concerned, I didn't want to stress her and Dave by being a constant presence in their yard.  But, I was selfish at the same time.  I wanted to be closer.

We first asked her husband, Dave.  He has been enjoying my presence most of the time but I didn't want to assume he would be ok with me camping in his yard for one week. 

At the end of my week at Arbor Vitae I moved Lilac into my sister's side yard. 

Dave helped me plug into their electric.

Mary's back yard is so pretty as it slopes down toward the river.  I enjoy most late afternoons just sitting and watching the birds and the butterflies.  The hummingbirds love the Bee Balm and the Mexican Sunflowers.


I wanted to test out my bike-touring gear again and my bike touring legs, so I mapped my route to the Phillips Campground.  It was 61 miles, do-able and challenging, I thought.  I was not able to cancel my campsite at Phillips at this late date, so I might as well use it for one night.

I took pictures of the route map so I would have the ability to find an alternate route if I ran into trouble.  I don't know how good that would work.

A friend and emailed me after my failed waterfalls tour to tell me about Ride with GPS where you can create your route and then download it to your phone.  You don't need cell service to see the map.  I realize I have that App on my phone but haven't learned how to use it that way.  It requires some time and effort to learn...

I packed up my stuff and got ready to depart Monday morning.  The night before departure I had a hard time sleeping.  I started to worry that some of the roads would be loose gravel.  How long would it take me if I had to ride through loose gravel for several miles?

In the morning I decided to drive instead of ride.  I would take my bike and all my gear and just explore the area and camp one night in the tent.  At least that was the plan.

The drive over took 2.5 hours because there was about 35 miles of loose gravel!  Boy am I glad I didn't bike it.  

Hey you bike tourists, is there an app out there that tells you which roads are private and which roads become gravel and which roads are high-traffic?  I wanna know!


The roads were not called Forest Road 50 or Logging Road W.  They had street names like, Willow Road.


My campsite in Phillips was sunny and it was a warm day.

I put my bike together and went for a ride in search of lunch.  

When I was in my late teens I lived in the Phillips area.  I don't remember this memorial that was only a few blocks from my apartment.  But then I realized that I lived here 40 years ago.  That's a long time! 

I found that Harbor View Restaurant was open for lunch and had outdoor seating.  Next to me was a table of three young girls (7-10?) and two moms and grandma.  Grandma had a Bloody Mary she spilled.  Then one of the girls spilled her lemonade, and another spilled her water.  They kept our waitress, Molly, running for rags and napkins.

I sipped my beer and was grateful for the shade and the breeze.

I decided to bike to Park Falls to look at a trail there that shows up on the map.  My guess is that the trail is used by ATV's and therefore loose gravel, but it was a good destination to aim for.  My route took me past the Polish Palace and I meandered through the Solberg Campground where Mary and I took our kids camping one time when we were in our 30's.

I stopped to take a picture of the sign to the Polish Palace.  I wanted to text it to my brother who is a polka fan and might get a smirk out of it.  But I didn't have cell service at that location.

The roads were well paved and very low traffic.   I stuck my feet in the water at Solberg Lake to cool off.

I didn't make it to Park Falls.  I must have taken a wrong turn and ended up not where I expected to be at old Hwy 13.  I returned to camp, sat in the shade for a while.  Then I remembered that the Qi Gong class was in the morning at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander.  I love that class.  Doing the exercises with others really enhanses the experience.  It is just no the same on my own.  I decided to return home to Lilac without trying to sleep in my little tent on this hot night. 

When I got back to Mary's, she and Dave were working on burning up some of the many branches that have fallen into their yard over the years.  We worked on that until Mary discovered a bee nest in the ground near the pile of sticks.  She got stung at least eight times on her legs and feet.  Even with Benadryl and Cortizone cream she says she suffered pain all night.


There are a couple women that go for coffee after Qi Gong.  I asked them if I could join them.  

I loved it, we laughed a lot, sitting outside sipping in the sunshine.  All of us had been entrepreneurs in the past, and Rose, at 70, still is coming up with business ideas.  

Rose's current business is selling antiques and used things.  She has set hours for her shop that work well for her, "Saturdays and rainy days," she tell me. She is quite muscular and tells me it is part genes and part hours moving heavy objects around in her shop.  She told us that every time she sells one thing, she has to rearrange to fill in that spot.

The Oneida County Fair is taking place at Pioneer Park, walking distance from Mary's.  One night I walked over to listen to a rock blues band and ended up dancing with an energetic woman that looked familiar.  It turned out I had met her at the Rhinelander New Comer's potluck earlier this trip.  I danced three dances before my hip told me, "No More!" and I limped home.  

