Best laid plans…

I took full advantage of my weekend in the Detroit area by eating as much fish as possible. Cooking fish in the MoHo just isn’t something I want to do.  The last thing I want is a fishy-smelling MoHo.  So at dinner on Saturday night, I got salmon.  At breakfast Sunday morning, I ordered lox, egg and onions (with a salt bagel on the side – OMG!!) On Sunday night, I grilled up some fresh swordfish.  I was a happy bee.

The weekend in Detroit was lots of fun.  I pitched up at my friend Stu’s place in Birmingham.  Juno was very excited to have someone new to sleep with and I was excited to have a buddy for the Tigers game on Sunday!  We arrived early and took a stroll around the stadium, and got a drink at Cheli’s rooftop bar across the street from Comerica Park. The view was fantastic, we met a great couple from across the river (hi Michelle!!) and the Bloody Mary was quite tasty.

Once we got inside, we had great seats on the first base line.  The Tigers were giving up a lot of runs so I took a walk inside the park and was amazed at all the attractions they had: tiger carousel, baseball ferris wheel, and some baseball topiary.

Sadly, the Tigers lost but it was a glorious day and I loved the ballpark.

Monday morning was rainy and gloomy.  I know, I know…  I feel like Pigpen.  Except instead of trailing dirt, I trail rain wherever I go.  Anyway, I drove over to the uber-spooky Michigan Central Station which hasn’t been in use in decades.  From there, I sloshed my way to Grosse Pointe Farms for breakfast and a walk with Lani, an old friend/colleague who moved from the Bay Area to MI a couple of years ago.  We had a wonderful time catching up and seriously, if it wasn’t for the friggin’ winter, Michigan would be a serious contender on the “where should I live list.”

For those keeping track, I spent almost as much time in MI as I did in MT.  So many wonderful places to see – the only bummer is I inadvertently threw away my Mackinac Island sticker that I spent $5.30 on.  Good news is April and Paul are headed up there and they promised they’d get me another one for the MoHo fridge.

From Detroit, my plan was to head across Canada and then drop down to Portland, ME.  I was going to stop in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec.  Then I amended the plan slightly and decided to hit Niagara Falls first before proceeding to Toronto.  Got a reservation at the Motel 6 and Juno and I set off across the border!

After driving nearly four hours – most of which was spent trying to convert speed limits from kilometers to miles – I happily collapsed at the motel and then unhappily watched the debates.  No comment.  Because I can’t even…

This morning started out rainy but happily started clearing up by the time Juno and I got to the Falls. I had  heard that the Canadian side was prettier and yeah, it’s spectacular.  Because you are looking right at the American Falls and then it’s a short walk down to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.  I made sure that Juno got to be a part of the Niagara experience too:

I did the Hornblower cruise and enjoyed every minute.  There’s a point at the Horseshoe Falls where you literally can’t see a thing. There is so much water creating so much mist that you are blind.  It’s awesome. The Rainbow bridge connects the US to Canada…  (hint: I’ll be crossing it later!)

After the boat cruise, I went to Journey behind the Falls. There are these platforms where you get to stand right next to Horseshoe Falls.  There are also tunnels where you are watching the falls from behind.

Added bonus: video footage of both of these moments:

Finished with my Niagara Falls experience, Juno and I took a stroll around the area.  It is full of family-friendly activities – ferris wheel, bowling, dinosaur mini golf, Frankenstein eating Burger King, haunted houses, and a blue moose which I guess is a Canadian brand or something?

So… the other thing I did last night was consult the map and discovered that because I had detoured to Niagara Falls, that it would be more efficient for me to drive back across the border, across NY and up to Portland.  Approximately 9 hours of travel time versus 12+ hours with the original plan. Like I said in the title, best laid plans…  I’ll see the rest Canada another time, on another trip.  Driving over the Rainbow Bridge, one last shot of Niagara and then boom, I’m in New York.

