OH DEER! THOSE “TOWNIES” DO OWN THE WHOLE DAMN ROAD!

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The suggested scenic drives from Door County northwest to Boulder Junction were indeed scenic.  Wisconsin’s tourist bureau was spot-on.  Upon arrival in the small fishing/hunting town of Boulder Junction, we saw three does, two bucks, and two fawns cross the road in front of us as we pulled into the Boulder Junction Motor Lodge for our night’s stay.  I quickly parked the car and crossed the street to see where the deer had wandered off into the woods.  They didn’t seem bothered as I watched them feed on the leaves as I photographed them.

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Later, when we returned from the laundromat (a necessary evil when traveling for a total of five weeks), we noticed those same deer had crossed back over and were munching on the front lawn grass right there at the lodge!  When I pulled into the lot, they had migrated toward the back of the motel.  I quickly parked and walked around to the back of the opposite end of the building, hoping to head them off and catch a glimpse.  Bruce joined me, and we stopped to watch as they were heading right toward us!  Holding my camera in both hands down in front of me, I froze.  I didn’t want to spook them by moving, so I figured it was better to just watch than try to get a shot.

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As I stood there with Bruce behind me, a doe walked out in front of the others and came right up to me!  After a quick lick of my hand, she quickly took a couple of steps back.  Shocked, I asked Bruce to take my camera and see if he could get a shot while I tried to lure the doe back.  It didn’t take much effort!  I reached out my hand slowly, and she returned for another lick.  Then, she kept on licking!  This was no dog licking me; it was a DEER!

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Meanwhile, one of the bucks sauntered right by us and kept on going through the parking lot without a care in the world.  He decided to do his own thing, I guess, because he casually strutted into the road on his way into the woods on the other side.  When a car approached at speeds fast enough for my heart to skip a few beats, I thought I was about to see a bloodbath.  Thankfully, the car stopped just in the nick of time.  Do you think that deer was long gone by then?  Nooo!  He stood there staring that car down and didn’t budge an inch as if to say, “Yes, I DO own the whole damn road!”  Once he made his point with the stare-down, he meandered his way into the woods with no sense of urgency.

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What the heck is going on here with those deer, anyway?

I excitedly told my story to the gal at the motel’s reception desk thinking something really amazing and special had just happened.  “A deer licked my hand and didn’t get scared off by my presence!  I was even able to grab my camera and take some shots without them running off!!” I exclaimed.

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Responding with a look of total boredom, the receptionist casually replied, “Oh yeah, that happens all the time.  They’re known around here as the ‘Townies,’ and they live in the woods behind the lodge.  They are always hanging out around town.  Everybody watches out for them here.”  She then agreed that they DO own the whole damn road!

Next up:  ASHLAND’S HISTORY THROUGH MURALS

EGG HARBOR, PENINSULA STATE PARK, AND SISTER BAY (“BRING IN DA GOATS!”)

When Bruce and I take a road trip, we typically have a plan for each day; however, we like to keep it loose.  I’m usually armed with the names and addresses of a couple of different restaurants I’ve researched on Trip Advisor, as well as a list of top-rated things to see and do in each place we plan to visit.  As the day unfolds, we see how the mood strikes.  Typically, Bruce and I are interested in the same things, so we rarely need to compromise.  We almost always agree!

We decided to spend our day exploring the towns we hadn’t yet visited on the west coast of the Door County Peninsula.  Our first stop was Egg Harbor, and I was curious how the heck it got its name.  A sign posted at the town park explained it like this: “According to legend, a fleet of boats departed Green Bay in 1825 to deliver furs to the Mackinac Island trading post.  The men stopped at this unnamed harbor for the night.  While landing, the boat crews raced each other to reach the shore first.  Eggs were thrown at the leading boat and quickly returned.  When the boats reached the shore, the battle continued until the eggs were gone.  In honor of the battle, the men named this bay “Egg Harbor.”

What a charming town with a funny name!  The park was landscaped beautifully, and interesting sculptures adorned the path through the terraced park, and down to the beautiful harbor.

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Egg Harbor had some nice shops, galleries, and gardens we enjoyed poking around before continuing on to Peninsula State Park.

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Other than the light house, I didn’t do much photography; however, it was a wonderful park for picnicking, riding on the bike trails, camping, enjoying the beach, or just wandering through like we did.

