Monday, August 3, 2020
It is a cool grey Monday - 8/3/2020
I am loving it! I am feeling free and healthy and satisfied in spite of some disappointments.
This is a picture of the one fire I built this whole trip. I sat and watched it for 10 minutes. Then it was done, I was done. All done.
There is a hole in the dirt outside the screen-tent where I have my portable sink.
The hole is nicely round.
One afternoon I was washing dishes. There inside the entrance to the hole was a cute grey mouse. I smiled inwardly, "I now have a low-maintenance pet!" I tried to move closer without scaring it away. I took a picture through the screen with my phone. It didn't turn out real clear. I was excited to share with you the discovery of my little companion.
There was a bit of celery that had fallen to the ground, and a corn chip. I walked around the screen-tent to get a better picture, but the little grey guy was gone. I set the treats outside the hole.
Today I saw him again just inside his hole looking at me. "Want some more?" I asked. I walked out of the screen-tent and approached the hole slowly. The creature didn't retreat! Something seemed odd. Why wasn't it moving? Don't mice wiggle their noses?
I leaned in and then it dawned on me. It wasn't a cute fuzzy grey mouse! It was a lumpy old grey toad!
Just like me to get excited about something that isn't really what I think it is.
As I told you I took an on-line Amazon Advertising Class for authors. I put up a few ads according to the directions we were given. At first not much happened. Just $0 to $50 in sales or so. Then one day I pulled up the report and I had $355 in sales in one day!
Of course I was thrilled. People were finding my books! Maybe they would get some inspiration and help for their own journey. I had to share the news. I went up on Facebook and shared it with my classmates. Then I went on Susan Straley Writes which is the Facebook page where I get to talk to readers about my writing and advertising and get their feedback. The congratulations and adulation were immediate! I was feeling super blessed.
Then I went back to my Amazon Ad report and started to investigate. What did I do right to make all those sales for Alzheimer's Trippin' with George?
I wanted to repeat it with the second book in the Trippin' series, The Journey Continues.
I found the ad.
Ummm... something isn't right. Only one click on the ad and $274 in sales? Amazon's computer made a boo boo! Oh no! Sigh. All the celebration and what I ended up with is a grey lumpy toad.
I am so glad to be here. I was sitting on my sister's deck with her watching the river flow by and bees buzz around her flower gardens. I said, "I like my schedule. I get up and do something active like walk, ride, yoga, kayak, or Qi Gong. Then I go keep up camp. It is amazing how much time it takes to do camping stuff. It takes longer to cook, to clean. The dirt is spread out in my house, but in a tiny 72 foot camper it is right there. I have to sweep up the floor a couple times a day, more often if it is wet out."
My sister shuddered and said how she loves the idea of life being taken up with the daily tasks of survival. It makes life so simple.
I agree. It is what I love about bike touring. You have less stuff to care for, but all your time is taken up getting from point A to point B and then finding food, water, shelter, and planning your next day. That's it.
No time to fret over the headlines. Though I still am managing a bit of fret... I will get to that in a bit.
First, lets talk about what fun things are happening.
We went to Moon Lake again for another session of Ai Gong (Qi Gong in the water). It was cold again so I stayed on land and did it slow-mo.
Mary and I walked on the Bear Skin trail that was flooded in places from all the rain.
We returned a couple days later to bike it in the afternoon with some new friends we met through Yoga.
There are a lot of memories on this trail. George and I would ride it almost every year with our Wisconsin biking buddies. So many laughs and ice cream stops.
One afternoon we biked with about 10 others on Two Sisters Lake. I chatted with a woman who summers in Minoqua and rides 30 miles at a pop. When I packed up I forgot to grab a calling card and give it to her so we could ride a day together.
Though I may spend a day completely alone, amazingly I am not feeling lonely. My days have their rhythm and I often either have an activity or a happy hour with my sister. On the weekends the seasonal campers are here, and though I keep my distance from them, I will pull a chair outside their circle and chat over happy hour sometimes.
My friends Sandy and John in the Waukesha, Wisconsin area have a camper and they are coming up for a few days!
Mary has some kayaks they can borrow so we can go kayaking one day. I sent them to West Bay Campground which is only two miles away. Sandy and John are being very careful about COVID and I didn't think they would feel comfortable checking in here. (I will share more on that in a bit, and for those who are burned out on COVID stuff, you can skip that part.) West Bay has a nice little sandy beach area so it will be a good place to hang out if it gets hot.
I woke this morning to 44 degrees. It isn't hot now! I am glad that I packed my down comforter. It is folded in half on my little cot. I was comfy warm last night. I woke up smiling with the sun this morning. I stopped spending the time making my cot into a couch and instead I keep it a bed. No one enters my little space anyway.