I used to hate Tuesdays when I was still working but this was definitely one of the best days I’ve had on this trip… yay for Tuesdays!  Time for some herbal tea and Amazon Prime.

State count:  15

 

Artsy Fartsy

The last few days have been filled with art, art and more art.  I had timed my visit to Grand Rapids to coincide with their annual ArtPrize festival.  I was also excited to see my friend April and her husband Paul.  The festival itself is spread out all over town – with works of art everywhere and anywhere.  These were my favorite pieces (the selfie of April and me was taken in front of the weird blow-up elephant thing):

The title of the piece in the picture above is Emoh -home spelled backwards. There is a man living inside the ball during the entire 3 week festival. It’s way smaller than my MoHo.

There was also some cool street art as I cruised around the downtown area:

With my art fix satisfied (at least for the day), I meandered over to the Fish Bridge and watched the fishermen in action.  And yes, that is a picnic table in the middle of the river.  Apparently it’s been there for years.  And no, it’s not another art exhibit.

I enjoyed my time in Grand Rapids – the best part was making dinner for April and Paul.  I am limited on the complexity of things I can make in the MoHo so it was fun whipping up a big lasagna for my friends.  With my laundry completed, it was time to hit the road once again. I stopped in Lansing for 30 minutes – just enough to take a picture of the capital, walk Juno and  eat an apple.  The weather was dreary and rainy (shocker!) so I opted to press on to Ann Arbor immediately.

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I didn’t take any pictures in Ann Arbor but I can say that I enjoyed the town immensely.  We took a stroll around downtown, as well as the arboretum, drove around the U of Michigan campus (their football stadium is amazing!) and I posted up in a lovely neighborhood full of squirrels. Juno was a happy snug.

I’m finally operating on East Coast time (took about a week to get acclimated) which means I was up at my usual 6:30am this morning.  We were on the road by 9am and hit the Eastern Market in Detroit by 10am. Juno wasn’t allowed in the Sheds so we meandered along on the outskirts.  The street art surrounding the Eastern Market is nothing short of amazing.  Here are the best examples:

I decided to double-down and hit the Detroit Institute for the Arts right afterward.  What the DIA is best known for is the series of murals that Diego Rivera did in the 1930’s to depict industry and the workers behind it.  The murals are in a huge gallery and truly a sight to behold.  Hard to capture with a camera but I tried…

The DIA is the 5th largest museum in the US and has a massive collection.  Here are a few of my other favorites, including The Nightmare which I had never seen in person before. And yes, I got into the action in one of the galleries.  I liked the donkey sculpture because it was the only piece you are allowed to touch.

Cruising around Detroit after visiting the DIA, I hit the RiverWalk where I met Richard, Susan and Jeannie.  I also enjoyed the view of Canada (looking south), took a drive around Belle Isle, found the exit for 8 Mile and saw an awesome license plate!  Juno was being extra cute.

Okay, it’s late and I’m tired so time to wrap this up.  I’d like to end this post with a very special piece of artwork that I received a couple of days ago.  My friend Liz’s daughter Sophia drew this picture of me and I think she captured me perfectly, especially the hat!  I absolutely love it – such a wonderful thing to receive…  thank you Sophia!

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My oh MI !

I had been told that northern Michigan was beautiful by several people.  They weren’t kidding.  While the drive from Niles to Traverse City was perfectly agreeable, the drive from Traverse City to Petoskey was on another level.  Spent most of the time driving alongside Traverse Bay, which is interspersed with apple farms and other adorable roadside attractions.  The leaves are just just just starting to change color – maybe 3%? I love these one-lane highways that just meander along… I have become one of those people who always drive the speed limit (sometimes I even go a bit slower).  Because I am no longer in a hurry.  So I take my time and know that I’ll get wherever I am going eventually.

I spent two nights at Magnus Park in Petoskey which is right on Little Traverse Bay.  It was pouring rain on Monday afternoon (what else is new?) but still managed a stroll around the downtown and a little shopping at B May.

