Monday, June 20, 2022

Shorter, I Promise!


Each time I write to you I have to read my previous post to see where I left off.  This time when I read the last post, I was thinking, "Enough Already!"  

Sorry for giving you too much.  You don't have to know it all.  Geesh!

It is just that as things happen, I think that I could share that moment with you.  And when I do it turns out to be too many moments.  I need to be choosier.

I had a rainy day to do other stuff besides biking.  I drove to Winona where I went to Anytime Fitness and visited the historical museum.  Looking for a place to park in the downtown area I saw a sign for  "Red Mens Club", and I wondered what that was a moment.  Is there a large native american population here?  Wait, would they call themselves "red"?

Then it hit me.  It was a place for angry men to gather and rant about those awful "socialists" and "libermorons" and "election fraud".  It was strategically located next to a bail bonds office and across from the jail.  Just sayin'...

The museum was small but had fun stuff to see.  Winona is the place where Fastenal began (odds and ends hardware).  And Winona is the home of Watkins, starting with a simple tonic he sold door to door, it is now several buildings near downtown Winona.

The highlight for me was seeing how women used to get permanents... with hot rods.

The museum closed at 4:00 and I went down by the Mississippi River to a park where I saw a red fox.  And took note of a campground right on the big river.

Now that I am looking back on my pictures I am glad I spent so much time in the area because I got to do and see so much more of the area than a short stay would have allowed.

The day after the rain I drove to Lansborro and biked to Harmony.  Going over, under, and around obstacles left by the rain and wind.

In Preston I was reminded of the night we spent watching the Chimney Swifts return home to their Chimney at night. 

Chimney Swifts are endangered now because most people put caps over their chimneys to keep birds out.  

I learned from the neat display there at the rest stop in Preston that these birds don't land on branches.  That they gather food and nesting material while in flight!

There is an old school house with a huge chimney where the swifts return to nest each spring.

In Harmony there was a welcome to Harmony sign at the visitors center written in... some Asian language.  There must be an influx of immigrants to this area.

Our group took pictures in front of a wooden troll display at the end of the trail in Harmony.  But this year the trolls were gone.  In its place was a music park!  I liked that, I spent a few minutes making up tunes.  "No one is waiting on me, I can play longer," I thought. 

When I was about five miles from getting back to my car in Lanseborro and dreaming about a cool beer, I got a text from Terry.  He was enjoying a cool one at some place with music in Gatlinburg, TN.  "Hang on," I texted back, "I will have one with you!"

I soaked up the beer while Terry texted me about that bar/music place where there is live music every day.

One day while in Rushford I walked up the bluff again.

And came down a different way, called the stairway trail.  I didn't think the stairs would ever end.

While in Rushford I wanted to ride the Great River Trail near Trempeleau.  The trail is crushed limestone and at the northern end terminates at the Trempeleau National Wildlife Refuge.  I parked north of the refuge because I saw a trail that was new to me heading toward Winona.  I rode that direction (north) first.

It was pretty cool!  I looped back around but when I got to the trail...

I was on the wrong side of the guardrail.  And they didn't put any breaks in the guard rail.  So I must have ridden the shoulder over a mile before I could get back on the trail.

I took several wrong turns, once to a dead end with a plant covered in bugs that flew up and coated me and my bike.

I missed running over the head of this snake by an inch!  I surprised myself with a huge scream.  The snake did not budge, posing nicely for a picture.

I really enjoyed the nature area. When I saw a map of the National Wildlife Refuges around the country, I took pictures of Wisconsin and Florida.

I had a nice rest of my stay in Rushford, Minnesota and I only drove a couple hours to get to my next destination in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

I rode after I got here yesterday, just exploring...  I found the DQ and had a blizzard.  I rode to a zoo that was free and open.

I set up camp under the only tree at the fairgrounds.

And I just kept meandering and found a place in the creek where we can cool off on those hot days.

As I was heading back to my trailer I heard music.  I followed the sound and ended up in a park where I learned later they have music in the park each Sunday from 6-8 or so.  Fun!  There were quite a few people and families spread out on the grass.  A nice surprise, but I still didn't dance.  I would have had to join the four year-olds and the 10 year-olds running around in front of the stage.

When I got back to my trailer a guy on a mower came over and told me that where I was parked was not the campground.  I felt angry.  There is only one tree and this site had electric and water.  It looked like a camp site.  And I had looked around for a map of the fairgrounds or the campground and found nothing.  I looked for a note to me (I had made a reservation).  He told me I had to move.  "Not tonight, but tomorrow," he said.

This morning I moved into the sun right away.  Then went for a ride on the Old Abe Trail before it got too hot.

