The Trail Home

Greetings and salutations,

After two weeks plus of traveling to Ukraine and London, we headed for home. Even though I am afflicted with a serious case of wanderlust and the urge to explore places unbeknown to me, there are times when home comes along at the right moment. This point in time was one of them. I came to this realization as we sat in London Heathrow watching the people pass by as we waited for our gate to be announced, munching on some Penn State pretzels. IMG_5751IMG_5748IMG_5746

As an aside, IMHO the airports in Europe are very pleasant, quiet and comfortable in contrast to US airports, noisy, congested and not very pleasant places to be.

Another aside, on the plane ride from London to Chicago, one of the beer choices was Shiner Bock, the favorite of the Son-in-law!IMG_5758

After the seven hour plane ride followed by a nearly four hour bus ride, and a short ride in our neighbor’s car, we arrived at our modest home in Madison, Wisconsin. It felt good to walk in the front door to feel, touch, and smell the familiar, the known, the security of home. Home-5157

After a few days of readjusting to Central Daylight Time, we began to get back into the routine of daily living, going to the Y everyday, yard work, make our own meals and etc. The first week we were home, I did a photo shoot for Madison’s annual Handel Aria Competition. I didn’t even know this was a thing until one of my photography friends who did their photography in the past, moved away and gave my name to the organizers as someone that takes photos at events.  Most of my work was at the end of the event after each of the young competitors sang two aria’s from composer George Handel’s large body of work. Beyond his most famous work, Messiah (the music plays when we trim the Christmas tree),  I knew very little. I enjoyed hearing other selections and taking the photos at the end. By the way, even with my untrained ear, I managed to agree with the judges on the top three! In the photo below, the woman on the left won the competition.Handel's Aria-5068

During our time at home, we took in the always fun and busy Dane County Farmers Market; the delicious Dane County Dairy Breakfast; enjoyed ice cream at the Concerts on the Square; listened to some great bands at a couple of the Central Park Sessions at the venue off Williamson Street; and wandered around the city during the annual Make Music Music, part of a global music celebration on the day of the Summer Solstice. By the way, the last photo in this series is of one my photography friends, Mike Anderson, also a gifted musician among his many other skills.IMG_5770Dairy Breakfast-9803Dairy Breakfast-9806Dairy Breakfast-9810Dairy Breakfast-9820IMG_5781IMG_5774IMG_5870Make Music Madison-9848

We also made regular visits to the UW-Madison’s Memorial Union Terrace to walk some of the path along Lake Mendota, listen to music if it suited us and have a beer or sangria. All that’s nice, but the best part is watching the sun set.IMG_5787IMG_5871Make Music Madison-9853

Towards the end of July we attended the annual Madison Opera in the Park held in Garner Park, where several thousand attendees sit on blankets or lawn chairs and listen to some fantastic opera. It’s something that we enjoy once a year, a little culture for us!IMG_5848

We also managed get in a few days of camping at Mirror Lake State Park near the Wisconsin Dells. The highlight of our stay was dinner and drinks (a loaded bloody mary with a beer chaser for me and a white sangria for my traveling partner) at the Ishnala Supper Club on the shores of Mirror Lake. As always the food was excellent and atmosphere beyond none.IMG_5861

Volunteer work was also on our agenda, we spent an afternoon with other members of the Friendship Force of Wisconsin-Madison, sorting and packing frozen pizza’s at Second Harvest Food Bank. Below member, Lise, and her grandson show their work. Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin takes donations from food producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, grocery stories, and others to supply local food pantries in communities large and small. These pantries then distribute food to needy individuals and families in their communities. We usually spend a few hours every month helping to sort and pack boxes for these pantries. Our job is something different every month so it makes the task fun and interesting. Every little bit helps the hungry become more food secure.IMG_5856

We did make one trip up to North Dakota to deal with some family business. During our stay, we had a couple of pretty good thunderstorms with the photo below taken just as the storm was moving in from the West.IMG_5833

It wasn’t all work and no play, one afternoon we traveled to nearby Medora, North Dakota to have dinner and take in the Medora Musical. The Musical, a western variety show, takes place in the open air Burning Hill Amphitheater overlooking the Badlands where Theodore Roosevelt once roamed before being elected President. I recall as a youngster going to the Musical and sitting on hard wooden benches or a blanket on the hillside. The modern theater features an escalator (yippee!), comfy seats, great acoustics and a snack bar. It was a fun evening, I laughed hysterically at John Cassidy, the ballon artist, comedian, and magician, click here to see a version of his act if you need an out loud belly laugh!IMG_5806Make Music Madison-9875Make Music Madison-9905IMG_5816Make Music Madison-9897Make Music Madison-9929

Yep, we were home (most of the time) even when we were in North Dakota where we both grew up, we were back at our nostalgic home. It’s said that home for most of us is the place of love, hope, dreams, where it feels good to leave and it feels good to come back. But after awhile much to my traveling partner’s chagrin, I start to think, where’s our next adventure? Come back next week and find out where we wander off to after some time at home.

Until then, happy travels!