I fly into Madison, a day late.
Storms that never happen cause Delta to cancel my first flight.
Only the first of my travel woes this trip!
Now I know I'm in Wisconsin. The t-shirt says:
"The whole blaze orange thing kills me - they must think we're color blind."
Spoken by a deer.
Research reveals mucho-macho internet debate about state laws requiring blaze orange outfits
so hunters don't mistake a man for a deer.
Much outrage that the gov't cares about hunters shooting each other.
Some gun-toters think that wearing full "camo" is best because then then your good buddies
can't see you to kill you if you shoot the stag they've been stalking.
(Also, turns out deer are color blind in the sense that they see greens and blues but not reds.)
Safely in Madison, I see a self-propelled trolley chug up State Street, traveling from bar to bar.
Much jollity while people pedal furiously while knocking a few back.
I'm here to visit my family. Aaron and Andrew are very happy to see me!
I found the sunglasses Andrew is wearing in the waves of the Atlantic ocean,
Armani Express, only mildly scuffed -
a gift from the sea to replace the ones he lost recently in Wakefield Pond.
(Andrew will later reject them as not worthy.)
The Campbells come over from Milwaukee for a day in Tenney Park,
to continue the Campbell-Yonda playground rivalry.
Who will rule the playground, Aaron or Kellen?
Arya takes on a merry band of Tenney Park wedding guests.
Kellen, Jennifer and Arya. Cute to the third power.
Next I travel to Winding Road Farm near Boyceville, WI, where Paul and Judy Helgeson have planted
a prairie on the high field. The entire expanse vibrates with the hum of bees.
Paul and Judy recently went to Cuba - you can read about their trip at
The garden above, the old Case tractor and even older road grader below.
Judy and I do some antiquing in Menomonie. Above, Jesus suffers on velvet, and
below, two exotic ladies look askance at a third.
My favorite find: a vintage 1972 bag from when George McGovern and Sargent Shriver
ran against Nixon/Agnew. What a disaster that was!
Although, arguably, the Nixon/Agnew ticket was a lesser evil than Romney/Ryan - Nixon, when he wasn't being a paranoid psycho, ended the draft, ended segregated classes in the south, and began a large environmental program which included implementing the Environmental Protection Agency,
the same EPA that Wisconsonite (sad to say) Paul Ryan would like to destroy.
This bag was probably used by a door-to-door campaign volunteer - note the authentic ink stains.
Old friends gather at Paul and Judy's Menomonie house, and Helen Quinn
brings old slides from 1977 when our women's discussion group put on a play,
starring Helen as John Revolta in our version of Saturday Night Fever.
I played a male character - a cross between Annie Hall and Charlie Chaplin.
Here we are dancing to "More Than a Woman," John Revolta in the background.
In my second travel nightmare, I wait almost two hours for a Jefferson Lines bus
that finally comes, but instead of stopping,
the bus deftly skirts the designated pick-up spot on the UW-Stout campus.
Note the map below where we watch in horror as the bus speeds out of Menomonie!
My co-waiter says a variant of this has happened to her before -
only that time it drove right by her as she ran after it screaming and waving her hands.
The Jefferson Line rep later says that the errant busman is "one of their seasoned drivers."
Anyone need twenty Jefferson Bus Bucks, their generous gift to me for all my trouble?
I take an airport shuttle van to the Mpls. airport instead,
and my sister Sherry and I take off for Duluth, our favorite city!
The beach at Park Point on Lake Superior.
The view from our hotel deck.
Duluth is a bit of a mecca for tourists.
These young women are lacrosse players from Hopkins, Minnesota, the sporting enemies of
my old high school, Minnetonka. Is it a team rule that their hair be long, straight and oh-so-touchable?
Here's a couple of the locals...
...and some local wisdom.
Actually, I disagree. I think the way is the sky.
We eat at our favorite restaurant, the Lake Cafe.
And go to the aquarium where we see some fish...
...and displays. The three blue buckets signify earth's fresh water compared to salt water.
A model of the great lakes show how they descend eastward to the sea across the continent.
And finally, the lowly Atlantic.
The wave machine rocks! With levers we manipulate the underwater shoreline, making the waves change shape and cresting angle. Fun!
When we leave the aquarium, the sky has gone through a major metamorphosis.
We run back to our hotel, just in time to miss the driving rain.
We see huge lightning strikes off in the distance.
At it turns out, one of them killed a young boy and injured seven others
off of Minnesota Point, where they were trying to flee in their sailboat.
This may have been the strike that did the damage, traveling over 2 miles across the sky.
(Source: Daniel Thralow via You Tube)
Shortly after the big lightning strikes, we see two Coast Guard boats speed out of the bay.
About an hour later, the Coast Guard boat escorts two sailboats into the harbor.
Big storms can come up in a flash over the lake, as this day proves.
It can change from this...
...to this in a New York minute.
The next day is calm and sunny...
...and Sherry meditates on the beauty of Duluth...
...as we explore Lester River.
We leave reluctantly on the most beautiful day of the year...
...and go to New Richmond to visit my mom and brother Dan.
Dan and Angie are getting married in two weeks!
Here they are "reflecting" on their future.
New Richmond antiquing reveals a true find: DDT!
The bottle is still about a quarter full - time to stock up!
Dan brings me into Minneapolis where I reunite with Sherry, and
Dan climbs, his favorite activity.
The climbing structures remind of Richard Serra sculptures.
(Serra at MoMA, 2007)
Dan usually tries to climb the real thing.
(Dan ice-climbing, 2007)
Another huge electric storm, this one over Lake Minnetonka...
...close to Sherry's house.
Lightning flashes reveals two beings of light at the end of the dock.
Lightning flashes reveals two beings of light at the end of the dock.
We shop at the local grocery store that features a Warholian display...
...and on the way home Sherry rescues a turtle from sure death.
Later she leads Kellen and Arya into the wild woods.
Sherry and Brett host a spider lair on the wall of their deck...
...and we host a party on the spider-deck: my mom, Shirley, is the champion bubble blower.
Or is Lily, daughter of my cousin Carla, the champion?
Later, the deck party continues.
Derek and Alicia relax while the kids sleep...
Aaron observes from a higher plateau...
Morning brings us to Shannon and Michael's for brunch.
Michael has cooked up a storm, including biscuits and gravy!
Ali is on her way to the Minnesota Renaissance Fair where she will be a
dazzling Renaissance wench.
The Orange Guy makes an appearance.
He keeps making the family rounds, popping up in unexpected places
because of devious, underhanded machinations.
We place him quietly in Shirley's suitcase.
Kellen and Arya bravely play with the dog.
Fun family pics!
Kellen is disturbed to see the end of the fun.
My last travel nightmare is the flight home where we cool our heels on the tarmac
for two hours, waiting for the weather in New York to let us take off from Minneapolis.
All I have to eat is a bag of the worst granola ever, stale and nasty, but gluten-free.
Finally we leave Minneapolis...
...and circle New York for a while, fending off the cloud-fists.
Finally home again, back to my favorite corner where there are no storm delays.