70 miles eastward
Sometimes our progress on the road is glacial in pace, but I usually prefer it that way. Driving only short distances gives us a better chance to explore, not to mention the cost savings. When touring the Four Corners region last year we drove less than a thousand miles in a month. Our big trip on Monday was simply to get from Stoughton to Milwaukee, which is about 80 miles mostly on the interstate. It would have been an easy day but we were “behind the curve” all the way.
The day started innocuously enough, with a trip to downtown Madison so that Brett could have a scheduled business appointment. While he was in the meeting, Eleanor, Emma, and I found a coffee shop on State Street with wifi, and settled in for an hour of reading and working. I didn’t get the name of the place, but the chairs were deep, the coffee and chai drinks were generously sized, and the wifi was decent. Emma had her favorite, a steamed coconut milk.
While I was catching up online, and just a few minutes after posting yesterday’s blog, the entire AirstreamLife.com website began to fail. I got our boy genius programmer on the job, but in a short while everything went down, including this blog, email services, customer service, and the main website. There wasn’t a darned thing I could do about it. (It looked at first like we were getting a denial-of-service attack, but later it was proved to be an internal problem with our database.) So when Brett got back, I packed up the laptop and we went back to the State Capitol building to get a few more photos, and to tour the rooftop observation deck.
On the way back to the state park, we stopped in at the International Rally at the Alliant Energy Center to pick up that replacement awning arm I needed from Zip-Dee ($84 was the price of my lesson; always remember to take in your awning when thunderstorms are possible.) And there, standing in front of the new Airstream display, was Bob Wheeler, the president of Airstream. We see Bob 3-4 times a year, sometimes at his home base in Ohio, mostly on the road at events, and always like chatting with him about the state of the Airstream world.
He suggested lunch, and although we were pressed for time because we needed to get the Airstreams out of the state park before 3 p.m., it was hard to refuse. So we went off to some local cafe that is also a yarn store (a culinary first for us). By the time lunch was over we had to rush to get back to the state park, and when we did arrive it was 2:54 p.m. and somebody was waiting to check into our site. I started feeling rather behind the curve by then, because it was rush-rush to get the trailer hitched up and out of the spot. Rushing a departure is never good because it’s too easy to overlook something small but expensive. I have to be extra careful on the checklist in these situations.
Then it was off to the dump station, and then through construction zones to the highway, and then 70 miles of fairly dense traffic all the way to Milwaukee, where it became horrific 4-lane stop & go traffic. The new tow vehicle really shined, however, yanking the Airstream forward 100 feet and then screeching to a halt when some idiot in a car cut in front of us … over and over again.
After about 30 minutes of testing our brakes with 50,000 Milwaukee commuters, we escaped to the State Fairground, where there is an RV park. Huge dark-blue thunderstorms were on the horizon right behind us, and we wasted no time in getting unhitched and set up. Ten minutes later we felt the first sprinkles…
So it was that sort of day. Although a lot happened, I felt at the end of it all that I hadn’t really accomplished much. But here we are, settled comfortably if not in the most beautiful spot. The Fairgrounds are like Wal-Mart, but with hookups. We’re on asphalt, the highway roars by just a short distance away, and there are few trees. We’re not here for scenic beauty, but for practicality. This location puts us close to downtown Milwaukee, and there are services we need nearby like laundry and a Verizon store to replace Eleanor’s phone. (It suddenly died yesterday.) I need to spend a few days working intensely to get caught up on Airstream Life business, too. Sometimes we trade beauty and travel glamour for the asphalt-coated realities of life.
PS: The website problems seem to be resolved now.