Week 165 May 27, 2017

Loren had to remind me a few times this week, “Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather, whether we like it or not.” At the same time, some of the locals we have met advised us that the seasons here are, “Winter, and, construction.” However, we still camped – with the comfort of one AirBnB in between, with cold, clouds, fog, wind, and rain. Despite that, we enjoyed ourselves in seeing more of Iowa. For example, at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and birth home,
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at a Sunday UU Service, and, by visiting the Amana Communities. We also stopped briefly in DeWitt – at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and The Blues Highway. DeWitt actually has loudspeakers set up around downtown to hear some blues tunes. It was all uniquely enjoyable. We camped one night by the shore of the Mississippi River, an attraction too for fishermen and pelicans. When we awoke we saw blue sky and sun! However this lasted mere hours as it rained heavily again at our next camp. We drove along Route 66 to Springfield, Illinois to see Abraham Lincoln’s Museum, which of course included details of the horrors of the Civil War. I wonder if Lincoln himself is included in the casualty tally? We toured his home, which was remodeled from its original one story to two when Mary Lincoln received an inheritance. And, we paid respects at his tomb.
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By visiting the local park in town, we learned that prior to being President, Gerald Ford had served as a National Park Service Park Ranger in what had been Lincoln’s home town. We concluded our time in Springfield by taking a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Dana-Thomas house.
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We found three more Peter “Wolf” Toth Whispering Giants Trail statues, one each in Hopewell, Utica, and Ottawa. I misunderstood a woman giving us directions – she said we could find the statue – in her vernacular, in Ellen Park. I said, “Ellen?” She said more strongly, “Ellen.” I thought to ask, “How do you spell that?” She said, “A-l-l-e-n.” “Oh!” I said, smiling. “Thank you!” We found Allen Park with ease. I so appreciate our national differences, and in finding these Native American remembrances in the various states. Not only did we see these manmade statues, we also saw a bald eagle in flight that day. Then that evening we saw a fox crossing the road, and, we heard owls calling back and forth at our campground. Ahh, to be out in nature is always so fulfilling and inspiring!
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We awoke to overcast skies on our big day with tickets for going to see our SF Giants play at Wrigley Field, a stadium that Loren has wanted to visit for some years now. Luck paid a visit as if to make up for the weather earlier in the week, and we had an absolutely lovely, sunny warm afternoon at the ball park. In an uncanny bit of coincidence, we sat beside four men from our own south San Francisco bay’s Los Gatos, and, one of them named Sanford, was someone Loren remembered meeting through a friend some years ago. A little street art outside the stadium gave me a chuckle, but then I was disappointed to notice that not one roving vendor sold boxes of Cracker Jack in our section. What has America’s favorite past time come to ?
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Now we are in Madison, Wisconsin. We spent a day here with a man about our age who we had met on a canoe trip in the Everglades in 2015. He and Loren have kept in touch. He gave us a wonderful tour around this city of about 250,000 people. We began with the Dane County Farmer’s market around Capitol square – claimed to be the largest Farmer’s market in the world. Then we went on to see the Monona Terrace Concert Hall – coincidentally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and which features a display of some of his works including the original portion of the Unitarian church where Loren and I will visit tomorrow. We also drove along the lakes that make up the isthmus of Madison, and saw the connecting creeks…
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Next was a visit to the Arboretum of University of Wisconsin at Madison – where we saw gorgeous azalea blooming.
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We finished our day with our friend with a visit to the annual Brat Fest – to eat varieties of brat and hear a little music. Another strange coincidence is that the featured brat company – Johnsonville is owned by the family of a friend of ours from California. We took a walk around more of the university campus, and, topped the day off with a snack at popular Union Terrace. A thoroughly delightful time in Madison, despite the clouds.
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