And the road goes on forever...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Eye Candy out My Door

While Wisconsin doesn’t have the heart-stopping spectacular kind of beauty found in certain parts of the world, it certainly contains plenty of bucolic charm and pastoral beauty in my opinion. Mine this past few days has been free and right out my door on my morning walks! Within just a few mornings I was noticing a decided difference in the amount of fall color; to the point I am figuring I had better make it out on some country drives this week for some photography lest I miss some of the most glorious examples, like this blazing tree in downtown Amherst. I was lucky to catch it from a second angle when all lined up for the perfect “red” shot—the tree, the old Chevy truck and the flag.
The weather this past Sunday was one of those take your breath away kind of days—perfect temp, perfect sky, perfect relaxing day. A stroll around town yielded quaint houses, more immaculate yards and temptress autumn just starting to strut her stuff.
From that, later in the day Marc and I enjoyed the free pig roast hosted by Ambrosia Pub & Grill, celebrating their 15th year with delicious pulled pork and about ten sides and dessert, with a rousting band playing outside to a cheery grouping of folks of all ages.
Right behind us in the Amherst Industrial Park is a small microbrewery making a name for itself—Central Waters Brewery. Wisconsin does like its beer and breweries and pubs are rampant. They specialize in primarily darker beers and Ambrosia carries one of them on draft. Now Marc and I aren’t usual patrons of drinking establishments but it seems to me at just $2 a pull for a freshly made microbrew that what they say about the affordable Midwest is all true. We can live with that!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Village, Amherst, WI

Our new village is the kind where you can expect to stop driving to let the squirrels scamper across the street. They must have grown to expect it from other villagers since they run out without looking both ways, busy on these fall days gathering whatever to make it through the coming winter. 

The Tomorrow River traverses town and is damned at one end creating a shallow small lake which abuts lucky homeowner’s lots. The lots are deep, shaded with huge trees and moist green grass. Even the library features grounds and benches overlooking the water. The homes are older and most offer front porches for those indolent summer evenings.
There is an 1890’s bank with sweet, helpful personnel; a hardware store, antique stores, several restaurants and bars. The post office, like the library, is small and uncrowded. The local phone company has the monopoly on providing TV and internet service with an interminable wait of over two weeks. 

There is a local family owned market should weather be too inclement to make it into Stevens Point to the larger stores. There’s a nice newer school and two service stations and various other businesses I haven’t gotten around to as yet.
The part that I am enjoying most is taking Rocket to the riverside park for his afternoon frolics. The river meanders slowly by, the birds twitter and flit from the trees, the squirrels scamper here too, and all seems totally serene as I watch ducks preen themselves and float by. It’s a beautiful park and I always have it all to myself, which is a wonder. I am watching fall turn bit by bit. The corn behind us has been harvested and you can see the Travel Supreme has been put to rest for the year behind our series of apartment garages out of everyone’s way. We’re getting settled in.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Move

Our slog across approximately 2200 miles of America’s freeway system ended up taking us five and a half days. The trailer was overloaded but we chose a southern route so avoided steeper mountain passes that way, finding the greatest pull probably being the one east out of Albuquerque. 

We had good, although hot weather for the most part, only hitting a spate of rain for an hour in Iowa. By then, the Midwest humidity was in full gear but since we had left Yuma in monsoon season, it too had been humid. It was sad saying goodbye to the few friends and neighbors currently there knowing that I wouldn’t be returning although Marc will make at least one more trip and probably two, to complete the move. 