Tonight my friends John and Sandy will arrive.  We had hoped to bike and hike, but today it is 97 degrees and tomorrow will also be very hot.  

As I sit there typing the air-conditioner is going strong, but the top of my head can feel the heat radiating from the roof of Lilac.

Time for me to quit writing and ride down to the creek and cool off.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Memory Lane

The other day I woke up to a note beside my cot.  "Mail Poop!" it said.   

Oh ya, I had done one of those tests to check for colon cancer and I was supposed to mail in the "sample" within 24 hours.  But I had not found a mailbox and then I had forgotten.  In the middle of the night I remembered  I needed to take care of this first thing in the morning.  

Note to self, "Mail Poop!"


One of the reasons I travel is to escape the Florida summer heat.  

Today, it will be in the 90's and humid in SE Minnesota.  

Fortunately for me, I have many other reasons to pull my house behind my truck all over tarnation.

In Frankfort, Illinois I was in a part of the country I was raised in.  I don't much care for the flat farmland.  I always preferred the trees and hills of Wisconsin.  Of course, when I am riding a recumbent, the flat land isn't so flat.

I rode my two-wheel crank-forward on the Folks On Spokes Club fundraising ride.  We started out with some of Joan's friends, but they quickly discovered I was too slow.  

I kept telling Joan to go on, that I had the cue sheet and my cell and I would find my way.  But she insisted on sticking with me.  Joan has electric assist.  She pedals five times and then coasts, and coasts, and coasts, and coasts and coasts.   All the while I am pedaling hard and panting and working hard to keep up.  

To say I was frustrated is putting it mildly.  I don't peg myself as a fast rider, I don't have a fast road bike for a reason.  I enjoy comfort and the scenery.  I enjoy being able to stop and soak in a scene.

And toward the end of our 37-mile route, Joan was giving me encouragement and pointers.  She was being nice as she would with any slow and tired rider.

But hey, I have been riding since 1990, I ride long rides, I have bike toured carrying all my gear just as recently as last year.  I haven't ridden a lot of hills in Florida, but it isn't like I never rode hills before or gone 37-plus miles on my bicycle.  Pedal pedal pedal, coast coast coast coast coast, goes Joan.  Pedal pedal pedal pedal pedal, sweat and pant goes Sue.

We saw that someone put up a covered bridge over their driveway.

When we got back to the park where we had started the ride, Joan went to put her bike in her car.  I headed straight for the refreshments and Frankie who was volunteering at this stop.  I said loudly to Joan that I was going straight to the pavilion because I didn't want to miss the entertainment.  But I should have made sure she heard me.  My voice is in a tone that even with her hearing aides she has trouble hearing.

Usually when I go on these organized fundraising rides the entertainment is done by the time I get back.  When I had checked in I mentioned that to the volunteers who checked me in and they assured me that the music would still be going when I got back.

I parked my bike and walked up the hill to the pavilion.  I saw the musicians packing up their Ukes.  Yep, missed it again.  Being slower than the road riders is my choice and the story of my life.  I shouldn't get frustrated with it, but I was tired and disappointed anyway.  I mentioned it a few times as I grabbed a slice of the last of the pizza and a cookie or two or three.

While I was chatting with Frankie and chowing down, Joan was in the parking lot wondering where I had gone.  She even tried calling my cell.  But I had left it on my bike at the bottom of the hill.  She finally found me.  Sorry, Joan!  

She was a wonderful hostess, my room was so comfy, and I really enjoyed her back deck overlooking the pond where we watched a great blue heron fish and a busy muskrat swim.  

Joan arranged to meet up and ride again in August when I am in Northern Minnesota on the Paul Bunyon Trail.  Cool!  

The next morning I packed up and headed toward Wisconsin.  

I was going to be able to see George's daughter!  I had not seen her for four years and I was so anxious to visit and learn about her life since we last were together.  I also wanted to clear some space in my truck.  I had a few boxes of her dad's things packed in the back seat I meant to give to her.

I texted her when I was about two hours from her home.  When I was about an hour from her home, she texted back.  She was in the hospital!  She had a heart-attack.  She was going to be released later that day, but I knew she wouldn't have the energy for company.

I was in shock.  She is too young for a heart-attack!

I stopped and bought some big garbage bags at a Dollar General.  I wrapped the items in the bags to keep them dry and left them near her front door.

Back on the road I headed toward "home".

Wisconsin Feels Like Home

I was able to stop for a brief visit with my son and his wife in Janesville, WI.  It was good to see them.  

I didn't stay long because I wanted to get set at Lunney Lake Farm Campground near Madison, WI before the rains came and before dark.

