Follow by Email

July 7 thru July 31st - Wandering Wisconsin

Rolling Hills of Western Illinois south of Galena on Rt. 20
Wow, July is almost over and I haven't written any new posts since the first week of July!  Here's what's been going on this month (at least what I can remember, I really should keep a daily log).  There hasn't been much traveling lately just lots of family stuff. 

We are still in the  Midwest because we are flying out of O'Hare on July 31st heading to Europe where we will be joining Marty's sister Linn, her husband Terry, and daughter, Krissy for a biking tour of Lithuania and Latvia. We needed a place to leave our rig and my cousin Jeff and his wife Lori were kind enough to let us camp out on their property in Brooklyn, Wisconsin for a few weeks and then are letting us keep the rig there while we're gone.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful cousins!

Queen of the perfectly toasted marshmallow
After the busy Fourth of July weekend we spent a quiet week with Sarah Beth and her scrapbook.  By the time she left on Saturday (7/12) most of the "ABC" pages were done - I will finish the last few and give it to her at her birthday party (Big #10) on the 26th.  She didn't want me to give it to her earlier because she wants to open it and she promises to act surprised - what a character this little girl is!

It wasn't all scrapbooking all week (although it sure felt like it).  We toasted marshmallows every night and one night we took a drive over to Chestnut Mountain and Marty, Sarah and I each took a ride on the Alpine Slide.  Marty decided it would be fun to attach a camera to his bike helmet and video tape us going down the slide.  Unfortunately, when he took his second trip down he asked for and got the "fastest" sled and wiped out.  He banged up his elbow and knee but no worries, the camera was uninjured.

Please, no pictures
Once Sarah left (7/12) we started getting ready to leave Blanding Landing.  This was supposed to be our temporary home until Pleasant Creek COE Park dried out (which it never did).  Our commitment  was from May 15 - July 15.   It was nice not paying campground fees for the two months we were waiting but it's even nicer to hit the road again.

We left our campground on Wednesday (7/16) and drove up to Jeff and Lori's house in Brooklyn, Wisconsin.   We will be here until Wednesday (7/30).

On Sunday (7/13) we found out that my Aunt Dee passed away and the wake would be on Thursday and funeral on Friday in Marion, IN.   We left the rig in Wisconsin and drove our truck to Illinois on Thursday morning and then drove with some of my sisters to Indiana.

I always have a good time with my sisters and even though we were on our way to a funeral, this car trip was no different.  The car I was in with Marty, Sue, and Judy stopped at Baker's Square for lunch.  When we walked in, I asked the host if it was "free pie Wednesday" - he said no "that was yesterday".  I told him I was from Australia and that it was Wednesday there and couldn't I get a free piece of pie?  He believed me for about a minute but I cannot tell a lie and told him I was just kidding.  Our server did give us one free piece of pie and we all had a good laugh about it.  I may have to try this again :).  Australia is actually a day ahead of us so next time we try it will have to be on a Tuesday.

Once we finally got to Marion, Indiana it was after 7:00 and the wake ended at 8:00 so we had to change our clothes in  a hurry and head over.  Luckily, the motel was right next door to the funeral home.  My Aunt Dee was 88 years old and had been in hospice care for over a year.  It's never easy to lose someone you love but she was ready to go and join my uncle.  She was alert until the end and her kids were all with her when she passed away.  We love spending time with our Indiana Hoos cousins but it would be nicer if it wasn't at funerals!

After the funeral lunch and family visiting time was over it was time to head back to Illinois.  But wait, there's a playground over there and Marty thinks it would be nice to take a "Sister" picture.

Me and my sisters:   Jeanne, Donna, Sue, and Judy
And then we got silly ----
A well-balanced family (mostly)

8 swingers
On our way home from Indiana we had a decision to make.  We had four tickets to the Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field for that night.  We had hoped to sell them through StubHub but there were no takers.   We really weren't crazy about going but also didn't want them to go to waste.  After much discussion in the car we decided that Sue, Judy and I would go and that Marty could hang out at Sarah's apartment and chill until the concert was over and then he would pick us up and we would all drive back to Crystal Lake.  Sarah went to the concert with us so all four tickets were used.  This is not what I was expecting to do when I got up that morning.   We had a pretty good time although we were a little disappointed in the play list and the lack of energy from Billy Joel.
Sarah, Judy, Sue and Mary
My first trip to Wrigley since June, 2013

We ran into cousin Dave and his wife Beth

Sugar River Bicycle Trail - New Glarus, WI
Marty and I ended up spending the night at Sue's house Friday night and driving back to Wisconsin Saturday afternoon.  On Sunday, Sue came up with her bicycle and Marty, Sue and I went for a 20 mile bike ride.  We need (at least I do) to get in shape for our bike trip and I was very happy that I could ride that far in the heat and humidity.  It helped that there was an ice cream shop at the end of the trail.  Wisconsin has an incredible network of bike trails, you can almost ride across the whole state just on trails.   Wherever you are in the state you can usually find a nice trail to ride on.

When we got back home we had dinner with our Aunt Betty from Madison (Jeff's mom).  The best part of our travels has been catching up with family. 

My cousin, Jeff, had a heart transplant in April.  He is doing remarkably well and has been back at work for over a month.  It's truly amazing what modern medicine can do!

We helped him out a little by doing some yard work (did I mention he has five acres?).  We pruned a couple of the weeping willow trees and cleaned out all the weeds around the firepit.   Marty cut the grass on the riding lawnmower and, boy, is there a lot of grass!  It normally takes Jeff about seven hours on Saturday to get it done.  Marty did a few hours on Monday and again on Tuesday.
That's a lot of weeds!
Madison has six different AVA walks so on Monday morning we drove there and picked up a map for the 6k "Capital Walk". The walk started across the street from the capital building.  Our first stop was about four blocks away at Monona Terrace which overlooks Lake Monona.  There was a memorial there to Otis Redding - his plane crashed into the lake on 12/10/1967.  We didn't know that, did you?

