Nearing Madison, Wisconsin, in early July.
THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE our summer. The summer to explore. The summer of no broken bones and physical therapy and health crises. Three years in a row of challenges left us yearning for a good summer. Randy and I already had tentative plans to spend time in Madison—where two of our adult children live—and explore that region of Wisconsin.
Plans to spend more time outside of Minnesota this summer changed. This sign is located at the entry point to our state near La Crosse, Wisconsin.
But then COVID-19 happened and all summer plans vanished. Poof. Just like that.
Along the interstate in Wisconsin in July, returning home to Minnesota.
Now, rather than discovering Wisconsin, we are simply traveling from Point A in Faribault some four hours to Point B in Madison. And once there, our activity is restricted to visiting with family. No touring museums. No dining out. No anything that will put us in contact with the general public.
I never tire of appreciating and photographing the beautiful farm sites in the valley east of La Crosse.
Except we still have that matter of needing to stop at interstate rest stops en route and back. The newly-constructed one in La Crosse gets a gold star rating for easy access and overall cleanliness. The eastbound one near Mauston…won’t ever stop there again.
One of my favorite barns looms on a hillside along the interstate near Madison.
A longer trip like this also requires one gas up. While Randy filled the van in Madison, I went inside to grab a bottle of lemonade, and then waited in a long line marked with social distancing circles. Most customers were complying and wearing masks. (This was prior to Madison, and now Wisconsin’s, mask mandate.) But then two unmasked young men walked in and stood right next to me. I gave them a look, looked intentionally down at the social distancing circle and then back at them. They got the message and stepped away. No words necessary.
A farm in Amish country in southeastern Minnesota.
It’s interesting how, in a global pandemic, even stopping to get gas or pee or to picnic raises concerns and takes thought. And care. Masking up, grabbing hand sanitizer, dodging people… I’ve never felt so anti-social.
Wisconsin offers plenty of places to pick up cheese as seen on this interstate sign.
East of La Crosse and in the Wisconsin Dells area are particularly stunning rock formations jutting from the landscape.
Anyone remember supper clubs? Every time I see this sign along the interstate, I think, “I want to dine there.”
All of that aside, wouldn’t you just love to hop in your vehicle now and drive away from it all? Drive to see loved ones. Drive to explore some interesting natural place you’ve never seen before. Dine out. Stop at cheesy attractions. And I mean that literally when it comes to Wisconsin. Or drive away into the future, when no COVID-19 exists.
Look at all the places these campers have traveled.
Westbound on the interstate, nearing La Crosse.
More campers…saw lots of those in July on the interstate in Wisconsin en route to and from Madison.
I expect some of you have gotten away. Still vacationing. Still traveling. If that fits your comfort level and you’re being careful, then good for you. Just be mindful of mandates and quarantines and everything you can do to protect yourself and others.
A lock and dam on the Mississippi River by La Crosse, on the river that separates Wisconsin from Minnesota.
Life goes on. Even in a lockdown. And as cranky as too many people seem over restrictions and shutdowns, I’m grateful for those requirements. Health and safety are more important than temporary inconveniences or sacrifices or whatever argument spewed. I don’t need to send more sympathy cards to friends who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. I’ve already mailed two.
Nearing Claremont, Minnesota, as the sun sets upon our return from Madison.
Maybe next summer will be my summer to explore Wisconsin…
TELL ME: What did you intend to do this summer before COVID-19 changed your plans? Or did you continue as planned? If you could go one place right now, where would that be? How are you coping with everything?
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling