Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17 - 23, 2017, MN

Wednesday, July 19.  Whew! It is whizzing right by.  I had my much needed and much grateful for dental hygiene appointment on Monday - I LOVE how my teeth feel after a good cleaning.  I am now a patient at The Herzing College Dental Hygeine clinic - an experience much like those that I've had in Mesa at Carrington College.  The procedures are so thorough and all of the hygienists have been so nice.  Unfortunately, I won't be seeing Lorie again as she will graduate next month.

I spent a good part of Tuesday and Wednesday with Camille and Norah - couldn't go to school because of fevers and after getting check by the doctor today, learned that they have summer colds and not anything worse than that.  They've been good in spite of feeling lousy.  Each day, they have wanted to take a ride in black double stroller and that worked out just fine - it gave them what they wanted and me a bit of a workout.

I went to Linden Hills Park last night and watched Charlotte in Soccer practice. - those little ones sure are cute! She's loving it.

This was taken just before Camille fell and scraped her knee - we had to go back home and treat it with 2 bandaids.

This afternoon, I met Craig and Diane - former coworkers in Madison and fellow Mesa residents.  They are visiting their son and daughter here so we met at the Tavern on France for a cocktail and a nice chat.  It felt good to hang out with friends!

Friday, July 21.  Today was my day with Charlotte but I thought it might be nice to have her spend the night last night and it did turn out to be a fun time, except that she wasn't interested in any of the dinner I made for her. Something has really changed because I made the exact same dinner for her last year when we went camping and she devoured it. It turns out that a PB and J was just what she wanted, not shrimp, rice, and broccoli. Imagine that.

We slept in until Eight this morning and had a relaxing start to the day.  She wanted to do cutouts, so I got out all of the art supplies that I had and she proceeded to cut out three birds, her own design and they were really cute.  So, between the two of us, we made about a dozen, followed by a tall tree, nests, and shrubs.  And then it was imaginary stories about birdie adventures. She is quite the kid.

Frisco had to be walked, so we crossed France and went to Weber Park where she had fun playing at the playground and Frisco was able to take care of business and I got my walk in.  Back at home, we added more to the bowl of raspberries that we picked yesterday. She was determined to get every ripe raspberry off those bushes and I think we might have managed that. Her goal was to get lots so she could take them home to her sisters.  That was from the sweet, big sister part of her-the 98.8% of her.

I was expecting a call from my sister, Rita and when it came in, we went to the Sheraton to meet up with them.  They had a family commitment on Denny’s side, so we barely had time to scarf down some lunch and had to head out.  I will see them again, briefly n Sunday morning before they head back to KC.

When I took Charlotte home, I was invited to have a beer and some dinner, so it turned out to be a very nice evening, with an opportunity to chat with both Jill and Ben.

Saturday, July 22. I got myself moving quickly this morning, took Frisco for a walk, and then drove to River Falls, WI to visit with my niece, Stella, Josh, and Barley who are here for a family reunion on her Dad’s side of their family.  We headed for Hoffman Park so their dogs could get some exercise and we could hang out for a while.  I need to remember that there is a nice, small RV park adjacent to the playground and it might be a good place to visit some day (only an hour’s drive from y apartment). It was good to see these guys and I had a nice time and River Falls is a cute little town.  

Stella, Barley, Josh and Ginger and Levi

When I left there, I checked out Kinnikinnic State Park on the shores of the St. Croix River - a beautiful drive to get there, a beautiful park, but no campground.

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10 - 16, 2017, WI, MN

Monday, July 10.  What a way to start a new week!  First, the fireworks started around 9:15 and went on until shortly after 10:00 - that had Frisco barking and growling and shaking.  Then after a struggle to get to sleep, I start to hear rain, thunder and lightening around 12:30 - several severe weather alarms go off on my phone, warning of flash flood, frequent and severe lightening, and possible hail - and that continues for a couple of hours and then it lessens but keeps on until 5:30.  That was the time I had my alarm set for, so I could get up and have some coffee with Pat and get a farewell hug to last until we see each other again in a few weeks.  The storms have moved on, we ended up with ove 4 inches of rain, and I shouldn't be bothered with them on my drive north to St. Germain.

