Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Riding the Southwest Chief

Sorry for my silence the last few days, but the Southwest Chief train did not have wifi. The one from Chicago to Milwaukee does, so I am currently taking advantage of it. Monday I took a turn driving on the California freeways, and it wasn't too bad. We stopped in Santa Barbara to visit the mission, and I was stunned to find information there about a Native woman who was abandoned on a Channel Island many years ago when the island was evacuated; she was discovered 18 years later and lived the rest of her life at the mission. When I was a little girl, I read a book based on this very incident called Island of the Blue Dolphins, and it really captured my imagination.

We continued on to LA and drove on Mulholland Drive to see the large houses, but somehow we ended up on a terrifying road called Topanga Canyon Drive. Steep turns and drop-offs - yikes! Then we drove on a beautiful road called Laurel Canyon Drive to the La Brea Tar Pits. We went to drop off the rental car, but first the GPS in my phone tried to take me a way that didn't work because the roads are one-way, and then when I called the branch for help, they weren't helpful at all. Worse, when we did manage to find our way there, they said they couldn't take the car and we would have to go to another branch further down the road!! Say what?? At least that branch was helpful and even paid for our Uber ride to the train station. We were biting our nails about making the train, since by then it was rush hour traffic, but we were fine. We relaxed on the train, and around Yorba Linda I noticed the traffic was really backed up even at 7:30 at night, so we were relieved to not still be in a car. Then we realized the town of Corona was on fire, and the traffic was people desperately trying to evacuate. It was the scariest thing I'd ever seen - the flames went on for miles, and even after we passed it, the red glow was visible in the distance. Incredibly, I have read since then that nobody was hurt and only one house was damaged, even though 2000 acres were burning. I never need to see something like that again! It looked like the gates of Hell!

Yesterday we had such a chill day on the train. We just ate, checked out the beautiful New Mexico scenery, and talked to our fellow passengers. Apparently there had been an incident in the middle of the night in which one passenger stole a bunch of stuff from the crew, and when he was caught he also had illegal drugs with him. Needless to say, he was escorted off the train. We just heard about it after the fact. He stole bottles of A-1 steak sauce from the dining car and even the conductor's eyeglasses! What a kleptomaniac. We did get off the train in Albuquerque for some fresh air, so I can now say I have set foot in New Mexico. I'm not quite up to Travalon's 50 states yet, but I'm up to forty-something. We did stop in Las Vegas... New Mexico, which does not look anything like the more famous city in Nevada. We also saw lots of pronghorn antelopes, but they are way too fast so we didn't get any pictures. On this train they let us eat much later than on the California Zephyr, so we really appreciated that.

Today we had another relaxing day. We stopped in Kansas City and spent a lot of time in Missouri, which looks something like Wisconsin. We spent even more time in Illinois, which looks even more like Wisconsin. When we got to Chicago, we got to stow our luggage in the first-class lounge and take a walk outside the station, where we had some deep dish pizza in the shadow of the Sears Tower, or Willis Tower, or whatever it is called these days. Now we are heading to Milwaukee, where our car is parked, so that we can get home and to bed, and get up for work tomorrow.

Here are some more photos. The first three are of the mission at Santa Barbara. My regular readers will be shocked to learn that I bought a rosary there.

This shot is from the freeway. It is in Ventura, California with the Channel Islands in the distance, but it kind of reminds me of Maui with the palm trees and distant islands.

This is a shot of the gorgeous houses up in the Hollywood Hills.

Palm trees and moonlight was what we could see from the train as we passed Fullerton:

This is a shot of the huge wildfire in Corona, California:

I loved these commuter trains in Albuquerque! They are called Rail Runners and have a cartoon roadrunner going over two cars.

I took a lot of shots of the desert in New Mexico but will only bore you with one:

The Sears Tower! We are almost back home!

Even in downtown Chicago, the sunsets are beautiful.