Side note one: Most towns in northern MI have a weird “No Parking” ordinance between 3-6am on all city streets so I had no choice but to do the RV park thing the last few nights.

Side note two: I called the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort and their prices started at $63/night. Magnus Park was a much better location and at $28/night, a no-brainer.  Once again I’ve proved my point about public vs private parks.

Side note three: Many of these quaint towns are starting to blend together…  Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey – all full of cute shops with logo t-shirts, ice cream parlors and cafes. Same can be said about Galena, Red Lodge, Medora and the list goes on. Not that I have a problem with any of this.   Just sayin’ that I’ve had a LOT of milkshakes…

So the good news is the rain stopped by Monday evening and I awoke to a picture perfect day on Tuesday.  Since this was the day to head to Makinac Island, I was thrilled.  Juno and I took the 11am ferry and since the weather was so perfect, we took a detour under the Mackinaw Bridge and then arrived at Mackinac Island promptly at 11:30am.

For those of you unaware (as I was), Mackinaw/Mackinac are both pronounced the same way.  The reason for the two spellings: one is the Indian spelling and the other is the French spelling (the “c” is silent).  Also, it was for ease of use for the postal service before zip codes were put into place. They would see Mackinaw – it would go to city, Mackinac – it would go to the island.  And now you know!

The next series of pictures was taken throughout the day – it was ridiculous how every picture was postcard-perfect. Arch Rock was a particular favorite, the crystal clear water and the shot of the kites.

Mackinac Island is car-free.  Everyone gets around on foot, by bike or by horse-drawn carriage.  As much as I would have liked to take a horse taxi, Juno was a little overwhelmed by the number of horses and so we opted to tour the island on foot.

I stopped at Murdick’s Fudge and purchased a slice of the Traverse Cherry and Chocolate Coconut varieties at which point I became a “fudgie.”  For the record, fudgie is a real term.  But it’s hard not to be a fudgie – there are no less than 10 fudge shops in two blocks. Not exaggerating.

The next two pix are my fave from our time on Mackinac – one detailing how equine professionals (aka horse drivers) aren’t responsible for the death of an individual if a horse kills that individual. Nice.  And the other is self-explanatory.  Such a happy boy!

After taking the ferry back to Mackinaw City, we immediately drove over the Mackinaw Bridge.  A brisk three mile drive and ta dum, we were officially in the UP !!

FYI – it costs $4 each way to cross the Mackinaw Bridge. My dad and I were talking the other day and he was wondering why the UP belonged to Michigan and not Wisconsin.  I didn’t know either so I looked it up.  Here’s the answer for those of you who didn’t know:

Why the Upper Peninsula is Not Part of Wisconsin

Back across the bridge and then on to Petoskey.  The clouds started rolling in and the sky was amazing.  Juno was very tired – he didn’t notice.

My last comment for this post has to do with how nice people are in the Midwest.  I know I’ve detailed many instances of kindnesses I’ve received over the past few weeks.  Today’s experience happened while driving from Petoskey to Grand Rapids.  A man in a truck passed me and then inexplicably veered into my lane.  I gave a polite honk and he gave me the “Sorry!” wave.  I waved back.  A minute later, we were both stopped at a traffic signal.  He waved at me again, his girlfriend rolled down the window and then he proceeded to apologize profusely to me.  I told him all was well and we both went merrily on our way.  I love being in places where road rage simply doesn’t exist.  Just one more reason why I this trip has been so great.  My oh MI!

Saturday night’s alright for fighting

Yes, yes – back to back song lyrics as post titles…  But I can assure you it’s for good reason!

I had just arrived in South Bend during my last update and I was pleasantly surprised to find so many fun things to do and see during the time I was there.  My friend Sara was kind enough to let me park in front of her folks’ house while I was in town and it was great having a home cooked meal amongst friends.

We kicked things off with a visit to the River Lights Projects along the St. Joseph River – all created by Rob Shakespeare.  The colors are constantly changing and I was able to get a short video of one of the installations.