Ok, so here comes the COVID stuff. So you can skip it if you don't want to hear anymore about it.
It was just a matter of time before COVID19 would come within biting distance of my circle. Still, no one I know personally is currently infected.
I got a kick out of the grocery clerk's mask. The Rhinelander Hodag is... well I can't explain it.
I have one friend I have not seen in several years that got COVID in March and is still struggling to overcome the harm it has done to her body. She said she caught it waiting in an emergency room for 36 hours.
This campground has had two cases. And the hostess/bartender should have let us know about the first case. She should have started wearing a mask because she was in contact with the guy that got it. She probably hasn't even got tested. She resents COVID so much because she is running small businesses and the shut-down and slowed traffic has hurt the businesses. Her response has been, like many, to pretend it doesn't exist.
The night before I arrived, the tavern here at Lake George Campsite was full of people partying. I remember when I checked in I had to enter the tavern and though I wore a mask, I felt vulnerable. The hostess was the only other person in the building, but she didn't wear a mask and she told me she was up until three with the party goers.
I arrived on Monday. Tuesday one of those party goers was diagnosed or came down with symptoms... I don't know which. I have been here longer than 14 days, so I got lucky and didn't soak in enough germs that time.
The bartender has attended potlucks with the seasonal campers, in close proximity. She has continued to bar tend. Each night a horse-drawn carriage full of drinkers arrives at the tavern. It is one of their last stops on their loop of bar-hops around the lake. They sit in the carriage (and probably in the bars) shoulder to shoulder without a care about the pandemic.
Last week the Governor of Wisconsin mandated masks in places where people can not physically distance from each other. Immediately there was push-back by the "me and my rights" groups. This is not new. The same thing happened during the 1918 pandemic.
This morning on my walk I saw signs on the tavern.
"Masks NOT required here."
One from the State that says masks are required in places where people gather and another from the County Sheriff saying he and his deputies will NOT be enforcing the order because it is "unconstitutional" and besides, they can't ask why you aren't wearing one because that interferes with disability rights.
So here we go. Some of us trying to slow the passing on of the virus and some of us ignoring that there is a pandemic going on. As George would say, "It is what it is."
The second case in the campground was one of the seasonal campers. He has had two strokes and was feeling down the first weekend I was here. I went to a gathering after their meal and kept my distance.
I hear he was at that outside gathering and that I met him. He finally got tested the Thursday after the weekend. By the time I found out, 10 or 11 days had passed. The health care contract tracers did not call the campground or notify us campers. I was told they only go back two days from the time you are tested. So since he didn't get tested until Thursday he was never here and contageous. It all makes zero sense.
With the delay of notification, I only had to be super careful with my sister and brother-in-law another three or four days and then I was done with the isolation period.
Lisa, my campground neighbor, is going to be watching her grand-kids for the next couple weeks so she decided to not return to camp for a few weeks and avoid the risks here.
I am glad I figured out how to not use the facilities here, and I never have to enter that Tavern again.
All the seasonal campers here go home during the week and return on the weekends. It is nice and quiet during the week and a bit noisier on Friday and Saturday evenings. People gather around their fires, my Weeroll fills with smoke, and the hum of many conversations continues until about 11:30 at night.
Today I saw a chipmunk that was being still with its nose in the moss. (I got close and a good look, so it definitely was a fuzzy brown ground squirrel or chipmunk.) I got close and tossed a chunk of apple I was eating its way. The chipmunk raised its head as if interested, but then the nose went to moss and its eye-lids got heavy.
I was thinking the poor thing was poisoned until I noticed a plump mushroom popping out of the ground nearby with little teeth marks and chunks removed.
Ohhhh. It's a hallucinating or drugged haze it is living in.
Hours later I checked on him and he was able to dash off a few feet before he put his nose back to the ground. The chunk of apple was gone.
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Greetings from Lake George Campground!
It is Saturday morning and it is raining.
My neighbor here had warned me last night that there were severe storms in the forecast including possible tornadoes. She said between 3:00 a.m. and 5:30. It is now 5:28 and the Weeroll isn't rocking yet.
I imagine if I were in my tent-cot I would be stuck in the prone position.
But I have coffee made and I am sitting at my little desk writing to you! How cool is that! Smiles.
I arrived in Rhinelander on Monday and drove right to my sister’s house. I disinfected my hands with the hand sanitizer I keep on the console, I put on a paper face mask. And as I step out of the van I hear my sister running toward me, her arms outstretched. Oh my! Oh my!
