Olympia, Washington

August 14, 2008

I am in Olympia, the state capital.  Unsure why, but I was thinking Olympia would be a dumpy town of 43,000.  But I really like it here.  It is a very offbeat and an incredibly hippie town.  A chain store wouldn’t dream of opening downtown [except sbux – which is empty].

There is water here [southern end of Puget Sound] with marinas and lots of boats. Walking/bike trails.  Fountains.  Murals/public art work.

Their parking here is “back in only” with signs stating: it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 … signal, stop, back in.

Yesterday I checked out the Capitol.  Very grandeur with marble stairs leading up to a big open area/dome.  They had no security here.  The governor’s office is in this building, and one can just walk up to her assistant.  The area around the capitol – Capitol Campus – is impressive.  The governor’s home is on the Campus – she can just walk 100’ to work!  The Legislative Building is Roman, they have a Greek Temple of Justice …   HUGE old trees, pretty grounds with flowers and a replica of Tivoli fountain, lots of war memorials and what I’ll call the “winged victory” statue/memorial…

I had read in a letter to the editor that someone was referring to the people of Olympia as the “leftist bastion of Olympia”.  I didn’t know this…until now.

At lunch, I heard a table on one side of me talking about the suffering in the world comes back to the treatment of animals.  And another table talking team building and other biz speak “as cliché as it sounds…” and he would say something that would make me gag.

I really enjoy cycling around town and the water/marina.

I have decided to temporarily “bypass” the state of Washington, and drive 3 hours to Astoria, OR [the most northwestern point of OR] and just “be” for 2 weeks.  I am “driven out”.  That will also give me time to figure out what I want to explore in WA.  I have been to Astoria and liked it.  I have booked the top floor [2 rooms] of a Victorian house there for 2 weeks.

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Peachland, British Columbia

July 29, 2008

i had to stop in the visitor center to send out an email re how much i love Peachland. incredibly beautiful. everything is along the lake. they have a trail, but the road is very wide and easy to cycle along. there are 2 great coffee shops. one is very cinnamon rolls smelly!

lots of rose bushes [my B&B had these too]. lots of picnic tables along the water, and people in their own chairs enjoying the view. the beach/shoreline is just rocks/stone…no sand.

i saw a sign for U-pick apricots a block over. i thougth i’d go and pick 5. come to find out, they are FREE. as i pulled up, the family was pulling out in their car. they turned off the engine to talk.

they said i could take all i wanted – and they had small boxes set out for people to put hte apricots in – but they were all taken, so best that i come back in a few

hours. i said all i wanted was around 5…oh, then there are that many “ripe”. a ripe apricot is one that has fallen from the tree – you don’t actually pick them. they have a tarp set up under the tree for them to fall onto. as i was there talking to this family, a couple fell and almost hit me.

they asked if i lived here or a tourist.

tourist – i came in last nite and fell in love, so spent the nite.

did you fall in love with the town or with someone?

ha. the town. BUT if you know someone…

we have someone in the backseat!

i only see 2 pretty women back there [i could tell there were 3 people in the back seat, but i could only see 2] to my amazement [and from the look on his face, his too], dad automatically rolled the back seat window down so i could see him!

he was good looking…but probably 25.

they asked where i was from…the states and being a nomad for awhile.

a free spirit? we love free spirits. this is the place for you to be.

i agree.

i am loving it here…and just had to send this off.

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Calgary, Alberta

July 22, 2008

I know a lot of people on my blog have been to Calgary for work reasons – it’s an oil and gas town.

In reading over things to do in Calgary, nothing overly grabbed me re what to do.  I know I want to cycle in a huge park – Nose Hill Park, and cycle along the river to downtown, but other than there, I will go checkout downtown and play it by ear.

Come to find out, the location of this B&B is a good one.  It is a 10 minute walk thru a pretty park to get to the C train.  It is location a block away from a major street.  If I turn left on that street I go to Nose Hill Park, if I turn right, it T’s into the parking lot for me to cycle on the path along the river to downtown.

Back at the C train.  The ticket machines accept exact change only.  A daily pass is $6.75.  After reading all my literature, I’m not sure that I would have known there was a train here.  It is def hidden in the small print.  They have lots of places where they talk about how difficult it is to find a place to park, and the expense, so one would think they would add: TO AVOID THIS, take the train. But no.

In the train station, there is one very small map that shows the route.  Granted, I believe there is only one train/route, but I wanted to see a map to figure out where to get off.  On the train there is only a little map above the door – if you are seated, you can’t see it.

Remember John Travolta’s pose for the movie “Saturday Night Fever”…where he is dancing, and has his finger raised up in the air?  They have an ad here…Staying Alive.  With a man’s hand raised in the air, with the finger pointing up.  It just shows the arm from the elbow to the pointed finger.  On the hand is a latex glove.  It is an ad for prostate exams.

