Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Traveler's Shuffle

Hello Readers of this-here journal! 
Thank you for being here… there… along for the ride.

Earlier today, both of Lilac’s side and back doors were open.  It is morning but still dark outside. 
I was snuggled in the warmth of my cot with a slight smile, the quilt was folded double for added warmth.  

I heard thunder and then a few drops pinged on the roof and thudded in the dirt outside.  I had to jump up and out of the trailer in order to shut the back doors.  (This is when conservative jammies come in handy.)

Now I am sipping coffee and writing to you.  The rain is tapping on the roof.  All the windows and doors are shut.  I have paper towel stuffed into the groove of the front curb-side windowsill that leaked in the last big rain.  I am sitting at my lap-top, the lap-top is sitting on a TV tray, which serves as my desk in this trailer.  

It is dark, the screen is bright.

I have with me on this trip a larger folding table, but it doesn’t leave much room for morning and evening stretches.  The stretches are necessary to avoid chronic back and hip pain due, the doctor says, to arthritis, bulging discs, and degenerative bones in my lower back.  (Welcome to 67 years young.) The TV tray is just big enough for my laptop and a cup of coffee.  As Goldie said, “It’s just right!”

I have set the alarm on my phone to remind me to stop writing and get going at eight.  I am going to a Qi Gong (Chee-Gong) class in the park – rain or shine.

I am dressed for the day and there is an old pink towel draped over my shoulders.  When I packed in Florida it was 93 degrees and humid.  The winter clothes were stuffed in a cloth bag and hung from the head-rest of the passenger seat in the van.  There is a bag of outer-wear too, including a winter jacket.  

In Rhinelander, WI, even though it is July, it is time to move the cool-weather clothes into the Weeroll.  The drawers are full of stuff in here. Items aren’t used very often will be moved into the van.  It is like a dance… the traveler’s shuffle.

Last I wrote to you I was going to drive back to my son’s home in Janesville for a visit.  His wife, Mel, was in the hospital recovering from surgery.  Jeremy is the only person allowed to visit during these COVID times.  

Jeremy offered to make me a vegetarian meal!  Yay! 

He made French-cut green beans with a hearty chunky marinara sauce.  It was filling and very good.  Thank you, Jeremy!

We had a nice visit, inside, at a distance, wearing our masks except when we were eating.  Jeremy has asthma and had trouble while I was there.  He uses a nebulizer.  

He sat on the end of his chair, his knees spread wide, slumped over his belly slightly.  He moved his red face mask above his eyebrows in order to puff on this… bong-like mouth-piece attached to a tube that goes to a machine.  Puffy smoke-like vapor emerged from his “pipe”.  It really looked like he was a hippy with a read head-band puffing on his bong.  I had to laugh.  

It was a great visit.  I drove back to camp glad to see he is managing his life well even with huge health and life challenges. 

On Sunday, July 12, I only had a short drive to my friend Audrey’s home in a small town in central Wisconsin.  Before folding up camp, I went for a brisk walk on the bike trail.

The items I normally bungie to the curbside wall, (a folding chair, the portable sink station, folding table and two-wheel bike, I took extra care to make them snug against the wall, covered so they don’t scratch the wall (they did anyway).  I wanted to keep it snug so that I could easily move around without removing the stuff.  There will be only one night at Audrey’s, I won’t unhitch.  Then off I go to Rhinelander, where I have a site for the season and lots of time to spend with my sister and her husband.

I took only back roads to Audrey’s and it was a lovely drive on county highways and roads with names.  At one point I passed a painted barn and I turned around to go back and get a picture.

I stopped for a walk in Columbus, Wisconsin at a park where the building has been in use since it was built. 

 There was a lovely Armed Services Memorial with names of local vets imprinted on the paving blocks.

The park had play-grounds, Frisby golf, a swimming pool with life-guards, and the highschool football stadium.  There were shouts from a crowd nearby playing and watching a baseball game.  