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Bruce and I were working up an appetite, so we continued on to Sister Bay with my list of a few restaurants to check out for lunch.  I had read in National Geographic Traveler Magazine that Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant had great lingonberry shakes, so we already knew where we were going to splurge on dessert.  (After all, we hadn’t a clue what a lingonberry was, so our curiosity had us sold!  It’s turns out to be a cross between a cranberry and a currant.)

Although Al Johnson’s is quite touristy (and we usually prefer local hangouts), we couldn’t ignore the fact that more than 1,500 reviewers had given the restaurant an average 4-1/2 out of 5 rating.  Besides, Swedish restaurants always serve herring, and we both had a hankering for herring!

What I wish I hadn’t done was actually read the reviews, because it (almost) spoiled the fun.  Imagine driving down the street and casually looking left and right as you look for a parking place, and then spot goats out of the corner of your eye!  Oh, and did I mention those goats were on the grassy ROOFTOP of the restaurant??  Yeah, I knew that from the reviews, but can you just imagine how shocked we would have been if I hadn’t read those reviews???  It makes me wonder if the sight of those goats had ever caused any car crashes!

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I just had to know the story of the goats.  Curious?  Read about it here.

All I knew is that I had to have my picture taken with those goats, so I could send it to my best friend, Laura.  “Bring in da goats!” has been a running joke of ours since she visited us in Georgia.  As what typically happens when the three of us get together, we drink a little too much wine, the jokes start flying (mostly started by Bruce), and we can’t stop laughing.  Darn if I can remember what the joke was, or how the whole goat thing got started; but, whenever we see a goat, it inevitably leads to an exclamation of, “Bring in da goats!” delivered with an Indian accent.  Then, if I am so inclined, I snap a picture, and send it off to Laura with the same caption.  So, dear Laura, this photo (and blog post) is dedicated to you!

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Now, about that herring.  Check out this $15.00 plate of pickled herring, assorted cheeses, and pickled beets.  What you don’t see is the beautiful accompanying basket of fresh breads and assorted crackers that came with it.  Thankfully, we split this beast, because we barely had room for the huge shake ($5.50) we split afterwards.  (Not only did our waiter give us the entire metal shake cannister full of delicious shake, we were each provided a pewter mug to enjoy it in.  It sure kept that shake cold!)

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That lunch rocked.  We’re still talking about how delicious it all tasted!

A stroll along the harbor and beach after lunch was delightful—that is, until we saw the oncoming storm.  Lightning appeared to be headed our way, so we decided to continue our exploration within the (hopefully!) safe confines of our rental car.  After exploring the northern tip of the peninsula, we headed back south and outran the storm.

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The following day, we wandered around the eastern side of Door County Peninsula before returning to enjoy the town of Sturgeon Bay.

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Seen on a car in Holiday Music Motel’s parking lot.

Next up:  OH DEER!  THOSE “TOWNIES” DO OWN THE WHOLE DAMN ROAD!

 

 

DOOR COUNTY: HOLIDAY MUSIC MOTEL, CAVE POINT, AND A TASTY FISH BOIL

My go-to source for researching travel accommodations is always Trip Advisor, and I have never been disappointed.  The key to success is choosing the accommodation in your price range and desired location with the highest ratings and the most positive reviews written by REAL people.  Has the reviewer written only one review EVER (or very few reviews that are all glowing and gushing with raves)?  Chances are they were offered some sort of incentive—or, they are friends or relatives of the owner of the establishment.  That’s a Trip Advisor no-no.  I look to see how many reviews a Trip Advisor member has written and how many helpful votes those reviews have received, and then concentrate on what the most experienced reviewers have to say.  (For comparison, I’ve written 102 reviews and have received 100 helpful votes; however, there are many reviewers who have written a lot more.)

Once again, my research paid off when I booked a room at the Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay for our three-night stay.  As soon as we entered the parking lot, we knew it was going to be a cool place—at least if their garden was any indication.

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Entering the lobby, it felt like a blast from the past.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story, but if you want to get the full details, check out my Trip Advisor review.

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The tree was loaded with music-themed ornaments, and there were a bunch of instruments in the corner.

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Cool postcard!

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Continental breakfast was included, so we went behind the counter to grab some cereal and juice to enjoy at the cute little dinette table.