There is a pretty rapidly moving river [I believe Bow River] flowing by downtown.  Lots of statues here [bear, Indian Chiefs…].  There is an amphitheater with a “wading pool” with lots of people picnicking nearby.  They are putting on a children’s play.

I stopped at the ERCOT center for the performing arts and listened to an organ recital.  In my research, I can’t seem to find any live music, or any performing arts events going on in town at all.  I ask about this at the ERCOT, and they give me the alternative free weekly paper to go thru.

I head over to Stephen Avenue, which is pedestrian only during the day. I always like this. I pick a place to have lunch and sit outside to watch people go by.  I open the paper, and the first article is about the homeless in the city.  Just then, the beggers start coming.  So, all thru lunch everyone sitting outside was subjected to beggers begging for money.  One young guy kept giving people money.

And pretty much all day I kept being asked for money.  Later, I discovered a part of town called Kensington [across Louise Bridge from downtown].  It’s an arty neighborhood.  I stopped 2 guys walking by to ask the name of the neighborhood.  They told me…pause…AND????  
And what?
Aren’t you going to ask me for money?
Wow…EVERYONE asks for money.

And he’s right.

After lunch I got my addiction and sat on a bench to people watch.  Of course, there are either street people on the benches, or people smoking.  EVERYONE smokes.  I found that the locals seem to be dressed up more than usual.  A lot of woman showing “a sense of style”, most not pulling if off very well, in my opinion.  A lot of women seemed to be overly tanned [with fake boobs].  I suppose this somehow happens in energy cities.

Nothing downtown interested me.  I spend 2.5 hours there and did and saw all I wanted to.

I went to Nose Hill Park, which is a huge park here.  I cycled up and down hills, on a windy day for 45 minutes, and I was spent.  I didn’t want to go cycle by the river, but I knew I had to.

I’m so glad I did.  I was told that the parking lot would be very busy due to people getting off work.  And it was.  What that really means is: people park thru car here and cycle into downtown.  The river is really pretty, clear and beautiful green color.  There is a walking path near the river, and then another path for cyclists and inline skater.  The path is just packed with a steady stream of cyclists coming home from work.  And they are hauling it.  THIS is the best part of Calgary.  I cycled downtown [around 20 minutes] and back.

I read that a folk singer was singing at Oolong Tea House, so I went there at nite.  This is in Kensington.  I really liked this area.  There were several acts, so stayed for that.  When I went outside, it seemed as though it was 6 pm, but it was 9.15.  The sun does set later here.

So, then I went over to this live music club that I had read about, that was having Punk Rock Bingo.  Sounds like more fun than what it actually was.  Bingo + loud music + guy heckling you.  I didn’t win anything.

Oh, I met a woman at the folk singer and I told her I’m going hiking over near Banff today.
Have you hike before?
Well, right now my body isn’t in good hiking condition.
No, I mean have you hiked during active bear activity time.
Do you have pepper spray?
The border police took it.
Don’t you dare go hiking without pepper spray.  I mean it.  The bears are out.

This morning, the innkeepers said the same thing.  I didn’t bring up the bear issue, they offered it up.  Apparently this is the time of year that they are active.  DON’T hike by myself.

Nothing like bear anxiety to ruin a good hike.

I had planned on going to Kananaskis to hike.  Then over to Canmore to hike. Then to Banff.  Today may go faster than I had planned.

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Duluth and Ely, MN – Day 1

July 18, 2008


This little motel has wi-fi!


I’m exhausted, so I will make this short.


I cycled down to see the freighter go by, but it wasn’t on the monitor.  Unsure if it went by already or what.  Which is a shame, cuz I really did want to see how big it was and see the coal piled up…or is the coal enclosed [so that it doesn’t blow away into the Lake]?


I drove by Dylan’s house before I left.  I had read that it went up for auction a few years ago and someone paid a little under $100k for it.  It is a duplex [up and down].  I drove by and it’s in a part of town where the neighbors are working on their cars on their front lawns.


I drove back thru town, thinking I’ll see Duluth with new eyes, but it seemed even worse than I thought yesterday.  Best to stick close to the beautiful water’s edge.

I’m in Ely. Theresa and Rob own and run the place.  Long story short, Rob is going to take me out canoeing tomorrow morning.  He said: we can leave mid morning – around 8 or 9 am, OR we can leave at the crack of dawn.  Ahhh, 8 or 9 am IS the crack of dawn for me.


He has something planned out for us.  I told him that I have no idea what I’ll think…I may have had my fill after 30 minutes.  He seemed ok with this.  He thinks that 3 or 4 hours are just going to fly by.