And finally, a video of the La Brea Tar Pit showing the tar bubbling up.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Monterey and Big Sur

This morning Travalon and I had coffee in Berkeley, then we drove over the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco, which goes over Yerba Buena Island. We took a detour onto the island and then to Treasure Island, a small, flat place with wonderful views of downtown San Francisco and a surprisingly lively flea market. Then we drove to Santa Cruz, where Travalon remembered there was a boardwalk we could take a walk on. However, that was almost two decades ago, and now the boardwalk is a big amusement park. We went to Sunset Beach State Park and walked along the surf. Boy, is the Pacific Ocean cold! Then we drove to Monterey and followed the famous 17-Mile Drive along the peninsula, going for a hike along a boardwalk. We saw lots of sea otters playing in the surf, and behind us we saw the prestigious Pebble Beach Golf Course. We drove through Carmel and saw lots of extremely fancy houses beside the sea. We drove out to Big Sur on Highway 1 and saw the sunset - the colors lasted for over half an hour after the sun had gone down! Then we drove south to Atascadero and had dinner at In N Out Burger, a Southern California icon. Tomorrow we head for Los Angeles to get back on the train.

Here are some pictures from our adventures. This first one is a shot of downtown San Francisco from Treasure Island:

Next are a couple of photos of Santa Cruz, showing the amusement park on the boardwalk and a couple of sailboats with black sails:

Here are some shots from the Monterey drive. This first one is of a cactus or something growing on the rocks out in the sea.

The rock formations were so beautiful.

This tree is called the Lone Cypress. It is a famous landmark on the 17-Mile Drive.

Next is the mission at Carmel. We couldn't go inside because there was a wedding going on.

This is my best shot (and believe me, I took a lot) of the sunset over Big Sur. There were tons of people pulled over on Highway 1 to get photos of it.

And this is a brief video of the waves breaking over the rocks off of Monterey:

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Muir Woods and the Napa Valley

Today was another super fun day. Travalon and I had coffee in the garden at the bed and breakfast, then the snippy hostess made a delicious breakfast, and we were joined by a delightful couple around our age who have a daughter at Berkeley. Then Travalon and I drove north on Highway 1, which was breathtaking, and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and had amazing views of the bay. We thought it was a toll bridge, but we didn't get charged. We planned to go to Muir Woods to see the redwoods, but the parking lot was full, so we took the shuttle. That was a fantastic idea, because the road to Muir Woods is almost as harrowing as the one in Denali, and Travalon was relieved that he didn't have to drive on it. The shuttle was only $5, well-spent, because it dropped us off right in front of the visitor center while the people who drove in and parked had to walk for at least a mile to get there. We took a hike among the majestic, ancient redwoods, and it was peaceful until we got to a part of the trail along the side of a steep hill - I didn't enjoy that too much, being so afraid of heights. I spent a lot of the hike clinging to those redwoods for dear life as I inched along! They said the hike would take an hour and a half, and somehow we finished it in exactly that amount of time, despite my slow pace during the scary part.

Then we drove to the Napa Valley, which looks just like Tuscany, and we went to the Buena Vista Winery, founded by the same Hungarian count who founded Wollersheim. When we got there, the bad news was they weren't selling tastings anymore because they were closing for a wedding. The good news was when we told them our sad story about how we had come all the way from Wisconsin to visit Wollersheim's sister winery, they gave us tastings for free! Can't beat that! Then we went to Mass at a very cute, 193-year-old church in Sonoma. We drove over the Richmond Bridge and had amazing views of several tiny islands, and again we thought it was a toll bridge but they never charged us. When we got to Berkeley, we saw a protest!! A bunch of students want Berkeley to outlaw meat; they were chanting, "It's not food, it's violence!" That didn't inspire Travalon and me enough, because we had dinner at a Pakistani restaurant and had lamb and goat. We also drove around the Berkeley campus and found they had a road just like our Langdon Street in Madtown, with lots of frat houses. In fact, it looks like a hillier Madtown campus with palm trees. Nothing like the Italianate Stanford, but I think I would have loved it here. No matter, I loved going to school in Madtown.

Here are some photos of our trip so far. The first three are shots of Wyoming from the train.

I didn't get a really good shot of beautiful Donner Lake from the train, but here is the best one:

Now some shots of San Francisco! First, the world-famous cable cars:

Next, a hippie vehicle!

Here is the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in the infamous San Francisco fog:

Next, a couple of shots of the Japanese Tea Garden:

Here is a shot looking down from the top of Telegraph Hill. Travalon says it gives a really good idea of how steep the city is.

Some more shots from the top of Telegraph Hill: The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz!

Next are a couple of shots of our voyage to Chinatown:

From the ferry to Angel Island, we saw this beautiful scene of two sailboats in front of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Here is the harbor on Angel Island:

This is a shot of the inside of Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco:

Next are several shots showing the interior (including Italian verbiage) and exterior of the delightful orange trolley from Milan.

