Monday, May 16, 2016

Cactus Road Trip

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Saturday morning I had coffee with Travalon, Jilly Moose, and Luxuli, then we took a rosary walk. I had a gig at the Makers’ Fair at the Monona Terrace, and Travalon was a kind husband and took me there. We got to park for free, since I was a musician. Hardingfele and I explored the fair before we had to play, but it was mostly geared toward kids. Travalon escaped to a nearby tavern, and my band played for very little audience and absolutely no pay. I call that “practicing in public.” Then Travalon and I drove to Fox Lake and explored the lake a bit before going to their community center for the annual Bunny Berigan Jubilee. Bunny Berigan was a famous jazz trumpeter from the 1930’s, and he hailed from Fox Lake. Ironically, the festival is sponsored by Korbel, since Berigan drank himself to death and that was his drink of choice. We saw three bands, all with the following configuration: one trumpet, one trombone, one clarinet, one tuba, and drums, and two of them had banjos for rhythm but one had a pianist. It was basically all Dixieland jazz, which Travalon and I love. It is sort of mind-boggling to think how different all the types of music called “jazz” are. All three bands had some singing too, and they were all elderly, like the audience, except for one banjo player who looked like a college student. There was one couple younger than Travalon and me, and they danced almost the whole night, as well as one older couple. Travalon and I did dance to a few numbers – you can’t help but want to move to that music!

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon and I went to visit our neighbor in the hospital, the one who fell on Friday. She broke her pelvis, but she seems to have a good attitude despite being in so much pain. She is going to a rehab facility soon. Then we had an incredible brunch at the newly redone Avenue Club, and then we went home, got Rodney, and hit the road. The first place Travalon wanted to take me was to some hiking trails by Sauk he had discovered behind a historical marker. I mentioned that about a decade ago I’d been dating this guy who took me to some Nature Conservancy land near Spring Green covered in prickly pear cacti, and we should hike there sometime… and then we saw some cacti by the side of the trail we were on! Travalon thought he’d like to see the huge field of cacti native to Wisconsin, so I looked on the Nature Conservancy website, but while they make it very easy for you to donate, it isn’t so easy to find their land, even though they tell you it’s open to hikers. We finally did find directions, so we headed that way, and the road went right by Ferry Bluff so we stopped there and hiked up to the top. Only once we were there, it said we were on Cactus Bluff! We had an incredible view of the Wisconsin River from there. I was happy because there were tons of Jacks in the Pulpit along the side of the trail up the bluff. As we headed into Spring Green, we saw an amazing bluff that looked like something from Scotland or Ireland… and then it turned out that’s right where we were heading! The field of cacti is right in front of the bluff. We hiked there a little bit, but dogs aren’t allowed and we didn’t want to leave Rodney too long, so we didn’t go all the way up the bluff. We are thinking of going back in late June, when the cacti should be in bloom. On the way back home, we stopped at the Arena boat launch, which is very beautiful, and we ended our road trip with dinner at Coach’s in Cross Plains, one of Travalon’s favorite places. The food was delicious there too, but there was no cactus on the menu. Otherwise, it was a very cactus-oriented day.

Famous Hat

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