August 29 thru September 6, 2018 Woke feeling good, no comparison to previous couple nights. Took it slow, made coffee and swam in the beautiful, heated pool, which felt amazing in the chilly air. Showered and packed, I hit 94E about 10 am.
Made my way around the winding downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul; stayed on 94E. Enjoyed the Menomonie (love pronouncing this wrong) Welcome Center, less than an hour into Wisconsin; extremely clean and friendly staff. I read about white pine reforestation in the Chippewa Valley and the state’s ecosystem; appreciated flag and tribute to Veterans. The well-marked recycle bins made me smile.
Back on 94E to rain and more rain as I switched to 29E at Eau Claire. Stopped for gas ($2.94/gal) at Express Mart in Thorp, then took scenic 39S at Wassau along Lake Du Bay and the Wisconsin River. Took I-10 at Stevens Point, over to Larsen where I got a good stretch, topped off gas ($2.79/gal) and picked up a few homemade eclaires at Kwik Trip before hitting 41S.
Less than 30 minutes later, and still raining, I landed at Brittany, Nick and their fur baby Maple’s home in Oshkosh, WI. YEA!! After hugs, and bookoos of awesome kisses from Maple, I set up my cot in Britt’s art room and relaxed. It was hard to believe the last time I was with family was approximately 2,181 miles to the west. Felt warm and fuzzy gratefulness.
Over the next week, I had a wonderful time with all, including Miss Maple who wanted to love my Bear, in her own tear-him-apart way. Ha! Moved everything from the truck into the kitchen, then to the basement to sort and clean out for donation items.
Enjoyed watching Britt prep her home-built display boards and signage for a face-paint gig and practice new designs on herself. She’s amazing!
Some of the most simple creations are the most delightful to me, especially when made with repurposed or recycled material. These are two I love at Britt’s.
I was excited to go to Oshkosh Market with Britt for face-painting. We arrived early and she had the setup process down to a science; impressive! The bungees worked great to hang her reverse painted butterflies.
We popped over to Planet Perk, a super cute place for coffee, Britt’s treat, and potty before starting. Loved their creative picture soup board!
Foot traffic increased and there were so many adorable children with their parents and teens who visited Britt to magically be transformed with unicorns, flowers, dragons, rainbows and more; new and repeat clients loved her!
I bought a mix of wasabi ranch and the closest mix to a traditional Wisconsin soup from Zach at the Soup and Dipity stand next to Britt.
My favorite part of the market was watching Britt in action; gentle, engaging, fast and so detailed. The sight of so many vendors with fresh and organic foods, homemade products, woodwork art, lots of flowers and vegetables was exciting.
The live band was fantastic and they played several old school favorites. Also enjoyed the unique architecture of several downtown buildings, including the vintage theater.
We took several walks around beautiful Oshkosh neighborhoods. Sidewalks on both sides of the street were a welcome sight for me after living in Warner Robins where they’re scarce, to say the least. There was a library exchange box, gorgeous trees, small flower gardens everywhere, and a home with a fantastic garden where their produce was for sale.
Britt and I treated ourselves to cold, fru-fru (mine was the fru-fru-est) coffee at Kwik Trip, I believe. So many coffee flavors, creamers, and toppings!
Drives during the day and evening for awesome visits with Rick and Helen took us past beautiful, wide-open farmland; super photo opportunities (nice to be passenger!).
It was interesting to learn the corn grown close to their home was the 2 yellow field corn (aka dent corn), for biofuels, animal feed and other. Although it looked similar, it’s far different from the sweet corn we (humans) eat; not harvested immediately when kernels ripen and super tall. I was surprised that less than 1% of an entire corn crop is for human consumption. Made me think about Monsantos’ evil-products consumed by humans … story for another time.
Me, Nick and Britt took a fabulous day trip to Terrell’s Island, where we walked the trail; several other visitors rode bikes. We saw lots of amazing critters on plants, in the water, on the walkway and in the sky: frogs, caterpillars, lizards, beetles, butterflies, weird looking fuzzy things, a duck, pelicans and more. I think it’s the first time I’d ever see pelicans in the air. So cool!
Beautiful area and I took tons of pics. Yep, another moment wished I had a real camera on me.
Colored my hair golden brown and it looked like shit, but I was adjusting. We went shopping for deals, including an outfit for me to wear to Nycki’s wedding in NH, at Goodwill and Saint Vincent De Paul Thrift Store. We had lots of fun trying on fancy, smancy dresses in bright colors; ultimately, chose a cute dress for the dinner from Britt. I did find several fun things that sparked my fire, including shoes and a frilly purse. Oh! I also bought a baby blue, long, satin dress for less than $10, but would have killed myself from tripping on it and felt like I was going to prom. Left it with Britt to use the material or donate.
There was an adorable tiny pumpkin growing at the front steps of their house.
Made a few trips to Aldi, my favorite food store for good prices on everything I need. On one visit, I noticed a rock with a beautiful, hand-printed message. Loved it so much, left right where it was for someone else. Picked up my favorites, like bell peppers, radishes, blueberries and strawberries, as well as a new folding shopping basket with carry handle (later packed with all bath items for easy access in truck). Saw pretzel buns; new to me.
Enjoyed moments sitting in their backyard, around beautiful tree canopies, to update journal and just think, with coffee made with their French press. Ahhhh.
Something f*ing nuts about the city of Oshkosh is their policy for street parking for visitors, or when a vehicle(s) can’t fit in the home driveway: (a) city approval is required to park on the street, valid for up to 3 consecutive days and (b) parking must occur on the correct side of the street; odd/even alternates daily ($15 for violation or $10 in advance for up to 10 days).
We thought we followed protocol, but I got a ticket for parked on wrong side. Britt filed online appeal, didn’t hear anything so we went to City Hall. The woman was super nice and, low and behold, I was on the wrong side. She suggested I hold off payment for possible dismissal; didn’t happen and Britt paid after I left. After parking one night in front of a neighbor’s house, who we met for permission, the nearby Methodist Church let me park in their lot, free. Awesome!
Cigarettes averaged $6.40/pack in WI and would probably increase in my northern travels. Nick suggested, other than quitting, to try these to save money and he helped me practice rolling. Hahahaha! I sucked! Practice will be ongoing. We had lengthy chats about optional changes to my gear for warmth as a tenter in colder areas. Nick had super suggestions, several I implemented down the road. Thank you, my favorite son-in-law!
Part of the ‘be warmer’ plan included adjustment to my cot. Britt cut a piece of thick foam she had in the garage. Although tight, it still folded. Yea!
Got most items packed and picked up a few basics at Aldi, with plan to head toward MI the next day. Loved every moment with these kids, which flew by too fast.