“Slow(er) ride……Take it easy(er)”
Fond du Lac and Baraboo beckon. I answer the call with a little less intensity than usual.
During a distance race, there are two ways that one can look back. The first way is the glance of sheer exhaustion and forlorn hope: “Oh please don’t let there be anyone behind me…I have nothing left in the tank.” Though most track coaches would advise a runner to never look back, I believe the second way has some merit. When it is early in the meet and multiple events still await, it can be prudent to check behind when nearing the finish line. A runner should conserve energy as long as their placement is secure.
I’ve been starting to look behind me a little bit. My pace has been pretty aggressive and I am starting to wear down. I could definitely push myself harder, but I need to consider all of the “events” still to come. Accordingly, I began to take it a little easier these days. I could find no reason to exert effort unnecessarily. There were no bears in my mirrors. 🙂
Thursday, August 3
I had a lazy morning. Part of this was due to the lack of sleep of my previous night, part was due to the rain that was falling steadily on my tent. The absolute worst time for rain is when it is time to pack up.
I waited until mid-morning before deciding that the rain was not going to let up. It was only a short ride into my next destination, Fond du Lac (Verse 3 Line 4). This city sits right at the base of Lake Winnebago, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country.
I donned my rain gear and made tracks for the visitor center. I was helped by a guy named Pete, who did a great job of suggesting potential stops for me. He also gave me a couple of Fond du Lac stickers, the first of such gift on my trip. I guess Annie could use a tattoo.
Pete recommended the lighthouse in Fond du Lac’s Lakeside Park for an iconic photo. It was a pretty view. I just wish I could have taken Annie up to the top.
This park is really neat. There was a kiddie train, canals with paddleboat rentals, a carousel, lots of shelters and gathering places. It was very well kept. Most towns of this sort have their downtown area right on the water, but Fond du Lac’s is about a half mile or so inland. I was told later that this was due to the marshy soil at the lakefront. This arrangement seems to work out well, giving plenty of room for recreation activities right by the water.
The rain intensified shortly after my lighthouse picture. I stopped for a bite to eat while the worst of it passed.
My next stop, recommended highly by Pete, was the Historic Galloway House and Village. In many communities, the historical places of significance are scattered over a wide area. In Fond du Lac County, most of these sorts of places have been relocated to this one site. The village has dozens of antique buildings, from a blacksmith shop to a veterinary office, each one full of artifacts.
I began with a guided tour of the Galloway house, which had belonged to a wealthy Fond du Lac family.
It was late in the day and the rain was still falling intermittently, so I almost had the whole village to myself. I took my time looking at as much as I could, but there was still so much that I missed.
There is also a museum on site. I enjoyed walking up and down the aisles, reading the history of Fond du Lac as I progressed. One of the neatest things I saw was their collection of “trench art.” These pieces were carved from used artillery shells by soldiers in the trenches during World War I. The intricacy of designs was marvelous.
There was also a good opportunity for a photo-op. I didn’t think they would let me sit on this old police Harley-Davidson, but it’s always worth asking!
Before leaving, I had the chance to speak with some of the staff. They were very helpful as well as very interested in my journey. I enjoyed meeting them.
It had been a few days since I had accessed reliable internet so I decided to head downtown and check out the library. It was nearly 5 PM, but I thought they might stay open until 6. To my joy, they were open until 8 PM. The first thing I usually do after connecting to wifi is run a speed test. This lets me know what I will be capable of accomplishing at that location. My jaw dropped when I saw I was getting 60 Mbps upload speeds. (For reference, I can get by with 1 Mbps, 3-5 Mbps is pretty good). I furiously began uploading everything I could. I stayed until near closing time.
Have you ever had internet so good that you decided to pitch your tent in the middle of a city next to a power substation just so you could get another taste of the nectar of its broadband goodness?….I have!
Friday, August 4
It rained most of the night and was continuing into the morning. I did not attempt to wait out the showers. My tent was already saturated to the point that waiting would not help very much.
