Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Longest Day

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Beaver Dam, WI

Well, let's see where I left off in my last entry... that's right, we were in Kalamazoo visiting Cher & Jack. We always enjoy visiting with these two and we've been there three times in the almost two years of our travels.

Dar loves to dig in the dirt, weed, plant flowers, cut borders, transplant things from over there to over here, and then trim, water, and fertilize it all. It's the one thing she really misses from our previous life. Whenever she visits family and friends, and gets the opportunity, she loves to help with their yards and gardens. Both Cher and her spent a good deal of time in this manner the past few days and they got a lot done. Dar was really "diggin' it".

Jack and I, on the other hand, love to watch people work in the yard. We did volunteer to run errands, chase down gardening supplies, and generally provide the ever critical support function. But, for the most part, we were the cheer leaders that kept the two girls going when they became weary.

We watched Tiger Woods rally to win the Memorial Golf Tourney on Sunday and then helped Jack & Cher celebrate their anniversary on Monday. In between times Jack and I had a couple spirited discussions on politics and current events.

Monday, Dar and I ventured off by ourselves and found Bells Brewing Company's Eclectic Cafe in downtown K-zoo. Sampling the concoctions of small craft brewers all around the country has become an enjoyable past-time for us. It's even better when we can legitimize this hobby by having lunch at the same time, which we did.

After "lunch" we headed to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, an airplane museum that we've heard so much about from others. What we found was one grand collection of well-preserved old warbirds and historic aircraft, especially impressive for a town the size of Kalamazoo. Many are presented in period settings with antique cars and other paraphernalia that transport you back to the time these old craft were used. One unique thing is what's purported to be the worlds largest mural -- a fun depiction of the history of flight -- a continuous painting that stretches all the way around the interior of the main exhibit building. There are short films to be viewed and, on the day we visited, a gallery of aviation art that was extremely well done. Being flying enthusiasts, we visit aviation museums all over the country and have seen everything from a couple planes in a small cold hanger to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington. The Kalamazoo Air Zoo ranks up near the top in the quality of it's collection and the effectiveness of it's presentation.

On Tuesday, the 9th, our plan was to make the full distance run to Beaver Dam -- about 350 miles. For us, this is a long day. I researched the route, especially the area around Chicago, to see where construction could present congestion problems, and found the route we normally take through the metroplex had more than the normal number of projects. So we chose to take a longer but less impacted route.

We got an early start and pulled out from Markin Glen Park about 8:30am. After stopping for fuel (2.52/gal) we pointed the nose of the bus-house west on I-94. Near Chicago, I-94 joins up with I-80 for a 25 mile stretch affectionately called "hells kitchen" as these two major roads squeeze around the southern shore of Lake Michigan and through the south-side of Chicago. This stretch used to be nightmare, but after years of re-construction and the addition of more lanes, it's now just a bad dream. If anything happens to impede the flow of traffic here, bad weather, a jack-knifed semi truck, an accident, you can be sitting in a jam-up that could last for hours. But on this day the weather was good and everything was moving smoothly.

Instead of following the fringes of Chicago-land around to the northwest and toward Wisconsin, we continued west on I-80 all the way to I-39, which we took north to Rockford. There we picked up I-90, also under construction, and pushed into the Badger State -- our fourth state in one day. Near Madison we take US-151 northeast to the Beaver Dam area. I stopped a few miles short to top off the diesel tank (2.62/gal) in Columbus. Because things went so smoothly, and by picking up an hour by crossing into the Central Time Zone, we were at the farm near Beaver Dam, our destination, by about 4pm.

We plan to be here for a little more than a month and are looking forward to a lot of family time. There's also a big long list of "to-do's" and projects that's built up over the past few months... things we want to do, or change, or replace, or move, or clean. When moving and exploring it's easy to say "we'll just do it when we get to Wisconsin". Now we're here and the work begins.

Oh, by the way, it turns out that this trip from Kalamazoo to Beaver Dam was the longest one day drive since we started fulltiming in July of 2007. We drove 389 miles.

T