Thursday, July 29

Wisconsin and stormy skies

Hubby and I took a weekend trip to Wisconsin recently to visit my cousin, Debra and her hubby Jeff. We've been wanting to do this for some time. The drive up was uneventful except for some unexpected traffic south of Madison, Wisconsin on the interstate. Black River Falls, where my cousin lives, was having a festival so we had to come in the back way. More scenic but showing signs of storms that had rolled through the area earlier in the week.

They live out in the country where they have several acres of land. To get to their road you have to drive down a gravel road that runs through a farm bearing an Organic Valley logo. There's an Amish farm across the road from their house.

Their house is more spacious than it looks from the outside. The first floor has a mudroom, 4 bedrooms, a large family room, dining room, and a big kitchen/dining area. The odd thing is there is only one bathroom in the house. The previous owners added on as they needed more space but neglected to add a second bath. The lower floor has a 2 car garage, plus 2 large and 2 smaller rooms. My house would fit easily inside of theirs.

Not long after we arrived, we got in the car again to visit the local brewery. Sand Creek Brewery was giving free tours during the festival. We got a behind the scenes tour and a history lesson on the family that owned the brewery and what other uses the building had been used for over it's life. (You can check out the link to the brewery to read about it's history. It was very interesting.) It was very hot the day we visited so a trip to the cooler in the basement was very refreshing. It was so cold down there that you could see your breath. :) Hubby sampled their Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and said it was very good. The brewery is hosting an Oktoberfest on October 2nd if you're in the area. We're told they have beer, food, music, and arts and crafts. Sounds like fun to me!

We had a good time while we were there but it seemed like we had just gotten there when it was time to head back home on Sunday afternoon. We had barely gotten onto the interstate when we began to run into heavy traffic. The closer we got to the Dells and Madison, the heavier the traffic became. It's weird to see big city/Chicago type of traffic in the middle of nowhere. Stop and go or creep and crawl is no fun driving. By the time we got to Madison, the 4 lane interstate looked more like a parking lot than a highway. I convinced hubby to get off the interstate and take another highway going south. I seemed to remember reading something on the web about Chicago people clogging the interstate from Madison to Chicago on Sunday afternoons. I must say that all the license plates we were seeing were Illinois plates and not Wisconsin. The locals must know to avoid the road on Sundays.

Knowing that there was Cubs game Sunday night in Chicago, hubby decided to go west and south of Chicago before we headed east. It was nice to get out all the traffic and see farms and open spaces again. I was surprised on I-88 when we started seeing these all over the place. Yes, hundreds of wind turbines turning in the breeze and generating electricity dotted the landscape for miles along the roadway.

I was glad when we finally pulled into our driveway. Nice trip but way too much time in the car for 2 days.

Our summer started out wet, then we went through a dry period. Lately, it's been very hot and stormy. When Chicago and Milwaukee got flooded with rain last weekend, we got a fair bit ourselves. So much so that there was some water in the basement again. Hubby and I woke up early on Saturday morning to our weather radio going off warning of another severe thunderstorm headed our way with 70 mph winds and heavy rain. Even though hubby had been home sick with some bug since Thursday, he was out in our front yard digging our drainage area deeper to keep the water draining down from the street from coming toward the house and going into the basement. We only need this extra drainage when we get dumped with large amounts of rain. The ground was already saturated from several days of rain. We really need to come up with a better drainage solution for heavy rains like this.

After all that effort, the storm broke up before it got to us. We did get more rain before the front moved through our area. In the evening, another line of storms moved south of us. Inside the house, I noticed the rosy colored light coming in through the windows. I grabbed my camera and went outside to see what was going on. Here's what the sky and clouds looked like. Very odd!

After all the rain, our zucchini and squash plants have been producing like crazy. The bad thing is the squash bugs are doing their thing so I doubt the plants will be around much longer. I detest squash bugs!

The first tiny tomatoes are turning red, peppers are setting, the corn is tasseling and beginning to set ears, and green beans are almost big enough to pick. Yum! I've cleaned out my freezer and am busy freezing produce for the winter. It's cheaper and better than store bought and I know exactly what's in it and what's not (no GMOs, no pesticides, no herbicides, no made made chemicals of any sort). You can't get better than fresh picked from the garden. Second best is visiting the local farmers market. I do that too for things that we don't grow.

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