I stopped at the Pioneer in Westfield, about an hour north of Stoughton, to have breakfast with my cousin, Jo and Patty. So great to see them both. And then I traveled on to St Germain to Jim and Sue’s house. It's such a nice drive with a mix of pine and hardwood forest, and lakes and rivers everywhere you look.  On my arrival, we all had a glass (maybe 2) of Tribute’s Ghost Lights Amber Beer from the nearby brewery in Eagle River. Mmmmm good!

We had a lovely dinner, went for a walk, and then played 3 rounds of Farkel with each of us winning a game.  Nice!

Tuesday, July 11. Jim had some projects to work on this morning, so Sue and I and Frisco walked the 2.2 mile trail around Shannon Lake.  We got a good scare when we stopped at a little beach area and heard the thundering of feet coming along the path.  Sue immediately thought it was a bear and let out a shout, I turned around and saw a large Collie bounding toward us.  He turned out to be very friendly and his master joined him shortly after and there was absolutely not threat, just a nice guy and his nice dog.

Shannon Lake

After a bite to eat and cleaning up, we headed to Sayner along State Highway 155 (the shortest highway in Wisconsin, only 14 miles long) and went to the Vilas County museum and a couple of nice little shops, then back to their house to sit and relax on the porch.

Tonight, we went to Sisters Saloon, a typical up north kind of bar, but with a twist.  The food was gourmet and I ordered an almond crusted Walleye that was served with rice and a tasty side of vegetables.  When we got back home, we played Farkel again because each of us won a game last night and Jim was the lucky one tonight - he won all three games - and he got 2 sets of triplets that scored him 2500 points each time - what a streak of luck that was!

Wednesday, July 12.  I was on the road this morning st about 9:30 after having coffee with Jim and Sue and walking to the end of their road and back.  I had checked online for a place to stop to empty my tanks and learned that the sewage treatment plant in Woodruff had a dump station. I pulled in, paid my $10.00 and was led to the dump station by a staff member.  After she left, I realized it was not very sanitary - dirty water from previous dumps was pooled near the outlet, the lid was broken, so nothing to hold your hoses down, and the available rinse water was not very conveniently located, far enough away, so the outlet itself couldn't be rinsed.  I used it anyway - thankful that I had gloves and I was very careful to rinse well. For any RVer friends who need a dump station up north - don't go there.

I headed west on Hwy 70 toward Spooner and drove through the Chequamagon and Nicollet National Forests - about 110 miles of forest.  When I got to Spooner, I went to the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum where there is a collection of some of Tom MacKenzie’s canoes.  I was able to take Frisco in there with me so I could take my time.  The very first exhibit was one of Tom’s early birchbark canoes - I thought it might be the one that he built for Mike but learned from Karen that it isn't that one.  There are some beauties in there.  

And then there is an entire room, dedicated to Tom and his works - complete with his personal boat and several others, including one that demonstrates the different layers of materials that make them up.  I was filled with emotion and got all teared up seeing the photos and videos, and hearing him in videos that demonstrate the building process and various paddling techniques.  He was a good guy - such a gentle and talented man. I'm so glad to have been a friend.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 1 - 9, 2017, WI

Tuesday, July 4th.  Happy 4th of July, America!

On Saturday morning, with Gypsy in tow, I headed south to Richland Center, traveling along the Mississippi River on US 61.  The worst part was getting through LaCrosse and it's many stop lights through the city. From there, it was the beautiful terrain through the driftless area of Wisconsin and its many bluffs, lush green foliage, and views of the river.  I pulled into “The Land” about 5 hours after departing.