This is the Tonga Room Tiki Bar, a very swanky place.

On the Stanford campus, there are a lot of original statues by Rodin. This is "The Gates of Hell."

This is the inside of the chapel on the Stanford campus. Unfortunately I did not get any shots of the campus itself, since I was too busy helping Travalon's 94-year-old cousin to stay steady on her feet, but he got some really good shots that he will share with me.

This is a view of the Golden Gate Bridge as we crossed it. I tried to take some photos of the bay from the bridge, but none of them turned out very well.

Here is my best shot of the redwoods at Muir Woods.

Proof that Travalon and I visited the sister Winery to Wollersheim!

This is the 193-year-old church where we went to Mass tonight:

Sunset over the San Francisco Bay. I missed the shot with palm trees in it...

And finally, some videos: the lights of San Francisco from the ferry back to Oakland, the light show on the Oakland Bridge, and the sea lions that congregate on Pier 39 of the Embarcadero.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

A Wonderful, Dreadful Day

Today was an interesting mix of wonderful and dreadful. We met Travalon's cousin, who is 94 and delightful. She took us to lunch at an Italian restaurant, and, this being California, we all had kale pesto. We drove to the Stanford campus, which has a main drag lined with majestic palm trees, then another part looks like an Italian town square with a beautiful chapel. We took an incredibly scenic, windy road to Half Moon Bay and checked out the beach. Then we hung out in her lovely garden full of hummingbirds and ate fruit. That was all wonderful.

Now we are staying at a bed and breakfast run by a very snippy proprietress. Her husband was a little nicer, and he told us there was a restaurant a half mile away, but this despicable little town does not have any sidewalks, and then we had to dodge traffic on Highway 1 just to find out the restaurant had no room for us after we had spent the last half hour risking life and limb to get there. However, we got back to our car safely and drove to Half Moon Bay Brewpub, and that was fantastic. The couple at the next table were really friendly, and the waiter thought it was hilarious when I mentioned that I had posted about being there on social media, and it gave me choices for what I was doing there that included listening to a band play and - I kid you not - attending Sunday Mass, but not just, you know, drinking beer. He said that was a no-brainer, I should have chosen Sunday Mass. Who doesn't attend Sunday Mass on a Friday night at a brewpub, am I right?

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trip to Angel Island

This morning Travalon and I had a crabby brunch at Boudin's, the famous sourdough place: he had a crab omelet and I had crab benedict. Then we took a ferry over to Angel Island, a state park, and took a vigorous hike that was mostly uphill. The views of San Francisco Bay from the top of the island were incredible. When we came back down, a group of young guys said that for some treasure hunt they were doing, they had to dance with two strangers, so we did the Chicken Dance with them. On the way back, the ferry stopped in Sausalito, and we got to admire the huge houses on the hillsides overlooking the bay. Talk about big money! We saw all kinds of boats on the bay, like a sailboat with three masts and six huge ships, not sure if they were military or shipping vessels. We also saw wildlife: cormorants, sea lions, porpoises, pelicans, and lots and lots of gulls. At our hotel we saw some sort of heron that we had never seen before.

Once we got back from Angel Island, we attempted to take the subway because we could use our transit cards to ride it, but we couldn't figure out how to get in, so we snuck in... and ended up on the BART, which goes out to the suburbs. Oops! We quickly got off of that and got on the right subway, which took us to Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco and the actual mission founded by Father Junipero Serra. Then Travalon indulged my mass transit geekiness: we had already ridden the cable cars, the street cars, the bendy busses, and the subway, but we hadn't gone on the cute little orange street cars imported from Milan. There are only two of them, so we waited patiently until one passed by, then we took it to the end of the line... and ended up in Castro, the infamous gay district! We took another street car to the cable car line we hadn't ridden yet and then took that to the Tonga Room, an upscale tiki bar for which we were severely underdressed. We had potent adult drinks and then caught the cable car back to the ferry for our last view of the city lights of San Francisco. My readers know how I fall in love with every place I visit, but this place - wow! Named after my favorite saint, full of adorable mass transit and palm trees, blessed with mild winters, and very maritime - I mean, what's not to love? Other than the high cost of living here...