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Love the phone booth!

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Our very comfortable upstairs room was much larger than what appears in the photo.

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Note the drawer contents containing a “bible” (see below) and complete lyrics to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

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This is my kind of bible!

After checking in, we drove up the east coast of Door County’s peninsula to Cave Point County Park on Lake Michigan.  What a gorgeous place!  The hiking trails through the woods along the lime-stone cliffs were stunning.  Although it started to rain, we kept on hiking, because we wanted to see more and more.

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A nice surprise was this rocky beach and seeing the creations made by industrious (and patient!) visitors who passed through.  It reminded us of the beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver, where we had first seen rock sculptures of this kind.

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Our next stop was at Baileys Harbor for a walk around the marina before heading across the peninsula to Fish Creek where I had made dinner reservations for a Traditional Door County Fish Boil at the White Gull Inn.

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Baileys Harbor

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By now, we had really worked up an appetite after our very full day.  Between our tour of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the drive to Sturgeon Bay to check into our motel, our hike around Cave Point, and walks around Baileys Harbor and Fish Creek; the all-you-can-eat fish boil (not fried!) sounded GREAT!

We were NOT disappointed.

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Fish oils rise to the surface of the boiling cauldron, and when the fish is perfectly done, the Master Boiler tosses a small amount of kerosene on the flames under the pot.

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The great burst of flames causes the boilover, spilling the fish oils over the side of the pot and leaving the fish perfectly done, steaming hot and ready to serve.

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Count me in as one of the 758 Trip Advisor reviewers who gave the White Gull Inn the top rating.

Just when I thought the day and evening couldn’t get any better, we were greeted by this gorgeous sunset as we left the White Gull Inn and took a stroll to nearby Sunset Beach Park:

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Coming up next:  EGG HARBOR, PENINSULA STATE PARK, AND SISTER BAY (“BRING IN DA GOATS!”)

 

TOURING LAMBEAU FIELD, HOME OF THE CHEESEHEADS

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Wisconsin is the Dairy State; however, I wondered just how the Cheeseheads got their name.  As quoted by Lee Remmel, the Packers team historian, “The birth of the world famous ‘Cheesehead’ hat was not initially about fashion, but a gouda, self-deprecating response to those we kindly call the ‘flatlanders’.  Still riding high from their only Super Bowl victory in 1986, Chicago Bears fans began ridiculing citizens of the Dairy State by calling them ‘Cheeseheads’.”

It didn’t take long for the marketing and merchandising department to take advantage of that moniker.  Cheeseheads (surely, you have seen those silly hats on Packer fans) are sold in the Packer’s gift shop for just $21.95!

Bruce grew up a Cheesehead having lived eight of his childhood years in Appleton and having a Cheesehead mom and maternal grandparents.  I, then, became an adopted Cheesehead as Bruce’s wife.  It’s infectious!  Once you get to know the history of the team and the loyalty of their fans, it’s hard not for it to grow on you—that is, unless you’re an arch-enemy Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, or Detroit Lions fan.

First of all, the Green Bay Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American Professional Sports.  Right there, you got me, as I have a hard time getting behind teams owned by multi-gazillionaires.  Since the spoiled-brat owners of the San Diego Chargers took their team away from San Diego when they couldn’t get the city to build a new stadium for them (Whaaaa!), I’ve given up on them.  If the Packers can keep remodeling and improving Lambeau Field (but keep a bunch of the same metal bleachers they have always had; bleachers seat more fans than chairs do), then good on ‘em!  (Don’t even get me started on the idiocy of the Atlanta Braves abandoning Turner Field for a new stadium.  Built in 1996 for the Olympics and given to the Braves for a whopping fee of $1, the stadium was perfectly fine!)

As of 2014, the Packers were owned by 360,584 stockholders.  That’s a lot of owners!  (Keep in mind, too, that no one person can hold more than approximately 4% of the outstanding shares.).  That kind of community support (and non-profit structure) has kept the Packers in Green Bay, since they were founded in 1919.

Green Bay’s population is only around 100,000; however, Packer fans hail from all over Wisconsin and the entire United States.  As a matter of fact, Packer fans are so loyal that every home game has been sold out since 1960, and their season-ticket waiting list is more than 86,000 names long!  According to Wikipedia, “The average wait is over 30 years, but with only 90 or so tickets turned over annually, it would be 955 years before the newest name on the list got theirs.  As a result, season tickets are willed to next of kin and newborns placed optimistically on the waiting list.”