It was great to see Leslie, Chris, Steve and Nancy and a shortly after that, Jane showed up.  Chris left on Sunday and Linda took her place. I got the camper set up and it was Beer Thirty and a good old Supper Club satisfied my thirst.  Jane grilled this huge pork roast that was stuffed with some pear chutney that she made for dinner and we had green beans, and sweet and white potatoes to accompany it.  Good stuff!

The sky was clear and the moon and stars were bright - and there was no rain in the forecast for the next 3 days.  I remember few weekends out there without rain and many with rain the entire weekend - and that is no fun at all.  

Steve and I hiked the 180 acres and I really enjoyed it, again, it's probably been 5 years since I last hiked it with Peter.  The first mile is mostly a wide path cut through the woods, passing a few groomed campsites.  As you get to the western border of the property, you start to climb the ridge and again and the ground gets much more rocky with less grass and more pine trees and hardwoods and a few campsites that were used in our younger days.  On the back side, you cross over into the neighbor's soybean field where it is an easy walk to the edge of the woods where you start to go down toward the campsites again - the most difficult part of the hike, where you move from tree to tree for support on the steep decline.  At one point, I couldn't find Frisco, so we stayed in the same place and just kept calling for him and he eventually showed up.  He must have been having trouble getting over fallen trees and branches and he was getting tired.  We all made it and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.  It felt good just to hike and it doesn't get much better than this beautiful place.

The mowed path.
  Steve and Ajax
The stream.

Jane and Leslie cooking dinner.

While I was relaxing with a cup of coffee this morning, Frisco came up to me and I could hardly stand the smell of him. For the 2nd time this weekend, he had rolled in something dead, excrement, or just something gross and his neck and side was covered in black, smelly, gunk.  Thanks to the stream and my bar of lavender soap, I got him cleaned up and could stand to have him near me again.

Yesterday afternoon when Linda came back from town, she left her keys in the ignition on the accessory position and when she went to roll up her windows in the evening, found her battery dead.  So, after cleaning Frisco up and before hooking Gypsy back up, we read our car manuals and then tried to jump start her car - but it didn't work - after telling Pat about it this evening, he thought that we probably didn't let it charge quite long enough.  She ended up calling AAA and they got her on the road so she could get back to Milwaukee this afternoon.

And now I'm back in Stoughton for a few days.  It's always good to be with Pat and Tracey and Savana and her girlfriend will be with us tonight.

Wednesday, July 5.  I'm feeling right at home again with Gypsy parked in Pat and Tracey’s driveway. Had to run the AC as it is hot and humid.  Savana and her girlfriend are spending the night and it was nice to get to see her again and meet Erica. Tracey made beans and rice for dinner and that was pretty tasty.

I gave Gypsy a bath this morning and Pat did all of the roof cleaning so I didn't even have to get on the ladder.  It is really dimpled up there but no leaks.  I heard from the 2 repair shops last week and they can't locate the material for the roof. The manufacturer won't return their calls and that didn't surprise me in the least. They quit making them back in 2010.  So today, I sent some more photos and will see what the insurance adjusters have to say.

I went for a ride with Pat to Madison as he had to go look at a repair job on the east side. It gave us a perfect opportunity to drive around the neighborhood where we lived when he was growing up and then we took the back country roads back to Stoughton.  It brought back lots of memories.

  East Washington Ave bridge over the Yahara River

Son Number One

The Capital from East Washington Ave

Saturday, July 8.  Thursday was my day to go to Monona for a visit with Tom and Karen for a few hours - and a great visit it was!  When I left there, I was going to drive past Mom and Dad’s house but was kind of pulled toward Monona Bait and Tackle for a Babcock Hall Ice cream cone before I did it. Yum! Yum! And while I was sitting there enjoying my ice cream cone and looking out at the lake, I called to see if Louie was home. She and Dave and just got home, so I stopped to chat with them for a while before heading back to Stoughton.

