Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

There I was thinking my blogging exploits would always be connected to moving between Yorkshire and France, and already, half way through January, 2012 has involved travel much further afield.

Visiting Wisconsin to celebrate the life of a friend who died just before Christmas, proved to be slightly more exciting than anticipated. As we arrived in Chicago, so did the first heavy snow of the Wisconsin winter. It seemed incredibly sensible to upgrade our car rental booking, to a 4 wheel drive jeep. It is many years since I have driven in thick snow, or recently ploughed potentially icy roads......and Mark has never witnessed a Wisconsin, it was very sensible.
The "do" for my friend was fine... or as fine as these things can be, so this blog is actually about the rest of the trip, and really just an excuse to "publish" some of the gorgeous snowy photos we took.
Just north of Chicago, we decided travelling further north in a blizzard was not a good idea

Milwaukee through the windshield

                                 The Town of Wilson, Sheboygan County
Lake Michigan

The Sheboygan River

deer at Terry Andrae

 Beach at Terry Andrae

 Lake Michigan

The road to Howards Grove

Wisconsin red barn

Me & the jeep "patriot"

Monday, 9 January 2012

Scheduling visits via Sheboygan

Hebden Bridge to Caunes via Chicago and Sheboygan

We are getting on well with planning our next trip to Caunes, and in fact with organising where we will be throughout the coming year. 2012 may not be a "normal" year, with a grandchild due in March, olympic tickets to be used in August, Jodie's wedding in October/ November, a Test series in India to be accommodated, Jess's 21st etc etc. Somehow, I think that each year will provide complications though, and we may get used to flitting backwards and forwards between France and England, rather than spending months and months in one place. What will be a "normal " year ?

Scheduling other people's visits is also complicated...we want everyone to come, but pregnancies, weddings, uni exams, olympics, school holidays, etc mean we have to be organised, and I really wanted to be able to be a bit more relaxed about it all...... time will tell how it all works out. Anyway, Jess is organised.... she has her first flights booked... her logic being once she had "booked", others will have to fit in around her.....including me.... must make sure I'm there to pick her up from the airport ! ( and the fridge is full ).

The first complication to face us this year, is that a US trip is being scheduled in, even before our end of January French visit. My friend, Darlyn, died just before Christmas. Darlyn and I have had a tumultuous friendship over the last 26 years, since I was an exchange teacher in Wisconsin in 1984/5. We have visited each other regularly, travelled  in the UK, in the US and to Egypt together, and have kept up a very lively quarter-century correspondence, dealing with family matters, politics, economics, literature, theatre, art and personal arguments. I think her belief was that friendship should never be easy if it was to be worthwhile.....and she made me work at it !

This is Darlyn, with me, 9 week old Jessie, 10 year old Matt and 9 year old Jodie, outside her Kohler, Wisconsin home in 1991....Jessie's first travelling adventure.

Darlyn has been ill for 2 years, and I last saw her in autumn 2010. Her "remission" state seemed stable, and she was planning to come to Caunes this spring. Darlyn has been in on all the planning for our home in France, and as someone who spent her youth dreaming of visiting France, and then spent a year there in the 1960s, she was really looking forward to discovering Caunes and the surrounding area. Not to be I'm afraid...... I am incredibly sad that she will not get to share in our dream come true.

We are off to Wisconsin later this week, to attend a celebration of Darlyn's life. I think it will be a strange affair. It will certainly be strange, going to Wisconsin and not spending time with her. 

So, within the next 3 weeks, I will be in Chicago, Milwaukee, Sheboygan ( famous for its reference by Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like it Hot"..... must admit, an easy to miss reference, unless of course Sheboygan is important to you ) and Kohler... then back to Liverpool, Hebden Bridge, Carcassonne and Caunes. Busy times.