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Day in San Francisco

Today we did so much. We are staying in Oakland, so we took the ferry over to San Francisco this morning and then got on another boat to tour the bay. We went under the Golden Gate Bridge and past the island of Alcatraz. (Unfortunately, all the tours of Alcatraz are sold out until after we would be back on the train.) Then we walked to Ghirardelli Square and had sundaes, which we got 10% off of because we had purchased mass transit passes. My regular readers know what a mass transit geek I am, and this pass lets us use whatever kind of land transit we want for three days, so that means trolleys and cable cars as well as more prosaic things like busses and subways. We took the cable car up Powell Street, which had breathtaking views, and then we took the bus to Golden Gate Park. We walked through the park, which is beautiful and smells wonderful, like cedar, until we got to the Japanese Tea Garden. Wow, was that ever gorgeous! We had green tea cheesecake and iced green tea there. Then we took a bus that went right through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, which is kind of like Willy Street in Madtown - lots of hippie stores and murals everywhere. We walked up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, which was closed by then, but we could admire the views from the top of the hill. We caught a bus to Chinatown and had Chinese seafood for dinner, then we took the ferry back to Oakland, sitting facing backwards so we could see the colorful lights of San Francisco. We ended the evening by going to Slainte, a little Irish pub here in Oakland. Tomorrow they have live music, and maybe we won't be quite so dead - we walked almost nine miles today!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Train Ride to California

Sorry that I haven't posted in so long. Friday we had a birthday party for Jilly Moose at Nonno's; Richard Bonomo, Luxuli, and OK Cap came too. Travalon and I gave her a book about British royalty. Saturday morning we met the Rosary Ladies again, this time for coffee, then we had to run some errands to prepare for our big trip, taking a little time to visit the Willy Street Fair, going to Mass, and taking one last boat trip in our little Megan Jaye before we headed out.

Early Sunday morning we hit the road, driving to Milwaukee where we caught the train to Chicago. Once there we got to go to the First Class Lounge because for the first time ever we had a sleeping room. When I first saw it, I thought it was so tiny that we would have been better off in seats in the coach area, but it grew on me and seemed really cozy. Of course I slept on the top bunk, which was sort of a weird feeling for someone afraid of heights. That first day we went through Illinois and Iowa, and we did see a lot of beautiful churches and something called "Royal Toilets - the regal portable toilet experience!" The most fun thing about taking the train is that everyone is so friendly. We met people from all over the country, from England, China, and Germany. They have you sit with another pair of people during meals so you are forced to get to know each other, and everyone seems happy to talk to strangers. I think people who don't like to interact just fly to wherever they are going.

Yesterday we were very disappointed to learn that they were rerouting the train through Wyoming, so we didn't get to go through the Colorado Rockies. I had hoped to meet my uncle in Denver, but we only had 20 minutes there, and it wasn't anywhere near his work. He said on Tuesdays he goes right by the train station. In Wyoming we did see lots of weird rock formations, some beautiful rivers, and tons of bison and pronghorn antelopes. Somehow by the time we got on the dinner reservation list, the only slot they had was five, which is way too early. Fortunately our car attendant said he could bring us dinner in our room, so we had one romantic meal alone.

Today we went through the Sierra Nevadas, and it was so beautiful. The Donner Pass, overlooking scenic Donner Lake, was particularly spectacular... and yes, it is named after the Donner Party, a true story involving desperation leading to cannibalism. We spent a lot of time going along the Truckee River, then the mountains gave way to scenery that looked a lot like Tuscany but with palm trees, just outside of Sacramento. We descended so quickly that my ears almost hurt as much as when I fly. Then the train went along a beautiful bay that empties into the San Francisco Bay. Wow, was that gorgeous! Once we got to Oakland and checked into our hotel, we walked to the pier and took the ferry over to San Francisco. We rode a cable car up Nob Hill and a trolley thing (there are like fifteen types of mass transit going on in that city) over to Fisherman's Wharf, where we had clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. When we took the ferry back over to Oakland, I couldn't get over how beautiful the lights of San Francisco are. The bridge that goes to Oakland has some sort of light show going on - I made a video and will post it soon.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Light Bright's Early Birthday Dinner

