site at Ramsey Lake State Park
Once we realized we were ahead of the migration and mindful that we needed to be at Marge’s by the May 3, we made only two more overnight stops. One at Ramsey Lake State Park in central Illinois, and another at a forgettable RV park near Utica.
On the morning of May 3, as planned, we pulled onto Inspiration Drive and dropped the RV in the cul-de-sac near Marge’s house. No way would the RV fit down her long narrow driveway (let alone be able to turn it around). Knowing our time at Marge’s was limited, we immediately set about sorting out stuff. We removed items we thought we needed when we left WI and stashed them at Marge’s. We then retrieved a few of those “oh, THAT’S where it is” items we discovered we had needed and but stored at Marge’s. The good little RVer’s that we are, we left more than we retrieved.
Jerry drove Carol’s daughter Melissa and her friend Bruce up from Madison to inspect our home on wheels. Neither had seen our RV prior to our heading out last year. We also managed a morning visit at Baxter’s Hollow for some birding, washed the truck, did some laundry, helped Marge with some technical electronic issues, and treated ourselves to some long showers. By the 5th we were off to Wausau to drop our RV for routine maintenance and to repair a few minor warranty items.
On our way north we detoured to Badger Plastics, owned by Tom’s sister Betsy and her husband Bill. They too had not seen our rolling home prior to our leaving WI. Added bonus: We got to see Beth, Tom’s niece, who had arrived for the beginning of the turkey hunt season.
After dropping our RV in Wausau and now sans RV, we drove to Menasha, WI to stay with friends Dave and Betty Dunsmore who we would be taking with us to a birding festival in Ohio. But not without first attending a special edition of the Monday Night Martini Club held at the Orr’s. Given it was Cinco de Mayo, there was of a definite Mexican flair to the feast. Nice to see old friends and familiar faces including the Pages, the other couple who had started full-timing we’ll before we did (and who in part were our inspiration to do the same).
While at the Dunsmore’s, they put on a cookout where Tom’s son Graham was able to stop by. Tom guided them through the purchase of a replacement computer, got said computer setup, worked with Dave in setting up his new iPod Touch, and helped sort out their new GPS unit. Carol was off doing some shopping and get caught up on banking to-do’s. The next day we all set off for Port Clinton, Ohio and the Black Swamp Birding Festival and to celebrate Carol’s birthday and Mother’s Day.
boardwalk at Magee Marsh (Carol in lower left corner)
While the festival would last over a week, we only had time for a long weekend (alas, Betty is still working). Friday and Monday were travel days – the drive was about ten hours each way. Saturday and Sunday were full birding days. In spite of very windy conditions, we had loads of fun at the festival, as we were shoulder-to-shoulder on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh searching for arriving migrant birds. Maumee Bay SP and Ottawa NWR were also nearby hot spots. There were also some evening programs we had signed up to attend. One was by the Biggest Twitch couple and another about the hummingbirds of Ecuador (nice to discover we have now seen 40% of the world’s hummingbirds). Tropical Birding also sponsored the event so it was old home week seeing them again (having spent so much time with them at High Island, TX). An added bonus: birding again with Rick Nirschl from Toldeo. We first met Rick, a retired schoolteacher, in TX where he wintered. Rick showed us some of the local (and less crowded) birding spots.
Back to WI on Monday where we spent one more evening at the Dunsmore’s. Then back to Wausau to retrieve our RV. Again, the folks at King’s Campers were first-rate; friendly, efficient and ever helpful. It also gave us time to explore new RV’s (hey, it never hurts to look!). Everything in order we towed to Dale, WI where we are now currently parked at the Ward’s home. Todd and Cindy have graciously again offered their yard as a place to park.
On Wednesday afternoon we drove to Green Bay to catch up with Jennie, Charles and grandson Alrick. Wish we had a camera when Alrick walked out of school and saw Pa and Grandma Carol standing with his mom to greet him! Priceless! The weather was a bit chilly for eating outside so the eating portion of the cookout took place indoors.
It’s now Friday May 14, a little over a week since being back in the Fox Valley. Wow – how the time flies. We’ve been checking off our “to do” list of shopping, meetings, visiting friends, and our all-around sorting out. This evening the “usual suspects” our chums from the birding club, who have gone with us to Costa Rica (many who will be returning with us in 2011) are gathering for dinner. Tomorrow morning, weather permitting (it’s been raining a lot of late) we’ll head out with the Wards to do some birding. Looking at our calendar and our long list of “to do’s” and “must do’s”, it will be a wonder if we can leave WI by mid-June. But by then maybe we’ll need the rest!