Chapter 4: Of Ties and Tailgating
Excerpts from “Project X”
Miles 234-728, East Bethel. MN to Madison, WI
It had been a very warm September week in East Bethel, MN for the first two weeks of our self-imposed exile from the world and slowly but surely we began to figure out what we needed and what we didn’t need in “Big Bird” our 34 foot land-yacht. We didn’t need three cats. We need individual storage buckets for underneath and we needed a longer sewage hose. We need to lock a very friendly cat in the bathroom in the middle of night or that would be the end of sleep. We need to move our rig the next time we come here to try to get satellite television due to a misplaced tree. I also need an eastern screech owl but I didn’t need a barred owl, which, it seemed was almost as bad as Snowball the cat at night.
Our last week in paradise we went to a baseball game in Minneapolis and I started to think, we needed a better team. In 31 baseball games since 1977, I had never seen the Twins beat the hated (or loved) Yankees at home. I was 0-31. It was a painful, three stadiums of memories. I had seen Reggie Jackson smack a monster homerun off the red scoreboard in right back in 1977 and then take a curtain call from the Twins faithful late in a game when I was 11 and then later, I saw Roger Clemons make one of his many “last starts” to beat up the Twinks and this year, my boys lost 7-2 in a very uninspired game. The Twins fielded a team in September that consisted of 9 players that combined had hit 32 homeruns, one less than Giancarlo Stanton, the newest Yankee slugger that had hit 33 by himself. Even the umps wanted to go home. In the seventh inning, he called a Twin batter out after a called second strike. That is not something you see every day. Even the Yankee catcher stood and patted the ump on the shoulder, after the batter looked confused at his early retirement. The ump reversed his call and two pitches later, a soft line drive made the out “official.”
The next night, we went to Hamilton. In some sort of technical problem, the doors remained closed for almost an hour while we felt like cattle stuck in a slaughterhouse. Then we were let in to a performance by understudies and fill in talent. It wasn’t a bad performance, but for $200, I expected more. Alexander Hamilton was a self-righteous man who traded moving the capital to the South for nothing. He claimed the moral high ground except that he was more immoral than most, having affairs and leading to his son’s death by dual, before his own. Aaron Burr was not any better and in some respects, both should have never left that New Jersey field alive back in the day. The dual should have been a tie where both lost. I guess, it was something to do and oddly, the night we were at the play a few blocks from Target Field, the Twins beat up on the Yankees and the night before our night at the Orpheum, Hamilton was played by their main cast….oh well, the story of my life.
Our final weekend in camp featured a deck party hosted by us on our new "deck", that featured 50 guests and then on Sunday we sat on a neighbor’s deck to root for our side of the battle of the North, Packers versus Vikings.
The rest of my family was in Lambeau rooting for Gang Green. My wife brought purple and yellow chips to the deck party. The game, never really ended as no one lost, or no one won. Ties are like that. In the end, the biggest loser was the Vikings rookie kicker named Daniel Carlson. He kicked himself out of a job and two misses in overtime cost the Vikings a win. He might have a “Viking” sounding name but the rookie was most recently at Auburn, Alabama and was from Colorado Springs, Colorado so in the end, he wasn’t up to being a real Viking.
Much like the football game, the rest of what happened that weekend could not be properly described in writing, you just had to be there, so I will spare you the prose.
On September 17th, we drove down to Madison to see our son, Allwin. Silja had never visited him in Madison, now in his second year of PhD studies at UW as it always seemed difficult for her to leave our daughter for a few days. I stopped off at Necedah NWR to look for cranes and find a red headed woodpecker for “Project X” and we saw two cranes 10 miles west of the refuge out in a field, so not able to get them for my project, but found cooperative woodpeckers in the usual area. Necedah is the easiest place to get this somewhat elusive woodpecker, I’ve ever found.
There were trumpeter swans everywhere but there were also mosquitoes everywhere, even mid-day in heat. Brighid the dog was looking for any water she could find, and if it meant her falling off rip-rap, that was okay for her.
Madison was still the same place I worked at back in the day as a Capitol page, but I never went to school here. I was accepted to Medical School but I got such a recruitment to be an MD/PhD researcher here that it turned me off and I instead went to Minnesota. This time, we walked around the campus and ate at the Terraces.
I touched “Abe’s toe” on Bascam Hill for luck like I last did in 1984 before the Wisconsin State Forensics Championships. That worked when I was a high school senior and my Demo speech on Ice fishing completed an undefeated year. I guess it also worked this time, as we had a great visit with Allwin. We miss him and he seemed to miss us, too. We have thousands upon thousands of miles to go, so we need all the "luck" we can get. We haven’t seen as much of him since he went to Europe to study in college and now, here. Nine hours seems close but we never end up driving this way.
We hiked around Lake Mendota, saw his lab, and then in between meals, while he went to an engineering class, we hung out at Barnes and Noble. Maybe I’m writing about the wrong topics?
The weather is changing, and so after an all-too-brief visit we headed up the road to our next point of call. We sort of left feeling like the football game, we hadn't won, nor lost. It felt like a tie. It was nice to be here, but sad to leave. Allwin agreed to take the dog in February when we take this journey south to Uruguay on our way to points even farther south, so that was good. It will be best to know that the family’s best friend is in good hands when we are off the grid in the South Atlantic.
We love you Allwin!
Project X 9/17/2018
39. Wild Turkey
40. Red-headed woodpecker