The next day I zipped around town and visited the Wellfield Botanical Gardens, the RV/MH Hall of Fame and the Studebaker Museum.  Here are some of my favorite cars from the Studebaker museum… details below:

Clockwise from top left: The ’55 President Speedster, the 1934 Bendix, me in a 1950 convertible,1951 Commander from the Muppet Movie (you can sorta see Fozzie’s arm hanging out) and a 1963 Zip Van.

On the historical front, they also had the carriage that took President Lincoln to Ford Theatre the night he was assassinated.  Also Revolutionary War hero Lafayette’s Barouche from 1824.

And on the “I see dead people” front, here are two hearses – the white one was specifically used for children and the black one had a “trap door” underneath so someone could stand up inside and clean the interior.  Nice.

I decided to spare you all pictures from the RV/MH museum as I just don’t know that you would find these as interesting as I did.  If I get an overwhelming response that you all want to see old trailers and RV’s, then I will absolutely throw a few into my next post.

Sara, along with her daughters Annabelle and Ava, got to spend lots of quality time with Juno.  Juno loved the girls but was less crazy about Rory, a very affectionate chocolate lab who had the uncanny ability of blending into the couch.

Saturday found the four of us on a quest to see as many Elkhart “elks” as possible.  They are all around town and painted by different artists.

We also visited Linton’s Enchanted Gardens (really just a fancy nursery) which was already in full-blown Halloween mode.  Annabelle’s skeleton body art was awesome – very apropos for the day.

Finally, it was time to head out for Notre Dame.  I was able to get a ticket for last night’s game vs Michigan State.  Since I didn’t attend a Division I school, I never got to experience what it’s like at a big game with a conference rival.  I arrived just in time to see the marching band enter the stadium and shot a short video (which isn’t very good – sorry)

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The pictures speak for themselves.  So hopefully now you understand the reference to this blog post title…  Saturday night… the Fighting Irish… Get it?!?!?!?!?!  Sigh.

I crossed the border to Michigan last night but as I took surface streets, there was no grand “Welcome to Michigan” sign. No balloons.  Just a “State Line” street sign.  I tried backtracking this morning and taking another road but no luck. But I can assure you that I am in Michigan. Spending the night in Traverse City.  Woot!

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I will end this post with a blast from the past…  Those of you who have been following me for awhile will remember the post about Wall Drug outside of Rapid City, SD.  They had all the billboards along the highway – basically one every 45 seconds – known for their “Free Ice Water” campaign. Well, lookie at what I saw on the wall of a barn in Elkhart, IN…

 

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The Wall Drug marketing team is brilliant.

State count: 14

Back on the Road Again

The title of this post has two meanings, which will become apparent as you read the latest and greatest.

Springfield should be renamed Lincolnville.  Seriously. Because that’s what Springfield is really all about.  And for good reason too!  You arrive at the capital and there’s a big statue of Lincoln in front.  It’s actually pretty cool because on the back side of the wall behind the statue is the farewell speech he gave before setting off for Washington DC to become president.

After walking the capital grounds, I headed over to the Lincoln Library and Museum. The library is primarily for research so I spent most of the time at the museum.  It is thoughtfully laid out with exhibits from Lincoln’s early days all the way through to his death and return to Springfield.  I’m only including a few pictures, including a political cartoon (they had an entire room full of them), a headline regarding Lincoln’s cabinet and their reaction to the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and a painting showing Lincoln receiving the news that the South had surrendered.  The date: April 9th (my birthday!)

They had a special room with some of Lincoln’s personal effects – one of which was his stovepipe hat.  Pictures weren’t allowed but you could see his fingerprints on the brim. The entire experience was very moving and I found myself getting choked up a couple of times during my visit.

From the Lincoln Museum, I headed over to the Lincoln House. The house was restored at the behest of Robert, Lincoln’s son.  And while most of the contents aren’t original, the desk in the picture was Lincoln’s – it was in his bedroom on the 2nd floor.  Note:  I also saw some cool Lincoln street art along the way…  And for those of you paying close attention, you will note the number of my parking spot.