Not being born into a season ticket-holding family, Bruce never had the opportunity to see a game at Lambeau Field, so we decided to see the Packers stadium the only way we could—on a tour.

We arrived for our tour the morning after sold-out Family Night, so the stadium was still in the process of getting cleaned up.  That was of no concern to us; we were getting to see Lambeau Field!

As we pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t help but to notice the modest homes located in the residential neighborhood just across the street.  There was nothing glamorous or big city “Wow!” here!

Lambeau Field itself, on the other hand, got an attractive makeover in 2013, and it looked great.  Its capacity is now 81,441, which is the third-largest stadium in the NFL.  (By the way, the Packers paid only $250 for its charter membership to the NFL.  In comparison, the Houston Texans paid a whopping 750 MILLION dollars to join.)

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Bruce doing the “Lambeau Leap.”

Our tour guide was a hoot!  Between the funny stories he told as we toured the stadium from top to bottom (including the Champions Club, players tunnel and field), and the ribbing he gave a couple of Vikings fans in our group, we were thoroughly entertained.  (When you’re a tour guide for the team that boasts 13 National Championships—more than any team in the NFL—you have license to tease non-Packer fans!)

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The view from inside the Champions Club

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This giant neon football hangs from the ceiling of the massive Packers gift shop.

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The Packers Hall of Fame was two stories.  This uniform display could be seen while riding the escalator to the second story.

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Those Packer fans are LOYAL!  I couldn’t imagine even being outdoors in 13 degrees below 0 temps.!

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$900 in 2011!

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$900 in 2011!

Next up:  DOOR COUNTY:  HOLIDAY MUSIC MOTEL, FISH CREEK, AND FISH BOIL

 

 

HITTIN’ THE ROAD TO WISCONSIN

Why Wisconsin?  Besides the proximity to Minneapolis, Bruce and I both have family ties to the Diary State.  Bruce’s maternal grandparents lived on a farm in Hortonville (near Appleton), and he lived in town with his mom and sister for eight years as a child, after his father died.  My grandparents all lived in Milwaukee, where my parents grew up and met in the school orchestra where they both were violinists.  After graduating from medical school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (my mom from occupational therapy school), they headed west to California, after my dad did a residency in Salt Lake City.  My parents and grandparents all settled in Long Beach, and Bruce’s mom took the kids back to California to settle in San Diego, my college town.  Go Aztecs!  (We’re both Aztecs, so Bruce would agree!)

Since we both wanted to concentrate our time in seeing beautiful Door County (with stops in Appleton and Green Bay) and the Apostle Islands, we decided to save Milwaukee and Madison for another trip when we go to Chicago.

We rented a car at Enterprise (I’ve always been very pleased with their customer service!), and our friendly agent picked us up at our downtown hotel for the short trip back to their office.  Before long, we were on our way to seeing a new state—at least for me!

First stop:  BEER!  Well, we did make sure to get some nutrition in us first, stopping at the Bass Lake Cheese Factory in Somerset for lunch of not-so-nutritious grilled cheese sandwiches made from their own cheese.  We then made our way to Chippewa Falls where we toured the brewery at Jacob Leinenkugal Brewing Co., the seventh-oldest brewery in the United States.  The Leinenkugal family has had many years to get it right, and right they have.  The tour was excellent, the beer was tasty, and the creek side setting was beautiful.  Their large tasting room and gift shop looked like a mountain ski chalet with a huge stone fireplace, and they offered an enormous variety of branded merchandise to wear head-to-toe or decorate your man (or woman) cave.  Kicking back next to the fire and sampling Leinenkugal beer while rain showers passed was an enjoyable way to spend the end of our day.

The rain clouds had cleared when we returned to town for dinner at Mahli Thai (excellent!), so I took advantage of our only evening in Chippewa Falls to capture some of the quaintness of their picturesque little town:

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In the morning, before we set out for Appleton, we stopped at Irvine Park & Zoo, open free to the public.  Established in 1906, it is supported by donations and enjoyed by local families and many of the tourists that pass through the small town to visit the brewery just up the road.

