Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fox Cities Marathon 2012

When we pulled up in front of the Ward’s home in Dale on May 11, it was apparent that a transformation to the Ward’s yard had occurred. At some point in 2011 after we had departed Wisconsin, a major wind storm had toppled a huge cedar tree onto the Ward’s garage roof. Not wishing a repeat performance, when they had the garage repaired, they had decided to remove the remaining row of cedars. Lilac bushes that lined either side of “our spot” had also been trimmed back. Overall, the resulting yard work created more room for us to park further back on the driveway and gave us more ‘elbow room’.
So typical of our return visits to Wisconsin, our calendar was plum full of events. Rather than give a long chronological blow-by-blow account, we’ll simply summarize by hitting many of the highlights.
During the course of our nearly two month stay at the Ward’s we enjoyed many morning and late afternoon chats with Todd and Cindy. This included trips to local eateries including Wally’s Still in Dale (killer Bloody Marys) and Vinny’s in Medina (killer pizzas). Our dining out adventures with the Ward’s connected us to a Brit couple, Malcom and Deb Stuart. Stuart is an avid twitcher and will be going to Ecuador in 2014 when we make a birding swing through the Amazon.

typical table spread at the Schwenk's!
Carol and Jennie on Mothers Day
Graham, Carol Gruski, Rolf Olsen, Jennie, Charles, Carol
Jennie in her element
Of course there were visits with Tom’s daughter Jennie and her family, and with Tom’s son, Graham. The first big family get together was on Mother’s Day at Jennie’s house with a grand day out in the back yard. Alrick’s Harry Potter themed 8th birthday party  was the next big family event, again held at Jennie’s. Late in June we celebrated Graham’s birthday. During May and June we enjoyed many one-on-one visits with Jennie and Graham, but as usual, there never seemed to be enough time for more!
Alrick Potter
Charles, Alrick, Jennie
Visiting with friends included a couple of heart warming group reunions. The first was at the home of Dick and Jen Orr, a regular site of the former Martini Club. Making it a very special evening was having the Pages in town. Larry and Teddy were the catalysts for our turning to a life on the road. They gave up their full-time status in 2010 due to Larry’s health and have since settled on a small farm homestead near Cedar, Michigan.
Another notable group reunion took place at the Ward’s where most of Tom’s former Mudd Library colleagues gathered for a potluck. Many had attended Tom’s 2009 retirement party which had included an open house tour of our KZ travel trailer parked in our driveway on E. South River Street. Acquiring our new RV in 2011, it therefore seemed appropriate for another open house and potluck gathering.

Mito (former neighbor), Tom, Carol
Dale, Tom, Carol, Penny, Bill, Jeff
There were many other smaller get togethers with friends from our years in Appleton. We shared more than a few meals at the home of Dave and Betty Dunsmore who are now both fully retired and have the time to spend goofing off with us. There were more evening meals and a few breakfasts with more friends: our former state representative Penny Bernard-Schaber and her husband Dale; Bill and Jeff, neighbors from the old neighborhood; Marti and John, friends from LU; LeRoy Frahm and David Berk, more LU colleagues; A Mexican meal with Nick and Paul, good friends from Menasha; Larry Darling, another LU connection gave us a personal tour of the newly formed Appleton green space project “Riverview Gardens”; a picnic lunch with our financial advisor Don Schleicher. Well you get the idea - we rarely sat still!

Don Schleicher and his business partner Brian: they keep us on the road
Todd and Cindy Ward
Road trips were thrown into the mix as well. We birded Door County (Peninsula State Park, Toft Point Natural Area, The Ridges Sanctuary, Cave Point County Park) with Todd and Cindy for a couple of days that included an overnight in Sturgeon Bay. Of course meals out were a given: breakfast at Inn at Cedar Crossing, an exquisite meal at The Mission Grill in Sister Bay, and lunch at the Harbor Fish and Grill in Bailey’s Harbor.
Another road trip, this one in June, included the Dunsmores when we traveled to Upper Michigan to visit Mike and Raven at their home in Marquette. A heady three day trip of being wined and dined by Mike and Raven that included a kayak outing to a nearby lake and hikes in nearby forests. We naturally included birding stops to and from the U.P.

snacks at Mike and Raven's
getting ready to launch
Raven brought out a tailgate extravaganza after we finished our kayaking
Dave and Betty at Kitch-iti-kip, The Big Spring, Palms Book S.P.
Still more road trips: an overnight at Betsy and Bill’s cottage (Tom’s sister and brother-in-law) in northern Wisconsin followed by another night at a cottage where Carol’s son Chris was staying with his dad, Jerry, and our grandson Carter and granddaughter Cali.

Tom and Betsy
Betsy and Bill's cottage with the new addition
Carter, Chris, Cali, Jerry ("Poppy")
In early June we presented one of our Ecuador birding trip programs to the Northeast Wisconsin Bird Club to a wildly enthusiastic reception. While we’re no longer living in Wisconsin we continue to support the club for all the good work that they do in the area. The program resulted in a sold out birding trip for 2014 to the Amazon in Ecuador. That evening we were treated to a meal at Lynn and Laurel’s home who, along with Vicki and her husband Jim, insisted it was repayment for our hosting Vicki and Lynn when they visited the Rio Grand Valley this past winter. Not at all because we thoroughly enjoy showing our friends new birds...but we were grateful for their kindness nonetheless!

to me it looked fine but didn't feel that way
In June we began to sandwich in several doctor appointments. Our annual physical checkups, trips to dentists, and eye exams. Early in the year while we were parked at Bentsen Palm Village RV, Tom injured his left shoulder. An MRI revealed a torn labrum. Forsaking one of the options - surgery - Tom instead scheduled three visits to a physical therapist which put him back on track to having a working shoulder. Of course Tom still managed to find time to wash and wax both the truck and RV. Good shoulder therapy, he said. Sore, but good.

one of Carol's passions is snapping flower pics
During our drive back to Wisconsin we somehow we had missed what we call “fallouts”, or, eventful neotropical bird migration events. Over the next few months we spent a good deal of time birding with friends as we covered areas in Door County, the Lake Michigan shoreline and trips to central Wisconsin. Local areas like the WIOUWASH state trail, High Cliff State Park, various local DNR state wildlife areas, plus the Bay Beach Sanctuary in Green Bay. Further afield we included areas in central Wisconsin that netted us a Kirtland’s Warbler. During our two month stay we managed to finish collecting all of the eastern wood warblers.
By the time we departed Dale on July 5 we had pretty much managed to complete most of our calendar of events. However, we were not quite done with Wisconsin just yet...

Alrick and his Uncle Graham
Jennie and Graham with their mom, Carol Gruski on Mothers Day
Alrick and his requested birthday meal

Snuggles, the Ward's bird, enjoyed our business card
Jennie, Dad, Graham

Alrick and mom

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