Tuesday, December 7, 2010


You knew we'd find it: the only liquor store in Babbaloo, or Bubbaloo, or Caribou or wherever it is we are. Oh, Baraboo, a small town in southcentral Wisconsin where we spent one night after leaving Lac du Flambeau. Not much in Baraboo except this liquor store, a Super WalMart, and a monument to Ringling Brothers or some other circus that was founded here. Illinois is south of Wisconsin.And Dixon, Illinois is a Tea Party favorite. Them folks is welcome here.I was amazed that the lonely Democratic Party headquarters is still standing. Dixon is best known as the childhood home of super-hero Ronald Reagan.His body has been cast in stone--along with his horse--and is displayed in the town square."....in Dixon I really found myself." 'Nuf said.Paul found himself in front of Reagan's boyhood home.Daisy found a stick.On our way to Tampico (Illinois, not Mexico), we stopped in a cool little town called "Walnut".  Inside the cafe......oh joy, my entire reason for being in the Midwest: a deep-fried pork tenderloin sandwich. Be still my heart! And after downing a couple of these, it will be.After my calorie and fat-filled lunch, I stopped at the local thrift shop and picked up this dress for 50 cents. It's far too small for my lard butt so I've ended up giving it away. What a waste of 50 cents.Walnut has its own cheese factory. A sweet Bavarian-flavored place with lots of snacks for sale, including another Midwest mainstay, flavored cheese curds. Yum. Tampico, a mecca for teabaggers and Reaganites.Reagan was born in this bank behind Teller Window #1. His crib was in the safe.President Reagan is all over this town. Here he is with Nancy. Where's Frank Sinatra? Remember that "rumor"?This passes for "art" at our Dixon RV park. There were probably thirty of these cut-outs scattered about. Nice, huh? Next stop: the old sod, "The Pits" in Chillicothe.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Life on the Lac

One of our goals on this trip after rendezvousing with mi lap-dancin' madre y sister at Jackson Hole was to visit our friends on Loon Island. Tim and Carol are summer residents on a lake-front spot named after the water-bird, the loon. Has nothing to do with any wacky behavior that they might exhibit. Loon Island is on the shores of pristine Big Crooked Lake on the Ojibwa Indian Reservation in north central Wisconsin.  Nearby is the better known, romantically-named "Lac du Flambeau", one of the area's lakes christened by French explorers who came here to trap beaver and gamble at the nearby Indian casinos. "Lac du Flambeau" means lake of flames or torches. Drunk trappers mistook the sparkling waters for flames.  The early French, unlike Tim and Carol, were a bit loony.Here you see the all new for...and the tow vehicle, the 2004...parked on the property. We barely squeezed it in through the trees and weren't sure we could ever get the damn thing back out. First night at Big Crooked we drove into the village of Minocqua, one of many well-maintained, boutiquish little towns, each and every one on its own lake.But amidst all the T-shirts, fudge and scented candles for sale, you are constantly reminded that this is Packer Country. You know, them big, steroid-enhanced goons down thar in Green Bay, making millions of dollars banging their heads together come the fall.And you're constantly reminded that this is also snow country. So much winter snow, in fact, that the parking meters are not on the street but up on the sidewalks next to the shops. That's so the snowplows can keep the streets somewhat cleared without knocking over the meters. It's this heavy snow and long winter season that drive people like Tim and Carol to Arizona where the only snow is on the tips of the  mountains surrounding Tucson.The night we were in Minocqua, the locals put on a free waterski show. By the way, this is the nation's oldest, continuously-operating show of its kind. Older even than the one in Cypress Gardens, Florida. Here's a guy in a powerful ski boat popping a wheelie or a propelli or whatever you might call it. Ain't this exciting? Can't you just feel it? How does a guy or a gal get a drink around this town? Well, this be the place. We had dinner and drinks at a local microbrewery then zig-zagged our way back through the woods to Loon Island. Here's Carol zipping around the lake in one of her many boats. She's lived up here for years. Tim aptly refers to her collection as a one-woman Navy.We boarded one of Carol's cruisers, broke out the wine and snacks, and enjoyed life on the lac.  