Sunday, July 26, 2020

Wisconsin Is Weird

Some of the stuff in Wisconsin  is weirdly beautiful and some of it is rather unfortunate, and I still don't exactly know what is meant by "summer sausage" or "supper club" but neither is as risqué as they sound I suspect.
For some reason I find myself approaching these kinds of situations feeling a bit like a rube out of the mangroves. I've lived in the Keys for so long I see these classic farmland scenes and they look more like a movie than the real thing. I think visitors to the keys get the same effect in reverse; we live in the same country yet we are worlds apart. Had you been riding in Gannet 2 on our way to the notorious Door County, tourist capital of Wisconsin we are told, you would have heard us pointing out banalities like wide open fields:
To get to Door County from Chicago we droned up the freeway and spent a night in a rest area, our favorite free quick efficient overnight stopping place. Our van is well insulated enough we don't hear any engine noise from vehicles or trucks coming and going and we are small enough we can park in the car section far from the rumbling commercial trucks. We drove until dark and the sunset off to our left was a portent it seemed of things to come. My wife the passenger couldn't tear her eyes away as the sun set so slowly at these north latitudes the dusk crept up on us so gradually...and is disappeared it left behind all the colors of the sunset which ended finally in a deep dark blue band of sky. The last of the light turned the trees and silos into a stage set silhoette between the freeway and the horizon. And just for extra effect the waxing crescent moon hung low over the fields as daylight disappeared completely. It was extraordinary.
The next morning we got up slowly and washed ourselves with those very useful body wipes of the type you use after a hurricane when water is in short supply. Walking Rusty I noticed an old school bus with the engine compartment propped open with a stick and parents and children gathered by the picnic table. Naturally coronavirus precludes casual encounters which is as frustrating on the road as it is at home, so I never learned their story but just as in sailing I find land bound traveling families worthy of respect and they usually have excellent and funny campfire stories. Worrying about my dog is as much as I can manage easily, children are way beyond my capacity to cope with.  I took this picture of the bus on our night walk circumambulating the rest area.
As we pulled out of the rest stop when the sun was well up and I was sipping tea brewed in my own mobile home I looked over and saw a young man squatting in the grass in the shade of a tree. Even in profile I could see he was young and fashionably bearded. He leaned forward in an attitude of prayer on his knees and projectile vomited into the grass. My wife muttered "hung over" but Occam's Razor in a time of pandemic proffered coronavirus as a likely cause. Either way that image gave us pause, it came as though a warning of things to come. Indeed our whole journey across Wisconsin till we accidentally found ourselves in masked, social distancing Michigan gained the floor of time travel. We came from the future, a place where we once had very few cases and an excessively casual relationship with the virus. I fear Wisconsin has a terrible future ahead as the state seems to have no collective idea how to manage the infection and take precautions. Just as Florida seemed to have no will to limit social contact a few short weeks ago. I remember pictures of crowded beaches and bars and I looked at the small vacation towns we drove through and I felt like I was watching the unsuspecting victims of a horror movie.
Layne has been locked at home pretty much since March 15th and here suddenly we found ourselves in a time before coronavirus. Lockdown? Social Distancing?
Crowds, mask-free staff waiting tables pushed together, public socializing without a care in the world. It was a wrench and reminded us how much we miss stopping and checking the places, the curiosities and roadside attractions on these road trips.
Wisconsin is full of things to see, breweries, wineries, distilleries, cider makers, farms, cheese factories and I don't know what. But every time we stopped to give it a go we found crowds, no masks and no chance of us blowing our long standing isolation to taste or participate. I very much want to come back and see it properly, after the virus. It is lovely.
Roadside stop where we spent the night near Bowler, Wisconsin.
He's getting used to it:
No I did not envy him, I rather enjoy floating along in the van with my things and my family.


Wisconsin is irresistible. Lots of winding roads and huge forests.
Lakes far too cold for the likes of us filled with people having fun.



Yes, Land O'Lakes Butter has actual farmer-owners in Door County. Who Knew?