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5/25 - 6/1/2014 - Bugs, Bats and Baraboo

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Last weekend, Memorial Day, the campground was about 90% filled, there were tents, pop-ups, and some rigs like ours.  There were kids playing on the playground and folks sitting around campfires.  Most of them were gone by Monday afternoon and on Tuesday morning we were all by ourselves again.  It's nice to have company and it's nice to see them leave.

Unfortunately for us the gnats didn't leave -  the minute we walk outside the rig we are attacked by gnats, they swarm us and make being outside no fun, not even for toasted marshmallows.  Marty has seen bats flying at dusk but they haven't done much to help (and they're another reason for me to stay inside).   This is the first time since we've started our adventure that I am not enjoying the great outdoors.

We played tourist on Thursday (5/29) and took a tour of the Belvider Mansion in Galena.  This three story mansion was built in 1857 when Galena was a bustling city and port of the Mississippi River.  Here's a link to it's history:

The current owners live in the three story mansion.  The third floor is where they stay during "tour" season but the rest of the year they live in the whole mansion.  It's amazing, the antiques are incredible - two chairs and a sofa belonged to Teddy Rossevelt, many pieces were bought from the estate of Liberace  and they even have a very ornate chair that came from the Vatican.    They also picked up something from an MGM sale, the famous drapes from Gone With the Wind - one of my favorite movies!  I never would have dreamed that those drapes would be in Galena - how cool is that?  No pictures were allowed inside the mansion but we were the only ones there and we asked really nice and they let Marty take the picture - Yay.

Galena has many beautiful homes and I'm glad we toured this one.  Amazingly, 85% of the homes in Galena are on the National Registry of Historic Homes. 

Our great-nephew, Jacob
On Saturday we drove 115 miles northwest to Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI for Megan's graduation party.  Tom and his girls try to go there at least once a year for hiking and it seemed an appropriate place for the party.  There are lots of hiking trails up and down the bluffs and a beautiful lake for swimming.  Some of the family went hiking and some of the family went kayaking (some even did both).  It was wonderful being able to spend some time with most of my family.  Megan's sister, Lizzie, wasn't there because she's in the hospital.  After three weeks of misery they finally admitted her and discovered that she has celiac disease which means no more gluten for her.  My dad also had this so any one reading this who has Merkes blood flowing through their veins should probably ask their doctor to be tested. 

Another great-nephew, Derek
Yes, Megan is officially a Badger!

One, Two, Wheeeeeee
The hikers at the summit
Group photo of the kayaking crew

Tom and Mary chillin in their kayaks
We are still at Blandings Landing and still don't know when we'll be going to Iowa for camp hosting.  We took a drive over there this afternoon and it seems like the river has gone down but there is more rain in the forescast - stay tuned.