Carol makes sure we're eating.Tim, hands folded in prayer, hopes we make it back to shore.That large black, white and tan sleeper on the floor is Carol and Tim's young Australian shepherd named "Oso", the bear. Sweet dog. Sleeps most of the time, like Daisy.Carol, we're out of wine! Full speed ahead, back to the landing.There's Daisy, plowed as usual and Tim lecturing her on the demons of drink.Here's our dog, always the fashion hound. This is her tres chic PetSmart life jacket. Don't know why she wears it. She can out-swim all of us. And then there's Tim, ever the fashion plate, seen here in his "go to hell" rec-wear with matching hat and finger splint. (He broke his finger recently while attempting a high speed waterski jump. He's lucky that's all he broke.)When we first arrived at Loon Island, Carol said that we'd be eating every two hours. We thought she was kidding. She was. In fact, we ate every ninety minutes. We said, "Look. We're from Arizona. We don't have to survive a bad winter. Don't try to fatten us up." She took umbrage at that and we were forced to go the next five days without food or drink. Carol's a tough cookie. But seriously...the food just kept coming. Here it is, on the dock.Here it is, in the house.So much so we had to invite the neighbors over to help us clean our plates. This is neighbor Katie. She and her family are from Chicago and they come up to enjoy their cabin next to Carol and Tim.These neighbors came by boat.This is neighbor Dave who has a cabin on the other side of Carol. He and his family also live in the Chicago area. This is Dave (and Nancy, his wife's) daughter, Jess (sp). She's about nineteen months pregnant with twins. Nice people all. And lots of fun. This is Paul, constantly on the lookout for hostile Ojibwa who might be canoeing in the direction of the food. And tell me Daisy doesn't do just fine without that fashionable life jacket. This dog takes to water like Limbaugh to Oxycontin.Daisy and I in one of the many boats. Paul bought me that thing around my neck. I squeeze it and it blows up my bra and just makes me as sexy as hell. Oso trying to get a little. Daisy trying to get away.Tim is forever banned from piloting Carol's boats since he deep-sixed this one last summer while driving and checking out the chicks on shore. And you think texting is dangerous.Paul, yours truly, and Oso still looking for a little tail from Daisy. Actually, Daisy is trying to teach Oso to swim. He's scared to get in over his head.Paul, the ex-Marine, with a big ooh-rah after having taken down a hostile Ojibwa with this stick.This is neighbor Katie's husband Pete coming in for a landing on his jet-powered water ski.This is Katie. It ticks us off to see a family like theirs that is so sports-minded, athletic and good at all they do. Paul says the only thing his family is good at is drinking.  Here's Daisy keeping an eye out for that horny Oso and constantly sitting on her little va-gi-gi. Daisy says, "Ma, do you think this diaphragm will fit? I think I'm gonna need it."A hostile about to ram the dock and steal the food.These hostiles are so wily they even swim in.That's Oso wondering "Where's that sweet little Daisy?"This is Dave, Nancy (with the wine glass) and friends just hanging out which is what everyone up here does best. What more could you ask for? 'Course, John Dillinger had come up here back in the '30s just to hang out and found himself in a shootout with the FBI at this nearby resort called Little Bohemia. But he escaped. Some months later, outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago he nodded back to the attractive "Lady in Red", inadvertently sending a signal to waiting and heavily-armed FBI agents.  And that spelled the end of old John. Back to Little Bohemia.You can still see the bullet holes in the lodge. We didn't because we didn't even get out of the damn truck. It was too humid.Carol is not only a gifted hostess and chef, but a talented floral designer. The only thing we do well is eat. 'Nuf said says Daisy. Where's Oso?Heading south from lake country to a spot called Babbaloo or Bugaboo or something like that. But first want to give a big, heartfelt "thanks" to Tim and Carol for their hospitality and friendship. See you down the road and back in the southwest...