I also told him that I’m OK with “being the babe in the front of the boat” and he can do all the paddling and steering.  He seemed OK with this too.  I told him I was serious.  Unsure if he realized that or not.


About 3 blocks away is Miners Lake.  I cycled around that.  Really pretty.  Lots of people walking their dogs, fishing, just sitting on a lawn chair watching the water, or getting their canoe/kayak in the water.


After that I hiked up to Kawishiwi Falls.  You could hear the roar of the water way before you could see it.  I had to google how to spell it, and saw that there is a youtube video of it.




Hiking my way to the Falls I came upon an older couple who had these head nets on [that covered their entire head].  I told them that that is what I need.  They told me where to buy them.  I’m getting one tomorrow.  Unfortunately it will be after we go canoeing.


Theresa told me that the Boy Scout troop that is here left the waters a day early – due to mosquitoes!!  I told her about the black flies, mosquitoes et al that were getting in my ears and orbiting my head the other day…and she said I hate it when they do that…it drives me INSANE.  Ha…that is the exact same word I used!

There is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial/Wall from DC that apparently is traveling the states.  It is here right now.  Lots of people taking photos of a name, or scratching the name on a piece of paper.

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Duluth, MN

July 18, 2008

Last nite at dinner, I sat outside listening to the busker sing and play his guitar.  I had veggie chili, so it kept me warm.  Then it started to rain, which I hadn’t counted on.

I met these interesting 2 couples, who were friends.  One couple lives near Minneapolis, the other in Round Rock, TX [which is just north of Austin].  During the winter, the MN couple visits/stays with their TX friends, and vice versa.  THAT’s how you can afford to have a summer and winter home!

The big freighter’s time got pushed back to near midnite.  There are no places near the water to sit inside and watch/wait. So I cycled and walked around until dark.

Trains bring in the coal, ore … from MT, Utah et al.  The locks at Sault St Marie are 1,030’ long.  Apparently there is one freighter that is 1,013’ long, and 31 that are 1,000’.  I really wanted to see it come thru, but am not going to be out and about in cold, rainy weather until midnite…especially when it could get pushed back even later.

There is a 680’ coal freighter that is supposed to leave today between 11 – noon.  So, I will soon cycle on down to hopefully see that go thru.

I must say, near the water, this is an incredibly beautiful place to be.  Especially at nite…when the lights on the bridges, silos, various structures are all lit up.  Cycling away from downtown along the water reminded me of Maine.  There are smaller cliffs [30 – 40’] with the waves crashing against the rocks.

I had cycled enough along the water and came up to the street to get back to my motel – which is just a ½ block from the water/path.  I came across a small shop with about 15 people standing outside.  Of course is had to stop and find out what’s going on.  It’s a malt shoppe!  I have forgotten to add to my blog that I have [once again] started eating my way, ice cream wise, across the country.  I chose a hot fudge malt.  $6.  It was exceptionally tasty – very malty and thick.

For grins, mapquest Ely, MN.  Check out the roads and water/lakes.

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Duluth, Minnesota – Day 2

July 17, 2008

It is around 6.30 pm Wednesday nite.  I came back to my room to change into warmer clothes, and thought I’d write up my thoughts real time.

I didn’t cycle to Dylan’s home, cuz it is 5 blocks straight up a steep hill.  There is no way I can make it up there, and then I don’t want to burn my brakes coming down.  I’ll go by tomorrow when I’m in my car again.

I cycled all around town.  It does absolutely nothing for me.  “Dirty” and dull.  The old timey downtown theatre is now a Gentlemen’s Club…with the flashing theatre lights [remember them?] on the marquee on.

I knew there was a trail along the lake, and also “shops” in a certain area [Canal Park].  For some reason, I assumed this would be touristy, and didn’t want to go down there.  However, instead of cycling back down main [Superior] street, I thought I’d go along the water. 

Oh my.  WOW.  Talk about a pleasant surprise.  There is a 5’ boardwalk along the lake, and also an asphalt path for cycling.  The view is spectacular.  Simply amazing. There are people everywhere.  It’s 5 pm and 65’ and just packed with people.  I have no idea where they all came from…more people out and about enjoying than I have seen in a while.  There is a sunken concrete old building that is turned upside down, and fools [teenagers] in the water swimming to it and jumping off. Lots of bridges.  Duluth is still a working port with coal, iron ore, limestone…  The entry way to the port – on one side is a regular looking lighthouse, the other side is a regular looking house, with a lighthouse on top.  Hopefully that makes sense.  This makes up the entry to the Aerial Lift Bridge and port.

I see the Shipping News sheets all over, so I pick one up.  It’s information re what freighters are coming in/out and the stats on them.  The “big deal” is a 1,000’ freighter that was supposed to leave at 4.30 pm.  There is an older couple nearby, so I ask them if they know if it’s left already and they said no…it should leave tonite around 8.30.  There is a TV around the corner that gives updates.  I commented on how many people were out and about, and they said this is nothing…wait a few hours.  People come by to watch the freighters go by and the bridge go up and down.