Pat and I went to a few garage sales on Friday morning and I bought a booster car seat for the days that Charlotte hangs out with me, a few cute outfits for the kids, and a replacement microwave for my apartment (the existing one is old and the clock/timer doesn't work).  I also picked up some groceries for a salad to take to Kate and Adam’s party on Saturday.

I just couldn't miss out on a good old Wisconsin Friday night fish fry and an opportunity for a great Old Fashioned, so I met up with Pat and Roger and Gary and Susie at the Owl’s Nest in Poynette, a good halfway mark for all of us.  I ordered the walleye and it was so worth the extra money.  The company and conversation was great too!

A party was held at East Side Park today to celebrate the marriage of Kate (my cousin, Dawn’s youngest daughter) and Adam that took place last October in Antigua and the birth of their son, Henry in March.  I got to see lots of cousins and their families all in one place, drank some great home brewed beer - a Krolsch, a brown, and an IPA (not my favorite), and had lots of good summery picnic foods.  The day was beautiful, mid 70s with low humidity - just a perfect day to hang out in a park.  Oh, and it was a park that I played in as a child - just a few blocks from our home. Back then, it had a splash pool to help you keep cool in the summer and I also remember doing arts and crafts there as part of a summer program.

So tonight, as I was feeding Frisco, I added a bit of leftover walleye to his dog food, left the remaining chunk on the counter and went to my car to get something.  I went to put the container back in the fridge and realized it was empty. The little sh!? ate the Walleye that I was going to share with Pat at dinner tonight.

We took a drive to Gibbs Lake tonight so Pat could check it out to see if it's a spot that he could launch his kayak and fish.  It was only about 12 miles from here along beautiful  rural roads framed with tall stalks of corn. It's a beautiful park and the lake looks clear and nice.  We walked around a little but I had in flip flops and it was the time of day that the mosquitoes were starting to attack.


I just had to take a photo of this gnarly old oak tree at Gibbs Lake Park

Sunday, June 9.  My last day in Stoughton for this trip.  Pat went fishing early this morning, so I slept in and had my coffee in the trailer.  The temps were nice last night, so I was able to turn off the AC and sleep with the windows open - it was so nice that I slept through the whole night.

It was still comfortable for my walk with Frisco and I did the circle along the farmstead on the southern border of Stoughton, then around the cemetery and back home - quiet, peaceful, and green, green green.

I gave the camper a good cleanup since it will be going back in storage when I get back to Minneapolis.  A thorough cleaning took me about 40 minutes - I love it!

I wanted to treat Pat and Tracey to a dinner of their choice and Smoky Jon’s BBQ won out. We placed our order and then Pat and I drove to Madison to pick it up - the ribs and brisket was just as good as I remembered - what a treat.

I'm settled in for tonight as the Stoughton Junior Fair’s annual fireworks will be starting shortly and I know that Frisco isn't going to like it, otherwise I would be sitting in the front yard watching them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 26 - 30, 2017, MN

Wednesday, June 28.  I am helping Ben and Jill out this week with drop offs and pickups as Ben is out of town.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 19 - 25, 2017, MN

Wednesday, June 21.  I have been on the phone a lot this week, trying to arrange for doctor and dentist appointments, arranging for my dental x-rays to be sent to MN, reporting a hail damage claim to my RV insurance company, and then getting set up to get some estimates.  Most of the last 2 mornings were spent researching and making calls.  Yet, it seems like I have gotten nothing accomplished.

I've taken some good, long walks with Frisco, trying to get in at least 2 miles a day.  I also did some research trying to find a Silver Sneakers workout class in the area - had some success, but the sessions were starting this week and I will be traveling for 2 weeks during the session.  So, the next best thing, a senior workout on You Tube and I  quit about 15 minutes into it because it was hurting my knee.  I'll have to find a lower impact workout to start with.  I just have to lose a few pounds.

I will be picking the girls up after school this week, starting yesterday.  All went well until they started pushing and shoving each other on the slide in the back yard and Norah got all worked up.  