 In Columbus it seemed there was not COVID to worry about.  I saw no face masks at the coffee shop I stopped at.
The Greenlake area has lakes on either side of the road.  I parked a while for another walk.  It was a lovely Sunday and it seemed everyone that owned a boat was out on the water this day.

Is this a boat trailer for a pontoon???

Back at the trailer I walked around it to inspect, and found that the gussets on some of the windows are failing.  This constant vigilance and repair is the life of a camping trailer owner.

The side windows slide open.  When I have them open the mosquitos get in.  I found there is a gap between the screen and between the two sheets of glass.  I will have to stuff them with something if I ever want to have the windows open in a mosquito infested area... like northern Wisconsin.

I was anticipating Audrey’s driveway.  A long one with no turn-around.  I needed to park close so I could plug in the refrigerator.  
I did it!  

It was good to see her lovely face and her sweet dog, Foxie and Charlie the cat.   

 I had bought a four-pack of Champaign to celebrate our July birthdays.  We went for a long walk and then sat by the lake and drank and had supper.

I used her upstairs restroom where she rarely goes.  I took a shower!  My first naked shower in a week or longer.  Wonderful!  Thank you, Audrey.
I slept in the Weeroll with the doors open.  No mosquitoes because I kept the side windows closed.  Problem solved fore now.

 In the morning we had coffee inside Audrey's porch looking out over the peaceful lake.  It made me want to live on a lake.

The ride to Rhinelander was lovely.

I had gotten a text from my sister saying she was looking forward to a masked hug!

I drove straight to her house before going to the campground.

I got a HUG!!!!  It had been since mid-March!  Yay!


So much more to tell you, but I am taking a class on line for selling my books on Amazon.  It is an advertising class.  It takes several hours of computer and on-line time a day, plus visiting and enjoying my time here.

So more pictures and info will come later.  I just wanted to let you know I arrived safe and YES!  I got a hug.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Visiting and Riding In Madison, WI

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin.  

I am still thrilled.  This morning when I checked Facebook there was a picture of Peggy Tresenriter with Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George.  

She has zipped through both books since I rode with her in Goodfield, Illinois area.  She posted this lovely review on her Facebook page:

“Finished both of Susan Straley’s books Alzheimer’s Trippin’with George.  Don’t let the size of the first book deter you.  Both books are quick reads with lots of cool pictures of places I’d like to visit.  But more than that; it’s a trike, hike, walk and crawl through funny and sad moments as Susan, George and their community travel through the debilitating effects of dementia.”
Wonderful!  I am flying high.  Thank you, Peggy!

That is the flip side of what happened Thursday night.  

But before I tell you about that I had promised to share the pictures from my ride with Roger P. on the trails and down State Street where rioters broke shop windows.   

State Street is one of several streets that angle out from the State Capital.  State Street is mostly a pedestrian and bicycle street, buses and delivery trucks are also allowed.

The street is lined with quaint shops, convenience stores, book stores, and theaters.   We biked up the hill to the Capital and then around the square to get to State Street.  When the museum came into view I knew we were close, its windows were all boarded up.

Most of the shops have boards over the windows and artists and non-artists have created a landscape of bright pictures and statements of  support for equal treatment by Police.  

I left you last time I wrote after my ride with Roger.  

As you recall we ended our ride and Roger bought a book.

Then I was sitting in Kathi’s den writing to you.

After that I went back home to Lilac.  Since I started this trip I have been pretty much re-heating things I had cooked and froze before I left home.  This was the first night I pulled out my hot plate and pot and cooked the veggie dish.  I usually cook a big batch, but some in jars for storing in the fridge or freezing.  I did this on a smaller scale this time, but the same idea.

The sky was getting black, but it had been doing that for hours and nothing happened yet. 
When I was finished cleaning up after supper I went on a little bike ride on my two-wheel bike.  Roger had mentioned there was a long bridge if I chose to turn right at the campground on some river trail.  As I rode the sky got blacker and blacker and the wind picked up.   I find there is something very invigorating about a pending storm.  I only went a mile or two before I turned around and raced back.  