Re the Aerial Lift Bridge, I was trying to figure out where/how in the world it “breaks” in half to let boats et al by, which I couldn’t figure out.  ESPECIALLY since there is the “pilot”/bridge master house smack in the middle. 

Just then the horn blew and a ship needed to get thru.  The bridge raises and lowers/up and down…instead of breaking in half.  Pretty cool.

I spoke with the couple for a while.  They are here staying at the Univ of MN campus.  $30/nite and there are all sorts of free learning activities all summer if they want to participate.  There are 5, 9 and 11 week stays.  Their daughter and grandkids live here, so they are here to visit, and staying at the Univ gives them activities to do, and also their own space.  They are from Iowa and said most people are trying to beat the heat from southern states and Arizona.  They didn’t get flooded out, but their water supply got contaminated for 5 days.  The program they are staying here is only for Seniors.  It is called Summer Senior Program.

I cycled around the shops/restaurant area, and it is 100% opposite of what I thought.  Not a chain in site [except subway and Caribou Coffee].  Offbeat shops and restaurants.  The couple told me of a place to have dinner [Amazing Grace] that sounds perfect for me.

So, I’m blowing off the classical concert in the park.  Will put on winter clothes, head out to watch the big freighter go by. 

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Wausau, Wisconsin

July 13, 2008


Right now I’m out on the balcony.  It’s 64’ and very windy.  I am on the “curve” of the wrap around balcony, somewhat shielded from the wind.  It feels like a cool, crisp Fall day…all except the leaves are still green.

I will dig my hat out of my “winter clothing” bag. 


My only “problem” with staying at a B&B is that I have to be somewhat sociable first thing in the morning, talking the inn keeper and the other guests staying here.  As most of you know, I am NOT a morning person.  I got down to bfast this morning, and she [the owner], who has been up for 3 hours, is full of energy and light.

Right out of the shoot she asks me what I’m doing today.  I haven’t had time to do any research cuz I spent all my time last nite writing up my email. Well, she starts off rapid fire with all these things I can do…and each one is an excellent idea!

In no order of importance:

Wausau/Montgomery County is the largest producer of ginseng in the world, besides “the Orient”.  There are over 1,000 producers/farmers of ginseng in the county.  95% of all that is exported from the States comes from here.  So…I went to a ginseng farm.  The ginseng plants are covered with a tarp cuz it doesn’t like direct sunlight.  The tarp is attached to 5’ wooden posts.  Ginseng berries turns red in August, and are harvested in September.  The roots are harvested in October.

The largest dairy in WI is here.  3,000 cows that get milked 3 times a day.

The owner told me NOT to go on the tour. 
THE SMELL!  You will have to come back and disinfect yourself – shower and change clothes.  That smell lingers on you.


Oh goodness was she correct.  I turned off one county road onto another.  I could smell it… the farm was between ¼ to ½ miles away.  The smell of poo was absolutely nauseating.  I quickly did a drive by and took a photo.  I needed to figure out where I was going next, so I pulled over to look at my map, but I couldn’t stand being there any moment more, so drove on and then pulled over a couple miles away.  I suppose once I thought about it, of course it’s going to smell…there are 3,000 cows there!!

The largest circular red barn is here.  Of course, in my mind I thought it would be several football fields big…so I was disappointed.  AND it was brick on the bottom and wood on the top.  But, it was circular, which is impressive.

There are two houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  I need to google how many houses he designed.  Two for one town seems like a lot.  Both houses are in town – I cycled to them.  They are one story, long, and have flat top roofs.  You would walk by both houses and not give them a second look.  One is for sale.  The other houses a radio communications company – and has a big *ss white radio tower on the roof!

I hiked at Eau Claire Park.  They have a Dairy Queen like shop right next to the trailhead.  I hadn’t seen any sort of business for 10 miles, then right there next to the trailhead is an ice cream shop!

I really like Wausau.  There are parks everywhere.  Lots of benches to look at the river. Part of the river has rapids, part doesn’t.  They had a Jr Olympics kayaking competition today over some of the rapids.  Lots of paths/trails near the water.  Lots of kids parks/play areas.  Lots of baseball fields [their summer college team is called the Woodchucks].

Near downtown along the WI River, they have foot/pedestrian bridges that take you to little islands in the middle of the river.  They are 100% nature/trees except for paths along the edge and criss crossing the middle of the island.  Two islands used to house several paper mills, and there are signs/info boards explaining the ruins, and why people first settled here.  The other island – which is off a beautiful park and boat launch, is the Isle of the Ferns.  Wow.  LOVED it.  So many places to sit and watch the rapids go by, have a picnic, read, think…  It was spectacular.  If I lived here, I would be here every day.  I felt as though I was in a national forest with rapids going by.  To my benefit, but sad, I was pretty much the only person out and about on these islands.  If you like nature, you’d like Wausau.

