Thursday, July 13, 7:20 a.m. – Departed from the Super 8 Hotel in Wautoma, Wisconsin.
The Atmosphere’s Mood
Morning Conditions – Temp – 70* with low humidity / Wind – Light out of the NNW / Skies – Low overcast, mist and fog. Cold front passed in the night.
Afternoon/Evening Conditions – Temp – Reached a high of 78* with low humidity / Wind – W at 10-15 mph / Skies – Partly cloudy throughout the day, overcast by evening.
6:15 p.m. – Arrived at the Eureka Dam Campground near Eureka, Wisconsin, 24.7 miles, 52,500 steps, 18 miles remaining.
- The Divine Cold Front – When cold fronts pass, they bring cooler air. Brilliant, I know. More importantly, they generally bring drier air. In very humid air, the human body’s cooling mechanism can’t work very well. When the air is dry, sweat evaporates, taking body heat with it into the atmosphere. When the air is saturated with water vapor, the sweat can’t evaporate, meaning that heat can’t dissipate, and we get to be uncomfortable. Even though there was only a 5 degree temperature difference between today and yesterday, the drier air made me feel as if I had super powers! I can assure you I, I do not…
- The Willow Creek Creamery Cheese Store – This little cheese store was a great place to stop and take a midday break. More than just a store, the cheese is actually made onsite; you can watch through the window as its happening if you like. Delicious, fresh cheese and a cool breeze across a shaded bench under a roof overhang. How could I ask for anything more?
- 37th Avenue – I had walked on busy State Highway 21 for nearly 20 miles when I turned and went south on 37th Avenue heading toward the Eureka Dam Campground. Almost immediately, the noise and percussion of heavy traffic were left behind me. Even though there were still more than 4 miles left to walk, I could feel my body begin to relax. It was like taking a cool dip on a hot summer day. This peace and serenity didn’t last for very long, but it was really appreciated while it did.
- Eureka Dam Campground – When I talked to Jan (owner of the Eureka Dam Campground) on the previous evening, I could already tell she was my kind of people. There was something easy about the way she spoke, and I felt confident that her campground was going to be a place I would enjoy. Arriving there, I was not disappointed. A simple, quiet campground on the banks of the Fox River, I could not have asked for a better place to camp on my last night on the road. I had my choice of campsites, and chose one next to a small tributary of the main river channel. It offered a westerly breeze and view of the sunset that were both so fine, I could scarcely believe how lucky I had gotten. I fell asleep to to the burbling of the river and the sound of the wind in the trees, smiling at my good fortune.
37th Avenue’s Inhabitants – 37th Avenue is really a narrow, paved country road with occasional farm sites adjacent to it. The first part of it was a walk through farm fields and open country with a moderate wind bowing from my right to my left. It truly was beautiful. About a mile down the road, the picture changed. The road was hemmed in on both sides by hedgerows of trees, effectively preventing the wind from getting to it. It was then that they showed up: mosquitos. Not just a few of them; hundreds at a time! At first, I tried to beat them naturally. I would hurry to open areas where the wind would discourage them or carry them away from me. Before long, though, I simply couldn’t take it. Even stopping for 20-30 seconds to get the bug repellent out of my pack and spray it on was nearly unbearable. If I smacked my arm with an open hand, I might easily kill 5-10 at once. The repellent helped, but not nearly a much as stepping out into the open breeze on the last half mile of the walk. Little demons! They sure can ruin a good time…
Lessons Learned – Trust your instincts. That little voice inside of us is almost always right. Our job is to listen to it. From talking to Jan, I knew that the Eureka Dam Campground was likely to be my kind of place. I can’t explain how it works; sometimes we just know. As human beings, we ask a lot of questions because we want all the answers. Where we often come up short is in having the patience to listen for the answers. Sometimes, we just have to shut up!