The library did not open until 9 AM, so I killed some time by stopping by Wal-Mart and heading over to the Lakeside Park for some breakfast. I don’t normally eat “meals,” in the traditional sense of the word. I usually just ingest a couple hundred calories whenever I’m feeling famished. By this point in the journey, however, this strategy was becoming less effective. Over these days, hunger was difficult to quell.
I was thankful to enter the library again, not only for the internet speeds but also to get a chance to dry off. I tried to choose an out of the way spot so no one would see me take off my boots and shoes. I got a lot of work done, lingering until about 2 PM.
Before leaving Fond du Lac, I took a couple more pictures.
I felt very welcome here.
Next stop was Baraboo, WI (Verse 4 Line 5).
It was too late in the day to visit, but I wanted to camp near the vicinity. I stopped multiple times on the way over, trying to find the right spot. Nowhere I stopped “felt” right so I kept continuing. Most campgrounds in the Baraboo area are expensive, due to its proximity to Devil’s Lake State Park and the Wisconsin Dells area. However, I found one listed that was only $10/night. I knew that this would probably be my last night in a tent before returning to Nebraska, so I decided to accept the expense (only the 4th lodging expense on my trip).
I pulled into the site and was greeted by the owners, Paul and Pamela.
(They were a bit reluctant to be a part of this story, so I have changed their names and will be a bit more brief than I otherwise would be.)
Their site is not really a campground. It is more of a retreat center. They cater to many needs and are accepting of everyone. Pamela gave me a golf cart tour of the place and I had a great time chatting with her. She’s another one of those crazy Jesus people. 🙂
I took out my wallet to pay, but Pamela did not seemed too concern about accepting my cash. She directed me to a little deposit box where I “could” leave something if I wanted to. $10 was a real bargain for the service I was receiving. I picked a spot next to the peaceful pond. Even though the inside of my tent was soaked from days of saturation, I had one of my most restful nights.
Saturday, August 5
I neglected to set an alarm and was awoken by an unfamiliar sensation: Heat! The sun was finally shining in Wisconsin. I took the opportunity to set out all of my damp supplies and took my time eating breakfast.
I was ready to do Baraboo, but wanted to thank my gracious hosts. While doing so, Pamela stealthily slipped an envelope into my trunk. “Something to remember us by, so you come back and see us again,” she said. They politely declined to have their picture taken and we said our goodbyes.
The envelope contained a generous gift, along with notes and scripture passages of encouragement. I was really moved. What sort of camping spot pays you to stay there?! 🙂
The first thing on my list for the day was a Baraboo experience. What better place than Devil’s Lake State Park? Paul and Pamela had strongly recommended that I visit there. I was in such a good mood after my morning experience that the $11 entry fee didn’t even ruin my day.
Regular readers of this quality publication will note that I have already visited a Devil’s Lake (North Dakota). It was the first place I checked off my list. I can’t remember why I selected the city/lake in North Dakota over the State Park/lake in Wisconsin. Perhaps it was due to its proximity to Baraboo.
I wanted to be sure to make the hike up to view the Devil’s Doorway, an iconic rock formation. Being that it was Saturday, one of the last ones of summer, the park was busy. The hiking trail was not too congested though.
The hike had quite a bit of elevation gain. I stopped by Balanced Rock:
Made it to Devil’s Doorway and had a picture taken. I didn’t notice my zipper was down until my descent. Sorry, Wisconsin.
A fun road leading out of the park:
I headed into the city of Baraboo. Perhaps the most unique thing about this town was that it was the headquarters and winter home of Ringling Bros Circus. There is a large museum/attraction called Circus World. I would have liked to visit, but the place was absolutely packed. I think I saw the more aggressive parents affixing blades to their stroller wheels.
I poked around downtown for awhile. I found a neat collection of signs which I was looking for.
As well as the Al Ringling theater:
I could have easily spent more time in Baraboo. I also missed out on the International Crane Foundation (focused on the bird, not the construction implement).
Though I could feel myself slowing down, these were wonderful days. I don’t think I had any negative experiences in this state. I’m trying to be mindful of my own well-being, so I think a slower pace is helpful. The first finish line of this adventure is in sight. I feel no shame in coasting across it.