2011 June

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!

June 3

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.

WI, Lodi - Delaney's 5This “bird” stands about 6′ tall.

WI, Lodi - Delaney's 10 - SpiderThis spider is so big you can walk under it!

WI, Lodi - Delaney's 11 - Eagle Head

WI, Lodi - Delaney's 17 - Giant BugI would hate to meet this bug alive!!  You can judge its size by the telephone pole size logs on the ground next to it.

June 6

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…

WI, Madison 1 - Capitol BuildingLooking at the Capitol Building from State Street

WI, Madison 3 - Capitol Window MessagesSigns prominently displayed in the windows of the offices of some of the state politicians clearly show that not ALL of them support Governor Walker’s actions.

WI, Madison 4 - Capitol Dome insideInside the Capitol Dome

WI, Madison 8 - Liberty BellWe 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.

WI, Madison 10 - Capitol BubblerA perfect example of a Wisconsin “bubbler” – otherwise known as a drinking or water fountain.

WI, Madison 12 - State Capitol Building RulesWe found the first rule to be particularly interesting.  Does it apply to only to visitors, or to the politicians at work in the Capitol as well??

WI, Madison 16 - State StreetA view down State Street after leaving the Capitol Building

WI, Madison 20 - Mama Duck & DucklingsNothing says spring like a momma duck and her ducklings swimming in the lake at the local park.

WI, Madison 21 - Olympic Speed Skaters Track SignThis lake is also put to very good use in the winters, as you can see on this sign.

WI, Madison 24 - Lake Menona SwimmersAnother view of the Lake with swimmers visible in the distance.

WI, Madison - Badger StatueThe state (and university) mascot – the badger

We also visited the city zoo that day.

WI, Madison Zoo 1 - Dave armspanDave comparing his arm-span to those of various primates.

WI, Madison Zoo 4 - Chimpanzee playingSpeaking of primates – here is one of the resident chimpanzees

WI, Madison Zoo 8 - SnakeAnd a snake…

WI, Madison Zoo 10 - Tortoise (large)a very large tortoise…

WI, Madison Zoo 12 - Beaded Gila Monsterand a beaded Gila Monster.

(Zoos are pretty much the same everywhere!)

June 8

We returned to Madison after a day of rest. This time we rode our bikes to the botanical gardens.

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 2

The Bolz Conservatory was lush with foliage and even had a waterfall.

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 5 - Purple Flower

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 13 - Waterfall

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 17 - Purple Orchid

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 18 - Tandem BicycleWe really liked this unusual piece of artwork  hanging in the gardens.

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 22

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 24 - Bridge to Thai GardenBridge to Thai Temple

Thai Temple

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 26 - Thai Temple

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 29 - Thai Temple insideLooking out from inside the Temple

WI, Madison - Botanical Gardens 34

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!

WI, Madison - University of W, Trail with Dave, 6-8-11Dave walking along the campus lakeside trail.

WI, Madison - University of W, Lake Mendota Dave on rocks  6-8-11Dave exploring Lake Mendota alongside the campus.

WI, Madison - University of W, Muir Woods  6-8-11John Muir Woods

We also returned to “Walkerville” to snap some quick pics.

WI, Madison - Walkersville 1These guys have been here since January and vow to stay “as long as it takes.”

WI, Madison - Walkersville 3

June 9

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!!

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 13

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 20 - Miniature CircusA miniature model of what the circus looked like during its heyday.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 31 - Clown TrashcanEven the trash cans like to clown around at the circus.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 35 - Train CarsIn the early days the circus would travel by train.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 37 - Elephant with bucketElephant rides were available at the museum.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 51 - RingmasterThe ringmaster announces that the show is about to begin.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 55The first act – perky pekineses doing a clever doggy act.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 62Next we were wowed by Hannah’s hula hoop moves.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 69Clowns Greg & Roger made us laugh a lot.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 72Heidi and her horses of very different sizes were great…

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 75

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 79and no circus would be complete without a trapeze act

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 81Slava dazzled us with his amazing equilibrium as he went higher…

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 85and higher…

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 87and even higher!!

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 93The elephant who was giving rides earlier in the day was part of a family act.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 104And Hannah, the hula hoop girl, had other talents as well.  After the circus performance finished, she “ziplined” across the river hanging by her neck.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 106 - Dave with Circus WagonDave poses with one of the circus wagons.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 128 - Water for ElephantsParts of the recently released  movie “Water for Elephants” were filmed here.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 131 - Liontamer DaveDave tries his hand at lion taming.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 133 - Greatest Show on Earth plaqueThe Greatest Show on Earth

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.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 139Looking out of the RV toward the front of the ferry

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 140The nice people in this truck next to us on the ferry chatted with us through our windows the whole way across.

