Saturday, August 14, 2021

Endings and Beginnings

 Life flows on, sometimes we are starting something new, sometimes we are saying goodbye to a time or people or activity.

I have a friend, Ron F. on Facebook is now unable to bike.  Biking was such a big part of his life (like mine).  He vacationed around biking, he belonged to several bicycle communities.  

Now he is reaching out to me and others that are visiting trails and areas where he and his wife have biked.  He shares his experiences, and in that way hangs onto his identity.  

I don't know why that came to mind when I start thinking about leaving Rhinelander this year.  I depart on Sunday, August 15th.

It feels surreal to be leaving my sister and her husband and the people and activities I have connected with here.  I plan to return a little bit next year.

Flowing on, I am so excited to meet up with friends that I know from Florida!

I will be meeting up with Diane in Marquette, Michigan.  We will bike and camp together.  I was going to meet up with friends Tony and Colleen too further south in Michigan.  But they let me know that with the COVID surge they were canceling and going to stay isolated at home.   I totally understand.

It is what it is, and I will enjoy my alone time between visiting with Diane and meeting up with Regis and Cindy H. and Linda T. in Ohio.


We had a few rainy days.  I walked between raindrops on some trails in Almon Preserve.

I came across a small fir tree with messages clipped to it.   Information about the park which was donated by the owner and naturalist.  There was info about different the Pilated Woodpecker, the loon, the otter, and other animals found in the area.

 After my last QiGong class I invited three amazing women to come have coffee with me and see my trailer.  I had asked each one to share a story of when they were very afraid and they did it anyway.  Wow!  What stories!

From left to right: 

Rose - who continues to run an antique business and has traveled extensively and still rides motorcycle.  I feel bad that I don't remember her over-coming fear story.  I think it had to do with fear of heights.  Or it may have been something about Venezuela.  Rose loves to dance and I regret that I didn't get out and dance with her this season.

Dotty - who gently teaches us Q-gong.  She went three years in a row for a six weeks and taught English in three different countries.  Russia and Lithuania and... I don't remember the third.  In Russia she got stuck when her visa wasn't in proper order.  It was very scary.

Susan - who I met shortly after she lost her husband to cancer.  She told us how when she started a new upper-management position for a company they threw her in cold by sending her immediately to represent them at a conference.  "If you can't bombard them with facts, dazzle them with bull shit", or something like that.  She worked at a very big company and she told me, "I wasn't in the mucky-muck but I was in the muck."

My sister Mary got away to visit with a friend and chill.  One day and night away from care-giving isn't enough.  While she was gone I watched over Arky and took Dave to his favorite restaurant three times.

Dave and I spent a few hours sitting on the deck in looping conversations, though a few times it got very deep.

He realized he had dementia on this day and asked me if he was going to die from it.  He wanted to know how it would kill him.  He thanked me for helping take care of him while Mary was away.

Wow! He often doesn't know about his need for help and his growing need for supervision and assistance.  But that day he was very aware of it.


The people in the house next to my campsite are so friendly!  Tim and Laura asked if I would like to kayak with them one evening.  They have three kayaks.  They took me out for a paddle around part of Lake George.  It was lovely.  We saw a family of Loon with two babies and spotted an Eagle a couple times.

 Then when they were leaving to go back to work in Wausau, they offered me use of their kayak so I could paddle Lake George in their absence!

It just so happened the next evening the water was lovely and smooth, so I went exploring.  

I passed an area that looked like an eroded cliff, which seemed strange for this lake.  I looked closer.  Remember when we had some wind and storm warnings when I was camped in Mary's yard?  It missed us, but hit the Lake George area.  The cliff isn't a cliff at all, but a row of trees that fell over, their roots pulled  up the earth.



I moved the bikes into my screen tent to empty out my van so I could load up Mary's Kayak.  I was going to use it for a New Comers Kayak Ride.  

As it was there were only three of us.  But Jane and John had been to Alaska twice and had information to share.  She said she would send me her itinerary.

We enjoyed our exploration of a lake and a creek.  Then it started to pour.  After trying to hug the tree-lined shore for shelter, we gave up.  They headed for the boat launch and I continued exploring in the rain.


Back at camp I dined out of the rain in my kitchen/garage screen tent.


Yesterday I had my evaluation at Anytime Fitness to find out if the workouts I was doing were doing me any good.

The good news is that I gained muscle in my upper body and improved my performance on a timed test.  The bad news is that I gained some fat in my left leg... oh so that is where all that ice cream went.