We managed this lengthy trip without any major catastrophes with the rig or tires but did have a tremendous scare at a rest stop west of Amarillo, TX. Marc took Rocket out on the leash for some exercise and needed to attend to something so he handed off the leash to me. I continued walking Rocket through a weedy picnic area when Rocket headed toward something lying next to the raised cement they use to elevate the picnic tables. Marc returned and reached out and grabbed Rocket’s leash and yanked him back just as I spied a good sized rattlesnake which promptly coiled and sent his rattle buzzing. What a close call for our kitty and probably even myself, wearing my sandals! Marc wanted to go back and shoot it but I said “Let’s just get out of here” but upon further reflection we probably should have. I shudder to think how some little kid could have gone running over to that picnic table and been bitten with the snake so well camouflaged in the weeds. The picnic shade ramadas are apparently loaded with rattlesnakes throughout New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma so we avoided them like the plague from then on. In fact, in New Mexico, this is the way they build them since it lessens the chances of snakes.
I had never been through some sections we drove so it was nice to view Oklahoma and the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. Yes, I was surprised to see there are hills in Kansas! Oklahoma was immediately much greener and cleaner than the panhandle of Texas and is a very godly land; it was hard finding a radio station which wasn’t religious. Well, that was also the case in Iowa as well. We noted there had been lots of new building around Des Moines since we had been there on one of Marc’s projects back in the ‘90’s.
For the most part we stayed in truck stops and WalMarts, paying for an RV park only on our first night out, at the Escapees park in Benson, AZ. Our final night was at a small truck stop in Dow, IA next to the cornfields and we made an early escape at daybreak headed for our new home state after a brief sojourn into the corner of Minnesota. Minnesota by far has the best highways but we found more courteous drivers in every state compared to what we had become used to in California. It was refreshing to see folks exit from the right lane of the freeway for instance, rather than from the far left lane in a steep dive-off as they cut you off, as they commonly do in California. Finally, we approached the Mississippi River amidst one lane of construction on the bridge and entered into Wisconsin at Lacrosse.
Our first order of business was to find a place to park the RV and we were lucky to find Rivers edge about ten miles north of Stevens Point right on the Wisconsin River. Their only full hookup spot was adjacent to the bar and grill but it didn’t prove to be a problem; the nearby whizzing freeway was much more bother to our sleep. We paid for a week and ended up here five days as we fortunately found an apartment in short order.
One of the best things about the apartment find is that the complex of 16 units is located in the rural village of Amherst (pop. 1051) which is also where Marc’s company is located so he is within ¾’s of a mile to work. No commute! Given that the large parcel backs up to cornfield, the owner kindly is allowing us to park the RV and Freightliner here for a nominal charge. It made unpacking the unit of every item in it much handier although we did do two days of running back and forth in the vehicles from Rivers edge as well. Every rental requires a minimum of a year’s lease but we figured that is fine as we can’t really do much until our Yuma property is taken care of anyway.
It seems downright thrilling to actually have space! And real walls surrounding us! I guess I never realized how much I have missed that because suddenly I am as contented as our cat Rocket is here. We have 1100 s.f. with two bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a single garage and a gas fireplace. It is typical here that landlords pay for all heating and the gas, so ours will be cranking this winter as we get acclimatized! Expect to see some upcoming fall shots in the blog, Wisconsin’s most glorious time of year, as I have a chance to get out once fully settled.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Speed Run

We’ve arrived in Yuma to high heat and monsoon torrential rain and lightning to accompany all of our packing and moving chores; certainly not the best of circumstances. Our speed run through California on our return trip was a sad series of goodbyes, starting off of course, with Mom.
Our next stop was in Weed, near Mt. Shasta, to meet up with Marc’s sister Peggy in an exchange of goodbye and some gifts. The day was beautiful but we started to hit high winds in this portion of our trip.
After a stay in a nondescript RV park in Colusa, we left early on Monday to meet up with a couple of Marc’s friends since high school, Bill and Mike. They live higher up in the foothills but were gracious enough to make the drive to a truck stop off I-80 so we didn’t have to drag the wagon off course. In the course of conversation, I managed to sell our little Nomad fifth wheel to Bill, whose girlfriend has a truck large enough to pull it. He’s getting a steal at just $1500, but we need to get rid of it so it’s a win-win for everyone. Since Marc has to fly out and return to Yuma for another load, the two will meet up at that time and Marc will set Bill up with our extra Reese fifth wheel hitch and Bill can help Marc do some heavy lifting and packing; another win-win!
The second night we made it to Lemoore for a street side stay beside my best friend’s house, where we were graciously treated to a pizza dinner. Since we couldn’t open the slides beyond about 8 inches each, that involved a dangerous dance of negotiating around all the stuff we had packed from our Bend storage. Paulette’s neighbor graciously said our generator didn’t bother them, so we let it run all night long so we could have air conditioning as the temps were hot and humid. And yes, I was feeling as tired as I look in this goodbye picture!
Marc’s new company decided that it would be better for them if he can start as soon as possible and take a break more around the holidays to return to Yuma for our second trip to get more of our stuff so we have been working flat out to totally get the park model packed, even though much of it will be left behind at this point. My car is stuffed, the RV is stuffed, and we will raid it of its contents and furniture on the other end when we find a rental in Wisconsin. It won’t make for the most comfortable or relaxing cross-country journey but it was the best that we could figure out to pack along the most amount of stuff. Rather than cardboard boxes, we opted for large stacking plastic storage totes from WalMart so it has been a major investment in packing material but well worth it. 

We expect today to be it, after a trip to say some goodbyes here with those we have worked with at Helping Hands, where we are donating an entire load, and then Marc will also be making a dump run with throwaways. I will finish packing the park model, work in a quick grocery run and fuel my car and we should be set to leave sometime tomorrow, figuring around a five day trip. Marc weighed on the scales in Oregon and the rig tipped a little over 42,000 pounds and we have probably added another 500 pounds since so we’ll be a slow road train headed east. It’s a good thing he put on those new heavy duty axles and tires a couple years ago!