Thursday, June 3, 2021

Fun with Friends and Family

 If I don't journal every day, I forget the order of things.  In fact, I have to look at a calendar when I am traveling to figure out what is the day of the week.  The regular schedule that I have in Florida is gone.  No more biking on Tuesdays and Thursdays, yoga on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I am telling you this because the report of what I did the rest of my time at Brigham County Park may not be in order.  Of course, you don't know that, but those I visited or called, may remember it differently.

Let me just start by saying I have gotten to visit with my son and his wife much more than I did last year.  They were both so ill last year and COVID was so scary.  So this year's visit has been awesome and it is not over yet!  My next campsite is about an hour to the east of their home, so I will be attending Mel's birthday celebration on Saturday.




I took a picture of my heater so those of you in little spaces can see.  This little guy works all night sometimes and I don't worry about it.



The day after I gardened with Jeremy and Mel, I got a text from Roger Perkins.  He lives in Madison and last year we rode together after I had put out a call on a recumbent trike group on Facebook.

He asked if I could join him and his wife for a ride. 

Peter was featured in a commercial for the Hostel Shoppe lately.  It was hard to chat much as we rode because: 1) The trail went along noisy roads in places; 2) The trail was super busy and not as wide as the Withlacoochee Trail; 3) Roger and his wife wear headphones so they can talk to each other while riding.

We had a nice 20-mile tour and he took me through the Madison area Botanical Gardens which were wonderful.  Every once in a while we would ride past a mass of the white lawn clover that is so common here.  It smelled soooooo good!

There were some hills, and Roger helped boost me up a few because he has electric assist.

On the drive back to camp, I stopped at the new Mt. Horeb veterans memorial. 



I tried to make a fire that evening.  The kindling burned but even with the starter sticks, the logs didn't stay lit. 

I gave up and walked over to the hill side to watch the sun set.  I missed having someone to share this with.


The next day I went back to Jeremy's.  There was a vegetable garden to weed and plant.  I had another great day with family outside.  All three of us spent some time pulling landscape rocks out of a flower garden.  We would sit and scoop them into buckets.  A lovely, repeatitive, calming activity accompanied by wonderful conversation and connection.  Thank you Mel and Jeremy for a lovely day!

I had them check out the back of my head.  I had cut my own hair and didn't know how I had done in back.  It turned out I had left a long tail on one side.  Jeremy pulled out his clippers and helped me out.

I had stopped at Anytime Fitness on my way to Jeremy's house, this day I stopped and showered again on the way home.  I had gotten quite dirty.

Kayak with Kathi


 

Kathi and I are long-time friends.  If you have followed this blog or read either of my books you will see Kathi in them.  Each time we traveled to Wisconsin we would stop to visit Kathi and Karl.  Karl passed with Alzheimer's Disease shortly before George passed.

This year she had a great idea, we would rent kayaks and paddle a bit on the lakes in Madison.

I went to her home first and we chatted.  As we were leaving I had to laugh!  This was hanging on the door.

I have been wearing ribbons or flowers on my helmet for years.  One time our bike group with Kay and Kathi and Elinor were out biking and they all surprised me by all showing up with flowers on their helmets.  

They didn't keep them there, it was just a funny prank that gave me a good laugh.  Now it looks like Kathi has taken the plunge into excentric old lady like me.

Kathi has a huge heart.  She has a large extended family and she is often stepping in to help when needed.

Kathi has been embracing life.  She just returned from a trip to Hawaii with her sister Geri. 


We had a super-duper visit and float.  The lake was crystal clear this time of year.  We had lunch at a place nearby that was very yummy.  Kathi told me that the state mandate for mask wearing was being lifted the next day, June 2nd. 

On Wednesday, my last day at Brigham I went for a short ride on the Military Ridge.  I passed some women stopped on the trail.  They told me a fox was on the trail, down by that lump in the trail.

There was a grey lump on the trail, I thought it was the fox and that it was injured or dead or something.  The lump didn't move.  I slowed down.  Then a red fox peeked out at me from the long grass next to the trail.  It ran toward the lump, picked it up.  The lump, it turned out, was a large, dead rabbit.  The fox started running away from me down the trail and finally turned off into the brush. 

In Mt. Horeb that was a kiosk.  I was glad to see there was some information about I park I had stopped at on my way back from Jeremy's one evening.  Stewart Park became a place of recreation long  before it became a park.  Back in the late 1800's people started creating a dam to make a swimming hole.  The property was owned by a farmer who let them have fun there.



All along the roads and the Military Ridge Trail are wild Phlox.  Very pretty light lavendar and white blossoms in huge clusters decorate the pathways.

In the evening on Wednesday, Jeremy and Mel came out to share a meal and watch the sunset with me.

I was so happy to have someone there to share the lovely view with me!  Thank you Jeremy and Mel!




We played a lot with our cameras.  Jeremy took panaramic shots that showed the depth of the hillsides.  He took these orange shots too.




After they left and I cleaned up the supper dishes, I walked over to view the last of the fading light.