Thanks to Sydney my trainer at Anytime.  She made it fun with variety, challenges, community and great cheer leading.  

Sydney gave me three work outs to take with me on my continued journey.    She visited my blog and shared with me her blog (which she hasn't written in for a while.)  I am sharing with you this blog post of her entitled Boobs are Killer.   An interesting read!

After this picture we went back to wearing masks at Anytime.  The staff's masks match the lovely purple floor.  I love that.

Speaking of COVID precautions, I am noticing more masking up around town.  

I have heard that insurance companies are investigating if they can charge more for people who don't get vaccinated for no reason, since these hospitalizations with COVID are costing them so much.  Hmmm, stay tuned on that one.  I like that it would be private companies incentivizing.  

I just remember that when I was a child in order to attend summer camp or public school I needed to get a physical and get my shots up to date.  Vaccine requirements are nothing new.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Rainy Days and Sundaes


The rain is often an invitation to go out and dance.

Unless it is cold.  It is hard to stay warm when you are wet.

Yesterday I read that Inverness, Florida has had many days of rain. And I thought, boy am I lucky to be here, the weather has been great!

It started raining today around 11:00 a.m.  Now it is three in the afternoon it looks like it is going to continue through the night.

There is music in town this evening... outside.  I think I will stay inside.

I have not moved forward on book three since I got the edits back from my beta readers.  Today would be the perfect day to get going on that.

And I may start today.  Though I have the whiny girl on my chest stamping her feet and saying, "I don't wanna do that!"  What is that about?

I read what other people have written and I feel unworthy to put my thoughts on paper.  What am I thinking to expose my crude thoughts and language to book readers? 

I know I am not supposed to compare myself to others, but isn't that what you do in sports to get better, to set goals?  I don't know, I usually quit competitive sports when I am not winning.  When we were younger my  brother used to tease me and say I would stop playing a card game or a board game if I didn't win once in a while.  Yes, and now I am 68 and still wanting to quit before I excel.

Of course!  It isn't fun to lose all the time!

But then, it is raining all day and I am not comfortable sitting with no ambition and drive.  So instead I will sit with my beer and my keyboard and write to you.  I mean I have so much to share!

And then maybe... just maybe, I will pull out the stack of papers that are stored under my bed and start working my way through all those wonderful edits and suggestions.


 Catherine Joppa that hosted the kayak and potluck event I told you about in my last writing, stopped in at Mary's when I was there.  She had looked me up on Facebook and this blog and she wanted to share something with me.

It was a framed list of words by a creative man to his sweetheart.  And he signed it by many of his identities.  Catherine said she wanted to share it when she saw my Facebook description of myself as "Monarch Momma" and a few other things.  Allen Bell signed his note, "Nature Writer, Bluebird Sighter, Butterfly Feller, Wild Flower Smeller, Plane Crazy, Kinda Lazy, Star-Gazer, Loon Praiser, Rock Picker, Shutter Clicker, Phrenologist, Genealogist."

I took a picture of Mary and Catherine visiting on Mary's deck.

Later in the week my nephews arrived with their spouses and my ex-sister-in-law Sue and her husband Cal.  What a nice reunion we had!

The first evening we gathered at my new camp spot at Lake George.

As you can see, it was cold, but the people from Florida and Minnesota didn't think to grab a coat.

Cal and Sue, my ex-sister-in-law on the left, had their jackets (with age comes wisdom), then Mike and Jack (in my orange windbreaker), standing is my sister Mary and my brother-in-law Dave, and then in black is Sara and Tom.   In the nephews' defense they did say that their campsite was warm, surrounded by trees.  We had a nippy breeze coming off the lake.


I like my new campsite!  The only thing is I have to walk quite a ways to dump my grey and black water, but there is a porta-potti nearby, so I don't have to dump as often.

The next day I biked in the morning on my own and in the afternoon we met up at Mary's and went for a kayak ride down the Pelican River.  I saw a great horned owl flying away as we floated down.

I was worried.  It was so much activity at Mary and Dave's.  With Dave dealing with dementia I didn't know how he would react to so much activity.  Mary was already exhausted from grief and care-giving,even though she wanted to spend time with everyone, I worried.

We had a good paddle and then we all went out to CT's Deli in downtown Rhinelander for dinner.  We were able to dine outside.  The weather was perfect.  