The drive to Eau Claire Park was simply gorgeous.  Rolling hills of either farms or trees.  Just about every house was a nice farm house with the red barn and silo.  Picture perfect.  THIS so far has been the best of Wisconsin. [I still have to write it up, but was disappointed with Door County.]

I didn’t make it to the Geological Marker which marks the exact center of the NW Hemisphere.  This is the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole, and halfway between Greenwich Meridian and the International Date Line.  One is in China, and the other 2 are in the ocean. The Market is 20 miles from Wausau.

I ate dinner at a place recommended to me at the base of Rib Mountain.  I looked onto a golf course, and the ski area.  Before dinner I had planned on going to the base of the mountain and climbing up a bit.  After dinner, I realized that I was 100% out of steam. 

Before dinner I thought I would go back to the B&B and cycle around the historic neighborhood and go back downtown to look at the final chalk artwork.  In reality – I drove the whopping 5 blocks from the B&B to downtown.

They judged the artwork and I agreed with 3 of the winners, the 4th looked like someone doodled in black and white.  It seemed that most were drawn based on a photo, but I’m unsure if that was a rule.  If so, then the doodle would have been difficult to re-create.  All the winners looked professional.  I would have liked a winner for the kids’ drawings, but they didn’t do that.

We now get to the part of my day where I have concerns that you will start thinking I’m making this sh*t up.

So, I’m walking around looking at the chalk art work.  I see a guy, around 45, smoking a cig, wearing a green shirt, vest, long pants. 

He is also exposing himself. 

The square is packed with people.  This is a family event with lots of little ones here.

So, I think “well, if he wants to show it off…I’m going to capture it on film”.  He sees me dig into my purse for my camera.  He turns to walk away from me.  I get his backside.  I pondered running around to the front, taking a photo and yelling something at him, but I believe, these guys get off on people’s reactions.  And the last thing I want is for him to get any pleasure out of this. 

All day long I have seen 2 cops on bikes.  At one point, I wondered if they were the same 2 cops that I kept seeing over and over again.   After all, how many cycle cops does this town of 38,000 have?  In fact, as I pulled up to the square to park my car, I saw 2 cycle cops talking to a cop in a squad car.  After I snapped my photo, I looked around for a cop.  And of course…where’s a cop when you need one?  I watched the guy walk off, finished looking around and started walking to my car.

That’s when I see a cycle cop.  I wave him over.

Hey – there’s a guy
Yes, we know.  We are trying to find him.
Well, he walked down that street about 10 minutes ago.

The cop races off. 

I yell “I have a photo of his backside if you want to see what he looks like!”
Cop makes a 180’, comes back and looks at my photo.

I tell him I’ll be standing here for a bit, looking around, in case the perv comes back.

He must have radioed the other cops, cuz then all these cops on bikes, cops in a squad car, cops in unmarked cars [one cop per car] pull up to see my photo.

I stood there for about 20 minutes, really hoping he’d come back and I can help them nail the perv, but he didn’t. 

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Appleton, Osh Kosh, Fond du Lac and Wausau, Wisconsin

July 13, 2008


I am in “how do you spell” WAUSAU.

Friday nite in Appleton I cycled around to the first residential house fueled by hydro electricity.  It was built 1882 – they call it a Victorian house, but to me it looks more like Bavarian, if that is a “type”.  I would have thought the first house would be a small house to be used as a testing ground, and also so that it doesn’t need a lot of electricity.  However, this is a huge mansion.  Huge for today’s standards, so I can’t imagine what people thought back in 1882.  The owner of the paper mill had the house built to impress his wife.  I bet it worked!

I also checked out Lawrence University.  It was founded in 1849 and admitted women from day one.  The first class had 7 graduates – 4 men, 3 women.

Saturday I checked out the farmer’s market downtown and bought some blueberries.  The oldest indie bookstore [in WI] is in Appleton.  I normally don’t buy books [I use the library or get free or nearly free books], but wanted to keep them in business so I bought that book “Girls Like Us” about Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King.

Later in the day I sat by Winnebago Lake in Fond du Lac and ate my blueberries and looked at the photos in the book.  Conclusion based on the photos: James Taylor sure got around back then!