Last night I went to Light Bright’s house for her birthday, which isn’t actually until next Thursday. I had band practice first, so by the time I got there, it was just about time for her to put her little guy to bed. He is 22 months old now and so cute! He is very shy, but he loves music, so he was fascinated by my mandolin. After he went to bed, I gave Light Bright some bath “bombs,” since I figured a working mother could use a relaxing bath now and then! We had homemade soup and a dark chocolate bar that I had brought, and she wanted to hear all about my medical procedure. I had her laughing so hard, especially at the part where I came to after the surgery and announced to all the OR personnel: “I was canoeing!” That got us wondering about what the strangest things are that those people have heard as patients came out from under anesthesia. We also talked about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a very strange movie I used to go to in college that has a lot of audience participation, and the musical The Book of Mormon, which she had recently seen and highly recommends. It was so good to talk to her! She is a very sane, down-to-earth person, and we always have a really good time when we get together about once a month. She says sometime this winter she will make some spicy hot chocolate for me. Hockey Girl has also promised to make me some hot cocoa, so at least I have something to look forward to when the weather gets cold.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Immigration and Popular Music

There has been a lot of talk about immigration lately. I agree that we need to do something about illegal immigration, but we should also make legal immigration easier. However, now it seems the administration is trying to do the opposite. This makes me sad not only because of what it does to people trying to flee terrible conditions, but also for what it would do to the music on the radio. Right now DJ Khaled and French Montana are played a lot on the station I listen to, and I love their music, but they came over from Pakistan and Morocco as children. And what about Rihanna? She is from Barbados, so she must also be an immigrant. Can you imagine popular music right now without her in it? I think all these immigrants are bringing fresh ideas to music, and it would be a shame to lose that. Just another reason we should welcome immigrants, not shut them out.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend of Birthdays

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday I had my first day off of work due to my new schedule of working 80% time, and of course it was cold and overcast. I also had a bit of a cold and might have called in sick anyway. Travalon worked in the morning, then in the afternoon he and I went for a hike on a part of the Ice Age Trail that a coworker had recommended to me. In the evening we went to the East Side Club for their fish fry.

Saturday Travalon and I got up kind of late, so we ran to one coffee shop quickly before Tiffy came to town, but we had forgotten they were closed that day for a wedding. We ran to another one and stopped in a new chocolate shop next door. Mmm! It’s called CocoaVaa. When Tiffy came up, she and I stopped in there for some more chocolate. The cherry bonbon is amazing. I took Tiffy on a Betty Lou Cruise for her birthday, then we hung out on the roof of the Monona Terrace and watched some of the triathletes swimming in the Iron Man contest. In the evening she, Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I went to Liliana’s for a dog rescue fundraiser, but Travalon was bummed to see that they have taken his favorite item (blackened catfish) off the menu. Also, because the fundraiser was so popular, the kitchen was backed up, so it took a while to get our food. When it came, it was so good. Then Tiffy headed home, Travalon went to see an AC/DC tribute band, and I hung out at Rich’s house for a bit.

Sunday Travalon went to visit his family in Oconomowoc, so I convinced Rich to join me for crepes at a health food place, and then he and I went for a hike by the Yahara River. In the evening Travalon and I took Hockey Girl to Sardine for her birthday, sitting out on the patio overlooking Lake Monona. I had skate, which is a type of fish, and oh my goodness was it delicious! We also had chocolate ganache cake, since it was a birthday party, while Travalon had caramel pot de crème. Afterwards we went up on the Monona Terrace rooftop, which Hockey Girl had never seen, and she was amazed by how beautiful it was up there. She asked me to take her picture in front of the Capital, but I didn’t really understand her phone and managed to take 54 pictures, none of them very good. Her actual birthday is today, so Happy Birthday Hockey Girl! (I don’t think she reads this blog.)

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Nomadic Goddess

As Travalon and I were wandering this weekend, it occurred to me that I am a nomadic goddess rather than a domestic one. Household chores are not my strong suit, but I always seem to be prepared to hit the road. I think of all the things we need to bring, even little things like cold bottles of water to drink along the way, and then I refill them at the hotel and stick them in the mini fridge to be ready for the next day’s adventure. I always remember (knock on wood!) to pack my phone charger, whether at home or at the hotel – so far I haven’t left it anywhere! I even have a system for taking the mini shampoo bottles and soaps, since the housekeepers just throw them away if you don’t take them with you. I said to Travalon that it must be the 0.1% Mongolian in me, that I was like my ancestors who were always ready to pack up the yurt and move on, and he thought that was pretty funny. It’s ridiculous enough to blame my love of funk music on my 1% African heritage, but how much influence would 0.1% of my DNA hold over me? Still, I like to think that I am not a failure as a domestic goddess but just have a different skill set than the happy homemaker. (Yes, that is a MTM reference – Travalon and I are addicts!)