I wrapped up my time in Springfield and instead of spending a second night there, opted to drive to Champaign for an evening.  I found a great neighborhood where I ended up meeting Annie, whose house I parked next to.  Turns out Anni is looking to sell her house, buy an RV and hit the road with her dog… sound familiar??!?!  Needless to say, we totally hit it off and I’m crossing my fingers that she and I will meet up down the road in the not-too-distant future.  (Hi Anni!)

The most awesome thing about Champaign is it’s the birthplace of the members of REO Speedwagon. How it is they don’t have some kind of special museum dedicated to these musical geniuses is beyond me – the only thing they have is the honorary street sign. So I drove downtown and took a picture.  For those keeping track, perhaps you now understand the first meeting of this blog post title…………

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I departed Champaign, dialed up REO Speedwagon’s greatest hits on the iPod and within an hour, two extraordinary things happened:

  1. I found a Bob’s Big Boy in Danville, IL
  2. I crossed into Indiana – a new state!

I spent the last two nights holed up at a Quality Inn in the Castleton neighborhood of Indianapolis.  Basically did a whole lot of nothing.  Well, not nothing.  Juno got groomed yesterday so I was able to do human errands. I also did a thorough inside/outside cleaning  of the MoHo.  Here are pre and post grooming shots of Snug (the most handsome boy). I had only intended to spend one night at the Quality Inn but it was nice to just lie around that I decided to spend an extra night.  (And at $75 a night, it didn’t break the bank)

This morning it was time to motivate and do stuff. So I drove downtown to the capital and then took a walk along the canal.  The canal was nice with artwork lining the underpasses and plenty of landscaping outside.  Not sure where the Safe Place door led to…

But the best picture of the day was taken at the gas station. Because you never know when you might need a notary…

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From Indianapolis, I got back on the road this afternoon (meaning #2 !!) and drove up to South Bend, which is where I am now.  I should also mention that I’m now on East Coast time.  So it’s 10:45pm and I’m tired.  Nitey nite.

State count: 13

Just a Perfect Day…

First off, I’d like to mention that the previous post included my first-ever video!  I was very proud of myself for finally being able to include more than just static pictures.   Don’t worry, I don’t plan on shooting/sharing a lot of videos – it’s just nice to have another option.  One cannot live on Jon Stewart clips alone…

Galena turned out to be another quaint, charming, (insert your choice of synonym here) town.  At one point Galena’s population was on par with Chicago. But that was a long long long time ago.  Now the population is just over 3,000.  But amazingly, Galena is the #2 tourist destination in Illinois, behind Chicago.  Galena receives 1.2 million visitors every year, according to my source at the Coldwell Banker Real Estate office in town.  And no, I’m not going to live in Galena – Juno just happened to wander into the office so I followed him.

Back to the quaintness – even the street signs are cute!  People put marriage proposals on brick walls (more romantic than a Jumbotron)!  Even Juno found a friend.  I bought two big bags of popcorn and a maple pecan danish.  Delish.

After a long stroll around the town, it was time to head to Utica and Starved Rock State Park.  I had hoped to stay at the park but sadly it was full.  But everything happens for a reason and I backtracked to town to take Juno for a walk and to figure out a new plan. That’s when I met Bridget and Jeremy.  Jeremy commended me on my MoHo parking skills (I can parallel park this puppy anywhere) and we ended up chatting for awhile.  They suggested I do some hiking at Matthiessen State Park as it’s not as busy as Starved Rock and more for the “locals.” Love getting the insider scoop. I ended up at a nice RV park that wasn’t too spendy, away from the freeway, had lots of trees and no ridiculous coin-op showers.  Yay!

Sunday turned out to be a perfect day.  Any day where I can do the following three things makes me sublimely happy:

  1. Going for a run
  2. Going hiking
  3. Drinking a milkshake after having completed #1 and #2

And the fact that I had a nice long (free!) hot shower after #1 made the day even better!

