Road trip revelations big and small

included some arresting sights, such as the Wisconsin highway barn painted in mile-high letters by people who obviously wanted to get their message across. These guys should work on Madison Avenue. OKAY, WE HEAR YOU!

A flock of blue jays, one of which left a memento behind for someone (me) desiring signs and best wishes for the future.

Earlier on our journey, another blue jay, by the road side. Good effort to whomever created it, and good tidings to all travelers passing by.

A message dishtowel I seem to have absconded with from the family reunion cottage on Green Bay. Yes! Agreed.

Flowers lush, fresh, unexpected. Euphorbia milli.

A rainbow, always a good harbinger, this time at what is called the American Falls at Niagara. Eschewing the yellow ponchos they give out to tourists who stop under the torrent, I looked down over the whole scene and was impressed by a) the majesty, of course and b) the tawdriness of the surroundings. Have three quarters of all commercial establishments (hotels, restaurants, etc.) shut down during the pandemic, or does it just seem that way?

Wanted to find a memorial to Annie Edson Taylor, the 63-year-old nearly penniless widow from Bay City, Michigan who thought she’d achieve fame and fortune by braved the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel in 1901. Challenged by a reporter to reveal the skimpy outfit she might wear to make the journey, Taylor responded, it would be unbecoming a woman of my refinement and my years to parade before a holiday crowd in an abbreviated skirt!

Apparently her only monument stands in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, where she died as a public charge – only 17 minutes of fame for her and no gold at the end of the rainbow (bad manager blamed). A schoolteacher, she fitted herself out in barrel weighted down with a 100-pound anvil and went for the ride of her life, only getting slightly banged up.

Farm-stand raspberries just picked, before being gobbled down. Summertime, summertime…

WOW! Seemingly defunct art gallery in Manetowac, just before the Canadian border. Peeking in, dusty easels and all.

Apple plucked from the grass beneath an old-old tree, the kind of fruit people used to go crazy for in the days before candy for everybody all the time – mainly sour, cottony, with skin of leather, instantly oxidizing – which I ate down to the core before tossing out the window.

Johnny Appleseed fantasies. An interesting fellow, not a myth. John Chapman, born in 1774, was a pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of the eastern U.S. He was also a missionary and when he traveled around to various states distributed materials about the New Church along with his apple seeds, giving sermons that cautioned against such indulgences as calico fabric and imported tea. 

The Runway Bar in Door County at the small airport for private planes, Bad Lands in the back (bordello?), shut down in the ‘90s but still offering a side-of-the-road sight for sore eyes, tree busting through the roof and all. A dive bar that took a nose dive, says Gil.

Another way sign I grew instantly fond of. Beach Harbor, baby. Let’s go.

Sleek windmills all along the highway. I’m told not by Cervantes not to tilt at them — they might be evil giants — but I insist. Saw some on the road being transported, accompanied by a robust police convoy.

Well-groomed Motorcycle Memorial Park way off the road.

A place to raise a beer to fallen comrades, apparently. But remember, bikers don’t let bikers drive drunk.

Aldo Leopold bench kit at The Ridges nature center at Bailey’s Harbor – 120 bucks will get conservation-minded carpenters the great naturalist’s name brand for their garden.

A canoe setting sail with family members at sunset. Sweet dreams are made of this, as the Eurythmics would have it.

In other boating news, a homemade flotilla and race at Sturgeon Bay – only plywood and caulk allowed – and almost all sink to general, gentle Midwestern hilarity.

In still more boating news, a Gideon’s bible graces the cabin on the coal-fired ferry from Manetowac, Wisconsin to Luddington, Michigan, across the great lake. Will put reading that old thing on my to-do list.

Odd tree habits. I don’t get this, but I love it. Maybe there is a biblical allegory here?

The moon that followed us as it waxed, flaming yellow and orange, so close you could see the ancient, impossible face. No Iphone pic can do justice to this fever dream of an evening sky. Truly the magic hour.

It was hard to get enough of Ottilie the German short-hair pointer taking cat naps in the back seat.

But don’t mention cats to Ottie, who has a thing about cats and other small creatures. This great bird dog, without a hunting trip to focus her, once put a chicken out of its misery at doggie day care.

And speaking of dogs, nine puppies for sale at a crossroads farm – parentage impeccable, Red Aussie/Red Heeler/ English Shepherd/ Border Collie.

Like fur-covered jelly beans, all of six weeks old. Callie the home-schooled farm girl (not sure what grade I’m in — ninth, I think?) shares a picture of the father. Pretty formidable presence, I’d say.

Will we adopt one of his progeny? I am currently petitioning my dog-loving husband, who cherishes his freedom now that all our prior dogs have crossed the rainbow bridge, as some people like to put it. Probably originated with some of the same people that put up the JESUS IS LORD barn message.

Perhaps the blue jays will bring me luck.

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