Yay!  I arrived in time to get inside before it started to really pour.  Lilac swayed with the gusts of wind.

I tried to participate in a Zoom happy hour with the Sisters on the Fly but I couldn’t hear well over the din of the rain on the metal roof.  I bowed out and read some in a book.  

I have been using a flashlight and head lamp in the evenings in the trailer.  It is times like this when I think it would be good to have some more lighting.  I will try to figure this out when I am staying in Rhinelander, WI for the rest of the summer season.

I got up for a snack and noticed a puddle on the counter top.  I checked to see if it was my water container I keep on the counter for washing hands and cleaning dishes.  Nope.

I pulled aside the curtain on the curb-side front window.  This window does not open, but the sill was full of water.   The floor under it was full of water.  I could hear dripping behind the wall under the window.  Geesh!  This trailer has not yet traveled 2,000 miles and it is springing leaks!

I stuffed a micro-towel into the groove on the window sill.  Pulled everything out and dried the floor.  I stuffed a paper towel in the corner where the floor meets the wall beneath the window.  The paper towel didn’t get much wetter, even though I could still hear dripping behind the wall.

With it raining out, the air conditioner is a blessing.  With the windows all shut, it was nice inside.
It was the middle of the night when I started getting buzzed by a mosquito or two.  When I woke in the morning there must have been a dozen or more mosquitos buzzing around inside.  How did they get in???

Well, no time to figure that out.  I needed to get ready to head to Waukesha.  I was visiting my long-time friends Mark and Jane.  Then I was going to Sussex (about 10 miles away) to visit Sandy and John.

I forgot to take any pictures of Mark and Jane.  We had coffee on their patio and then went for a walk in a big park.  We walked the park roads so we could avoid the mosquitos which would probably be active because of the rain.  It worked out well because we could spread out and walk side by side until we had to move for cars.

In a previous blog post I shared with you a picture that Mark took.  He started sharing a picture a day in Mid-March during the COVID shut-down.  The pictures continue to get better.

At Sandy and John’s they had two tables set up 10 feet apart at least -- very safe indeed!

She had zucchini cut up like spaghetti covered in veggies and pesto.  And a chickpea dish with east-Indian seasoning (without the cayenne pepper).  It was luxurious.  I felt like royalty because I was had this beautiful table and I couldn’t enter the kitchen to help.  They spoiled me!  Thank you, Sandy and John.

While Sandy was cooking and serving, John and I discussed all the nuances and viewpoints of the gun debate.  Gun registration, waiting periods, assault rifles… we looked at it from both sides.  I always enjoy chatting with John who has a background as an Editor and Journalist and friends, like me, on both sides of the debate. 

Back at the campground I investigated the mosquito and leak problems.  

It turns out there is a gap in the air conditioner and its screen that is allowing the mosquitos in.  I look through the outside grill shows that they were really trying to get in and many got plastered to the insides.

It appears that the caulk at the top of the Weeroll and at the top of the window is good.  But when comparing the window to the one next to it, it appears the window is not set as tightly in the casing.  There is a tiny ledge where water might have leaked in.  

I posted the problem on a Weerollers Facebook group page and some said to just caulk it with silicone caulk. 

Last night was lovely and cool!  I did not have to use the air conditioner.  I slept with the doors and one window open.  The other screened window has a hole in it I have not yet repaired from when the bicycle handle went through the screen on a travel day.

The screens over the doors did their job.  This morning I only had one mosquito inside with me.

Today is Saturday, my last day at the Lake Farm Campground.

Kathi and I had arranged to ride together.  She arrived around 8 a.m.

The koozie she made me looks very nice on my trike.

We went to a coffee shop near downtown called Ground Zero.  Kathi told me that Monday starts the face mask order in public buildings.  People need to wear a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Some businesses and individuals are threatening to sue.  And so it goes in this great land currently so divided.

I have learned that the nature center next to the campground has WIFI, though not secure.   

I will upload this blog and nothing else.   

