Traveling the U.S.A. CHAPTER 11 – WISCONSIN & ILLINOIS

I had no idea what to expect as we were leaving Michigan.  We hooked up our Jeep to the RV, and made our way over the 5 mile expanse of the Mackinac Bridge.  We immediately turned left and followed the lake down into Wisconsin.

Our first stop was Oconto, Wisconsin.  It is about a 1/2 hours drive north of Green Bay.  We arrived in this small town and arrived at our RV park which was actually a city park.  It was a lovely little location with full hookups.  After we arrived, we wanted to go to the grocery store, but I couldn’t find one that was open on a Sunday afternoon, so we found a Piggly Wiggly about 14 miles from town.  It was a beautiful ride through farmland.  In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I love farms.  Their settings are so peaceful to me, and they are the backbone of this nation.  They feed us, and I am grateful the hard work they put in to do this.

Dennis had an appointment the following day with a tire company in Green Bay to replace a tire on the RV.  I wasn’t particularly excited to go, so I stayed back with the car.  I thought I could find a place to get my nails done, and then if there was time, go to their local library.  It’s a better plan than sitting in a car with no place to go.

I drove over to the only nail salon I could find on Yelp, and lo and behold, they are closed on Mondays.  I made my way to the library, and I felt like I found a hidden treasure.  I found a cozy wing back chair in the computer and periodicals room.  I made myself at home and that is the location where I wrote my last blog, Chapter 10.  Dennis called to let me know he was on his way back.  I told him to call when he arrived, and I would leave the library.  Having completed the blog, I gave myself a tour of the library.  I think the most unusual thing I found was in the cookbook section that had cake pans you could check out, and also cookie cutters.

I found the cozy corner to sit and post my blog.
Want a bake a fancy cake? You can get the right pan at this library!
Of course, they have cookie cutters for check-out also.
The mural in the stairwell.

The following day we drove farther south to Fond de Lac, Wisconsin.  I never heard of that town until I met Dennis.  His family lived there for two years when he was a youngster.  We found our RV campgrounds outside of town in the farming community next to a large farm that was a dairy farm and also had a field of sunflowers.  It was a beautiful setting.

We got the RV all set up, and disconnected the car to take a tour of the town Dennis spent two years.  He has fond memories of the home he lived in and of the park he and his brothers used to walk to.  At first we couldn’t find the house.  Dennis thought it was on 3rd Street, but as we went around the block, we discovered the home on 2nd Street.  It was a duplex when he lived there, and it is still today.  It was fun to go through our scanned photos and find actual proof of his home.  See below.

This is Dennis and his snowman in front of the home in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Note the decorative brick front on right side of photo, and also the windows at the left. This is the same duplex as the photo above, years later.
Dennis specifically looked for this bridge he crossed as they entered the park. This brought great memories to him of going tot he park with his two younger brothers.

Our next day in Fond du Lac was actually spent in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  When we made our trip plans, Dennis discovered that we would be right near Oshkosh for their annual International Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In Convention.  I’m not sure it was all experimental, but there were hundreds of private planes at the show and parked to attend the show.

We came to see the airshow, but first we had to look around.  One big area there was Boeing Plaza.  They had a C-17 Globemaster plane on display.  From 2001 to 2007, I worked for GKN Aeorspace in St. Louis, Missouri.  Our company make over 100 parts for this airplane.  This plane is a cargo plane.  It can carry tanks, trucks, and even servicemen and women.  It is huge, and was really fun to see it on the inside.

Another plane was was most excited to see was the plane used by Samaritan’s Purse.  They are a Christian organization that goes wherever the need is to help in a time of crisis.  Their website states it this way: 

“Samaritan’s Purse stands ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes. We specialize in meeting critical needs for victims of conflict, disaster, famine, and epidemics throughout the world, often working through ministry partners on the ground. We provide food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ.”