Though the younger working folks still had hours of fun and socializing in them, the rest of us retired to our places after dinner.

I took pictures of the sunset over Lake George, which was just an orange circle due to the smoke haze from the many big fires in the Western States and Canada.

On the last day of my nephews' visit, we didn't gather until afternoon.  They had planned on driving to a beach, but then it was a bit cold for a whole day at the beach.  I steered them to my favorite place to swim near here, Buck Lake.

Just Mike and I braved the water and went for a swim.  I pulled out my water toys that I have been carrying with me just in case.  A couple of air-mattresses, some water guns, and a velcro-style ball and paddles.  Jack and I had fun playing with the velcro-ball and paddles.  It was so easy to catch, I felt like a real ball player.

I kept thinking about playing catch when I was younger.  It was so dang boring I couldn't stand doing it for long.  Maybe it is because I am retired now and have more time, or maybe it was the novelty of the paddle catch, or maybe it was the comments of the audience, or maybe it was because I was hoping to dry off a bit and keep warm after my swim.  We played quite a while.

I don't ever remember playing catch with my nephew before.  He turns 40 this October, and we finally get around to playing catch.

Sara suggested we go play mini-putt (miniature golf).  We packed up and headed to Pirate's Cove, a worn and hilly little course that had challenges at each hole... (Peg Leg Pete lost his peg.  Hit your first putt standing on one leg...)   

My sister suggested a good place to dine, Al-gen's, Dinner Club.  It felt magical being inside a solid building dining with others, ignoring all COVID fears and warnings.  It took an hour from the time we ordered to the time our food arrived.  And that was ok because I was good sitting around a table with people I like and chatting.  I hope none of us pay for it.  All of us are vaccinated.  Other tables were quite a distance away.

As I got up to leave, Tom said, "Where will it be next? We have met up with you in Washington State, Arizona, and now Wisconsin."  As I was driving back to my camper I was thinking of the possibilities.


Sometimes I wonder why I am training for this ride in Pennsylvania.  Why not just do it at my current pace?  But that means doing it alone.  It isn't because I am afraid of bad things, it is that I want to chat with people.  I want to share experiences with people.  So much of enjoying an area is sharing it with others.  

So I am trying to do at least one longer ride a week and a few shorter ones.  

I decided to ride from Rhinelander to Minocqua by riding to the southern end of the Bear Skin Trail and then on up to Minocqua.

The first part of the ride wasn't real pleasant because it was on a busier road without a nice shoulder.  But then I got on the trail, and that was nice.  I decided not to go back the same way I came so I wouldn't have to ride that road again.

I stopped to rest at a dock that goes out over a pond and some springs that feed the Bear Skin River. I was reminiscing about all the fun George and I had with our friends over the years at this and other rest stops on our rides.  I miss that.  This is enjoyable, yes.  Sharing it with laughing friends would be even better.

I used my phone to re-route myself, instead of going to Minocqua I would take back roads to Lake Tomahawk where I knew there was ice cream.  This new route would cut the length of my ride from 70 something miles to 50 something.  Good enough.

Hurrah! I didn't run into loose gravel roads or gated roads.  Florida biking friend Bill D. recommended I pre-route my rides on a computer and then download them to my phone.  He says he uses RidewithGPS.  I have that App but I am using the free part, not the paid part.  The paid part ($50 a year) allows you to create and save routes.   Like Google I can see the satellite view of a road to get a better idea of the surface and neighborhood conditions.  I haven't bought it yet.  I wonder if Googlemaps has a paid service like that too.

As it was, the ride with the ice cream break took all day.  I showered at Anytime Fitness then I bought three impossible burgers at Burger King, and took them to Mary's where we sat outside watching a white, fuzzy caterpillar go round and round the rim of the bird bath.  Mary started singing, "Oh if I only had a brain," from Wizard of Oz.  After I was done eating my burger I decided to help the fuzzy creature. I knocked the caterpillar down onto the grass.

Then Mary offered up a Root-beer Float.  Yep, I ate two ice cream treats in one day!  OMG.  Stop me now! 


Yesterday my next door neighbors at the campground came over and introduced themselves.  Great!  We chatted a while.  Later I noticed the neighbors on the other side of me won't make eye contact.  For some reason they don't want to engage.