Then I am going to drive to Janesville to visit my son again before I head out tomorrow toward Rhinelander with one more stop along the way.   

The campground phone mailbox in Rhinelander is full.   So much for letting them know my ETA for my seasonal site.  

Thanks for checking in on me.  Let me know how things are going with you.  Comment here or via Facebook.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Madison, Wisconsin, Bicycle Trails Everywhere

July 9, 2020

Hi there!  I made it safely to Madison, Wisconsin.

I am sitting writing this in Kathi's den.  She has a separate window air conditioner for this room so there is less air exchanged with the rest of the home.  I keep having to remind myself to put my mask back on so I don't contaminate her space... just in case.

She made me a lovely koozie for my water bottle. 

Last I wrote I was at a campground with Wifi in Goodfield, near Peoria, Illinois.

As I was packing up I saw this lovely bug on my van.

As you can see my van got covered in dust at the Timberline campground.  There is a drought going on and a lot of four wheeled carts speeding down the gravel drives.

First I drove the back roads to Janesville, WI.  My son Jeremy and his wife Mel live there.  They showed me around the yard where Jeremy has been working to clean out fallen limbs and Mel has been weeding the flower beds.

Because Jeremy is sensitive to heat and it was over 90 degrees, they invited me inside.  We sat at a distance and kept our masks on.  No hugs, I have been traveling and they both are working through health issues.

I had decided now was  a good time to pass on some of my photo albums with pictures of Jeremy as he was growing up.  He has an interest in the family history now and would like me to document what I know about my parents' ancestry.  We visited for awhile and then they ordered sandwiches from Jimmy Johns to be delivered.

Thanks for the visit and the lunch, Jeremy and Mel!

When I got to the Lake Farm Campground I discovered my camping site had no trees.  It was HOT!

I set up camp and put up the Clam screen tent to provide some shade.  Then the wind started to blow, there was thunder in the distance.  It cooled off nicely.  I opened the car doors to let the hot air out.  And then realized the wind  was blowing so much I should probably prepare.  So I took the Clam down. 

 It rained nicely.  I participated in a Zoom happy hour with Sisters on the Fly.  But I couldn't hear much because the rain was so loud.

The next morning I got ready to ride.

I had arranged to ride early to beat the heat with my friend Kathi.  She lives in the area.  She also rides a recumbent trike.

When I arrived at her place she said it was going to rain in an hour.  So instead we went for a walk at the park close to her home.

Wisconsin has lovely wild flowers and in Madison, they have planted fields of them.  On our walk we could smell the sweet clover.  I love it!

Kathi showed me the best tree we could hug.  We both took a moment to hug the tree.  It is comforting.

After our walk we sat in some shade on her patio  The rain didn't come.

So we got on our trikes and rode to Culver's for an early lunch.  Due to COVID, Culver's no longer has inside dining, but they actually came out to the patio and took our orders!  Every restaurant is having to adjust and figure out how to continue to survive.

Their patio was surrounded by an fence and potted plants.  A very nice space.

The gardens in Wisconsin are lovely.

Madison, WI has been adding bicycle trails for many years.  It now has quite a network of trails and at one point they call five-points there is quite a few trails that converge with the bridge of one over head.

It was a great ride. 

The afternoon was getting really hot.  Due to COVID I didn't want to spend a lot of time inside with Kathi.  I didn't want to chance infecting her if I had happened to pick up the virus somewhere.  I told her I may return later to use her internet, but it ended up being too hot.

I went shopping for a better outfit for swimming and showering outside.  My current swim suit had lost the flexibility in the elastic.  Since I am bending over to wash my hair, I didn't want things to fall out.  That could be embarrassing!  It is bad enough having to wash my hair and arm pits in public without showing off more than I intend.

I also wanted a stronger exercise band.  I only have one and for some exercises it is too easy.  But Walmart was sold out of exercise bands.

Hanging out in a store isn't like it used to be.  Every time I saw something I wanted to look at, or got the urge to just browse, I had to remind myself to get my business done and get out.  As it is, clothes shopping takes time.

