As we begin our 12th month on the road we find that we are just as excited and motivated to do this as we were the day we left California. We have learned a lot in this first year, and have definitely overcome some challenges. One of the most striking things we have noticed since leaving California is the amount of GREEN and WATER we see everywhere! We have seen rivers, creeks and lakes in almost every state, and as we moved east of the Mississippi River the landscape has become increasingly lush. No wonder there is always water issues in California – every other state has it all!
We arrived at our friend’s home in Lodi, Wisconsin (near Madison) and set up camp in his driveway. One of the first places he took us was a surplus store called Delaney’s. The surprise was what was in back of the store. For many years there has been an artist – Tom Every – creating unusual, and mostly gigantic, sculptures out of salvage. These are some of the incredible sculptures we saw.
We were anxious to get into the capital city of Madison and do some exploring, so our host was gracious enough to load our bikes in the back of his truck and drop us off downtown on his way to work.
Our first stop was the Capitol Building. It was a beautiful building, but we also met many protestors camped outside the building in what has become known as “Walkerville” named in honor of the Governor of Wisconsin, who has recently been in the national eye because of his determination to bust public service employee unions in his state. It was interesting to talk to the many police personnel on duty there; they were there to keep the peace in spite of the fact that many support the actions of the protesters. Tough spot to be in…
We found this Liberty Bell inside the State Capitol Building especially interesting because it is another one of the collection given to the US by France – part of the same collection as the one we saw at the Truman Library in Independence, MO.
We also visited the city zoo that day.
(Zoos are pretty much the same everywhere!)
We returned to Madison after a day of rest. This time we rode our bikes to the botanical gardens.
The Bolz Conservatory was lush with foliage and even had a waterfall.
That day we also returned to the University of Wisconsin Madison campus where we had been two days previously. We tried to visit the Observatory on campus but unfortunately it was closed. We still had a great walk along the edge of the lake and through the woods!
We also returned to “Walkerville” to snap some quick pics.
We started out the day thinking we were going to Devil’s Lake, but took a short detour to Baraboo and ended up spending the whole day there. Baraboo, WI was the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years and is now home to the Circus World Museum. We thought we were going to just look at some memorabilia in a museum, but instead were treated to a real circus performance. We totally felt like kids again!!
After our delightful day in Baraboo we wanted to take the ferry back to our host’s home. Here are some scenes from the ferry ride.
The Chicago Blues Fest was on this weekend and since Chicago is only about 90 minutes from the home of our friends where we were staying we invited them to come along.
Unfortunately, after many hot, humid days the weather turned much cooler for the weekend of the festival. We had planned to stay until the end of the concert that evening but when it began to rain, we all decided we had had enough and headed for home.
We stayed another day with our concert friends, Jodi and Mark, at their home in Janesville, Wisconsin. They were marvelous hosts and we are so happy to have them as friends! On Sunday they took us to see the Beckman Mill. Beckman Mill is one of Wisconsin’s only restored, working gristmills. Built in 1868, the mill has been restored to how it looked and operated in its hey days of the 1920’s. Included on its 50 acre park (besides the restored mill) is a new dam, mill pond, fish ladder, foot bridge, saw mill display, 1840s cooperage, visitor center, gift shop, creamery, blacksmith shop, picnic shelter, vintage garden, and nature trail.
An unexpected visitor showed up while we were taking pictures. When a passerby yelled, “Hey that looks like a water moccasin, one of the few poisonous snakes we have in Wisconsin!” we decided to move elsewhere for the rest of the pics!!
Following are several photos of the various rooms of the mill, looking as they would have looked in the 1920’s.
We headed back to Illinois to finish the Route 66 travel we had started. We only had a few miles left to complete the Route at its beginning in Chicago and were anxious to finally travel those last few miles and see the last few bits of history that awaited us.
One place we were told not to miss on our way back to the Route was Starved Rock State Park. The legend says that when two warring Indian tribes were fighting one trapped the other at this rock and kept them there until every last one had starved to death – thus the name. We were not disappointed that we spent a day hiking there! It was every bit as beautiful as we had been told. Despite the fact that this has been one of the rainiest springs in recent Midwest history and some areas were so muddy that the logs placed on the paths were not enough to keep us dry, we STILL had a great day. We hiked about 6 miles out and back, and only covered about half of the trails in the park.
Yet another spectacular waterfall
We returned to the place where we left Route 66 – Dwight, IL – and started to finish our journey.
This 2-cell jail was built in 1906 and mostly used to house hobos who were allowed to panhandle in town during the day.
Next to the jail was this old diner.
Next stop was Braidwood, IL at the Polk-a-Dot Drive-In. Built in 1962 to replace a school bus painted in rainbow polka-a-dots that served fast food, this place is adorned on the outside with life-size fiberglass figures of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, James Dean and the Blues Brothers.
Joliet, IL – The Collins Street Prison is also known as the Joliet Correctional Center and has been the set for several movies & TV productions. Probably the best known is The Blues Brothers. It was built in 1858 by prison labor and remained in operation until 2002.
And our Route 66 journey ENDS here!
check out these gas prices !!!
We returned to Wisconsin to finish the month and celebrate the 4th of July with our “new” friends. See you next month…