It felt great to be back in Wisconsin and near Madison.  I was close to family and friends here, and the scenery was beautiful and familiar.

My first day in Madison I had errands to run.  There are trails all over Madison and many of the streets have bike lanes.  The Capital City Trail goes right by the campground.  What memories!  

George semi-retired on July 31, 2008.  On August 1st he and I got on our trikes each of us pulling burleys with our tent-cots, computers and clothes.  We biked from Waukesha to Lunney Lake Farm Campground.  72 miles, mostly on crushed limestone.  The last leg of our ride that day was on the Capital City Trail.  This was the first day of our 40-day ride around Wisconsin.  No regrets there.  We did it!

Now a solo rider, and unloaded, I rode over to an Anytime Fitness first.  The riding to Anytime and the workout took all morning practically.  Then I rode into downtown to check for mail.  I had just a couple items of mail sent to the General Delivery in Madison.  Plus I had ordered a couple things from Amazon.

The items from Amazon were too big for my trike, so I rushed back to camp and got the truck.

Madison is fun to ride around because there is art everywhere and lots of the residents have planted flowers or wild flowers throughout their yards.

And I was happy to not be assaulted by "Trump 2020" and "F... Biden" signs.  It is hard to relax into la-la land when the political divide was showing its ugly face to me every day of my travels so far.


I passed an area where the cottonwood seeds were floating down like big snow flakes and accumulating on the edges of the grass just as if it were the beginning of a big snow fall.

I looked up at the blue sky with fluff floating there, and I remembered those big fluffy snowflakes and how my granddaughter and I would tilt our heads back and stick out our tongues.

I had to stop writing here.  Along with the 93-degree afternoon, there is a mighty wind. I closed the doors and windows and turned on the air conditioner.

The Clam screen tent served me well. I used as a garage to protect my bikes from the rain.  It was also my outside kitchen.  I chopped and cooked away from the bugs and rain.  And it works as a bit of privacy when I want to wash my armpits, wash my hair, or brush my teeth.

But today the gusts have been big.  I looked up the weather and it said 16 mph, but I think it is gusting much more than that.  Several times today I have stepped outside to add tie-downs and pins and, open vents on the tent.  Still it wanted to fly away.

You would think with screens the wind would move right through, but the screens keep out the tiny bugs and much of the wind.  

After watching it struggle I had to stop writing and take the thing down.  As I did it flew away and I had to catch it.   A bit damaged, I put it in the trash.  Now my bikes will stay out in the weather until the topper for the truck bed comes in, sometime in July or August.  When the wind dies down, I will cover the bikes with a tarp or two.

I will think about buying a new Clam.  But I want to contemplate this because I don't want to jump into doing something I will regret later.  FOR EXAMPLE, and it seems I always have examples of poor purchasing decisions, I have seen for quite some time that other Weeroll owners buy 1/2 umbrellas to place over their doorway and attach to the side of their Weeroll.   It looks real cute.
The other day I bought myself one... and then I bought another one.  Might as well put one on both sides of the trailer so I can keep the windows open during a rain.  And have shade over the windows.

But, now I started to think of mounting them. I thought, why not just buy a shelter without screens and have that over the front door.  I don't want an awning because if it gets damaged it is a major deal to get it fixed or replaced.  When I talk with other trailer owners, awning damage is a common experience.

Now I have TWO umbrellas that I don't want!  One isn't even out of the box, but the  box is soggy because it rained and rained on it.  The one that is out of the box may be already growing mold on its surfaces. Arg!

As I sit writing this, Lilac is wiggling in the wind.  Yesterday there were a few derechos that went through parts of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.  One of them was recorded at 98 mph.

While I was taking the break dealing with the Clam, I remembered that this is the week when I don't have contacts to meet up with and therefore the week I was going to get the fourth COVID shot.  Without firm plans, I can take a day to lay around if I don't feel well.   I walked over to Sterling Pharmacy in Rushford and got a booster for COVID 19.


Back to my experiences while in Madison, WI.

After getting the boxes from the post office I made a veggie dish with black soy noodles.  Then went for a walk down to some wetlands next to the campground. They were actually sewer waste management ponds now turned over to wildlife and recreation.

Tuesday, June 7th was a rainy day.  I drove to my son's in Janesville to hang out with them.  It was lovely, while it rained we watched a breakdancing contest on the TV and then when it stopped raining we went out and pulled weeds.  I still have an open spot on my index finger where I earned a blister.

Then we played Skipbo which reminded me a lot of Spite and Malace, a card game I enjoy with my sister Mary.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that just two years ago Jeremy was very over-weight and ill.  He is looking and moving around much better now.  It was a joy to see. 