Saturday, June 24.  After school pickups have gone well - we went to a playground on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday was a rainy day, so straight home to play Legos and do some drawing and story telling.  Their imaginations amaze me. Norah’s story was about a monster that went to the dentist and the dentist broke all of his teeth or a bear coming out of his cave.

I pulled the camper out of storage on Thursday and took it to a couple of RV Collision Repair shops to get estimates on the hail damage.  Both of the guys I spoke with had a feeling that my insurance would total it out because the damage would probably be more costly than replacement.  One said that his shop hasn't repaired one this year - they were all totaled out. They both agreed that the repair would have to be replacement of the aluminum roof panels and completely resealing the side to roof mounts.  It is a wait and see game from here.

Yesterday was my day with Charlotte but Ben took the day off so he could take Norah to the doctor (a follow-up on the effects if their gluten-free diet efforts). I told him that I was planning to take Charlotte to the Minnesota Sculpture Garden and that was exactly what he was thinking of doing with Norah, so we went together. The day turned cloudy and windy and cool and we weren't prepared for it, so after quickly seeing most of the sculptures, we had snacks in the van and then went to a playground that was a bit more sheltered from the wind.  

One of the many sculptures.

We had to shuffle car seats, so Ben took Norah in my car and I took the van that had car seats for Charlotte and Camille for after school pickup. When I stopped at my house to let Frisco out, I was keyless since Ben had my keys, but Elizabeth let us in.  Then, after picking up Camille, I realized I had no key for Ben’s house.  We would just have to wait for hm or Jill to return.  No problem, I had the garage door combination, so the girls entertained themselves by riding bikes. It was only a half hour or so before Ben got back home.


I stopped for a frozen pizza on my way home, ate and was in bed by 8:00 and slept through the entire night.

I went to a few garage sales this morning but am spending the day at home - relaxing, reading, maybe a movie, but not doing much.

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12 - 18, WI, MN

Monday, June 12.  It feels good to be back in my old home town, and walking around the neighborhoods brings back memories. I stopped by Grandma and Grandpa Peckham and Uncle Vic's grave in Riverside Cemetery to pay my respects, as I walked by with Frisco this morning.

Pat and I spent some time doing yard cleanup before it got too hot - he mowed the lawn and I putzed around with the perennials.  Temps are getting up to the 90s and the humidity is climbing steadily too.  

We took a drive out to check out the new Veteran's Memorial on the northwest edge of town. It is beautiful, although not quite finished yet.  I was able to find a few Memorial bricks for folks I know, Uncle Vic's name on the wall but couldn't find Mike's or my Dad's.  There ar several of those monuments that haven't been completed yet.

Son #1, at one of his fishing holes near LaFollette Park

The shores of Lake Kegonsa, near LaFollette Park.

Thursday, June 15.  Tuesday was my day to connect with family and friends, starting with breakfast at Sugar and Spice with Jonnie.  I was glad to see that she is doing well and able to do the snowbird plan that she came up with last year.  When I got back to Pat’s, he was heading to Madison to do some shopping, so I went along just to be with him - didn't spend a dime.

Once a month, several of my classmates meet up at Culver’s and I just happened to be in town, so headed over there.  Ten of us sat around gabbing for the next 2 hours.  I was going to the VFW to meet up with another classmate, Doug, aka Ole for a beer, so Judy and Virginia went along.  Good times.

I walked with my Stoughton walking buddy, Dawn, yesterday morning and got the updates on all of the cousins on that branch of the family tree.  She is having a big family  picnic on July 8 and I'm hoping it all works out so I can be there - that is the plan right now.  When I got back from my walk, Pat was getting ready to go fishing so I joined Tracey and Donna for some book and thrift store shopping and again, I came home empty handed.

Pat made tuna melts for dinner and then we watched “The Revenant” with 

Leonardo DiCaprio - a great movie about Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who was left for dead after being attacked by a bear. I had read a book about it years ago and saw the movie that was done back in the 70s, so I knew the story and the movie depicted it really well.