It was just a privilege to tour the interior of the plane, how they pack their survival equipment, and then as leaving the plane, we walk through a small makeshift hospital that they set up wherever needed.

The plane can hold 30 volunteers who go to help in the disaster areas.
This is how they crate items such as the Operation Christmas Child boxes.
When someone has lost everything in a disaster, they are cooking over an open fire. Samaritan’s Purse gives the pot which also has dishes, cups, and utensils, so they they have a way to took. Many have lost windows or roofs on their homes, and Samaritan’s Purse provides heavy duty tarps to help cover their shelters.
This is a water purification system. It can purify any water other than salt water. It is good for a year, and hopefully, for those who lost their water resource, a year should give time for them to be resupplied with water in the community.
This is a sample hospital tent. They were sent around the world to set up hospitals to treat Covid patients.
This is the typical bed configuration with a respirator.

Finally the airshow began.  I loved watching the planes do their acrobatics, but I loved most of all the F-18’s soar through the sky.  GKN, my former employer also manufactured parts for that plane.  Early on, I was able to take our new hires over to Boeing to view the final assembly of the airplane.  Boeing was the main contractor for that plane, and Northrop Grumman was the principle subcontractor.  After I left GKN to work at Northrop, I had the privilege of touring the assembly of the center fuselage of the F-18 in El Segundo, California.  So, watching them in flight is always a thrill for me.

There was so much more to see.  I wanted to tour the UPS airplane and also one that was an eye surgery planes but during the airshow, it was announced that the show was closing down at 5:00 p.m. because of a severe storm warning for the area.  There were hundreds of planes that needed to be tethered down before the storm hit.  Unfortunately, those two planes were not viewed.  Although it ended early, it was a great day.  We were so hot and tired that when our shuttle took us back to our car, we found a Culver’s nearby, and dinner was done!

There were fields of RVs and airplanes of attendees. I have never seen so many private airplanes in one place before.
This family is going back to their private airplane by riding unicycles. Mom and Dad are in the back, and two kids in front (one block by th guy not he little bicycle).

We next moved to northern Illinois.  I have a cousin who lives northwest of Chicago.  We stopped one day with them.  Their granddaughter was in a chicken catching contest at the county fair that day, so we all went to see her.  I love going into the animal barns to see the animals that are brought to the fair.  It was a short visit, but we needed to make our way to Chicago.

She laid an egg!
It looks like they donated their wool.
This video just makes me laugh!

Can you believe that there is a campground in the Chicago suburbs.  I thought it was a pretty awful place, although it sufficient for us.  There was no lighting at all on the roads in this park, and coming back from an evening out was a challenge the first night.  I was driving and I couldn’t find our RV!  One of the neighboring RV folks told Dennis the place is under new management and they have really cleaned it up.  Hate to know what it was like before.  We did meet the owner as we were leaving, and he said he is working to make it more inviting, and asked our suggestions.  That was nice.

The whole weekend in Chicago was spent visiting with family.  Three nights and three different groups.  Our last day there was a get rested and prep day before our big journey to get to Wyoming.

Wisconsin was a big surprise for me.  I really enjoy the tiny town on Oconto, and of course, loved the airshow.  Northern Illinois surprised me.  Over the years I have driven many times from St. Louis to Chicago, and the land is flat and full of corn fields.  Northern Illinois is also farm country, but to my surprise, it hilly and interesting.

2 comments

  1. Love your post. It reminds me of many things I wanted to comment on–
    I’ve found a couple of things at small libraries that were interesting too. In Florissant, CO, you can check out passes to things around there so you can go for free. In Columbus, IN, you could take seed packets for your garden.

    We bought a duplex here in FW about ten years ago. We found out later that it was the first place that our son-in-law’s parents rented when they got married

    My dad was in the Air Force for 20 years. I still remember going to some type of airshow when I was about 5 and we got to go inside a huge cargo plane like that.

    Enjoy your travels!

    Like

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