I had accidentally assumed that the space next to my trailer was mine. I put up my screen tent there.  But it turned out it that space (not marked) was theirs and the manager came to tell me to move my tent.  I did it right away and didn't think anything of it, but I guess the neighbors thought I had encroached on their site on purpose and decided I was a bad person or I might fight them on it.  That's what I imagine anyway.  They seem to engage with other campers.  Maybe they are afraid of the crazy lady next door.   I will never know, when the rain started, they hooked up their camper and pulled out. 

During a break in the rain I went and sat with my nice neighbors.  They live in Wausau (which is only about an hour away) and used to camp in my spot every year.  But then they bought the house next-door.  I enjoyed chatting with them and they seemed very open and invited me to "come anytime" and offered one of their kayaks up for me to use!


Ok, here is the part that touches on the news.

My friend, Sara Krouch, lost her husband to COVID complications this week.  Her husband was fun and kind and friend to many. This bright vibrant woman also was (is?) hospitalized with the illness.  This is so sad to see the numbers spike again, and sadder still when our own friends and family become victims.  

Be well, stay safe, get vaccinated, and don't do as I do.   I can hear my more cautious friends saying, "Oh, Sue!  Do be more careful!"

Saturday, July 31, 2021

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.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mind In Circles

 OMG!  What a trip!

Last I wrote to you I was telling you about the first day of my test fully-loaded bike tour.

If you missed that,  here is the link from the post during a break in riding on Monday.  And here is the link to the post sent during the ride on Tuesday.

Now that I am at a place with cell service and a bit rested, I will tell you the rest of the story.  

I figured out the miles I did that first day:  76 plus miles.  Bike tours do that all the time, sometimes 80 or 90.  But I don't do that, especially not fully loaded with tent and sleeping bag and cooking supplies.

George and I did 80 miles one day on our ride from Illinois to Florida.  It was because of an error in my planning.  We were hauling trailers behind our trikes.  Nothing hurt because those trikes are comfortable! We were staying in motels so we were not hauling tents, but I had my laptop.  We were exhausted after 80 miles and we decided to stay an extra day to rest up.  And George kept saying, "I am not doing this again."

We were by ourselves and could change our plans on a whim.  That isn't the case on these organized tours.  You gotta go the miles they tell you to go.  Another thing about that trip was I had the comfort and security of George with me.

I already told you I was exhausted by the time I arrived at the campground on Monday night.  Did I tell you I was only able to sleep three hours?  Beside the buzz and bite of mosquitoes, I missed having two nice pillows.  One is used for my head and one is placed between my knobby knees so my knees and hips don't hurt.  

I packed one tiny pillow in a stuff-sack because, well you just don't have room on a bicycle for everything you want.  As it was I was stretching my panniers to their limit.  I thought I would use my down jacket for the second pillow.  By the time I realized I had left it in my bike bag, I had already let way too many mosquitoes into the tent.

In the morning (Tuesday) I was up and packing at 5:30 a.m.  There was a chance of rain on Wednesday (64% chance).  There were more waterfalls in the area.  I had intended to stay or stay close by and go visit a few. But I didn't want to volunteer to see how learn how to pack up my tent or set up my tent in the rain.  The tent has a screen top before I put the rain fly on.  How does one do that?  I read about a tent where you put the rain-fly up first and then the tent underneath it out of the rain.  But I have spent enough on this bike tour experiment, I am not going to get a different tent!

Packing up I found the plastic sheet I put under the tent to keep the bottom of the tent dry did it's job, but the plastic sheet was wet.  If I am riding long miles every day how will that ever get dried out?

As I was packing I pondered going further north, but I was a bit spooked by the previous day's experience and the lack of cell service made it difficult and time consuming to map my way to anywhere.

I used my camp stove to boil water to make coffee.  I am pleased with my camp coffee maker.  A sack that is propped up over my coffee mug.  I sure hate to decide I don't like this after getting some pretty nice stuff for this kind of adventure!

I decided to head back toward Villas County.  First I had to find breakfast.  I am used to riding without breakfast, but my body (mind?) was wanting to start the day with fuel and human contact.  

I pulled out before anyone else was up.  I wished I had been able to chat with more folks.  This campground was open and the people were easy to have little chat's with.  Laura and Dontien my neighbors were still snuggled in their tent.  I thought about leaving them a card, I realized my contact cards were stored in a pocket inside my pannier.  It was too much work to pull them out.  I will have to move some to my front bag next trip for easy access.

I headed for a breakfast restaurant about 12-16 miles south in Marinesco, MI.  Once when I noticed I had cell service I responded to a text from Connie and Jerry by calling them.  That was fun.