I was back on the road again this morning, heading home to Minneapolis, but I just had to stop for some Spotted Cow beer to take back with me before I got out of Wisconsin.  As I got past Wisconsin Dells, I started looking for “that tree”, a landmark that I used to watch for back in the 70s when we were spending a lot of time at Mom and Dad’s cabin. The majestic White Pine still stands although it is starting to look a bit shabby and sparse.  I stopped in Sparta to stretch and let Frisco run around a bit.

The news has been full of news about storms the last few days and I saw that Inver Grove, the town where I am storing my camper, was hit on Sunday with some very large hail, so I stopped to check out the camper.  Sure enough, it has lots of dents, especially on the back when the roof is rounded.  Dang it!  I will check with my insurance to see if it will be covered.  Dang it!

Saturday, June 17.  Today was an R and R day for me, recovering from my 2-week vacation, and getting back into my routine at home.  Frisco and I took a long walk this morning, I went to a few garage sales, pulled a few weeds in the yard and cleaned up the sticks that had fallen from recent storms, and sat on the patio chatting with Elizabeth over a glass of tea.  It was a perfect summer day, mid 80s, mostly sunny, a light breeze and no mosquitos, although I am hearing they are out in force in the area.

I spent the day with Charlotte yesterday and we had a great time.  When I asked her how she wanted to spend the day, this was on her list - go swimming, have lunch at Milio’s, stop at my apartment and do some drawing and go for a hike.  We accomplished most of the items but did Legos at my house instead of drawing.  We went to Bush Lake Beach in Bloomington and the water was clean and pleasant - a little cold when you first got in.  We had lots of fun and mostly she wanted to jump off the platforms. There are bathrooms, showers, lifeguards, and a beautiful sandy beach.

  Norah and Camille got to ride to school in the bike trailer.

Ben fixed grilled chicken and potatoes for dinner and they kids loved it - so did I.  

Unfortunately, Jill got word that her Aunt Jan in Austin, TX passed away yesterday from complications of COPD.  Her 6 siblings were all able to be with her during her final days.  Jan had been on a list for a lung transplant for several years but her condition got worse and there were no organs for her.  It is a sad, sad, story.

Sunday, June 18.  Happy Father’s Day and a day for reflecting on the Dad's that I have known in my life - some good, some not so good.  Unfortunately, my memories of my own Dad are in the not so category, but when I think about the person that I became, and the fact that I could be like him in ways, then there must have been some good too.  His alcoholism caused so many problems for our family but I always liked him when he was sober.  My father-in-law fit in the good category - a loving, caring provider who was dedicated to his family.  And then there is Mike - who stood by me through thick and thin and was a very involved Dad to Pat and Ben, both of them turned out to be good guys and good fathers.

I loaded up the ladder and headed out to check on the camper today and found that the hail damage is much worse that I could see before. There are places where the paint actually chipped off and the roof is pummeled with dents.  I feel just sick about it.

I also drove by the senior apartments where I have my name on waiting lists - to see if I would have a preference on where I’d like to live and I think Penelope is the one.  They are equal distance from Ben’s house but one complex is 2 buildings with apartments only and has a huge parking lot.  The other is in an area of large apartment complexes and has a small parking lot.  I guess I will have to make appointments for another tour. I want to be prepared to make a quick decision when something opens up for me.

   Ridgeview Terrace

   Penelope I and II

Ben called to see if I wanted to meet them at Red Cow for a burger this afternoon. They rode their bikes and after dinner, I met them at their house for dessert - blonde brownies and ice cream.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 5 - 11, 2017, TN, IN, IL, WI

June Monday, June 5.  Our day started with breakfast on the patio of the Guest House, overlooking the pool.  The weather is warm and humid, just as I expected for this area.  The hotel is very nice, modern, and reflects some of Elvis' favorite things - like hot pink splattered here and there, a flavor of the 70s in some of the decor, wall lights that look like they belong on a space ship - but all very tasteful.  The service around here is a bit lacking though - little things, like the trash cans and ashtrays not emptied from the night before.  I know, I'm a bit anal about these things.