My next stop is filled with visits.  So you may not hear from me for a few days.  

OH!  I almost forgot to tell you the big news!

I have decided to sell my house in Florida.  The market right now is booming big.  A sellers market.  It is booming so much that it will bust again for sure.  So I am getting out while prices are high and maybe get back in when prices are low.

I have been pondering the idea for quite some time.  It helped to talk about it with my long-time friends.  Thank you for supporting my decision Kay and Kathi.

I am first looking for a place to live in Lilac near my Florida friends and the Withlacoochee Trail.  I certainly don't want to give up that!



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Forward Wisconsin

Hey Folks,

I am getting really busy and joyful these days.  I am visiting friends and family and soaking in Wisconsin's spring weather and greenery.

I used to live in Wisconsin for over 20 years.  My son and my sister and a few other relatives live in Wisconsin.  I have connections.

I last wrote to you from the Des Moines, Iowa area.  I had just discovered that the hinge on the back door of my trailer was bent and missing a screw.  I will start up where I left off... seeking a solution.

Trailer Repair and Lunch with Long-time Friend

I got instructions from Regis, one of my Florida friends, for possible fixes.  By the time I read his idea, I had already gotten an appointment to take it to a trailer place in De Soto, IA.  That was about 40 or more minutes drive West from my campground.   And frankly, I just didn't want to mess with it, let someone else with the tools and experience handle it.

On the same day, I had an appointment to meet up with my Wisconsin bike friend, Kay, (who now lives in Iowa) at 11:00 at a Panera near my campsite.  As soon as the trailer guy told me I could bring my trailer in, I hooked up and pulled it over to I80 Trailers in De Soto.



I was worried about not making it back in time to meet Kay, but I left the trailer with the repair place and headed back East.

I got to the restaurant before Kay and got a chance to relax and practice some Spanish on the Duolingo App on my phone. 

I had a great visit with Kay, we caught up on grand kids and mutual friends.  Though we didn't really think it through when we planned our meeting place.  We chose a Panera where you have to go in and order at the counter and then later go pick up your food.

One of us had to stay at one of the two outdoor tables in the shade and hold it while the other went in to order.  Kay went first.  

I went in to order when she returned with her buzzer that vibrates when her order is ready to fetch.  Inside there was a long line all the way to the door.  I kept thinking that Kay and I were supposed to be chatting and here we were separated.  While I was in line I heard them call her name, her order became ready.  Shoot!

By the time I got my food hers was cold.  Next time we will do a sit-down restaurant with wait-staff.  Though the food was good, we lost precious chat time.  As it was we chatted until close to three! 

I drove back to the trailer repair place and they were just finishing up.  Each door latch item cost $35.  And I got a latch for each back door.  The repair guy noticed I had to shift the latch in order to close the door full, he put a screw in just the right place so that the back door closes without that struggle.  See!  An easy fix for an expert and an idea didn't occur to amateur me.

I thought as I drove away I should have had them add more D-rings for hooking things to the insides of the trailer when moving from place to place.

The other day I tried to travel with the microwave on a yoga mat on top of the fridge.  The yoga mat wasn't sticky enough and the microwave slid off the fridge and banged up the wall a bit.  

Thank goodness the microwave still works just fine.

When I got back to camp I packed up the screen tent and the bicycles because I would be leaving in the morning.  While I was packing up a woman came over and chatted with me.  They were from Michigan and heading to visit their son in Oregon.  We connected, so I invited myself over to her campsite once I got packed up.

I took my chair and a drink over there and we talked of campgrounds, trailer maintenance, gardening, and facing our mortality.

They gave me some roasted asparagus from their garden.  Real nice!  A fun visit!  We didn't exchange last names or contact info or anything like that.  I didn't even take their picture.

I reflected as I walked away how that was a great and fun conversation.  There was no talk of careers.  I didn't even mention I write and blog.  Sometimes these travel connections come with no expectations.  Just a big hope for a few moments of connection and common ground, maybe at its best, something is learned.

Moving Into Wisconsin

It was pouring rain when I got up on Friday. I was glad that I had packed and left the trailer hooked up the evening before.  

Google told me that to get to my next campground it would take a whole hour longer if I avoided the Interstate.  I told it to avoid them anyway.  

I felt the same combination of sadness and thrill as I pulled out.  How is it that I can spend so many nights in one place and still have so much still to explore there?  I didn't even touch many of the trails in the Des Moines area.  I will need to return and spend even more time.  

I left Bob Shetler Campground, admiring the views as I departed, wondering if I would stay at that campground next time.

After three hours of driving in the rain, I stopped at a shopping mall.


There I joined all the other walkers before the stores opened up for the day.


Before I pulled away from the mall, I stepped into the trailer to check to see if I remembered to put the microwave on the floor.  Whoops, not yet!  Fortunately it was still on top of the fridge.


This is what it looks like with stuff on the floor and fastened in place for travel.


I used Googlemaps to find a place to do laundry.  I am finding that travel days are a good time to do laundry because the time is a break from driving and gives me a chance to check my email and texts and make any calls I need to make.