Juno and I enjoyed Matthiessen State Park together.  Despite the muddiness and all the stairs, Juno was a real trooper on our nature stroll.

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But once we arrived at Starved Rock, Juno was putting on the brakes just walking to the Visitors Center so I opted to go for a hike on my own.  I did a 3 mile loop up through the canyon and back down along the river.  The picture in the bottom right hand corner is the view from Starved Rock up the river.

Just as I was heading off, I got a text from my friend Jason asking where I was watching the Raiders game.  I told him that I kinda forgot it was Sunday and that I was out for a hike.  I thought about my priorities with regard to watching Raiders games on TV vs going hiking and have decided hiking wins 7 out of 10 times.  The 3 times where I’d prefer to watch a Raiders game on TV is as follows:

  1. The Raiders are in the playoffs and/or Super Bowl
  2. The weather is so bad that I might end up getting pneumonia if I went outside
  3. The proposed hike is in an area known for leeches and I don’t have long gaiters

Two notes on the above.  One, I mention watching Raiders on TV.  Watching the Raiders live is a different story and I’ll pretty much always pick that over hiking – or anything else for that matter.  Two, I’ve had personal experience with leeches while hiking in Tasmania so I know what I’m talking about. It is the most disgusting thing ever.

After the hike, I stopped at Chillin’ on 6 in North Utica for a delicious milkshake and to replenish my fudge supply. This place had some really unusual fudge options – I opted for peach cobbler and jelly donut.  Soooooooooooooo good!!!

The drive to Springfield went by quickly and once I saw that the Raiders had beaten the Saints, I literally sang Lou Reed’s Perfect Day non-stop for about 30 minutes.  Juno slept through my serenade.  My route took me by one amusing street sign and also took me along Route 66!

That’s all for now. It’s Lincoln time!

It’s not as bad as I thought

Yeah, I know.  I’ve been slacking again.  I blame the weather.  I have never seen so much rain in my life. Driving in it isn’t fun and going out in it is even worse.  But the worst part is the mosquitos AFTER the rain stops.  They are relentless.  I think part of the reason for my “slackadaisical” (I just made up that word and will be copywriting it so don’t steal it)  behavior is the loss of blood I’ve sustained from all the mosquito bites.

Okay – I will stop rambling now.  The rest of my time in Milwaukee was wonderful.  Finally got to use my reciprocity privileges with my SFMOMA card at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Incredible structure which reminded me slightly of the USS Enterprise.

After looking at a couple of open houses, it was time to hit the road again. Madison is only a short drive from Milwaukee and I opted to hole up at a county RV park for a couple of nights.  Side note on RV parks:  I have found that county/city/state parks are FAR SUPERIOR to private RV parks.  Why?  1.  They are less expensive. 2. They are generally in an actual park or are surrounded by nature and therefore aesthetically more pleasing.  3. They are NEVER located by a highway and almost always peaceful and quiet.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I booked two nights because the rain was relentless and I ended up not getting to do as much as I’d hoped in Madison.  Saw the capital, went to the Farmers Market and replenished my supply of cheese curds (yay!!!!!!), realized that pretty much everything in Madison is related to the university – note the liquor store sign.  I also found the only place to get Mexican food in Madison.  While I was tempted to try it, I figured I was safer eating a handful of cheese curds.

Next stop on the Wisconsin itinerary was Spring Green which is known for two famous buildings that could not be more different:  House on the Rock and Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer house.  I visited HotR first and all I can say is that it’s weird.  Really weird. Filled with more stuff than you can imagine.  Even the ladies restroom contained doll, Christmas and airplanes displays.  There were instruments that played themselves, an infinity room, “Streets of Yesteryear” which reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, a crazy imaginary sea creature being attacked by a giant octopus and these mechanical toys that would move if you deposited a token.  The Dying Drunkard was the best (sorry the picture of the token box is blurry) with the drunkard rising and falling from the bed while the skeleton would pop out of the clock.