Elvis liked high-back chairs. This one is in the hotel lobby.

A shuttle took us to Graceland and we were guided to the entrance, given iPads and headphones, and we started the tour of the mansion. I don't remember much from our trip here about 25 years ago but I don't believe that much has changed in the house or grounds and it's gives a good feel for what life was like for the very rich folks of that time, although this house seems pretty modest to me.  There are TVs and mirrors everywhere, lots of blue - drapes, carpets, furnishings, and there is shag carpet on some of the ceilings and walls.  I do remember when that was a thing.

   The TCB lightening bolt. This is 70's for sure!  

A new addition to the complex was a horseshoe shaped building that houses many different museums (fortunately for Elvis lovers, his father, Vernon, never threw a thing away) from cars to motorcycles to show outfits, to personal archives with receipts, books, jewelry, glasses, etc.  We had a bite to eat at Gladys' Diner and then headed back to the hotel by shuttle.

We tossed around going to Beale Street (possible rain and storms) or to Tunica to try our luck at the casinos and the Tunica casinos won.  After playing for an hour or so and not winning, we left again. Memphis BBQ was definitely on the agenda for tonight's dinner and my research told me that Interstate BBQ was the place to go and we were glad that we did.  Nothing fancy, but the food was sure tasty. The beans were yummy, almost sweet enough to be dessert.

Back at the Guest House, we sat at the bar, had a (very pricey) drink and listened to some live music before turning in for the night

Tuesday, June 6.  Before leaving Memphis this morning, we stopped to wash the crud from the dirt road in Dyess, AR off the car, but the $6 donation we made at the car wash didn't remove it.dang, it looks worse now that it did before.  Maybe the downpours that we drove through today got rid of it - not sure, since it was raining when we arrived at our hotel.  I also stopped and got the oil changed since the "maintenance required" light came on.

The drive to Nashville was pretty and uneventful and we pulled into our hotel around 2:30. After resting for a short while, we hopped on the shuttle that took us downtown and dropped us off, just a short walk from the Ryman Auditorium where we would be seeing the "Stars for Second Harvest" show.  We had some time, so we stopped at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and had local beer and got to hear some good music.  Then it was off to Lula's Cafe for a bite to eat before the show.

A young singer, songwriter from Minneapolis sat next to us and gave us the lowdown on tonight's show.  His name is Jake Scherer and I will have to watch for his name to come up on future hits.We were both glad that we chose this show that was emceed by Craig Wiseman, the 2015 Songwriter of the year, a colorful character who was quite entertaining.  We saw the Warren Brothers, who are coming up in today's country field, some new guy whose music I didn't like at all, John Rich of Big and Rich, and then the big guy, Blake Shelton came out and did a few songs.  They auctioned off a few items that brought the total for the fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank to $39,000 - and that called for a huge Yee Haw.  

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of today's country music and this show reinforced that.  I am a fan of good guitar players and I heard a lot of that.  I agree with Dale Watson that it just ain't country - it sounds way too pop, rap, hip-hop, and everything else, but not country.

It was 11:00 by the time we got back to the hotel and we didn't even go to any of the other bars.  Crash.

Wednesday, June 7.  Last night, we learned that there are 2 huge events in town this week - the Stanley Cup Hockey Game and the CMA fest, formerly called Fanfare, also starting on Thursday, so we want to avoid downtown on Thursday. And that means that we will miss the CM Hall of Fame Museum.

We had tickets for the General Jackson Riverboat Cruise today and the weather was perfect for it.  The boat is beautiful, the lunch was a very fresh and tasty buffet before the show started.  The show was representative of Tennessee's music history and the entertainers were all top notch.  After the show, the musicians headed out on the back deck and played an acoustic show.  I'm so glad that we decided to take the cruise, it was very enjoyable.

