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    Wisconsin Detours

    August 28, 2016

    Off I went to 35 South, then 2 (because the 535 bridge was closed) headed for Wisconsin.


    I took Joanne's advice:  take the scenic route by taking 53 onto 13 which took me around Lake Superior, but this time from the Wisconsin side.  

    I drove around that entire northern tip of Wisconsin through Port Wing, Cornucopia, Red Cliff, Washburn, and Ashland.


    Water views... farmland views... barn views... bales and bales of hay views.


    What I found most interesting was that as soon as I left Minnesota, pockets of blue could be seen in Wisconsin.  


    A couple of hours later, the sun appeared in welcoming blue-filled sky.


    Here's a view from Meyers Beach.  


    (Straight ahead are sea caves frequented by kayakers.)    


    In Ashland, I called Sister Cecilia who said, "You're so close."  


    My plan was to visit her and Sister Mary in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. 


    Years ago, I lived with these Servants of Mary nuns in Chicago.  It's a long story, but I was in graduate school at the time completing my practicum with an interfaith organization.  


    Map-wise, the route to Ladysmith appeared breezy.


    Take 13 south to 111 to 8 west.  


    I was wrong.  


    Detours along 13 sent me all the way back on 2 to 51.  Much farther east than necessary.  In addition, I took a scenic route down 122 (twisty and curvy fun, but the road was rough) and ended up backtracking a bit to again head east back to 51 to then head back west on 8.


    It was a complete nightmare:  I thought I would never get there.


    I called Sister Cecilia in tears.  Hearing her voice calmed down, and brought me back down to reality.  


    They are only roads... just get there.


    My saving grace -- besides my Honda's motorcycle performance -- was the weather.  


    It was warm, and the sun had not yet set.


    This part of the ride was really about the destination.  


    Once I found 8, I leaned forward (to become more aerodynamic) and road as fast as I could.  


    My bike hit speeds of 65 mph.


    On the way, the sun presented me with a brilliant sunset in part due to a large cloud which turned all kinds of pinks and purples.


    I could smell cows and dairy farms all around me.


    After coming into contact with one very large deer on my right (it decided to cut across me on the road), I chose to drive closer to the middle of the road to avoid any other deer.


    Two more huge deer startled me.  


    The second one paused and stared at me for a moment before deciding to run away on the right side (away from me).


    The final deer I saw on this route ran scared across the middle of the road only to miss me and cross behind me.  


    I take full responsibility for this encounter, for sometimes when I ride, I scream at the top of my lungs to celebrate my existence.  


    I am fairly confident that my scream shocked the deer into a frenzy.  


    Nearing dark, I reached Ladysmith Wisconsin, and finally, the nuns recently built retirement home.  


    It was close to 9 p.m. when I arrived.

    My eyes were bloodshot, and bugs covered my face.  


    Still, Sisters Cecilia and Mary greeted me outside with long, big bear hugs.


    They kept repeating, "You made it!"  


    We walked inside, and they fed me leftovers.  


    I ate and we talked until about 10:30 p.m.  I learned about Sister Mary's life and about Sister Cecilia's family/genealogy research.  


    Seeing the exhausted look on my face, they showed me my room and encourage me to go right to bed.


    I wanted to shower; however, I was so tired that I just crashed as soon as I took out my contacts. 

    When I awoke on Monday morning, it was just after 8 a.m.  I accidentally walked in on the sisters during chapel time and prayers.  Sister Cecilia guided me to the kitchen for breakfast and returned to the chapel area.  


    I made myself some coffee and had a bowl of cereal.  I also began preparations for a small load of laundry.  


    Following chapel, I met a visiting nurse named Linda who used to ride an 1100 Honda.  I asked her if she knew of any mechanics in the area, and she did!  


    I ended up having a needed oil change (he had the filter!) and a bike check-up from Eric Vanden Heuvel at A&E Power Sports on Lake Avenue.


    Sister Cecilia gave me a car tour (and a historical tour) of Ladysmith: it is her hometown.  


    We talked about the logging industry, the dairy industry, and even the woman named Lady Smith.  


    Apparently, her wealthy husband brought her (via railway) to the town named after her.  


    Rumor goes something like this:  she found the city so small (and uninhabitable) that she didn't even step off the train.  Instead, she settled in Appleton; still, the city name -- Ladysmith -- remains (as one word -- not two).


    Later, Sister Cecilia showed me the now sold Mother House (the one I remember visiting) and the permanent exhibit celebrating the Servants of Mary.  


    I even had time to visit the local library; the staff there gave me two hours to catch up on the blog.


    Closer to dinner time, I walked back to the retirement home, and also visited Sister Christina's grave site.  Back in Chicago, I lived with her, too.


    Unfortunately, I missed her by two-years and two and a half months.  I shed some tears with her and promised her I would attend chapel with the nuns the following morning.  (It's what she would have wanted.)   


    With one more evening to prepare, I made arrangements to stay in Tomahawk, Wisconsin at an airbnb the next two-days.  I also secured housing over Labor Day in Norway, Michigan.  


    I closed out the evening with a simple, but delicious dinner of brats and corn and salad and pecan pie with the Sisters.  I heard more stories from them, and they heard mine.  


    We closed the evening with Rachel Maddow (their favorite), and I said goodnight to Sister Cecilia and Sister Mary.  


    On Tuesday morning, I attended chapel service with them, and I packed and said my goodbyes.


    I felt honored and blessed to catch up with them.


    Next time, I won't wait so long -- more than 10-years -- when I speak with them!


    Next stop:  Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  

    Until we meet again, my friend.








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