Frenchtown Rock

This area used to be home to the mound builders, including those we call the Mississippians. The Ho Chunk called this home. In the 1800s, German and Norwegian immigrants moved in. Then there was a small settlement known as Frenchtown. As usually happens, one person moved into the area and told others. Soon (in the 1850s) there was a small enclave of French immigrants among the First Nations, German, and Norwegian people who were already here.

image from Big River magazine

The other night I went for a ride on Frenchtown Road. It was hot, after a few weeks of fall-like weather. It was humid, during a brief break from the rain – a flash flood warning was issued just before I sat down to write this. One good thing about Frenchtown Road, riding on it always makes me think about Bob Marley.

I am a doer, not an organizer or a fundraiser. As a result, my fundraising for The Ride has been pathetic, and the ride is this weekend. We’ll see if I’m in any shape to ride after four days in motels and conference centers, talking instead of riding. I’m going to ask again for donations, as this hit close to home recently. Thanks again to Vikki for being the first donor on the half-fast page. The Ride is a fundraiser for the Carbone Cancer Center, and one of the half-fast riders recently had a biopsy for suspected cancer. That person doesn’t have cancer, but it reminded me that one needn’t look sick, feel sick, or seem sick in any way to have cancer. It is an equal opportunity destroyer.

Some rides come with unexpected thrills
Moonset after Fri the 13th full moon

It’s a beautiful evening for a walk, but I’m in that god forsaken wilderness made up of motels and chain restaurants; a landscape designed exclusively for the automobile. I walked to and from a nearby restaurant, strolling through parking lots and meandering entrance roads – the sort that are supposed to feel “organic” I guess; curving paths that might be intended to seem like they acknowledge the landscape, but are merely someone’s perversely poor attempt to do something other than make a straight road. Can we tell them there is nothing wrong with a straight road, when the landscape is open and flat? Okay; I know that’s not all it is. Those roads wander apparently aimlessly but not really aimlessly at all. The point of roads through shopping centers is to get you to drive past as many of the stores as possible in order to get you to spend more money. If it’s hard to find your way out you’ll drive past even more of them.

So while hanging out in cheap motels this week, I’ve been watching the Ken Burns series on country music on PBS. The most recent episode featured one of the best recordings around -the incomparable Patsy Cline singing one of Willie Nelson’s greatest songs:

I learned something new on the show. The song “Family Bible” was written by Willie Nelson. I was introduced to the song not by the original 1960 Claude Gray recording (which didn’t credit Nelson as the writer), but by the 1971 release by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (lest you think I’m a purist).

That album also brought the (in)famous country tearjerker “Seeds and Stems Again Blues”. This was a great crying in your beer song about lost love and lost everything else, with an obligatory spoken verse and a sobbing steel guitar, but maybe if it were written by the Onion (actually Bill Kirchen and Commander Cody). They don’t seem to want me to embed this video, so find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNWw2NFo_ec

Rather than give Commander Cody the last word, I’ll also add that it’s time to clean our adopted highway again. We’re looking at Sunday, October 6 at noon tentatively. Let us know if you can make it. The Dane County Highway Commission will supply the safety vests, gloves, and trash bags. The Dane County drivers will supply the trash.

Aaahhh! (Aaarrgh!)

This post was 429 words, 2 video links, and 6 pictures a few minutes ago. Now when I look, it is only a title. None of my saved versions survived. I guess this is all you get today.

(Four hours later)…I just found a Wi-Fi network that might work so maybe I will try to repost.

At sunset Saturday the van rolled in to our campground carrying all the riders who are staying at a hotel 9 miles down the road in town.We are camped right at the foot of Devil’s Tower.

As they disembarked the party began. The staff had spent the afternoon preparing margaritas and bean dip, and they strung glow sticks around the bar, which was the open back of one of the cargo trailers. Greg’s Cantina was open for business. Live entertainment followed shortly.

(Fast forward to 26:15 for “Reba’s Cantina”)

Robin, one of the British riders, was in an uncommonly good mood, as he had ridden out early Saturday morning to watch England defeat Sweden in their World Cup match in a pub 40 miles down the road.

He sat down and immediately asked all at the table to name our favorite movie. A lively discussion ensued. He was impressed that some of us Yanks knew the film “The Loneliness  of the Long Distance  Runner”, and were aware of the actor Tom Courtenay.

As the party wound down, I made my way to the outdoor seating area behind the camp store to watch the climactic scenes of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

When the film ended I found myself in more complete darkness than I have seen in quite some time. I was guided back to my tent by the North Star. Scorpio was visible on the western horizon.

Being up so late, I planned on sleeping in. I was awakened by a barking dog at 6 AM. I guess that counts as sleeping in these days.

I did laundry before breakfast, took advantage of the hot sun to recharge my back up battery with the solar charger, and took advantage of the shade and breeze to recharge myself.

Next week we head across South Dakota, including  the Black Hills and the Badlands. Had we been traveling as the crow flies, we would be in the middle of Wisconsin by now. We are following the route of the drunken crow.3CEED3E9-726D-419F-A486-3CD09643C6C9