On Alaska?

After the water park, we didn’t want to have too long a day of driving, so we only drove as far as Onalaska, WI. Upon arrival, we realized we might have felt better if we had driven a few more miles over the Mississippi into Minnesota. This Comfort Inn is essentially in a little shopping plaza. That’s where we start today’s journey, which may or may not include DeSmet and Mitchell, both in South Dakota. Comment if you know what’s interesting about those places, without looking them up!

A Plague of Mosquitoes

This morning we are in Madison, WI, at another Comfort Inn. After Whitewater, we drove for a little over an hour and ended up here. When we got out of the car to go into the hotel, we were greeted by a cloud of hungry mosquitoes. Some followed us into the hotel, and a few were still following us when we went into the room. For dinner, we drove basically across the highway to the Texas Roadhouse, but coming back we ended up having to follow the highway for about a mile, then I took the next exit to find a place to turn around, but that was a divided highway as well, so I made an illegal U turn at the next light, drove about 3/4 of a mile back, made a legal U turn, then was able to get onto the entrance ramp to the highway, going in the right direction, go get to our hotel.

Whitewater

From about age two to four, my family lived in a town called Whitewater, Wisconsin, where my dad taught at the University of Wisconsin there. My mom couldn’t remember our address, but as we had decided to head north from Illinois, I thought it would be fun to take a brief detour into the town. We found Frosty’s there, and had some frozen custard.

Here is the sign at the main entrance to the campus there:

My Heritage

Today, we made a visit to Heritage Manor,

the nursing home where my grandmother (Nonna — Italian for grandmother) lives. Seven years ago, when we were last out this way, Tyler was an infant and Nonna was (at age 91) still living in the home that her husband built for them.

Nonna looks pretty good for 98,

and certainly seems to be in better health than most of the people in the home. It’s not always easy to understand her, but that was true for me 30 years ago as well, as her English is tinged with an Italian accent, that being her native tongue. She is somewhat hard of hearing as well.

We had a nice visit with Nonna. I was able to show her pictures from our trip so far, although I hadn’t thought to bring any pictures of her daughter, my mom, along. We stayed for about half an hour, and then it was time for her lunch. Thanks to one of the staff, we found a nice park nearby to have a picnic lunch with the groceries we had bought in town earlier.

After lunch, we headed back for another visit, and stayed for about an hour. We brought Nonna down to the solarium, to give her roommate a bit of peace. Susan played the guitar a little, and we sang a few songs while the kids drew pictures for Nonna. She was looking a little tired, and after a couple of pictures our visit came to an end.

World’s Most Finicky Town

This morning finds us awakening in Morris, IL at the Comfort Inn. Morris is home to the Dresden Nuclear Generating Plant, and I did a little research to see how far away from us it is, but it would take about half an hour to get there. Would love to drive by and at least take pictures for Susan’s dad, but it is in exactly the wrong direction. Susan wanted to go get a few groceries last night and asked where there was a supermarket, and was given directions to the local WalMart. But we have sworn off WalMarts and fast food for the whole trip. Groceries will have to wait.

And by the way, the title is just a reference to the famed Morris the Cat; no disrespect meant to the town.

Ann Arbor to Morris

Today, we drove from Ann Arbor, MI to Morrtis, IL, en route to Peru to visit with my 98 year old grandmother. We flew out to IL about five years ago to visit, and she was still in her own home in Oglesby back then, but the morning before we arrived to visit, she had taken a fall and was all alone for a time until my uncle arrived before us. That was what finally convinced everyone that she needed to be in a nursing home. So today we will be visiting her there.

Along the way from Ann Arbor, we had a lovely stop in St. Joseph, MI at the Curious Kids museum, after lunch at a local sandwich shop.

This is one of those hands-on museums that are a lot of fun. Exhibits ranged from a Japanese area with stamps, information on fighting outfits, Origami and a sitting room, to a TV studio outfitted by the local TV station.

Before we left town, we let the kids take a dip in chilly Lake Michigan.