Monday, July 26, 2010

Oshkosh 2010 - Day 0

A lot of preparation goes into a week at Oshkosh. For one thing, comfortable clothes and footwear need to be gathered. The Van's shoes have to make the trip, of course, just for their name. It's usually hot and humid up there, so I try to get as many loose-fitting and outlandishly colored shirts as I can. Most of my stock was getting pretty worn out, so I had to make a trip to Wal*Mart to replenish my supply. On a Saturday morning. Ugh! But better to get there early than to wait until Saturday afternoon, so we combined it with a trip to the Farmers Market. The market is also good to get to early; I nearly wiped out my favorite vendor's stock of pickling cucumbers.

Wal*Mart is always a treat, but this trip was extra special. As I was trying to find the most outlandish shirts possible, I was approached by an older woman driving one of those three wheeled electric scooters.

"Perhaps you can help me with something," she said. My first thought was naturally "Uh-oh." It's hard for me to imagine how I can possibly be of any help whatsoever. Was it a problem with the scooter? Did she want me to carry her groceries out to the car?? Nope, she wanted me to help her pick out a men's belt. She stated that she was clueless on the question of how to determine the correct size. Well then. That's pretty easy: the last belt I bought was adjustable. Just set it to your size and cut off the extra length. Not with these belts, though. They had waist sizes on them. "Well that's even easier!" I told her ."Let me see one you've got there."

44 inch waist, according to the tag.

"Well, what's his waist size?"

"36 inches. I'm sure of it since it's for my son and I buy his clothes."

"Perfect," says I, "let's go back and pick one out."

Mightily, I labored. We looked at black belts. We looked at brown belts. We looked at waist sizes from 34 to 38 inches, comparing them against my known waist size. It went on for at least ten minutes, until she finally announced her decision.

"I'll just take this one," she informed me, as she brandished the original 44" belt.


Packed and ready, Co-pilot Egg and I got a good night's rest and awoke ready and raring to go early Sunday morning. Well, I did at least. She was dragged bodily from her bed unceremoniously at 6:00 am and we managed to get on the road by 7:00. It wasn't a horrible drive at all. Downtown Chicago was uncharacteristically benign and we made it through with only one momentary pause. We had a horrible time on the toll portion of I-94 between Chicago and Milwaukee last year, so this year I decided to pass on the privilege of paying for the opportunity to drive on a slow, torn up highway (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Bringing American Highways to a Screeching Halt) and just stayed on hwy 41. Sure, there are stop lights on 41, but that's not much different than stopping to pay toll. Except for the toll part, natch. The big electronic information board just before the split between 94 and 41 was predicting a 55 minute drive on I-94 to Gurnee; we made it in far less than that on 41. Score!

We arrived in West Bend at about 1:30 in the afternoon (after accounting for the one hour time change), so we made it in 7 1/2 hours. Pretty good!  We had an open afternoon in front of us, so I cranked up the laptop and spent a little time looking at maps. Looking due east towards the lake I found Port Washington, and the satellite map looked like there might be a beach there. Nothing to lose, really, although we were a little tired of driving, but the alternative was a boring afternoon in the hotel room. We opted for the drive to Port Washington. It turned out to be an excellent decision, not that the number one standing in trout and salmon catch was going to be any kind of boon to us. Scenic, though.

Egg was fascinated by Capt. Gorton's biography:

No. Not really. I think it was a monument to generic fishermen of the region. You'd have to ask her - she's the one that read the informational stuff.

There were a lot of ducks. There was a sign that said the ducks were attracted to Port Washington because it is a "hot spot." That seemed tautological to me. Unless "hot spot" referred to a climatic condition and wasn't just another way of saying "there are a lot of ducks here." Egg was watching a mother duck and her duckling try to climb up on the rocks to ostensibly bask in the hot sun.

I think this was by far the smallest boat in the marina.

I found a MacGregor 26. It was already my dream boat; the egregiously bad pun only served to seal the deal. What? You don't get it? Here, let me Google it for you.

luff  (lf)
a. The act of sailing closer into the wind.
b. The forward side of a fore-and-aft sail.
I'm just going to have to hope you're aware of the Elvis Presley song that the pun is based on.

We even managed to find the beach. It was just a few, convenient steps down below the cliff.

Yep, just a few steps.

Copy cat: I think he was trying to write his nickname too.

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