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One of the things I noticed in Minnesota and Wisconsin was the large percentage of towhead children!  There were so many cute kids with light blonde hair!

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Appleton was just a three-hour drive east, so we spent the afternoon in Bruce’s childhood stompin’ grounds near Lawrence University.  After moving from the farm, his Mom rented a house across the street from the University where the YMCA is now located.  Former Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren grew up around the corner in this house.  (Evidently, it looked as bad then as it does now.):

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This is where Bruce used to lace up his skates to skate on the frozen pond that formed on the lawn nearby:

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Amazingly, Bruce was still alive to show me where he and his friends used to ride their toboggans.  Of course, nothing was built on the bottom back then, but still, that hill is STEEP!

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Standing at the top of the hill and looking downward.

The last house they rented before relocating to San Diego was here on this lovely, tree-lined street:

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I so enjoyed seeing the places Bruce reminisced about from time-to-time over our 31 years together.  For Bruce, it was a trip down Memory Lane.

Next up:  TOURING LAMBEAU FIELD, HOME OF THE CHEESEHEADS

THE “M’S” HAVE IT! MINNEHAHA (HA-HA!) FALLS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND MALL OF AMERICA

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According to the results of my Google search, Minnehaha is a fictional Native American woman documented in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem, “The Song of Hiawatha”. She is the lover of the titular protagonist Hiawatha and comes to a tragic end. The name, often said to mean “laughing water”, literally translates to “waterfall” or “rapid water” in Dakota.

The name does make you chuckle, don’t ya think?

Minnehaha Regional Park, where the 53-foot falls are the star attraction, is one of the most popular sites in Minneapolis and was highest on our list to visit.  Walking/hiking and travel photography are our “thing”, and there were plenty of opportunities for both.  Besides, the park is also home of Sea Salt Eatery, a popular casual seafood restaurant reputed (on Trip Advisor) to have tasty fish tacos.  The great outdoors and delicious food; what a perfect combo!

The Metro Transit train stop was just across the street from the park, and the falls were located a short walk through lovely gardens, once we entered the park.

We arrived before the restaurant opened, so enjoying the gardens and watching the falls was a great way to pass the time before the restaurant line started forming.  (The lines get long, so we wanted to get ahead of the rush.)

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The fish tacos?  As tasty as the reviews stated, and dining alfresco was a lovely way to enjoy our brunch along with the hypnotic sound of the rushing water over the falls.

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Fueled up, we were ready to rumble, and hike along Minnehaha Creek (which flows over the Minnehaha Falls) to see where it met the Mississippi River.  The scenery along the creek was beautiful, and it was interesting to see the confluence—the perfect fishing spot for this fly fisherman:

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Taking a different path back and going the (unintended) long way back to the station gave us the opportunity to see more of this 167-acre park.

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking the city and checking out two sports stadiums—homes of the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins—both located in downtown Minneapolis.  The glass building of the football stadium made for some fun photography!

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“The times they are a changing.” This is Bob Dylan, then and now.

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The following day was a cold and rainy one, so we planned everything just right for our Minneapolis visit!  The first day was spent all outdoors, and our second one indoors.  We took the train out to the University of Minnesota to see my friends compete at U.S. Masters Swimming Nationals.  The weather at Minnehaha Falls couldn’t have been better, so we didn’t mind having a rainy day where we had planned on spending it indoors, anyway.

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Georgia Masters Teammates: Malena, Marianne, and Ed

It was great seeing a few of my teammates, but I was most excited to see our friends from Oregon, Allen and Carol.  “King Frog” (as I have called him since he broke the 200 Meter Breaststroke World Record in his age group) has been my breaststroke mentor on the U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums, since I joined USMS in 2010.  We (and our spouses) became friends and look forward to seeing each other at national competitions.  (We even met up at the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships in Montreal, in 2014!  King Frog broke a World Record then, too.)

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“King Frog (Allen) & Carol

After lunch with King Frog and Carol, we took the train out to Mall of America.  Shopping wasn’t the draw (we don’t particularly enjoy it); however, the spectacle of it all was what we were curious to see.

The mall completely surrounds an amusement park, and I managed to find plenty of photo ops. at the rides and throughout the mall.  The massive Lego sculptures were especially must-photograph features, as was the irresistible Crayola Crayon store where the colors on display were so cheerful.