I really enjoyed the Japanese garden – mainly because it was outside. And the enormous water wheel was a nice touch.

But the best part (IMHO) was the enormous carousel.   Incredible carved figures and not a single horse!

The actual town of Spring Green is quaint and I visited the Wisconsin Artist Showcase where I got a small painting by Tom Kelly, a local artist. I had to – this painting was basically me! The other picture demonstrates why I don’t like private RV parks – I paid $40 for one night and they have coin-op showers.  Seriously, I was pissed.

Yesterday morning, after a nice run through town and a free shower in my MoHo, it was time to head to Taliesin.  I opted for the less-expensive (aka cheap) $21 one-hour tour. I did NOT get to see FLW’s house, but I did see the school that he built, including the assembly hall, theater and the Romeo and Juliet water tower.  These buildings were created over a 50 year period beginning in 1902 and still in use today.  So cool.  In fact, the water tower was the first instance of any building in the county having running water!  I definitely plan on visiting Taliesin West when I’m in Arizona next year.

From Spring Green, it was a 30-minute drive to Mineral Point and big surprise, it rained pretty much the entire way.  The good news is the rain stopped by the time I arrived and Juno and I spent the next few hours wandering around this adorable town.  Lots of art galleries to enjoy, I hit The Pear for some locally sourced yarn, got more cheese from Hook’s Cheese (their curds might be the best I’ve had) and found the nicest tractor ever.   The highlight was my conversation with Lisa and Don, and their friend Carrie. Lisa painted the chairs in front of High Street Candy, along with the Little Free Library.  Don showed me pictures of their kitchen ceiling which she recently painted.  They, along with everyone else I spoke to, encouraged me to move to Mineral Point.  I said I’d think about it.

After departing Mineral Point, I needed to stop for groceries and since there was a Walmart off the Platteville exit, I figured why not? I’ve been having a challenge with finding the kind of fresh produce I’m used to – some local supermarkets don’t even have kale.  I figured Walmart should have the basics. Well color me surprised!  Not only did they have nice big bunches of fresh kale, they had a huge bin of broccoli crowns and both Honeycrisp and Envy apples! I was sooooo happy!!  But here’s the best part – they also had liquor tasting in the store!  Yep – they were sampling different bourbons.  Did I partake? Of course. Fortunately, there was also a cracker tasting near the register so I grabbed a snack on my way out.  Walmart – seriously not so bad at all…

I’m back in Illinois now – crossed the border and holed up in Galena last night.  Just as soon as the rain stops and I apply more bug spray, Juno and I will be checking out the town.  Have a great weekend!

 

Two Months Down, Ten To Go…

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been gone for two months.  On the one hand, I look back at previous posts and see all the places I’ve visited and experiences I’ve had and think “Wow! I’ve done A LOT!”  But then on the other hand, I look at a map of the US and think “I’ve barely scratched the surface.” It’s a good thing I’ve still got another 10 months of travel time.  And while I feel so lucky to have such wonderful friends all around the country, what has made this trip extra special is all the new friends I’ve made along the way.  I seriously can’t think of a single day where I haven’t met someone new.  Bottom line – this is by far the most fun I’ve ever had.

Alright, I’m done waxing nostalgic or proselytizing or whatever you want to call it – time to get caught up on the rest of the weekend’s activities…

After a second night of deep dish pizza (oof), one last load of laundry and a final hot bath at Val’s, I left Chicago on Sunday afternoon bound for Milwaukee. Since I had only spent the one night in Wisconsin after the Raiders/Packers game, it had always been my intention to come back here and spend more time exploring this beautiful state.  After a stroll along the River Walk and a requisite visit to The Fonz statue, I wandered down to the Historic Third Ward just in time to enjoy their Labor Day weekend art festival.  While I managed to restrain myself from buying anything (a first!), I collected a lot of cards for follow up.  I’m also including a better picture of the “Wisconsin Welcomes You” sign since the first one from a couple of weeks ago wasn’t so hot.  I particularly like the picture of the  random potted orchid hanging from a street lamp.