We sat on her beautiful back deck, overlooking her yard. It was clear she had been keeping herself occupied during the COVID shut-down by planting flowers.
Dave, my brother in law stepped out. Always ready with a joke, he came out wearing a gas mask. I hugged him even though my mask was off. I turned my head away and then quickly stepped back.
I visited for an hour or so and then I had to go to the campground and get my refrigerator plugged in again.
The camp site is roomy, though a bit slanted. I have water and electric but no Wifi (bummer) and not sewer. I walk about ½ a block to empty my holding tank (a two-gallon pitcher) and my five-gallon bucket under my outdoor sink.
There is a half a cement block next to the waste-water dump opening. It is used to hold the flap open while I pour. There are several cement blocks by the waste water dump site. I haul several to my camp site to make steps up to my door.
Unpacking my bicycle I learned that if I transport the bike upside down I need to put padding under the handlebars. The cover over the gear-shifter busted in transit.
Monday evening Mary and Dave came over with their own chairs for a visit. It was too warm for a fire.
Qi Gong and Yoga Outside
Tuesday there is Qi Gong (Chee gong) in the park. It was wonderful. The practice is connected to nature with movements of trees and reaching for the sun. At times we imagine gathering energy and moving it to places in our body. It is like a meditative and moving prayer.
They used to do the exercises in a basement classroom. Now, with COVID closing the building, they do it outside. The instructor tells us that in Japan they do it outside all year long. As we were going through the movements I had a vision of being all bundled up in winter, the snow falling or blowing, still doing the movements in the park.
After class we gathered a bit to chat. The instructor invited us to a class she is teaching in the water over by St. Germaine on Monday. It sounds wonderful!
Mary’s yoga class is meeting out in a large open field by Nicholet College. I was the first to arrive the morning of the class. The dew was still clinging to the grass, the sky was clear, the air cool enough to wear a light jacket.
Off to my left was a woman throwing Frisbee to her Australian Sheep Dog. Off to my right were two fawns grazing. Yep, you read that right. I watched as the two fawns, curious, started to walk toward the dog. But they didn’t go far. The woman had the dog well trained. It wanted to investigate the fawns and me, but she made the dog sit, then lay down until it was ready to chase the Frisbee again.
We had about seven of us spread out on the field doing yoga under the sun. It warmed up quickly. The fawns’ mother snorted from the woods across the road. The fawns ran to her and immediately began nursing. We were glad to see them reunited.
What a lovely class! The instructor does the classes for free. Next week we will make a donation to a church food pantry.
Bryan Cohen's Amazon Advertising Class
In early June a fellow AlzAuthor, Marianne Siucco, recommended a class on Amazon Advertising.
The class would be on-line so I could attend while traveling. What I did not anticipate was that the class started the day after I arrived in Rhinelander.
Though the instructions say you have to have Wifi and an hour to complete the assignments, the assignments take much longer.
It was probably due to the fact that I am 67 years old. I would watch the instruction video and then read the assignment and go, “What?” and I would have to skim through the instruction video again and stop and start it as I did each step. I decided to just concentrate on promoting Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George in paperback (the book that recorded our road trip to Wisconsin, Idaho, Oregon and Colorado).
One of the assignments early on was finding out what my earnings were last month and my ranking in sales in the book category. Yay! The book was a top 100 seller on Amazon in a couple of categories.
I worked on Mary’s deck overlooking the flowers and the bird feeders.
Besides a wide variety of birds, (thought of you bird watchers, Regis and Cindy, Mary Ann and Diane), she has at least four kinds of squirrels visiting the feeders!
There were little noisy red squirrels, bigger grey squirrels, ground squirrels (which look like chipmunks), and black squirrels. I guess a black squirrel is a grey squirrel with a twist in the genetic code… kind of like white squirrels. Yes? Comment below if you know.
When we visited the Grand Canyon many years ago, there were black squirrels on the north rim of the Grand Canyon that are a divergent cousin of the regular squirrels on the south rim.
As you can see, while I was working away I would take breaks from looking at the screen.
Mary came out and said it felt awkward, to have me hanging outside while they were inside. How do we do meals? I had brought snacks with me.
She said I could use their downstairs bathroom as long as I wore my mask when walking through the house. She doesn’t know about the flush plume. That’s what the scientists have discovered, that when we flush the toilet a plume of germs shoots into the air. If we have COVID those germs will be in that cloud and hover there or lay down on surfaces.
It was strange. To think that I could be bringing with me a disease that could hurt them.
Eventually, if I continue to be careful, we can start acting like a household. No masks and shared indoor spaces. We could dine together inside and cook together inside and Mary and I might even be able to play cards! Yes!
