Vacations are meant to make great memories

Vacations are easier when you’re not the one driving.

Got back recently from five days in Wisconsin with family and friends. Now I’ve got so many memories floating through my mind it’s hard to think straight. Memories of what just happened plus all the memories those few days fired up.

My husband’s family lives in the Cadott area, which is, according to the welcome-to-the-city sign, halfway between the equator and the North Pole. I’ve never figured that out, but I believe. I met him when both of us worked at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, and when we married, we lived on the shore of Lake Wissota, a 40-acre, give or take, man-made lake.

You know how when you go back and see something you loved, you sigh and say, we never should have sold that. Well, we never should have sold that. Hind sight is a killer.

I spent two of my five days with my husband’s cousin, Bev Ramseier, and her husband, Pud. Paul, really, but he’s always gone by Pud. He is part of a Century Farm that just made the 100-year designation, so I wrote a story for them for the local paper.

Now, I grew up on a farm and I spent a lot of time outside in the Iowa summer sun, but I nearly melted when we were inside the dairy barn. I couldn’t stop the “glow” dripping into my eyes.

The home farm is situated among a host of Ramseier family homes, even cousins, but just to the north of it across the county road is a huge area with pines trees and shrubs so thick no one goes into it. That and the fact that bears have taken to living in there. These bears forage any place they want, and often want a trip to Pud’s pond.

He drives his Gator out to the pond and to pick sweet corn and potatoes. “Started out there the other day,” he said. “Went around the corner of the shed and there was a big bear just standing there. I didn’t have to go that bad.”

He teases his daughter-in-law, who walks for exercise up and down another county road and takes her little dog. She goes along with the teasing, saying her dog is bear bait. She used to say that until the day she turned around and saw a big bear crossing the road not far enough behind her. She called her son to come get her.

From Cadott, I drove over to Oshkosh for a mini reunion of co-workers at The Northwestern, then on Saturday headed home. I couldn’t look fast enough to take in the beauty. On the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River at La Crosse, just as I turned north, it was so beautiful my heart was beating a mile a minute and I couldn’t even look. Road construction is one thing, but other drivers wanted to be right where I was.

I’ve always loved La Crosse. I feel at home there. Content. Even with other cars crawling up my behind.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at