Day 8: Mazomanie, Wisconsin

We are sitting together near the computer in the downstairs portion of Don and Verna's home.

There is a hot tub outside waiting for us. And an American flag themed room just behind us with all of our equipment perched on the carpet.

Today was awesome. The town is tiny - the people friendly. Don and Verna made us their friends almost instantly. They took us to a concert  in the park where we ate giant cream puffs and listened to the editor of the local newspaper rock out with his band. Then we went to a wine bar and met a few more friends, talked for a long time - comfortably and casually.

Don and Verna are lovely. As simple as that. So accepting and trusting and interesting. They used to run a small two-room Bed and Breakfast and the idea of trusting strangers is not unfamiliar to them.

Mazomanie is somewhat divided between the old and the new: those who have lived here their whole lives, and those who have recently moved here, each with different approaches to turn the small town into a small town with thriving businesses. There are the stores on the highway like Gordon's, where we ate lunch and spoke with the owner about business slowing down, and a tough year with a break-in and a vehicle actually  running into the restauarant; versus the stores in the historic downtown, like the cafe that, for its manager Pat, is part of the fresh growth the give the little town a huge push. Our conversations with local business owners created a lot of questions about who will benefit most from a stronger downtown, and who needs the benefits as well.

The first four people we talked with weren't as receptive to our experiment as the people in Roscoe and Avoca, similarly small towns with similar demographics, where our hosts were the second or third person we talked to. We wondered if we were doing something differently -- maybe we've lost some of our nervous charm as we've become more comfortable with our idea -- as it's become a routine. But our first conversation with Verna brought us back to how we felt on Day 1, as she said yes without question, surprising both of us. Maybe the people are changing with us.

Today felt different. For a lot of reasons. The conversation between us, the interactions, our nervousness returning. It felt great.

Tomorrow: Nude Beach.