I went to the Houdini Museum.  Bottom line on how he got out of all those various locks – he either had a duplicate key made [an associate would steal the key for him, he’d copy it, and that person would return it] or he picked the lock.  He said that 25 key pickers [whatever] could unlock every lock in the world.  When the audience would think he’s hiding the key/picks on him, he would do his stunts in his underwear, and hide the key:

* If it was in a jail or room, an associate would hide it in the room
* In his hair
* Between his toes [NO ONE looks at your feet]
* In his butt [I suppose same]
* swallow it, then throw it up


Couple other tidbits.  Appleton is Joe McCarthy’s home town.  When George Wallace kicked off his 1964 presidential campaign, he did it in Appleton cuz of his close ties with McCarthy.

Pulitzer Prize author Edna Ferber [Showboat, Giant…] is from here.

I then took off for Osh Kosh.  They were having a Blues and Brews fest.  Blues music and lots of beer.  I checked it out a little bit…the music was ok, but I was ready to keep moving.

As I travel around, I spend a lot of time pondering why people live where they do, how some towns flourish and others flounder, how to bring a downtown “back”, why some towns I immediately love, and others just seem nasty.

I had been forewarned by people re both Osh Kosh and Fond du Lac, so my expectations were lowered, and they turned out not to be as bad as I thought.  Both towns have businesses in pretty much all the buildings – not a lot of vacant buildings.  But they are just run down shops, and the building/streets are dirty…just not “clean”.

I didn’t have any desire to get my bike out and cycle around.  Which is always a combo of interest in the town and also if I feel comfortable exposing to anyone who may be looking that I have a trunk full of stuff including my folding bike.

I had a late lunch at the hip coffee shop and was on my way to Fond du Lac.

By the way, there is zero info re the B’Gosh factory or anything involving this in all the touristy info I have.  Now, I would think that would be a great tourist trap.

Osh Kosh too is on the Fox River…a lumber/paper mill town.  Appleton, Osh Kosh and Fond du Lac all have these beautiful, huge houses from a once wealthy era.  Still there, and seem to be well maintained in all the cities.  They all have really powerful Civil War Memorials, and mention Gettysburg on them. They all also have A LOT of houses for sale and for rent.

As I was driving thru downtown Fond du Lac I noticed a street was blocked off and I heard music.  Pull over!  They are having a music fest.  However, there is no one there!!  They have a beer booth, and a food both.  Maybe 20 people there.  So, there is this open place, and chairs set up, and no one is there.  As I walked up, the band took a break.  So, that was that.

I have noticed this past year that root beer floats are the new rage at just about every festival I go to, in a smaller town.  Noticed this when I went to the Americana fest in Nacogdoches, and have seen it just about everywhere since.  I never noticed that before.

Ok, unsure if I can convey this in words so you understand.  I went to St Paul’s Church, cuz it’s supposed to have nice stained glass windows and also a lot of German woodwork. The entire ceiling and upper walls are all made/carved brown wood.  There are a lot of arches going across the room. On each side of each arch is a carved sculpture/statue.  You know how on the front of a pirate/Viking ship, they have a mermaid or woman carved in the very front leaning out, leading the way?  Well, at least in my mind they do.  Well, all these sculpture/statue had men in this same “shape” of leaning out as though they are the front thing on a ship.  Strange.

I then decided to head to Wausau to spend the nite.

It was pretty much flat farm land all the way to Wausau, until about 10 miles out.  Then it became hilly and lots of lakes/water.  Really pretty.  I took the wrong exit, and somehow meandered into the city center.  There is a square and lots of people out and about.  They are having “chalk fest”.  Goodness…3 fests in 3 cities.  People of all ages and abilities are drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk that surrounds and criss crosses the square.  It must go on tomorrow/Sunday, cuz some aren’t finished and the people have gone home.

I did not realize this, but there is a balloon fest going on here. I have since been told that it is too windy, and apparently the balloons didn’t go up this morning. 

I checked out the chalk artwork but was more concerned re food.  The downtown area is nice, but seems to have a lot of non-food shops.  And it was around 9 pm, so what they did have, most were closed already.  I didn’t find any food to my liking, and also asked around and there apparently isn’t any decent live music.  There was a place that had karaoke.  Not my ideal, but I had decided that I would do what I’m going to do, then go find a room.  Becuz once I get to my room…I’m NOT coming back out.

I saw a woman sitting in her car.  I don’t know why, but I asked her if she knew of a B&B in the area where I can stay.  As a matter of fact, she does!  So, I followed her lead and went to a place just blocks from the city center.  They had several rooms, all very nice AND in my price range.  The first room she showed me had a door…which leads out to this huge balcony over/on top of the wrap around porch.  Done!

I was going to sit in the rocking chair on the balcony and read or start this email, but the woman showed me things to do in the area.  I saw a band that I thought I would like.  They gave me directions and I took off to the town next door.  I get there [it’s this huge cavernous bar with a bucking bronc to ride], maybe 40 people there, 10 women dancing.  I sit down and the speakers blow.