I did notice that most of the customers and staff were wearing masks.  This county, Dane County, has just ordered that everyone wear a mask inside stores and businesses. 

I had heard that there has been a boom in bicycle sales since mid March when we started to physically distance from others.  Today I saw the empty display racks at Walmart.

Back at camp it was hot.  I made a smoothy using the Bullet blender that I bought on our trip in 2016.  I have used it twice already this trip and I am glad I have it.  I put in:

Romaine Lettuce
Chia Seeds
Peanut Butter
Dark Chocolate


Then I took a shower using my hose and one of several spigots in the campground.  I had been told by the campground before I arrived that they were only allowing trailers that are self contained (have a holding tank).

I explained to them I have containers for holding water and containers for my bathroom waste and I preferred being by the trail.  They said I could come.

But I chose a spigot further away from the host's campsite just in case "self contained" doesn't allow for me washing my hair and such at the water spigot.

Once cooled off I uploaded pictures.   I called a couple friends in the Waukesha area to arrange to visit with them.  I am going there on Friday.

I got a text from Roger P.  He has been reading this blog and messaged me via Facebook.  He said he would love to ride with me!  Pretty cool!  We arranged to meet early in the morning (6:45) and ride.

I wanted to ride to downtown Madison where there had been protests and property damage after the George Floyd murder by a policeman in Minneapolis.

 I think I forgot to mention that when I was at the Sisters on the Fly event I found this purse at my site when I returned from my kayak ride.  Robyn F. left it for me!  She said it was my color.  She is the friend that introduced me to Sisters on the Fly.  Thank you, Robyn!

For now it holds my dirty clothes until the time and place is available to wash them.  Often I wash things by hand, but this morning I went to a laundromat.  I wore my mask when I entered the facility, but stayed outside while the machines worked.


It is Thursday and I met Roger P. for a ride.   He is 80 years old and has had two strokes.  He was an avid road rider on a diamond frame bike, but now he rides a trike with e-assist.  There are not a lot of tricycle riders in the area.  I was glad to have him show me the trails and he was glad to have someone with whom to ride.

We passed a family of turkey with about seven cute babies.

Roger led us on the Capital Hill Trail toward the State Capital.

Then we rode down State Street where there are many artsy businesses, coffee shops, book stores, gift shops.  Most of them were boarded up after their windows were smashed during the protests.  Many have added lovely art to the boards.  It was a great ride.

I will share the pictures of the art on State Street in my next post. I am having trouble transferring them to this site today.

After our ride Rodger asked to purchase Alzheimer's Trippin' with George!   Thank you, Roger!

He said he is rebuilding a KMC trike with a square boom...  Google comes up with KMC components.  Maybe I misunderstood.  Maybe he meant KMX.

When Roger departed I found I was parked near an Anytime Fitness.  Gyms are higher up in the COVID transmission risk category.  People in an enclosed space breathing hard is not good.

I walked up to the door and saw posted that everyone that enters is required to wear a mask. 

I put on my mask and told myself I wouldn't stay long.  I just need to exercise my back or it will start to hurt.   Fortunately there was no one on the aerobic machines.  There were about five people in the place.  None of them were wearing masks.  I disinfected my hands before and after, wore my mask the whole time, and didn't stay as long as I wanted to stay. 

There was also a Pic n Save by my parked car.  I picked up a few fruits and veggies.

I also got two small containers of mint-chocolate ice cream sundaes and brought them over to Kathi's house to share.  We sat on the patio and enjoyed our sundaes.

Kathi's daughter and family were going to visit this weekend and then head up to a cabin that is shared with cousins and extended family.  Kathi told me the cousins that were currently staying in the cabin found out that a co-worker of theirs has COVID.  So they have had to stay in the cabin to self isolate. 

So many twists and turns.  Do you know the story about Pandora's box?  Someone opened Pandora's box at the beginning of 2020 and we are riding through the hail storm as best we can.

Tomorrow ... Waukesha visit.

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