By the time the crew appeared we knew we were no longer on time (but then we never were really "on time" - just "at the gate"). Worse, a thunderstorm had begun to brew. When we finally boarded, we sat at the gate for-EVER while the tardy crew completed their paperwork. And, it began to rain. Eventually the plane pulled away from the gate but then stopped. Not a good sign. And, it started to rain harder. Using our iPod and Mi-Fi we checked our online flight status. "Departed". Again, taken at face value we had indeed left - "departed" - the gate. But it didn't mean we were airborne. "In Limbo" might have been more more accurate as the pilot announced that it was a) raining hard (duh) and that b) he wasn't sure when we would be allowed to take off. He might know something in fifteen minutes. Or not. He didn't exude much confidence at being in the loop. Polite code for he didn't have a clue? We wondered if the flight attendant might be thinking about grabbing a few beers and deploying an emergency chute. We know we were.
An hour and a half after "Departed" we departed. Became airborne. Graham was in Appleton monitoring our status online...which is why we called him just before we had to shut down our cell phone to say that we would call him when we actually landed and not to depend on what he read on the Internet.
Betty, Tom, Dave, Carol
After retrieving us from the airport Graham dropped us off at the Menasha home of Dave and Betty Dunsmore, long-time friends and birding companions on some of our adventures. They had invited us to stay with them while we were in the area. That nearly had not come to pass. Almost a month earlier Dave had suffered a perilous bout of anaphylactic shock, a negative reaction to his high blood pressure medication. He came within a minute or so of dying but fortunately pulled through. By the time we saw him, we were relieved to see Dave was again his usual self.
The next week was a whirl-wind of catching up with family, friends, and appointments. On Thursday morning after being thoroughly stuffed with breakfast at the Dunsmore's, we packed an overnight bag, picked up our Enterprise rental Chevy and headed toward Madison. On the way we stopped at Jerry's in Middleton. We rode with Jerry into town to collect Melissa and see her new apartment, then lunch at Tony Frank's, a Madison historic burger joint. More food (oh, like we needed it!) followed by shopping with Melissa - she's doing so well these days. After we dropped Melissa back at her apartment, we rode back to Jerry's to retrieve our car and sped off to Marge's on Lake Wisconsin where we caught up with family news and spent the night.
just a few of the Mudd colleagues:
lower left to right: Kathy, Colette, Cindy, Corinne, Kim,
Julie and her dog (not staff), Pete, and Angela
Friday was "doctor day" in Appleton so up early at Marge's and we were off. Carol's knee had been giving her fits the past couple of months as well as suffering from a sore back. A trip to the chiropractor did wonders for her back and lead to the possibility that her knee issue might be connected. The orthopedic clinic confirmed as much. While Carol was kibitzing with medical folks Tom stopped in to visit his crazy librarian pals at the Mudd Library. Carol's eye glasses had somehow suffered a defect. "Crackling" as best we could tell. Possibly from the high temperatures in Yuma? A stop at Faces Eye-ware resulted in her ordering a new pair of lenses but required her leaving her frames - thank goodness she had a spare pair to use.
One of the challenges of being full-time is sorting out where to have things mailed which we needed right away. In this instance we were in Tucson but knew we would be leaving the day after we returned. We knew we would also be stopping in Las Cruces, NM, but only to store our RV while we drove to Colorado. We opted to have Carol's repaired glasses sent to Chris's house in Dillon figuring that by the time the glasses were shipped we would be in Dillon to pick them up. Little things like this can be maddening sometimes!
Late Friday afternoon we caught up with the gang of "usual suspects", our fun-loving birding companeros from past Costa Rica trips and who we will again meet up with in Costa Rica in March 2011. The gathering was also an opportunity to acknowledge birthdays that some of the members had recently celebrated. It was dinner as usual at Senior T's. Later than night we tracked down Tom's high school classmates at a pre-reunion party for a few hours of socializing. A long day made longer considering we had already lost two hours when we traveled east the day before, we were happy to fall into bed back at the Dunsmore's.
Elizabeth (spouse of classmate Dave Stringham), Tom, and Joan,
Tom's first love from way back in junior high!
Saturday it was breakfast out and birding along the Lake Michigan shoreline with Dave and Betty. We got back to Menasha in time to change for Tom's reunion. Tom had nearly not attended given our distance from Wisconsin but free air miles and the fact that Tom had been on the reunion committee swayed our decision. Besides, Carol has had so much fun at Tom's reunions since all spouses are made to feel so welcome. Judging from the enthusiastic dancing by the "Appleton Terrors" there was probably an uptick in the number of chiropractic visits the following week.
Wally's Still idea of heart healthy breakfast
and Todd digging in
Cindy and Tom joining in the Irish music
Sunday morning it was breakfast out again, this time with friends Todd and Cindy Ward in Dale. Their property is where we park when we're in WI in the summer. Sunday was just the right time for Wally's Still where no one ever leaves hungry. After rolling ourselves out of Wally's we drove to New London where Michael O'Connell, our favorite canvas painter was playing the Dulcimer with an Irish band. Naturally it involved more dancing (had to work the breakfast off somehow). Then it was back to Appleton to catch up with Graham and Rachel, his girlfriend, for dinner (yes, more food) at our old neighborhood favorite haunt, The Stone Cellar Pub. Excellent micro-brew beers and a chance to wish another Lawrence colleague, the wild and crazy Larry Darling, happy birthday. Afterward a tour of Rachel's home. Little wonder she and Graham have so much in common. Besides their love of hiking and the outdoors, they both are so into retro 50's decor.
Rachael and Graham
Larry and Tom
Monday found Carol headed to a follow-up visit with the chiropractor then off to a physical therapist to learn exercises for her knee and back. Tom managed another catchup visit with more colleagues at Lawrence and his "felonious" friends at the Mudd. Later in the afternoon we drove to Green Bay to visit Jennie, Charles and Alrick. Alrick is so talkative these days. My, how he has grown! Charles is having a wonderful year teaching - part of his day is spent at Alrick's school. He was also finally able to quit his night job at Home Depot. Yay! Jennie took us on a tour of Truly Yours Design and Decor where she's been hard at work to prepare the store for a grand opening. All we can say is that it's a good thing we live in a smaller space otherwise we would have been sorely tempted to go crazy with many of the store's offerings. We returned to Appleton, dropped off our rental car, and Graham returned us to Dave and Betty's. It was hard to believe our visit was ending so quickly.
Jennie and Alrick in front of Truly Yours
Early Tuesday morning Dave and Betty ferried us to the airport. Our flights back to Tucson were on time with clear skies. By early Tuesday afternoon we were back in our RV plotting our next move - the Chiricahua Mountains on the New Mexico-Arizona border.