We headed out early on Saturday morning to catch up with Ty (Dan’s cousin) who is in the 17th year of the organizing a canoe trip down the Wisconsin river.
After an hour or so we got to the launching point, and put in with a few other people from the group. I captured a bit of video as we meandered down the river. The Wisconsin isn’t the largest river in the USA, but I think it would dwarf the Murray in Australia. It feeds directly into the largest river in America, the Mississippi. It is possible to canoe the river system for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of kilometers, and by the amount of people we saw in canoes, it’s a very popular activity for north American people.
After a few hours of paddling we made it to the island – essentially a large sand-bar in the middle of the Wisconsin river, where everyone was pitching tents and enjoying a few beverages. Ty had organised ‘Beer Olympics’ . . . a set of activities that involved frisbee, ping-pong, and bag throwing kinds of drinking games. My days of excess drinking are behind me, so I was perhaps a little more ‘with it’ than many of my competitors . . . which gave me an advantage in the games!! Tim and Dan and Ashley (another of Dan’s cousins) were on my team, and we did really well in all events.
I estimate around 50+ people made this trip, and I commended Ty for his great work organizing it. It was a really memorable experience, and a lot of fun. Here’s a picture of Dan and Ty:
Here is a panoramic photograph to show the beauty of the place:
During the evening we got together around a huge bonfire, chatted and played around with glowsticks! Some of the folks had bought large packets of these things, and the silliness that transpired will forever be known as the ‘Great Glowstick War of 2014′ . (Because they looked great against the night sky, people were throwing them around at each other for hours and hours . . . like hand-missile lasers, you know? Many of Ty’s friends were military, so you know – things that look like lasers and all the military folks = Great Glowstick War!!!).
Here’s a panoramic of the scene. I’m sitting to the left.
Everyone slept in a little the day following . . . I think many would be suffering hangovers! Still, the island was cleaned up and we made our way along the river for another couple of miles to the landing point. What an awesome experience!!
A great thank you to Dan for inviting me along and welcoming me to his friends. It’s a great way to travel, when you can hang out with local people and share time with them. I had not seen Dan for 16 years, we worked together on a summer camp in Wisconsin in the summer of ’98. He’s a great fella and it will be good to one day return the favor and show him around my home country, Australia.
Viroqua, a small town in rural Wisconsin, has really impressed me. With a population of barely 4000 people, it has a vibrant and fresh spirit. There are organic farming co-operatives, artists, musicians and dancers – all making Viroqua their home.
I ventured out on a balmy Friday to see some local musicians and dancers perform. We were nestled in a small valley, next to a small creek and on a lush grassy field. Around 100 locals enjoyed food, local beverages and many live acts. I had many conversations with local people, and all were friendly and interested in my home of Australia.
Viroqua reminds me in many ways of Natimuk, or Halls Gap, back home. Many of the Americans I spoke with had moved from huge cities, such as Chicago or New York, just as many people from Melbourne or Sydney arrive in Natimuk. You cannot deny the appeal of clean air, beautiful woodlands or bushland, and like-minded souls, just wanting to get away from the bustle of modern cities. I grew up in a rural environment, yet I fully appreciate the leap that some of these urban people have made.
Here are a few videos I filmed during the evening; principally of the fire-dancers!
Dan and I made a short visit to his property today, to collect a canoe. Dan’s cousin had invited us to a gathering on the Wisconsin river. I had the opportunity to take a look around some typical Wisconsin woodland, as much of Dan’s property is comprised of native vegetation.
Later on in the afternoon we headed out to visit a local maple-syrup farm; the owners were close friends with Daniel, and we all got together and made a perfect storm of pizzas, a-la Australian style! Very tasty indeed!
Good company and good food, in a beautiful location. We had a tour of the property afterwards, and I managed a little bit of practice archery before the summer sun waned past the horizon.
Upon the setting of the sun, we all got together in a tee-pee, and warmed ourselves by the central hearth. Inspired drumming and discussions of world politics ensued! All in all, a great night out and more wonderful memories.
Here is the lovely photo of Dan and his two daughters.
So today I had a wonderful time here in the sleepy little Wisconsin town of Viroqua. Dan and his eldest daughter Savi (14 years of age) picked me up from the airport bus at around midnight on Tuesday the 22nd, and I managed a solid sleep. I had told Dan to wake me up before he went to work, but he went easy on me and let me sleep in. His daughter woke me at about 12.30pm, which i thanked her for, as i had to get over my jetlag.
Savi and i went for a short walk down to the local store (this is a very small town of around 1500 people) and I grabbed all the ingredients for a tasty mushroom and onion risotto. Dan’s other daughter turned up mid afternoon, she had been staying with friends. Her name is Kali, and she is a few years younger than Savi. We took the family dog (Boadie) for a long walk and made a short video with my new phone… We came across a baseball game and chatted with other folks in the park. Viroqua is a quiet yet typical midwestern town, and everyone is real friendly.
The risotto I cooked came out perfect, and I followed up with a tasty apple and berry pie. Dan and i chatted for hours, and tried to catch up on many years past. I am about to go to sleep, but I wanted to add the short video and also a picture I took of Dan, Savi and Kali.
Love you all and speak soon. I do not have a usa number yet, but I can be contacted on skype or email.
Frantically packing . . . leaving everything to the last minute, as usual. I depart Melbourne airport for LAX on Tuesday 22nd July @ 11am. Direct flight to LA, then a connection to Minneapolis. From there I meet up with my old friend Dan Krumenauer. I’m spending around a week with him in the small town of Viroqua, Wisconsin. Adventures should ensue!
Come the 29th July, I will head to Yankton, South Dakota to compete in the 2014 IFAA World Field Archery Championships. This will be my second overseas trip dedicated to my love for archery and the worldwide fellowship of archers. The last adventure was to Argentina, where I made new friends and learnt much about the discipline.
I’ll be shooting my new bow; a Stolid Bull ‘Black Thunder’ riser, with speedy Border HEX6 limbs.
A last minute decision to register an available domain : torimish.com !
This will be a collection of thoughts, adventures and philosophical reflections upon my world, and my travel through this world.
This will serve as an online journal and personal media depository – as much for my family and friends as for my own catharsis.