Saturday, June 17, 2017

Day One. Part One

I left  at 10:00 am, destination, Durand, Wisconsin, a small town about 90 miles from here. Durand was  home for the first 5 years of my married life. Our oldest three boys were born there. All went well until I came to the other side of Plum City, Wisconsin. With only 13 miles to go to get to Durand I was flagged down along with a whole long line of cars and trucks. They were paving the road between the two towns. The flag girl held us in check for fully 19 minutes. 

It was hot on Thursday, so the wait was fairly miserable (I am stubborn and rarely use my AC. Summer should feel like summer). Eventually we were ushered through the one-sided road and I rolled into Durand around noontime. 

Before I left I had asked my search engine, "What is the best place to eat in Durand, WI?" The first place listed was the Corral Bar and Riverside Grill . Even though I was pretty hungry, I wanted to check out the camping area in the park at the edge of town. Doris was right. All 14 tenting spaces were unoccupied. There was one RV parked in the RV section, but I did not see any people in evidence.

Okay, there would be a place to camp if I made a decision to camp in a relatively deserted spot. The Corral Bar and Riverside Grill lived up to their reputation. Their deck overlooks the Chippewa River which was running high, covering a road behind the restaurant and lapping at the basements of the downtown businesses on that side of the street.

 St. John's Lutheran Church was Paul's first call from the seminary, and we lived there one year when it did indeed flood those downtown businesses.

The golf course was my next destination. I am a medium to poor golfer, but I like the game  and, like many golfers, have just enough really good drives and chips and putts to keep me playing.  The Durand course was the first place I ever golfed. Several members had invited me to join a ladies league. It would be almost thirty years before I played again more often than about once every ten years. It was a very hot day. I was pretty tired when I got done with nine holes. I headed back to the park, hoping to find a nice collection of campers there so I could get on with setting up my tent.

One deserted looking RV. 

Since Paul died I have never forgotten to lock the doors before I go to sleep. You can't lock a tent, so I was hoping for safety in numbers. Camping in Durand was more than I could do, so, hot, and already a little tired I decided to check out the County park near Plum city.

Remember that road they were paving? Twenty minutes after being flagged down, I continued on Highway 10 until I saw a sign pointing to a county road that led to the park.  It was well marked at the highway, but became a closely guarded secret after that. (One frustration on this trip was that I almost never had phone service the whole time I was gone. That meant no digital directions to anything.) 

I drove that county road back and forth looking for a clue, and finally, retraced my steps to a town I had gone through. I  pulled over and asked a couple of guys if they knew where the park was. They were sitting outside of a bar in the little town of Arkansas, WI. They looked at me and then at each other and then back at me with that vacant look that pretty much says that, no, they did not know where the county park was. 

"No, I don't think I know where that is," said the more vocal of the two. 

I tried the road again and saw a man in his driveway and  asked him if he knew where it was. He gave me directions, and before heading out I asked if a lot of people used that park. He said, "Yeah, on holiday weekends it's always packed. 

I asked what about on a Thursday? 

"On Thursday?" he mused, "Well, on a Thursday you might be the only one out there."  I could have done that in Durand. 

He told me to try Menomonie, a bigger town about 20 miles away. I headed back to Highway 10 toward Durand to catch Highway 25 to Menomonie.  Only 18 minutes with the flagman this time.


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