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 142 - GPSEven the GPS shows that we are on the water!

WI, Baraboo - Circus World Museum 144 - Disembarking ferryDisembarking

June 11

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.

IL - Chicago Blues Fest 2 - Dave with Roberta & JodiDave enjoys the company of Roberta and new friend Jodi.

IL - Chicago Blues Fest 3 - Stage shotJust one of the many great performers we heard that day.

IL - Chicago Blues Fest 4 - Fountain with peopleA view of the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain with the Chicago skyline in the background.  The concert and the fountain were both in Grants Park.

IL - Chicago Blues Fest 12 - Segway TourA segway tour passing us by as we looked out over Lake Michigan.

IL - Chicago Blues Fest 14 - Seagull closeChicago seagulls look a lot like California seagulls, don’t they?

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.

June 12

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.

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 2 - Jodi & MarcJodi and Mark

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 5The river that runs by the mill

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 13 - Covered Bridge WalkwayThe covered foot bridge – in the distance you can see the dam

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 18 - Snake closerAn 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.

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 20

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 23

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 29

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 32

WI, Janesville - Beckman Mill 40 - StoreThe mill store

June 16

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.

IL - Starved Rock Park 002 - Poison Ivy signThis is the very first sign you see on the trail – we did NOT ignore it!

IL - Starved Rock Park 003We could tell right from the start that we were in for some nice hiking.

IL - Starved Rock Park 005From the first overlook – Starved Rock – you get this view of the dam on the Illinois River.

IL - Starved Rock Park 007

IL - Starved Rock Park 024The first waterfall we saw was in French Canyon.

IL - Starved Rock Park 026A bit further along the trail we were treated to another, much higher, waterfall in Wildcat Canyon.

IL - Starved Rock Park 030Dave takes a picture of one of the various rock formations.

IL - Starved Rock Park 039Many areas were covered by boardwalks or stairs to allow hiking while still protecting the very fragile and rare St. Peter sandstone that forms much of the rock formations in the park.

IL - Starved Rock Park 041Water, water, everywhere!!!

IL - Starved Rock Park 047

Yet another spectacular waterfall

IL - Starved Rock Park 051Our destination before turning around – La Salle Canyon

IL - Starved Rock Park 053Some of the hikers had fun sliding down the wet surface in front of the waterfall.

IL - Starved Rock Park 058The view looking our from behind the waterfall

IL - Starved Rock Park 064In front of the larger waterfall in La Salle Canyon is this smaller one that empties into a small pool below it.  Several hikers sat in this pool to cool off  too.

IL - Starved Rock Park 066One of the smaller waterfalls we saw on our way back.

IL - Starved Rock Park 068Roberta thought this tree trunk looked like a two-horned unicorn.

IL - Starved Rock Park 080On the river trail back we saw even more interesting formations.

IL - Starved Rock Park 081Dave on the final leg of the return trail.

IL - Starved Rock Park 082The muddy boots tell the story of a day well spent!!

June 19-22

We returned to the place where we left Route 66 – Dwight, IL – and started to finish our journey.

IL - Route 66 final leg 001 - Gardner JailFirst stop – Gardner, IL

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.

IL - Route 66 final leg 005 - Gardner Diner inside

IL - Route 66 final leg 007 - Braidwood P-a-D signNext 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.

IL - Route 66 final leg 009 - Braidwood Bruce & JDRoberta poses with James Dean…

IL - Route 66 final leg 010 - Braidwood Dave kissing Bettyand Dave gets a kiss from Betty Boop.

IL - Route 66 final leg 013 - Braidwood Blues Bros DaveAnd both tried their hands at being one of the Blues Brothers.

IL - Route 66 final leg 012 - Braidwood Blues Bros Bruce

IL - Route 66 final leg 017 - Wilmington Gemini GiantIn Wilmington, IL we stopped to see the Gemini Giant.

IL - Route 66 final leg 028 - Joliet Pen side view distantJoliet, 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.

IL - Route 66 final leg 041 - Joliet Rt.66 Museum sign

IL - Route 66 final leg 046 - Chicago SkylineAt long last – the Chicago skyline emerges as we approach our final destination.

IL - Route 66 final leg 047 - Chicago Skyline

IL - Route 66 final leg 056 - Chicago LA view of the “L” in Chicago

IL - Route 66 final leg 057 - End Sign

And our Route 66 journey ENDS here!

IL - Chicago Gas Prices 6-2011In case there is any doubt that we were really in Chicago –

check out these gas prices !!!

June 24

We returned to Wisconsin to finish the month and celebrate the 4th of July with our “new” friends.  See you next month…

About meanderingmomma

A retired school teacher hits the road
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