WI Travelogue – Part II

October, is that you at the door? I ask because it’s sixty-one and sunny today (9/29). So Black Dog and I ventured into the low mountains to enjoy an invigorating hike together

It’s only us this weekend because HW is at a conference in Phoenix, where, she reports, it’s still over 90° at 10:00 PM. Poor thing. I texted her this picture and you could almost hear her heels click three times, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like…” Anyway, Black Dog is usually out front like that, sniffing for any morsel of food or what have you that may have fallen from another hiker’s pack. Dogs generally, but Labrador breeds especially, it seems to me are fixated on food opportunities 24/7. HW won’t even let him off leash anymore on the beach in Seward during summer for fear he’ll be combing campgrounds for discarded chicken bones, or running uninvited into people’s RVs looking for an open bag of chips. This actually happened to me one time, and by the time I caught up with him he was inside a Winnebago, his nose so far into a family-size bag of Lays you couldn’t see his ears. Fortunately, in this case, the campers found it amusing. Doesn’t always go that way though, and when it doesn’t, well, I always have at the ready a battery of sappy apologies and excuses for his misbehavior, even if some of them aren’t true – “Sorry, he’s not our dog, we’re watching him for a friend who rescued him from a puppy mill.” Often enough this gets the waterworks going and I’m off the hook.

Admit it, you could hardly wait for Wisconsin Travelogue Part II!

That’s my our mom in full harvest mode. A big shout out to Cuff Farms, where, shortly after our arrival there, we were conveyed by the quaintest of all tractor rides to the killing fields (which we might easily have walked to from checkin, but you know what they say, when in Hortonville….). Once in the field, we disembarked the trailer with empty wood crates in hand and were instantly scurried away by a perky young lady to our row, handed a flag which we were instructed to stab in the ground at the end of our row (to mark our victory?), cautioned to not pick strawberries outside our row, and then we dropped to our knees and crawled our way along the straw-strewn field pickin’ and pitchin’ as we went.

You had to move slowly and look carefully so as not to miss the best ones

Back at home in Appleton we hulled and rinsed over the kitchen sink til our hands and fingers seemed irreversibly red.

Were they sweet you ask? Take a look

The entire week we were there it was hot, so while some in the family were at work we helped ourselves to poolside activities at the new home of our niece and nephew-in-law (you two rock!), some of which involved day drinking and play with pneumatic dolphins (complete with expert instruction from yours truly, even if it went unheeded)

It wasn’t all fun games over there though, we had the challenging responsibility of letting the two dogs out and keeping them happy. Brinkley (aka Brinkley Bear) would spend hours (seriously) pawing at shadows in the kiddie pool while ol’ Gus, after he got over his standoffishness with us, eventually chilled on the cool grass

And so it continued throughout the week, we’d awake mid-morning to enjoy coffee with Mom and Dad, catch up with the goings-on in their lives and ours, step outside into the rising heat of the day to feel the moist (Kelly!) lawn between our toes, stroll among the “twindos” marveling at the gardenry neatly maintained in every direction, and then back into the house for a late breakfast and a coffee refill to ponder the plan for the rest of the day. Regardless of how that played out, it was poolside where we all eventually gathered. Once to witness a demo by our grand (great?) nephew of his newest invention, which, if nothing else was, well, loud. I told him if he ever gets around to connecting the four-stroke beast to the drivetrain to give me a call, I wouldn’t mind takin’ that bad boy for a spin

Brother Steve dropped by one day with two of his delightful daughters, both of whom, like their dad, are pretty dang good at cornhole (aka “Bags” in Wisconsin), making me suspicious of their claim they’ve never played before. Sadly, I’ve no photos of them to share, although you can find a dandy here.

By night we prowled the hoods of Appleton, one night under the escort of sister Gail who showed us where the Pelicans play on the Fox River

Overall, a grand time (I hope) was had by all. We certainly enjoyed it. The week flew by – you leave thinking you didn’t spend enough time with the people you love, family. And to think our touch-base with them began here just a week earlier, inside a bar on Milwaukee’s east side, my ol’ stompin’ grounds while a grad student at UW-M. If these walls could speak, oy vey, the stories they may tell

Thursday we leave for Europe with two other couples, to France and Spain and places between. WiFi permitting, I’ll share some photos. Be well.