Back at camp I had enough time to walk to the wetlands again.  There I saw wood duck, Great Blue Herons, families of geese, a deer,  and the place where the White Pelicans and the Sandhill Cranes go to roost at night.

Walking back to camp I got a text from Terry of Tennessee.  As we texted back and forth  I paused walking.  In a bit I realized that an osprey was making a lot of racket.  I had stopped too close to her nest and she was flying around and swooping down at me to scare me away.

As I courtesy I moved on.

Wednesday I got to hang out too.  I went to the Anytime Fitness on the University Mall in Madison.  It was very well equipped and not busy at all at 8:30 in the morning.

Right around the corner was a Fresh Market.  I bought some groceries, and stuffed them into my side back.  It was very full.

On Friday I drove to Waukesha to ride with Mark and Jane on the Glacial Drumlin Trail.  When we got to Wales, Mark discovered that he had put on two different bike shoes.  Jane had told him, "Turn off the light, you don't need the light to put your shoes on."   Ha ha.

We went to Art Deco Cafe in Waukesha.  They bought my lunch!  Thank you Mark and Jane. 

They invited me to kill some time at their house.  I was to meet up with another friend for supper and music in Downtown Waukesha later.

We had a great visit outside.  Mark pointed out Sven.  Awwwe.  

Winter 2021, my friend Jean Hawks knitted Sven a hat, remember?  Here he is in the snow with his hat off.

Jeri Jackson and I had a great visit over supper.  She bought my dinner!  Thank you, Jeri.   I was looking forward to dancing in the streets, but the Friday night live music didn't happen because it started to rain.  I had 90 miles to drive to get back to Madison.  So at 6:30 I said G'bye to Jeri and headed "home".

I want to tell you that once I got to Wisconsin,, I felt happier.  I felt I was home.  I was close to family and friends, the roads and pathways and vegetation was familiar.

I had a wedding to attend on Saturday. The youngest daughter of a friend of mine from Waukesha was getting married.  I was honored to be included in the invitations.  I was also excited to re-connect with some of the folks from our "Newcomer's Club".  We started out as Newcomers but after many many years we changed our name to Grub Club because once a month we would have a pot-luck dinner.

Before driving to Waukesha for the afternoon wedding I rode my bike to downtown Madison to the farmer's market.  It is awesome!  It goes all the way around the State Capital building. 


The wedding was in the afternoon.  I didn't see anyone I knew except for the mother and father of the bride, Diane and Rick.  I found a seat at the back.  Which was fine until we stood up.


The people in front of me must have been six foot tall or taller.

When the service was over, I sat still watching people leave. I didn't see any of my old friends.

Then as I was walking to the car someone yelled my name.  It was Lisa.  She said the gang was going to her place to have a beverage before going to the reception.  "Would you like to come?" she asked.

"You bet!" I said.

It was a lovely time sitting around and catching up on lives.  There were only six of us there, which allowed for more sharing.  I liked it!  Thanks Lisa and Bruce!

The reception was at a very big, fancy, golf club.  Each place setting had a free sample of coffee in front of it.  The bride's father, Rick, has taken on helping with this Fair Trade project in his retirement.  

Click here if you wanna learn more or support the project by ordering some coffee.

My friends and I were all assigned to Table 15.  Lisa pointed out that she was Mrs. Bruce Hopper and Bruce was Mr. Lisa Hopper on their cards.  The other husbands didn't have that designation of the wife's given name.  We got a chuckle out of that, but really it is the way it should be.

If I had my way every woman would be Ms. just like every man is Mr.  What business is it of the world whether I am married or not?

My place card had a carrot on it for vegetarian.  I got mushroom ravioli.  It was yummy.

Thanks for including me in your celebration, Diane and Rick!

I had to leave before the music and dancing started because I didn't want to drive the 90 miles back to Madison while tired.  I drove much of the way in the dark.  

I keep missing the music!!!  That is the one thing great about my area of Florida.  Everyone is old so they start the music early so we can get home early.  I wanna dance and listen to good music!

The next day I took my time packing up.  I now had two big umbrellas to fit in the bed of the truck.  But the good news was I had given Jodie and Jeremy their boxes of stuff, so the back seat had more room for my stuff.

I was happy to be in Wisconsin, so my next stop on my travel itinerary doesn't make much sense.  But the Root River Trail in SE Minnesota is a place we would travel to with our friends for a weekend of riding every summer.  It is a favorite destination trail.

This time I booked a spot in a campground in Rushford, WI.  This is a different location than what I have done in the past.