So, I’m sitting outside on the rocker.  I have my fleece and a scarf on.  My computer which heats up too much is on my lap keeping me warm.

I will stay another day and take full advantage of the balcony and the pretty tree lined street.  I sure hope it rains for part of the day so I can sit under the awning/over hanging roof and hear the rain come down!

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Appleton, Wisconsin

July 11, 2008


I certainly made the correct call yesterday in coming to Appleton for music.

I got in and scored a room at this huge, historic Victorian home a block from the main downtown drag.  The room also has the Emergency Exit for the floor, which means I can open it to the screen door, open the windows and be in Nirvana with the wonderful breeze.

I have found the coffee shop that I could live in – Brewed Awakening.  It has wonderful looking baked products, quiche, healthy salads and panini’s, cool music, outside seating in front and in back, great stuffed chairs…they even sell gelato AND they have Nutella as a flavor!!  They even have a liquor license.

There are 2 raised window display areas, one each side of the entrance door.  Each with a great stuffed chair and neat table.  So, I sat “on display” and ate my artichoke and cheese panini!

After my late lunch/early dinner, I walked over to Houdini Park, where there is a free concert starting at 5.30.  It looked like it was going to start raining, and as I walked into the park a lady yelled “ok everyone…I’m calling it!”  She called the outside music due to rain, which means it would take place in the designated inside venue, which this week just happens to be the same venue I was planning on listening to music at later.

The venue was packed.  The band was fun.  When they took a break, I hopped on the free trolley that they have on Thursday nites [and the weekend] that takes you around various parts of town.

This town too was built along Fox River, and is a logging/paper mill town.  Some of the old mills have been refurbished into apartments.  The lady driving the trolley said they were very nice, but expensive.  Unsure what her version of expensive means.

After the trolley tour, I went back to listen to the second set by the band.

After that there was a band “from New York City” next.  Watching them set up, it was a very motley group of people – they didn’t look like they would be in the same band at all.  I spoke to the woman, and she said they are 4 singer songwriters from Brooklyn, who are sharing a backing band, and traveling around together.  I asked her what type of music they play, and she says: alt country and Alejandro Escovedo is their God.  GASP!!  I am so psyched!

Just moments before that, I was talking to 2 guys who seem to listen to a lot of music – bigger acts.  They asked me what kind of music I like, and I said alt country/Americana/singer songwriter.  They asked me to name someone, and I said Alejandro.  They had no idea what I was talking about [besides singer songwriter].

So, I was keyed up.

When the first guy sang just 2 lines, I could see their [2 guys] faces light up and they asked me to write down names of other artists who play this kind of music.

They weren’t as good as I had hoped they would be, but it was nice to hear the kind of music that I like.  I did buy 3 cds, cuz it seemed that they were in need of $10 [a pop] more than I.

And the band that I originally came to town to see…which started at 12.30, wasn’t all that good…I didn’t like their sound and I think the lead singer was strung out.  Mind you, IF I liked their sound, I wouldn’t care so much if he was strung out.  Ha.

So, all in all, a wonderful music evening.

I decided to stay another day, and have been basically lazy pretty much all day today. Hanging out for lunch, hanging out at the coffee shop, walking around, going to the library…  I will soon get on my bike and explore more than I already have. 

They claim that the first electric house [via hydro electricity] is here.

Appleton is smoke free!

Bus fare is free to the library.

Last nite when I was talking to those 2 guys…when I leaned in closer to talk to this one guy, between him and I was this heater that was blowing hot air.  Strange, since the rest of the place had a/c.  After a while he went to the men’s room and when he came back, our configuration of 3 changed, and then…so did that heater.  Each time I leaned it I got a blast of heat.  I then realized that it’s him!!  He is radiating heat like you wouldn’t believe it.  He said “ya…in the summer their king size bed isn’t big enuf for his wife to escape his heat.”  I can only imagine.

Heater man said that the craziest people in the state live in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan.  He said that if there is a crazy story about someone doing something “stupid” that it is usually someone from one of those 2 cities.  From now on, when I read “News of the Weird” stories/articles, I will look for those 2 cities.

Houdini was raised here.  All over town they have plaques telling tidbits about him and his family.  I’m going to his museum tomorrow.

There is a plaque re Andy Jimos, who had a hat cleaning business on the main street for 65 years…from 1927 to 1982, when he passed.  My, how times have changed.

Am off to cycle.  I’ll go listen to music tonite, but my expectations are low…I’ll be going to a pizza place.

Tomorrow I head for Osh Kosh [B’Gosh] and Fond du Lac.  2 places that I have yet to find anyone in this state who thinks I should visit.  However, I can’t leave WI without going to these places.  Heater man from last nite is from Fond du Lac, and even he was adamant that I NOT go.   Oh well.   