Once in Lilac I did a stretch for the sciatica that my personal trainer at Anytime Fitness showed me. Hey Sydney! It worked great!  Pain was gone and back to normal in the morning.


One day I was going to ride to Three Lakes which would have been about 50 miles round trip.  It was a lovely day and a lovely ride except the part on County Hwy C, where there was some traffic and a dang rumble strip in the middle of the one-foot shoulder where I was supposed to ride.   

I rode by an Ocean Spray Cranberry farm, potato fields, and a lovely golden field of grain.  Looking out over the grain at me was the head of a deer, its shoulders and neck still hidden from view.  It's grey ears alert and open and its nose focused in my direction just above the seed heads. 

And then about five or eight miles from Three Lakes, the road I was riding turned to gravel and a sign was posted... "Private Road".


The good news is I figured out on my computer how to notify Googlemaps about routing problems.  So I am going to let them know about some things.


Newcomers had a kayak ride on a Thursday morning.  I decided to join them.  Mary wasn't going. Mary's Kayak fit inside my van when I take the bikes out.

We went to Twin Pines Bar and Grill afterward.  It was fun chatting with these active and adventurous folks.  Susan D. was there, she is also in my Qi Gong class.  I liked listening to her and another woman talk about their activities in The League of Women Voters.  Such an important organization that educates voters and legislators about the issues and helps people figure out where, when, and why to vote.


Last night Mary's neighbor, Catherine, who is also a member of the Northern Paddle and Trail (NPT) hosted a kayak ride on the Pelican River followed by a potluck.

The weather was absolutely perfect.  It was one of those days when everyone you meet you say or hear, "Isn't this beautiful weather?"

Susan Watson and her dog, Cedar.

Our hostess, Catherine is in the purple kayak.  She has lived with MS for well over 20 years.  The kayak ride was bittersweet for her.  She has sold her home in order to move closer to her family.  She doesn't want to leave her beautiful paradise.  I can't blame her!

My sister Mary had a yellow kayak.  We were all pretty colorful on the smooth water.

Even Dave joined us for the kayak ride!  The water was like a mirror in places.  Sooooo gorgeous.

 Toward the end of the evening I asked Susan (A lot of new friends her named Susan) if she wanted to see my Weeroll.  Pretty soon there were seven of us standing inside Lilac!  At one point the forth person sat on my bed, I popped up, worried that it wouldn't take all our weight.  Ha ha.  It didn't bust!

What fun to have guests inside my little home away from home!  I kept wishing I had my camera to take a picture.  Last year I had no indoor guests because of COVID.  This year, my guard is down a bit.

Speaking of which, I have two of my friends in Florida have gotten sick with COVID in the last couple weeks.  One was a former neighbor that ended up in the hospital. I don't know if she is still there. I am watching Facebook for news.


I move to Lake George tomorrow.  Not too soon.  I can sense my constant presence nearby and in and out is starting to get to Dave.  Fish and guests (even if out in their trailer) start to stink after three days.  Especially if they have to dump the contents of their porta-potti in you toilet a couple times during their stay.

Mary and I are excited because our Ex-sister-in-law and her husband and our nephews and their partners are coming to visit next starting Sunday!  

The nephews will be camping at West Bay where I was camping earlier this trip.  And we already have plans for a day at the beach.  We were hoping for a pontoon boat ride, but we didn't get to inquiring until too late, all the pontoons are rented out.


Don't read the following if you are tired of the news.  I just want to inject some historical reference here for future readers who might not know what is going on in July of 2021.

In some areas there is a re-surge of the number of cases of COVID.  In other places in the world the numbers are going down without an apparent action on the behaviors of its residents.

It appears the vaccines are greatly reducing hospitalizations and death from COVID for those that get the vaccine.  

The CDC is having difficulty trying to set recommendations when there are three different cautionary standards.  Those with vaccines in low-infection areas, those with vaccines in high infection areas, and those without vaccines.  

Since many Americans are lazy or too busy living their lives and don't want to sort though too much information, it is hard for the CDC to have a simple sound-bite.  Especially when many of the un-vaccinated and un-masked don't trust any recommendations by the CDC anyway. 

Besides the COVID news, the former President is still saying he is the rightful winner of the election and will be back in office in August.  Future readers may know what happens next.

The rest of us will just have to stay tuned.


  1. Dear Sue,
    We are so happy to hear that you are encountering quite a few friendly folks that enjoy sharing activities with you. This blog was enjoyable to read and share your good experiences.

  2. Livin' the life! Thanks for always sharing

  3. I'm glad the stretch helped! Love your blog, I've read several posts already 🙂.


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