As I pulled into the city, I crossed a bridge and saw an Eagle in a tree not far.  I stopped and walked back to get a second look.  Wow!  "This is going to be a better day," I thought. Yesterday I had only seen one deer, crows and robins, squirrels and chipmunks.  Nothing as impressive as an eagle.

The iphone I have doesn't take such great pictures, especially when I zoom in.  I use it to grab memories, not make art.  But it would be nice to have the ability to do both.

After the bridge I enter town.  I have three cell phone service stripes!  I look for the restaurant.  Closed on Tuesdays.  All the other restraurants were bars and not open until 11 a.m.

I mapped my way to Presque Isle and began riding again.

"Not a repeat of yesterday!" 

I turned around and found a cluster of homes with barking dogs, rusted out trucks, and a few Trump 2020 signs and an "F___ Biden" sign.  A young father was outside with his son.  I asked about the road block.  He said it was open all the way to Presque Isle.  

I began riding again and saw a turkey with some babies.  Again, I thought, well maybe this is going to be a better day.

A nice smooth and low-traffic ride all the way to Presque Isle.  I rode 17 miles to get to breakfast.  It is a good thing I took the time to make my coffee before I left.

I got to Presque Isle.  There was construction there.  I stopped at the chamber and asked where I could get breakfast.  It turns out the Supper Club I had found on Google only serves on weekends.  There are no breakfast places open on Tuesdays.  I asked about a convenience store or gas station.  Yes, they had one of those.  

I had to walk through the construction area to get to it.  An orange, two cheese sticks, and a granola bar, I was now fueled and ready to ride some more.

I still had not decided for sure where I was going.   My next destination was Manitowish Waters, where I had been before and I knew there were restaurants there, choices.  And I really wanted to sit down with food and beverage and WiFi access to let all of you know I was ok.  I kept wanting to get closer to Lilac so I wasn't strapped with doing another long day.

I was mighty proud that on this hilly back road out of Presque Isle, fully loaded, I made it up most the hills without having to walk or turn around to shift.  And proud that I passed a young (30ish) woman on a road bike with padded shorts trying to keep up with some guy.  I passed him once too, but I think he was slowing down for her.

The first restaurant in Manitowish Waters that I stopped at, I got off the bike when a man yelled at me that it was closed.  He was the owner and came over to tell me that they have been super super busy this season.  He ran out of food on Sunday.  But he is closed Mondays and Tuesdays to get other stuff done around the place.  I asked him if there were any other places open.  He pointed across the lake to a place he called Pea Patch.

The Pea Patch had WiFi, they were super buzy and told me it would be 40 minutes before I got my food.  "No problem," I told them.

Pizza and Salad and beer.  I decided to go as far a Boulder Junction and get a motel room.  As I rode I anticipated clean sheets and big pillows and a hot shower.  

A couple on Ice trikes passed me and I suddenly missed my trike.  I haven't been riding it because I have been trying to train my ass to ride this up-right/crank forward bike for the Pennsylvania bike tour.  Now I want to give up and go back to having fun on my trike.  Not that riding this bike is bad... at least not for the first 30 miles.

There were not motels available at Boulder Junction!  They are full up this time of year.  I went to the convenience store and chowed down a payday candy bar and chocolate milk as my consolation.  Wow!  That did the trick!  As I rode I felt good, I felt fast.  (Well, the wind was behind me.)

I pulled in next to Lilac after 7:00 p.m., raised my arms high in celebration!  Yay, I made it!

I had a shower, even made a nice fire.  Home sweet home.

And I slept soooo goooood!

At six this morning the alarm went off and then my phone rang.  It was my sister Mary!  She said she just got done reading my blog post and she would come get me if I needed rescue.  It was wonderful to hear from her.

Later this morning a man stopped by my camp.  He said he and his friends were concerned when they didn't see me and were going to call the police if I didn't come home soon.  It is nice to be noticed.  I told them I had told the campground host when I checked in, but the campground host waved me off.  He doesn't care what campers do.  

Anyway the man that stopped by chatted for a while and invited me to join him and his wife and the couple across the way for the campfire tonight.  They are making Jiffy Pop.

It is time for me to stop typing.  This has taken all morning and into the afternoon! Of course I stopped to eat and clean and do a repair.  But now it is time to go ride to a liquor store or something and get something to share around the fire tonight.

Thanks for all the comments and support on these posts.  They mean so much to know you are there and watching. 

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