Kayak and Rainy Work
Mary and I arranged to go kayaking early on Wednesday.
When we were putting our kayaks in a loon called out. A nice sign, I thought. The kayak glided over the clear calm water of the boat-launch channel and onto a lovely lake with the mist rising up.
I smiled and thought of George gliding along too. I know that he and I would have looked at each other with big grins. Sharing in the delight of that moment in time.
The surface of the lake was still and reflecting everything. Off in the distance we saw a gathering of six loon!
Loons are usually just a couple on a lake. Mary said this must be a gathering of males without mates. Then they did a dance on the water and two flew off.
We floated around the edge of the lake and into a bay. I passed a beaver dam. Later when I looked back at Mary passing it, I saw the beaver swimming between us. I wanted to yell at Mary to look, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to scare it away. It did eventually dive and slap its tail as it disappeared. That got Mary's attention.
When we got back to the main lake, the loons were closer. We floated and watched them, then they headed right toward my kayak. My thought was that maybe they learned kayaks round up fish, Mary was thinking the brim of my hat might look like a beak and they thought for a moment I was another loon.
What a lovely ride and just long enough. On the way home, Mary stopped at McDonalds and we got coffees, “with two creams each, please.”
One day it rained and I set myself up in the garage with a table and chair to continue with my online learning. Mary said we got four inches of rain!
Riding Bicycle and Tricycle Alone
I have reached out to WI Trikers, a Facebook group, to try to find others in the area that would like to ride. So far I have not had luck.
I have gone on several short road rides. The scenery is lovely and there a lots of rolling hills. Many more hills than I am used to in Florida. The roads are quiet that I have been on so far, and those that are a bit busier have a shoulder.
One morning I was riding my bicycle up a hill and it started skipping gears and then the chain got stuck between the spokes and the cassette on the back wheel. I pulled and pulled and was wondering if I had to walk all the way back to my van. I didn’t have any tools with me… duh! How many years have I been riding?
Fortunately, it finally released and I was able to ride back to camp being careful not to shift into low gear. Later I put the bike in the van and drove it to Mel’s, a local sporting goods shop with a repair shop in the basement. I was pleased to see all the staff and customers wearing masks.
While I was there I asked the staff if they knew of any bike groups or people that do social bicycle riding together. Nope, but there are lots of nice roads to explore, they told me.
The mechanic said that his back log is two to three weeks. I left the bike there.
My trike is good to ride too, but the roads are bumpy, and I prefer the bike with the shock absorbers on a bumpy ride. Maybe I will ride to a trail next week.
Day for Business and Weeroll
I went to Menards and found two nice chairs so Mary and Dave don’t have to bring their own when they come visit my camp.
Since it is the weekend now, I have met some of my seasonal camper neighbors. I was excited to learn they have a happy hour. My idea of happy hour is 4:30 or 6:00. But those times passed. Finally at 7:50 they gathered to walk down to the bar for their happy hour.
“Oh, I am sorry,” I said, “I don’t do inside gatherings now.”
Though I did get to sit and chat with Tom who only lives a mile or two away from camp. He and his wife have a seasonal site here. He is a teacher and we talked about the demands from the Education Secretary and the President that children return to schools in the fall. They are threatening to take away Federal funds for schools if they don’t re-start school in the fall.
Tom said his school has infants (on-site day care) up to 18 years old. He said that it will be up to the states to decide and that Federal funding goes to Special Needs programs and free lunch programs for starving children.
I bought flower pots… heavy ones that I won’t be hauling back to Florida.
I bought a marine handle for hanging onto for getting into the trailer. It attaches by strong suction cups. It seems to cling real well, and then I will walk by and it is laying the ground! Not helpful!
I don’t have to hang on, I put it up for others wanting to go in and look. I guess they will have to cling to the door jam.
The rain has stopped! I have homework for the Amazon Advertising class but that requires internet. But then so does up-loading this blog post.
Make it a good one.
Oh! Before I hit send!
I went for a walk to the post office to pick up mail. Mary went too. When I stepped out of the post office she was pulling weeds in the garden in front of the Post Office. I joined her. We got quite muddy but it was fun.
We were walking home from the Post Office when I saw a sign and it took a moment to sink in what it meant.
I let out a cheer and ran over to get a picture.
In all my travels north I only saw Trump 2020 signs. It was getting scary. It just isn't natural to have only one candidate's signs up. Not in a democracy!
For those of you reading this in the years to come, Donald Trump is currently President. In the fall there will be an election. And it looks like the rival on the Democratic side is going to be Joe Biden.
You will know what happened next. Right now, we don't have a clue.
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