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Coming up next:  HITTIN’ THE ROAD TO WISCONSIN

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNEHAHA, MINNESOTA—THAT’S A LOT OF WATER!

“Minn” in the Dakota language means “water”, and there’s plenty of it in Minnesota—more than 10,000 lakes!

How did we end up in Minnesota, anyway?  It all started from two separate paths that met up perfectly in Minneapolis.  U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals was scheduled for early August, 2017, and it’s a state we had never been to during our travels.  I had also missed the National Senior Games when it was held previously at the very same pool, so I thought it would be a great opportunity.

Meanwhile, I had been telling Bruce over the past four years how great the American Steamboat Company’s “American Queen” was when I took my mom on a paddle wheel cruise down the Mississippi, from Memphis to New Orleans.  It was an experience I thought he would like very much.

One day last year, Bruce greeted me at the door holding the new American Queen Steamboat Company brochure, exclaiming, “I found a cruise for us!”  I figured he had finally decided he wanted to try one of their one-week cruises from Memphis.  Instead, he picked out their 23-day re-positioning river cruise that paddles down the Mississippi from Red Wing, Minnesota to New Orleans!

It just so happened that cruise was scheduled for one week after Nationals, and he had a plan.  (I sometimes wonder what’s rolling around in his head when he takes breaks from his glass work, kicks back on the bed, and stares at the ceiling…)  “How about if you swim at Nationals, and then we’ll rent a car and do a road trip around northern Wisconsin?  We can return the car back in Minneapolis, and then we’ll take the cruise?” he asked.

Adding up the days, this plan amounted to five weeks of travel—piece of cake for me, but not so much for Bruce.  “Are you sure you want to be away for THAT long?” I asked.  “We did a seven-week road trip two years ago, didn’t we?”  Yeah, good point.  “What about your Etsy business?”  I asked.  “We’ll take it with us!” he replied.

Fifteen minutes later, I was on the phone and the cruise was booked.  (By booking immediately before the early-booking deadline, we saved $3,000 and were able to get one of the lowest-priced cabins that book up quickly.)

Fast forward to May of this year, the swimming part of the plan started to unravel (as you may have read in my July 8 post).  Due to injuries, I didn’t know whether I would be able to compete at Nationals after all.  The entry deadline was prior to my open water swim, and I wouldn’t have time to prepare for my usual competitive events.  (There’s a big difference between swimming the 200 Meter Butterfly or Breaststroke in a Nationals competition and a 1K freestyle fun race in a lake.  Others may argue with me on this point, but I’ll take the 1K as the easier-on-the-body-and-mind event.)

The deadline came, and I knew I wouldn’t be ready to compete at Nationals, so I let it pass.  We decided to go anyway, see (and cheer on) our friends, and stick with our travel plans.

We arrived in Minnesota on August 1 and took their excellent Metro Transit train downtown to our hotel.  The afternoon was spent taking a long walk down to the river and across the bridge for lunch, and then back downtown.

Here are some scenes from our first day in Minneapolis:

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Downtown Minneapolis

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Across the bridge from downtown Minneapolis

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Minneapolis has a thriving foodie food truck scene!

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Next up:  The M’s have it!  Minnehaha (Ha-ha!) Falls, Minneapolis, and Mall of America

 

 

 

 

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 3,700 MILES, 10 STATES, 5 WEEKS, 4 RIVERS, and 1 HECK OF A GOOD TIME!

Two years ago, I blogged along the way throughout our seven-week road trip and enjoyed every bit of it.  Rather than being a chore, I took delight in spending many evenings in our hotel rooms editing pictures and writing about our adventures.  While I kept busy on my little netbook computer, Bruce intently studied maps and read up on each place we visited.  It was a wonderful way to reflect on the day and look forward to days ahead.

This time, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to wait until the end of our trip to start writing.  Sure, I took many notes along the way during quiet moments, but I resisted the urge to post to my blog, knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep up as our travels progressed.

Besides, as time goes by, and I hear crazy stories, I am less inclined to announce to the World Wide Web that we are going away for five weeks.  My last name appears in a couple of newspaper and magazine articles on this blog, so it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to find my house.  Blogging in real time would be like posting a note on the front door that reads, “Welcome!  We’re not home; step right in and help yourself!”, even if we do live in a gated active 55+ community with vigilant neighbors!