I passed this building up the first time I drove by.  It looked pretty rough.  It was, I think, owned by the automotive repair and car-wash adjacent.

 

I didn't sit down on the seats provided, as they and the wall were covered with greasy hand prints and shoe prints.


But the machines were clean and in good repair.  It worked and I had the place to myself.


While I was doing laundry I got a message from my sister.  She sent me a picture.  She had gifted her husband a single-prop airplane ride!  Smiles!


It was raining still when I arrived at my campsite, though it had slowed a bit sometimes.  The temperature had dropped!  I had to pull out my down jacket and gloves and umbrella.   I put the down comforter back on the bed.  

"Welcome back to Wisconsin," I thought.

I was at Grant River Campground which is a Corp of Engineers (COE) site. It only cost me $10 a night with my National Parks Senior Pass.   My site looked lovely, if it had been warm I would have opened up the back doors and enjoyed the view over the river.  

The park didn't appear to own any land other than the campground and boat launch. I didn't see any hiking trails.  If you stay there, do something on the water.  I was in site 30.  Nice site!

I was fortunately there only one night and off to Brigham County Park near Blue Mound, Wisconsin.  Driving there was a wonderful pretty drive passed lovely hilly farms and steep valleys of South Western Wisconsin.

Brigham Park is on top of one of those hills.


Each night many of the campers, local love birds, and teens with hammocks gather at the side of the hill that overlooks a field and the bluffs beyond.  On a clear day we can see (about 35 miles) as far as the mounds in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Here are some of the sunsets I saw during my stay.








I didn't pay enough attention when I booked this campground.  I wanted to visit my son in Janesville while I was here.  Googlemaps pointed out it is over an hour drive to his place.  

I took the back roads.  It was a lovely drive! Part way there I pulled into a little park to use their facilities.  It was at the top of a hill overlooking the farm lands and forests surrounding it.  It is called Liberty Park.  A sign told me that a US flag was mounted on a pole on top of that hill during the start of the Civil War.  Men would walk to the hill and camp there and then the group of men would walk to Janesville to join the Union Army.  

I was giddy to be in that beautiful spot and learn some of its history.


I got to spend time with my son and his lovely wife!  

Last July when I visited he was having trouble breathing and his wife Mel was going into the hospital during COVID for some surgery.  They both looked much healthier this time.

Before I arrived I asked Jeremy if he needed any help with projects, I would love to help.  A couple years ago I had helped him make shelves for his garage.  He replied with a list of garden projects, weeding, removing Christmas lights, mulching.

Jeremy told he he has lost 155 lbs!  He was moving around doing yard work.  Though he had to rest often, it was an amazing difference.  I am so grateful and I sure hope his better health and weigh-loss last!

I love to weed, so I got to clear out the weeds from one of his gardens.


And pet and love on Hero, their therapy dog.



When I got back to camp, I didn't even get stuff unloaded and a large friendly man approached me.  

"Tell me about your trailer!" he said.

His name is Scott and after I told him about Lilac, he began to tell me his story.  A few years ago he had low energy and he went into the doctor.  They took tests and then the doctor told him, "You have some uncommon form of Lymphoma.  Get ready, you have about two days to live."

You can imagine the shock.  He was a weightlifter at the time and was in excellent shape.  They put him in the hospital right away.  The next day the doctors conferred and came to him.  

I should mention that before the diagnosis, Scott was a competitive power lifter.

"You are in excellent shape, we would like to use you as a case study," the doctors told him.

The study was to treat him VERY aggressively.  He agreed to do it.  What did he have to lose?

He said it was hell.  The cancer was in his brain, he got twenty spinal taps.  

"Oh my!" I said, "I heard those are one of the worst for pain."

Scott said they were nothing compared to the 20 bone marrow ... here I don't remember.  20 times they drilled into his bone.  20 transplants seems REALLY extreme.

Anyway, Scott lived and worked in Montana at the time but they doctors moved him to the best Lymph hospital in the US in Madison, Wisconsin.

He survived after all that major treatment, married his  girlfriend in the middle of the treatment plan.  She is in the medical field and helped him through it.

We talked a bit about the trails in and around the park and he said he and his wife and 14 year old dog were going to walk five miles to Blue Mound State Park and then five miles back!

I was impressed.  Again, a neat conversation but I didn't get his full name or exchange contact information.

***

I realized as I was driving to see my son, I forgot to puff my hair.  It was looking really sloppy.

When I got back to camp I warmed some water in the microwave and washed my hair and cut it.

How's it look?

I am not posting the first picture I took, inside the trailer.  The lighting was terrible and every one of my wrinkles was highlighted.  I find myself thinking... I am almost 70.  The thinning blotching skin, the arthritis, I am fortunate it isn't much worse.  BECAUSE I AM ALMOST 70!!!

Some of my friends remind me, "Your just a baby."

I am blessed with some nice older-than-me friends.  Thank you very much!

More at another time,  I have to run out and watch tonight's sunset!


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