Posted from Loudon, Tennessee, United States.
The past week-and-a-half has been wonderfully fun for us but maybe not the most exciting to visitors of this website hoping to read of thrilling events as we try to traverse the Western Hemisphere. Patience, Grasshoppers; that will come. But as this post is rather uneventful, make sure to check out the accompanying photos of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Loudon, Tennessee on the July Photos page.
After leaving HQ in central Wisconsin, we headed to West Bend, Joe’s hometown. Despite a failed attempt to have a meet up at a local bar (no one showed up, which shows how popular Joe is), it was a fun weekend. We were able to spend a little more time with Joe’s parents and some time with his extended family.
Our next stop was Milwaukee to hang out with wonderful friends. During that time, Erik helped our friends build a raised garden bed. They accomplished it all in two days despite some rather hot and humid weather.
We also spent two days in Chicago, taking the Amtrak from Milwaukee and back, which was exciting in itself since neither one of us had been on a train before. We spent most of our time in the downtown area (which is enormous), checking out the architecture and visiting Millenium Park and Navy Pier among other fun sites. And it was great that, as travelers carrying a light load, we had no need nor desire to shop the many fine stores of Chicago. We also had lunch at Frontera Grill (one of our objectives) and hung out with some really great friends, one of whom Joe has known since kindergarten. Our days were unplanned and casual. We walked, ate, chatted, toured, over and over. It was exactly what we had wanted and we probably walked over 10 miles in those two days.
On Sunday we left Milwaukee at 6:00 A.M. and drove straight to Tennessee: 12 hours, 5 states, and 659 miles. It was a great drive but very hilly. Apollo got a good workout, and we let him hang out in the right lane while the people with more urgent matters passed us on the left.
In Tennessee we spent time with Erik’s aunt, uncle, and cousins. They have a beautiful home on a lake, and the weather was perfect for being in the water – warm water, very unlike Minnesota lakes. Erik summoned the courage to try water skiiing after an 18-year hiatus and was impressively successful. We also found time for a little canoeing, kickball, and lots of eating. We’d like to say that Erik’s uncle helped us install the headlight protectors; we’d even settle for saying that we helped him install them; but the truth his he did the entire task all by himself and it is perfect. (Thank you!) In all, it was a very memorable time spent with generous and kind people.
Now on to something new: our next few days will include camping stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway (no internet) followed by a SERVAS stay in Washington, D.C. This is new territory for us, so stay tuned. There may be drama ahead… [cue dramatic music]