This place is packed with memories!  One year we started our ride in Rushford.  It rained on us so we pushed hard to get back ahead of the worst of the rain.  When we got close there are several places were the trail dips up and back down going over a driveway or small road.  We laughed as we struggled to get over those humps at the end of our ride.

Now Rushford has free bikes to use on the trail.   They are kept at the library in Rushford.

This campground has full-hookup but no toilets or showers.  It is good practice for me.

I had studied the weather app and it said only a 30% chance of rain and zero inches of accumulation.  Great!  I didn't pack a jacket.  The raincoat that I always keep on my trike will be good enough.

The railbed runs along a river, and in the distance on both sides are tall bluffs.

So many memories!  I wasn't even at the first town, Peterson, when it began to pour.  I remembered getting caught in the rain and spending an hour with George at a gazebo in town in Peterson waiting for the rain to stop.

When I got to Whalen I shared a shelter with Barb and Bob from the St. Paul area.  They travel in class C motor home.  They have been a lot of places.  I asked about their favorite trails.  The Hiawatha Trail in Northern Idaho was their first pick.  

I remembered riding up that trail with George and our friends Kathi and Karl.  We could hear wolves in the distance.  When we got to the top we got wet in the stream there to cool off.

Then as Barb and Bob and I watched the rain I couldn't help but smile.  I remembered being caught in the rain in Whalen when we were staying at a lodge in town with our friends.  The rain had just finished and George and I were walking back to the lodge and grinning and stomping in the puddles, getting ourselves even wetter and dirtier.  

The rain seemed to lighten, I said goodbye to Barb and Bob and proceeded toward Lansborro.  

At the bridge I stopped.  I could see in my memory Kathi floating is circles in the eddies created by the merging of the two rivers there.   I remembered another year while kayaking with Mari and Jerry we hit some rapids there and Jerry fell in and lost his glasses.  Was this after George passed?  Was he with us then?

I biked around Lanesborro and let the memories flood over me.  Rolf and Barbara, Mary and Rick, Margaret and Zip, the Fab Four and more.  What fun biking has brought into our lives.  

By this time, my rain coat wasn't keeping me dry.  I was getting cold.  Time to head back to Rushford.  The coolness gave me energy and I felt like I was really zipping along.  So good, so good.

Back home I put the trike in the "garage" and got a rag and wiped it down.  I removed my raincoat and left that dirty wet thing in the "garage" too.

After I was dried off and dressed in dry clothes I warmed up quickly, but I made hot chocolate just because.  And it was good.

After a chat on the phone with Terry and then with Debra, I decided to walk up the road behind the campground that looked like it went up the bluff.

It did.  I found a small graveyard that looked like it was in someone's front yard, overlooking the valley.  There was a 21 year old veteran of the Civil War buried there.

There was a park up on the bluff!  I walked up the road.

From my campground I can see a cell tower on the bluff.  It is a favorite roosting spot for vultures.  It was nice to get a closer look.

There were two over looks.  I went to one and then as I was heading to the second one I saw a doe take off and it looked like she left something behind.   Fawns, brand new fawns.  Twins!

I was cooing as I filmed them but then they came toward me and wouldn't leave!  Click here to see the video.

I didn't know what to do and began to panic when I thought to post on Facebook, I did, and then I thought to run, since they could not keep up on their brand-new wobbly legs.   That did the trick.  They headed back into the grass.  I went to the scenic overlook. 

I could see Lilac and Big Blue from the bluff!   Can you see Big Blue?

When I walked back, the fawns and their Mom were gone.

I took the wet clothes and my other wash to the laundromat.  I saw an advertisement for a job and I thought, "I could do that!"

But maybe not here.  Maybe someplace else.  Maybe opportunities will pop up once I get closer to my sister in Rhinelander.  Or not.

I got a notice from a couple of neighbors back home.  A couple villas like I want may be coming available.  How do you propose I approach someone who is ill or hurt and ask if they want to sell me their home.  Arg!  I can't do that!  And how do I find their family members that may be handling things for them?   Let's think on this awhile. 

And then the question is, do I want to buy in already?  Or do I want to wait a year, until the market settles.  I heard a rumor that Florida may already be showing signs of the Real-estate market changing.

I didn't know what to do with the cash from the sale of my home.  I finally bought a six month and a one year CD.  

Part of me is planning all kinds of travel.  There is Idaho and into Canada in 2023.  The following year there is New York and the North East.  And part of me says, "Nah, just get a place and stay there."   But that is a small part.  The other part of me, as Terry says, has "itchy feet".

Cold Camping In Florida

 It is Christmas morning and I am camping on St. George Island off the coast of the panhandle of Florida. I am snuggled under a folded over ...