Having returned on September 4, the mail has been read, bills have been paid, laundry has been washed, our Etsy shop (www.CookedGlassCreations.Etsy.com) has been restocked, and more!  We even prepared for (and experienced) tropical storm winds and rain as ugly Irma ripped through town on 9/11.

Posts will be spotty as Bruce and I get our fall/holiday craft show circuit underway and life gets busier again, but I’m ready to roll.  Write on!

Rather than saving my “By the Numbers…” post for the end of the series as a wrap-up, I’ll give a hint as to what’s to come as these blog posts progress:

3,700 Miles:  1,400+ by rental car, and 2,300+ by steamboat paddle wheeler

10 States:  Many of them repeats; however, four of them (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri) were new.  My grand total so far = 39 states traveled.

5 Weeks:  August 1st – September 4th, 2017

4 Rivers:  Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee

1 Heck of a Good Time:  Read future posts to hear about the best of it!

 

Coming up next:  Minneapolis, Minnehaha, Minnesota– That’s a Lot of Water!

 

GEORGIA GAMES PRESS RELEASE: THE TABLES WERE TURNED!

I’m used to submitting press releases rather than being the subject of one!  After writing press releases for several Griffin-area non-profits over the past eight years and submitting them to Griffin Daily News, I’ve gotten quite used to contacting the editors of our local newspaper.  The tables were turned, though, and I received a request from the assistant editor for a photo of me to accompany a press release somebody else was submitting about me!

As it turns out Georgia Games staff member, August Lynch, submitted the following release:

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YOU HAVE TO SHOW UP TO WIN!

It sure feels good to be back!

Ironically, just after submitting this article to Swimspire, my body decided to crap out on me all at once. After putting in several months of good training in the pool where I was feeling great (and racing my best breaststroke times in four years), my body rebelled. One day I felt great after a terrific workout, and the next day, I didn’t. That following day, an elbow injury from February and a shoulder repetitive stress injury from March—both land-based injuries that had not affected my swimming at all—decided to join me in the pool.  For the trifecta, I aggravated the scar tissue in my hip—again.  (Oh, and did I mention autoimmune issues returning with a vengeance?)

A visit to my orthopaedic surgeon resulted in a diagnosis of elbow tendonitis, shoulder bursitis, and a knowing smile about my hip.  We both knew that it took two months to heal last time I aggravated the scar tissue, and it will take two months to heal again.  “Don’t sweat it; you’ll be fine,” we both said with that smile to each other.

Meanwhile, I kept thinking to myself, “How do I listen to my body if it doesn’t give me any warning?”  It sure makes training iffy.

It has been over two months since my body took a dump on me. I’ve been very diligent about doing the PT exercises Dr. Andrachuk prescribed.  (Knowing I’ve had quite a past history in physical therapy over the years and was always diligent about doing my exercises, we both decided I would be fine on my own.)

Fortunately, I have mostly recovered– perhaps about 80%. I saw Doc at the end of June and received a positive report. Other than wanting me to lay off full butterfly and backstroke for awhile longer (I just started back at breaststroke), he said my prognosis was good for a complete recovery.  “Let pain be your guide,” my past physical therapist always told me.

Although I missed the National Senior Games and will not compete at U.S. Masters Swimming National Championships, I did a few test swims in the pool to see if I could handle swimming (not exactly “racing”) an open water 1K race.  I was fine, so I competed in the 1K at the Georgia State Games Open Water Meet, today.  (I usually swim the 3K and 1K; however, I knew not to even THINK about that yet!)

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What a blast!  It’s always one of my favorite events of the year; I LOVE open water swimming!  It felt great, and I was able to kick it up a notch to about 75% race-pace effort without repercussions.  What a glorious feeling to be back in the groove again!  I won a gold medal, too!!  (I will admit, however, that I was the only one in my age group.  Hey, you have to show up to win!)

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It has been tough (both physically and mentally), and I am still very unsure what my body will be able to handle in the future. I am fearful of injuries– especially since they almost always come without warning.  (For example, I’ve had two spontaneous floating rib dislocations and one at the sternoclavicular joint.  WTF?)

Whether I will be able to TRAIN to RACE in the future remains to be seen, but even if my future means “swimming” my races rather than “racing” them, it feels GREAT to be back!