I went on an adventure today.
When I first retired, I thought I would go adventuring all the time. But it turns out that when you retire, your responsibilities accompany you. There are still bills to pay, still grass to cut, still a house to clean, and still groceries to buy.
So I settled into a retirement routine in which the best part of the day was just plain old puttering, with an occasional auction thrown in to make my heart beat a little bit faster.
But today I had a plan for adventure. Call it thrift-a-riffic. I was going to rummage around the Coulee Region and beyond. And I did just that, burning a tank of gas and the whole day along the way.
My thrifting began, as it usually does, with a rummage sale in my own neighborhood. Then I moved on to La Crescent where it was citywide mayhem as folks were scooping up bargains all around town. Could I do any less?
No, so Mason jars and assorted other treasures accompanied me back to La Crosse.
With a stop at home for a peanut butter sandwich, I set off for Viroqua, where the rummage ad promised an aluminum Christmas tree.
It was there, and now it’s here, along with quite a few other treasures the couple was ousting from the house because they’d gotten married and she had to empty her basement of decades of collecting to make room for his stuff.
Why is it always the precious stuff women collect that gets ousted?
But I digress.
From Viroqua I moved on down the road to La Farge, which is at the fringes of my Coulee Region driving ventures. I had been here before, but not often.
I found the Schoolhouse sale I’d seen advertised on Facebook and really started filling the car.
I should have probably turned around then, content with croquet mallets, but it was a beautiful day and this was my adventure, so I followed my Googlemap instructions and headed for Sauk County, which I’m pretty sure I had never set tires in before.
The scenery didn’t change much — just as pretty as the Coulee Region with lots of cornfields, an Amish woman with a friendly wave as she fetched the mail, and the pungent aroma of cow country.
That’s when I started noticing the tortured route Googlemaps had sent me on. Oodles of County Highways named “V” and “H,” “Q,”and even “EE.” And there were some lovely rural offshoots — “Chicken Hollow,” “Scotch Point,” “Dutch Hollow Road” and “Stepla Hooker.”
I’d not enjoy a “Stepla Hooker” address (one can only imagine), but if destined to be a resident of the countryside, I’d likely choose the evocative “Chicken Hollow” for my street address.
But I digress.
I was tiring of the bucolic countryside, so at the intersection of EE and Q, or a similar combination, I saw a sign that said “Reedsburg, 20 miles,” so I made the turn. And then I happened into Wonewoc and County Road FF which promised a barn sale two miles hence, so of course I turned.
And that’s where I got turned around. I did find the barn sale, but in backtracking I lost my bearings. When I stopped at a gas station to check my map, I discovered Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, but no Wisconsin, so I asked a man at the diesel pumps how to get to Reedsburg.
“Get on that road and keep going and you’ll get to Reedsburg.”
“What is the name of that road,” I asked, because I like to be armed with information, especially when I’m being pointed back in the direction from whence I’ve just driven.
“I don’t know,” he said, “But just keep on that road.”
So I did, and it turned out to be Hwy. 33 and it did indeed take me to Reedsburg, where an estate sale awaited.
Alas, no treasures were to be mine at that sale, so as the time had meandered onto the 2 o’clock hour, I stopped at Culver’s for sustenance and directions to I-90 since I was ready to hasten the end of my adventure.
It was then the manager informed me they had discontinued their chicken salad sandwich and that surely La Crosse and other locations would soon follow suit.
“But I love the chicken salad sandwich,” I cried in dismay. “Nobody makes a better chicken salad sandwich.”
I was disconsolate, but, again, I digress.
Another employee gave me elaborate directions on how to get to Hwy. 23 which would then get me to I-90.
After following those directions for 10 minutes, I decided to turn around and start again at Culver’s. It was there I discovered that Culver’s is located along Hwy. 23. Did she really not know she drove to work daily on Hwy. 23?
So I headed east on Hwy. 23 and connected with I-90 at Lake Delton, only to realize with dismay that this was Labor Day weekend and traffic was extremely heavy. You see, when you are retired, your entire life is a three-day weekend, so holidays don’t mean much except there are a lot more people cluttering up the roads when you go out to run errands.
To compound the traffic jam, this was move-in day for UW-L and I got to inch along in dropping-the-kids-at-the-dorm traffic.
But finally I did make it home — nearly eight hours after I set out — and I had such good luck thrifting that I plan to do it again tomorrow, this time sticking a bit closer to home.
Look out, La Crosse, I’m coming for your castoffs.