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Green Bay, Wisconsin

July 10, 2008


I am in Green Bay.

I got in yesterday late morning.  I had a really full day here.

I am staying “downtown”, however, it sure doesn’t look like a downtown area.  The helpful guy at the front desk says it is and to head out in a certain direction.  So I start out exploring on my bike.  Their downtown doesn’t look like a “regular” downtown.  You know how in smaller towns, outside of downtown, there are blocks with ordinary rectangular shaped office buildings…a couple of them on a block with a parking lot or two?  That is downtown Green Bay.  I kept searching. 

I asked a local person where their downtown is. 
You’re in it. 
No, I mean the “downtown” part of your downtown. 
This is it.


So I ask another person.  And come away thinking…idiot.

I get back to my hotel, and talk to the helpful guy and he sheds some light on my confusion:

In the early 70’s when malls first started being built [I remember with excitement as my hometown was building its first mall].  Green Bay decided to tear down its entire “downtown” area, and build a mall.  Which they did and it was quite successful/booming for a couple decades.  However, for the last decade or so it’s been dead.  They are slowing tearing down the mall and, it looks like they are putting up condos [starting at $180k].  So…that is why I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

There are a couple blocks a few blocks away across Fox River on Broadway Street, which has nice offbeat shops and restaurants.

On a side note, in the 70’s Appleton’s [45 min south] downtown merchants fought a mall that was to be built just outside of town.  They fought them for 10 years, but ended up losing, and the mall was built.  Their downtown shops suffered for years, but then the mall petered out and is gone…and their downtown is now booming.

We’ll see – I head that way later today.

I received suggestions that I should visit Lambeau Field, which I did.  The Field is in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

A couple things of note:
* Green Bay has 103,000 residents.  Stadium holds 83,000.  There is a waiting list of 85,000 for season tickets.  Each year, between 0 and 5 people turn their season tickets back in.  This year, ZERO people turned their tickets in.

* One can leave their tickets and/or their place in line on the waiting list in their Will.

* If you rent a “box” at the stadium.  The box is yours all year.  So, you can have parties, meetings, whatever in the box.  You just have to call and give notice, and you can’t bring in your own food/drink [except cakes].

* I’m sure most of you football fans know this, but the goal posts are painted fluorescent yellow.  Better to see them during snowy games.

* We walked out onto the field the same way the players do before the game.  They play a tape that sounds like the crowd, the music, the guy on the PA announcing the team.  I must say, even I got goose bumps.  Pretty cool.

* Obviously the field is NOT named/sold out to a corporate sponsor.  However, the 3 gates are named.  There are minimal ads inside the stadium.

After visiting the stadium and its Hall of Fame, I cycled over to the farmer’s market, which takes place each Wed on Broadway.  Bought strawberries.

Green Bay is positioned along Fox River, which feeds into Green Bay.  They have a cycling/walking path along the River.  VERY nice. However, at a certain point, it is maintained by the Parks Service.  Nothing wrong with that, but it becomes more “native”.  Bugs galore. Little bitty ones.  I didn’t mind getting constantly smashed in the face/body [cuz I’m just going to take a shower], but I couldn’t open my eyes to see.  I ended up closing one eye and putting my hand in front of my other eye to try to protect it from bugs getting in…but that didn’t work the best.  I then realized that I’m NOT having any fun.  I decided to ride to the next mile marker just to see how far I have gone in this Parks area. 

Mile: one.

Ha ha ha.  It sure did seem longer than that!

On the way back, some cyclists rode by me…all had goggles on.

There are rabbits and ducks all over town [near the water].

After that joy and a shower, I went to the Bullfrogs game.  There is a baseball league for college kids to play ball during the summer.  The teams consist of guys from all over the states.  I asked the guy at the desk if these games were fun, and he lit up with an enthusiastic YES.  Hmmm…he’s a guy.  How much fun can it be?  So, I went to the coffee shop and asked the woman whom I was talking with earlier, and she said YES!

So, I cycled off to the game.

The game WAS fun. 

* $5 tickets. 

* Green popcorn and nacho chips. 

* They had lots of audience participation “games” between innings and half innings.  They would announce that if this batter strikes out, then it’s half priced beer [or $1 soda] for the rest of the inning.  When the guy did, the stands made a mass exodus to the concessions stand.  This one poor guy, he struck out and people got half priced beer.  So, the next time he came up to bat, the announcer announced AGAIN, if he strikes out, its half priced beer, AGAIN for everyone.  That doesn’t relay too well in print.

* Nobody smoked.

* Pitcher [#19] felt the need to touch himself either after every pitch, or every other pitch.

I’d stay another day, but there is a band I want to see in Appleton tonite.  I don’t know them, but from their picture they look like someone I’d like to see.  I haven’t listened to live music since Oxford, MS.

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