Day 9: Wausau, Wisconsin

Well there is a nude beach near Mazomanie, hence our last cliffhanger post -- and in the morning, after leaving Don and Verna's house, we headed over to it. It was a little brisk out, and with thunderstorms the night before, there was no one on the beach. But the 3/4 mile walk to the sandy land on the calm Wisconsin River was peaceful, and the location so gorgeous -- we took a dip until we were too cold to bare -- I mean bear -- it anymore.

Wausau was a special stop on our trip, as we got to visit my Aunt Babs, Uncle Tim, Cousin Tricia, and Great-Grandma Robbins. We had a lovely time seeing them, family we don't get to see very often, and our relaxing time with them was complemented with a tour of town. We even got to tape up some rough edges on our rig and test out our rain rig in the comfort of a familiar home. But we had to keep up with the purpose of our project, so we set out to downtown Wausau to find a place to stay, all of us unsure whether to hope for luck or not so we could stay back at Aunt Babs and Uncle Tim's house.

The park in the center of town was supposed to have a concert, but the music got moved indoors in the afternoon with predictions of rain. By the time we got to the park around 7, the concert was in action but a number of people had decided to just remain camped out in the park -- if you bring lawn chairs and a picnic, why go inside? So we got to meet some interesting folks sitting outside, and although they were very friendly and proud of the community, the first few people we spoke to just dodged our ultimate question -- not a negative thing, necessarily, but certainly interesting. A little later, Sarah and I ended up speaking with two different groups at the same time, and unknowingly, we both got yes's at the same time -- from a relaxed single guy named Ty, and from an older couple, Chuck and Sue, who were petitioning for Chuck to run for local government. After some discussion and Chinese food, we ended up taking Ty up on his offer. We'll never know what we missed with Chuck and Sue, but we had to go with the first person to say yes.

And we had a great time, a very relaxing time in fact -- casual constant conversation with Ty and his friend Dawn (while Dawn's kids slept on the couch), a comfortable futon, then a great breakfast of chocolate-chip-cinammon-clove pancakes (made by Sarah) and eggs with tomatoes and onions (made by Ty).

We have one of our longer driving days today, heading down to Decorah, Iowa, where we're doing our first night of Couchsurfing. We're looking forward to a new experience and conversation about how hospitality via the internet creates community and comfort, and maybe even a pot luck dinner.