After that, we went to see the Opryland Hotel - where room start in the $300 range. I got the feeling that I was in Las Vegas.  Everything we saw when looking for show tickets at The Grand Ole Opry showed no Wednesday or Thursday shows but while talking to some people on the cruise, we learned there actually is a Thursday night show. So we went to the ticket office but the only seats available were standing room only. No thanks.  

Knowing that tomorrow is going to be crazy downtown, we hopped on the shuttle and went. A local favorite restaurant, Pucket's Grocery had a 1.5 hour wait to be seated so we wandered on and stopped at a place called Tazzo and had a yummy Apple Chicken salad before heading down to Broadway.  We stopped at a couple of bars and listened the music, then at Alan Jackson Keep it Country bar and had a drink.  Neither of us are too fond of big crowds, so that was enough for tonight - we took the shuttle back to the hotel.

Saturday, June 10.  Thursday seems a long time ago to reconstruct the events.  Oh, I know.  We toured the Belle Meade Plantation, home to a family of thoroughbred horse breeders.  The bloodlines established at Belle Meade through one horse, Bonnie Scotland and other famous stud horses continues a legacy of speed and endurance that still dominates the Thoroughbred racing scene today.

The grounds and buildings were beautiful - formerly 5,800 acres and down to just 38 acres today - including a winery where we got to have a few samples. There were many other beautiful mansions and stately homes in the neighborhood surrounding the plantation.

From there, we drove to Franklin, a nice sampling of a historic Tennessee town, complete with quaint shops and boutiques - oh, and yummy ice cream too.  Some gals that we met on the shuttle said that we had to go to Leipers Fork, a small community of local artists.  It was there, in a little gallery that I couldn't resist the purchase of another hand blown glass ball to add to my collection.

Friday morning after checking out of our hotel, we took about a 3 hour drive to Bruce and Carmen's (some Highlands and Brentwood friends) little cabin in the woods at Birdseye, IN.  What a great spot and it was so nice to see them again.  We talked and talked, Bruce played guitar and we sang a bunch of oldies, and we had a great dinner. Then they took us for a drive to see Patoka Lake, a huge Corps of Engineers reservoir and state park just a short distance from their cabin. And then it was off to sleep in their cozy little loft.

Today was driving, driving, and more driving - about 8 hours back to Portage to drop Sharon off and then to Montello to see my little dog at Pat and Rogers.  He had a good week out here with the deer, turkey, bunnies and squirrels.  It's been a great vacation and now, tomorrow, I get to see Pat. I am ready to feel his hugs again and to just hang  up and be together back in my old home town for a few days.

Sunday, June 11.  I was up and showered, had coffee and walked Frisco and on the road again by 9:00, headed for Pat's house in Stoughton. Dang, it felt good to hug him and Tracey - it feels like home here.  Since Savana moved out, I now have my own bedroom and that is so nice too. 

Kitty likes my suitcase.

Coming in to Stoughton, I drove by our old house and noticed that there are about 5 lots for sale along the road - the Johnson family must be selling off their farm land.  It brings back memories and I have always loved that drive along Starr School Road where the the trees are canopied above you.  After turning toward town, I saw the many changes since the new Walmart has gone in at the intersection of US 51 and Hwy 138, even a roundabout.  It sure looks different.

We sat and talked, talked, and talked some more and I toured the yard to check out all of the flowers and veggie garden (the rabbits have eaten quite a bit already).  I always enjoy this, since many of the perennials came from my yard or I've helped to plant them - like old friends.  It's all looking good, although you lose some and keep some through the years.  Pat and I went to the grocery store and that is new too - under new ownership and remodeled.  Stoughton sure is changing - I'll see more of it in the next few days, as I plan to visit a few other friends and family.  

Frisco and the cat, Kowroo are getting along just fine.