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Labor Day Weekend Addenda

Two things I forgot to mention about our adventure on Saturday:

We passed a fascinating place, so we had to stop. It was a county park that was full of cement statues created by a self-taught artist who could neither read nor write. He sculpted them in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s when he was already quite old, so they depict life around the turn of the last century. Lots of horses pulling carts and things like that. He incorporated little pieces of glass and other stuff he found in the cement. I took some pictures – it was quite impressive!

We stopped in a tiny town that may have been called Preston because Travalon remembered going to a bar there at least twenty years ago that was full of cacti, and the proprietor wore a cowboy hat and boots. He said the décor included cattle skulls. We found a bar called La Rosa, which sounded promising, but as soon as we walked in, he knew it wasn’t the place. “This is too big,” he said. It was midday, and the only people in there were two women: the friendly bartender and a very odd older lady who may have been inebriated. When we told them our sad story, the odd lady told us she knew what bar we meant. It was called the Cactus Cantina, and she had been a co-owner with two other people, but they kept fighting so she let them buy her out. She said that establishment had been closed for years, and the building has since been a strip club, but she wasn’t sure what was there now. It wasn’t in that town but back toward Tomahawk. We didn’t bother to go back to try to find it, but what are the odds that the owner of the very establishment we sought would be at the one we stumbled into?

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Boating on the Chippewa Flowage

I hope my readers had a good Labor Day weekend. Sorry that I haven’t blogged in several days. Thursday evening I was busy playing tennis with Travalon despite my bad knee, and it seemed to go okay. Friday I took off of work early and went on a boat ride with Travalon, then in the evening we parked by the Monona Terrace, had dinner at their outdoor café, and walked to Camp Randall to watch the Badgers play Utah State in their first football game of the season. We were hoping they wouldn’t completely demolish Utah State, but in the first quarter it looked like we had to fear the opposite problem because the Aggies scored 10 points and we didn’t get anything. By halftime we had tied it up, and then in the second half we were beating up on them so badly that we ended up winning by seven touchdowns. Travalon and I left before the end, when it was obvious that it was going to be a very lopsided game. It was fun anyway.

Saturday Travalon and I got on the road and drove to Rib Mountain, where we took a quick hike on the top. We stopped for lunch at a bar outside of Tomahawk owned by someone Travalon went to school with, but she wasn’t there. We drove to a very old tavern from the book that had north woods décor, a warm, happy vibe, and supposedly a ghost – the first owner! We stayed overnight in Park Falls, which is a shockingly quiet place on a Saturday evening – we were walking around at nine in the evening and saw almost nobody!

Sunday we went to Mass at St. Anthony of Padua in Park Falls, then we had breakfast at a diner there and drove to the next tavern in the book, a little bar in a resort on the Chippewa Flowage. They weren’t actually open because of a big cookout they were having that afternoon, but they did let us in and even sold us a drink. We really wanted to go for a boat ride on the Chippewa Flowage, which is a big area of water full of crazy little islands, so we found a resort that would rent us a boat. It was so much fun! N.b., Travalon and I are wanderers by nature and good navigators, so we had no problem finding our way back even though this was all trees and water, no manmade landmarks to follow or maps or even GPS on our phones because we got no signal up there. If you make the trip yourself, make sure to take a good look at your surroundings so you can find your way back to where you started. Our next stop was Amnicon Falls outside of Superior, a beautiful state park full of waterfalls. We went to Duluth and saw the sun setting over the harbor. That is a very pretty town! We took a walk along the waterfront and watched the lights come up, then we drove back to Superior and went to a third tavern from the book, Thirsty Pagan Brewing. We got a flight of sour beers and their amazing pizza, and for dessert their even more amazing beer brownie served warm with ice cream. Do NOT miss this place if you go to Superior! We drove down to Rice Lake to our hotel and ended the evening with a late-night swim in their lukewarm pool.

Yesterday we spent a lot of time driving along the Chippewa River and stopping at state parks: Brunet Island, Lake Wissota (we also had a wonderful lunch right near there at a restaurant with a patio overlooking the lake), Mill Bluff, Mirror Lake (where we got there just as they were closing the canoe rental place), and Governor Nelson just before we got home. That last one was just so we could say that we went to five in one day. And now we are down to just one tavern from the book! We did have one aggravating moment in New Auburn where a train was crossing the road, and it kept stopping and going back and forth, until we finally found a path around it. Otherwise it was a safe and wonderful trip!

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