Madison's capital area is on an isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota.  There are only 8 blocks between the lakes and as we continued our walk it took us along a path near Lake Mendota.   We also saw many fraternity and sorority houses for the University of Wisconsin - Go Badgers!

Lake Monona
Otis Redding Memorial

Madison Capital Building
We found a cool spot to hang out in
My brother Tom works in Madison so once we finished the walk we headed over to his company to pick him up to go to lunch.  We had an excellent lunch at a Mexican restaurant (complete with a pitcher of margarita's) and then drove him back to work.   Once Marty, Sue and I got back to the rig we were done for the day - the sun and the margarita's knocked us out.  

Sue left us on Monday night and drove back to Illinois but we like company so we invited Tom to come over for a cookout on Tuesday and to spend the night.  He lives about 75 miles from where he works and since we are only about 20 miles from his job it made sense for him to stay.  After dinner Jeff brought out some big boy toys - a compound bow and arrows and a pellet gun.  They all took turns with both and were outside until well after dark.

Tom left early Wednesday morning and we spent the day organizing, filing, and cleaning.  There is always a lot of all of the above to do so we also spent Thursday finishing up.  Marty was also processing photos on the computer and I finally finished Sarah's scrapbook which she'll get to see at the July Birthday party on Saturday.

On Friday morning we drove to Oregon (Wisconsin) and did some laundry.   Once that was done we headed over to Monticello and had lunch at the M&M Cafe (for obvious reasons).  The food was decent and Marty's cherry pie was homemade and very good. 

We drove back down to Illinois on Saturday morning (7/26) to spend the day (and night) at Judy and Don's house in Crystal Lake.  We celebrated birthdays for three of my nephews and Sarah Beth. Their birthdays range from July 21st thru September 12th but it's always been a tradition in our family to combine parties.  It makes things a whole lot easier!   All seven of my siblings were there and we even had three cousins there with their kids for a grand total of 55 people!

Birthday kids:  Adam, Zach, Sarah Beth, and Mark

Sarah and her "abc"scrapbook - does she look surprised?
"T" is for Tom - can you tell who's her favorite uncle?

All 8 siblings plus 3 cousins
We left Crystal Lake Sunday morning and Sue and Sarah Beth followed us back into Wisconsin.  They wanted to see Cave of the Mounds so we drove to Blue Mounds, WI to take the tour there before heading home to our rig.

This cave was discovered in 1939 on the property of Ebenezer Brigham during a routine quarry blast. 
During the tour we descended 70 feet into the cave and listened as our guide walked us through the different cavern areas.  The temperature in the cave is always 50 degrees which makes for a pleasant way to spend a hot July afternoon.  One of the highlights of the tour was when our guide turned off all the lights - it was completely black and a little freaky. 

Cave of the Mounds

Sue, Sarah and Mary
On our way home Sunday night

After the cave we drove to Mt. Horeb for a quick bite to eat at the "Grumpy Troll".  While there we saw that the 40 mile Military Ridge Bicycle Trail runs right through town.  This trail runs all the way from Dodgeville to Fitchburg which is way too many miles for us.  And we didn't have our bikes with us so we ended up going back on Monday for a bike ride on a small portion of the trail.  Jeff's oldest son, Seth, came with us and kept Sarah company.  They are both ten and lots of fun.

We ended up riding from Mt. Horeb to Blue Mounds which was about five miles away.  We stopped for lunch at Aunt Mary's Hooterville Inn and then headed back to Mt. Horeb.  It was an incredible day for a ride - temps in the 70's and low humidity.  Without kids we could have gone at least another 10 miles.  Both kids had 20" bikes which are not the best for keeping up with our 26" bikes.  They both did a pretty good job even with their little bikes. 

Last year Marty and I took Sarah for what turned out to be an 11 mile bike ride.  We made lots of stops and she handled it fine.  She begged us not to tell her grandma (Sue) because she didn't want her to know how far she could go.  What a difference a year makes, Sarah really enjoyed the ride and the only complaint she had this year was that the seat was too hard. 
Let's get this show on the road!
She sure was having fun
She'll follow me anywhere especially if there is food involved. 
Once we finished the ride we checked out some of the trolls in Mt. Horeb.   Here is some information I got off the Mt. Horeb website sharing the reason for so many trolls in their town.

 By the late 1800's this community was 75% Norweigian.  Trolls originated from early Scandinavian folklore. They are usually smaller beings, similar in size to dwarves or elves. Trolls tend to dwell in mounds or near the sea-in our case-”mounds” (nearby Blue Mounds)-and are known to have developed semi-magical powers such as prophecy and shape-shifting.

According to ancient Norwegian legend, trolls have long, crooked noses; only four fingers and toes; and a long, bushy tail. Trolls live to be hundreds of years old.

Most trolls are shaggy and look a bit frightening, but are mostly good-natured and naive. It is advised to maintain a good relationship with trolls as they are often known to be guarding treasures of gold or gemstones-in our case, they guard the friendly people and wonderful attractions of our community!

Our trolls are known to relax outside watering flowers, tending chickens, playing music or just plain ol’ hamming it up for your viewing pleasure.

An amazing wood carving of 3 trolls

Seth, Sarah, and "friend'


Well that's it for this edition of M&M R adVentures blog post.  Sorry it was so long and congratulations if you made it to the end.  I promise to try and do better in August.