I decided to park in the Upper East Side neighborhood which is right on the lake and has the most beautiful homes.  Right after I arrived, I got out of the MoHo to walk Juno and said hello to Julie and Michael, a couple sitting on their porch across the street.  Within 5 minutes, I had given them a tour of the MoHo.  Within 10 minutes, I was sitting on their porch with them enjoying a pineapple habanero margarita.  I ended spending a wonderful evening chatting with them and Juno had lots of fun playing with their dog Beau – so much so that I decided I’d come back the next night!

Labor Day started with a leisurely drive along N Lake Dr, taking walks along Lake Michigan and exploring Whitefish Bay.20160905_100626

After that, it was time for some baseball!  I got a $25 SRO ticket for the Cubs/Brewers game at Miller Park.  The SRO ticket was definitely the way to go as I ended up standing on the 1st base line right behind the first section of seats. Awesome place to watch the game!  The highlight was watching the sausage race – Brat, Polish, Italian, Hot Dog and Chorizo. I’m not exactly sure who won (I think Italian?) but does it really matter?  I enjoyed a delicious Banh Mi Brat. I also ended up hanging out with Andrew, who was up from Chicago, but as it turns out was originally from San Luis Obispo and went to Cal.  And the craziest part is he is going to the same med school that my grandfather attended!! Small small world…

Spent the late afternoon enjoying Lake Park before heading back to the Upper East Side and to Julie and Michael’s place.  My timing was perfect – Juno and I were invited in for a fantastic dinner.  Another great day…

I’m here in Milwaukee for a bit longer – going to look at a couple of houses this afternoon – and then it’s off to Madison for a couple of days.

Wrapping up this post, I thought I’d share some pix of Juno taken over the last few days.  He has been the best travel companion – he truly makes himself at home no matter where we are.  My favorite pic is the one of him standing on the shore of Lake Michigan with his cute little ears blowing in the breeze.

I love him so much!

Chillin’ in Chi-town

Let me first start by saying that typing hurts.  I did back-to-back-to-back workouts the last two days and I can barely lift my arms. I’m supposed to work out again at 8am tomorrow morning and I have grave concerns that my arms might actually fall off.  So this is going to be a short post.

I drove into Illinois Wednesday morning en route to Rockford and a stop at an RV service center for some minor repairs. I opted for the backroads and the drive was gorgeous.  But about 20 minutes after crossing the state lines, I saw a sign that said “Welcome to Oregon.” WTF? It took me a full minute to realize that there’s a town in Illinois called Oregon.   I was so confused that I didn’t even stop to get a picture. Lame, I know.

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I arrived at my friend Val’s place in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon with a bottle of wine and a bag full of dirty laundry.  Val’s home is gorgeous and I’m not sure which I was more excited about – the bathtub or the huge washer and dryer.  Two days later and I’m still debating…

Val has been a great hostess and we’ve gotten massages, done several walks around the Hyde Park area (I got an awesome paint-splattered blouse at one of the uber cool boutiques), walked around the lake, etc etc.  And I’m happy to say the MoHo has a rock star parking spot right in front of her house.   The only downside has been the conflict between Juno and Val’s cats.  Juno barks, they hiss and swipe at him, Juno barks more and so on and so forth.

Tonight I finally got my deep-dish pizza fix and it was divine…  The box must have weighed 10lbs!  I have a strong feeling that I’ll be eating leftovers tomorrow for breakfast (along with my green juice).

Lots of fun tonight with Val, Ron and Danielle – good food, good wine, good company. Pretty much the perfect way to end a glorious day.

I’m going to take a Tylenol PM now and pray that I can lift my arms above my head tomorrow. It was challenging putting my hair into a ponytail tonight.  I’m going to end this post with a new game called “Find Val’s Toes”

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Nitey nite!

State count: 12 (25% !!!!)