Lights of the Lakes Hell Week I

Monday — Appleton and Kimberly

During the week of September 10-16, I delivered twice as many Lights of the Lakes shows as I used to do in an entire year in the beginning. Due to aggressive marketing the previous month, I booked a slew of programs, and this was the week that the first of them came due for presentation.

I left early on Monday morning, September 10, headed for Appleton. I was scheduled to do two shows on the same day at Century Oaks Assisted Living on the north side of Appleton. I arrived on time and set up for the first show at 10:00. Fifteen seniors attended this show.

Century Oaks Assisted Living – Appleton, WI
Century Oaks Assisted Living Entrance
Century Oaks Assisted Living Sign

The shows were held in theater-style rooms normally used for bingo and watching movies. After packing up my equipment at the first building, I drove over to their other building and set up for the second show. I had over an hour to spare, and the activity director, Maja Glidden, offered me lunch. I accepted, and had the house meal of spaghetti and a fruit cup.

I presented the second show at 1:00 to a smaller group of eight residents.

That evening at the motel, I wrote into my journal:

6:20 pm – Quality Inn, Appleton. Up and out by 7:00 am to begin Lights of the Lakes Hell Week: six shows in one week. How did I do this to myself?

Today’s two shows were at Century Oaks Assisted Living in Appleton. They have two separate buildings about a block away from each other. I did a show in each one. The morning show, attended by 15 people, was at 10:00. The afternoon show, attended by only 8 people, was at 1:00 pm. I was packed up and out of there by around 2:30 pm. It was nice to get paid the day of the show.

With another show scheduled tomorrow morning in DePere, I decided to spend the night up here rather than driving home today and coming back tomorrow morning. That saved me almost four hours of useless travel. I just got back from eating a fish fry in a nearly-empty Applebee’s on College Avenue in Appleton. The Millennial employees “working” there didn’t seem to take their jobs very seriously. They were mostly smokin’ and jokin’ with some college students from their own cohort. I sat there, overdressed in business casual wondering what they thought of this old geezer who had invaded their territory. But, the place is open to the public.

Upon leaving Century Oaks, I drove to Kimberly, where I spent the night at the Quality Inn & Suites.

Quality Inn & Suites, Kimberly
Quality Inn & Suites, Kimberly

Tuesday — DePere

Leaving Appleton behind, on Tuesday I headed to DePere, a southern suburb of Green Bay. Timing my travel to allow for some down time, my first stop was the Kress Family Library in DePere. I love libraries, because they provide good work areas, are usually quiet, and have free-wi-fi.

Kress Family Library
Kress Family Library

This was my first-ever visit to DePere, and I was impressed with the town. While there, I wrote into my journal:

11:05 am – Kress Public Library, DePere. Left the motel in Kimberly about 9:45 and headed to DePere. Killing time at this library while waiting to go to Renaissance Assisted Living for my 1:00 Lights of the Lakes show.

With lunchtime approaching, I left the library and headed to nearby Voyageur Park on the Fox River. Not wanting digestion to cause me problems during my afternoon presentation, all I had for lunch was an apple liberated from the motel breakfast room.

Voyageur Park, DePere
Voyageur Park, DePere
Voyageur Park, DePere
Voyageur Park, DePere
During my lunch break at the park, I wrote the following on a small notepad, which I later typed into my journal:
12:10 pm – Voyageur Park, DePere. On an absolutely gorgeous September day, with sunshine and temps in the low 70s, I’m writing at a picnic table overlooking the Fox River. I’m about to eat an apple from the motel for my lunch. Don’t want to eat too much, and risk burping during this afternoon’s show. Besides, I read somewhere recently that eating an apple is as good as drinking a cup of coffee to keep you awake and alert.

Halfway through my apple. It looked fine on the outside, but part of the inside is rotten. Some little Asian kid is throwing a fit as he follows his father across the bridge to my left. People are fishing nearby, and a young mom holds her baby, with a toddler at her side. A couple of young women visit with each other at the table on my right. Just smashed a chigger that was scooting across my paper napkin from McDonald’s. I always keep a supply of them in the glove compartment of the car.

The gals on my right just left. They were eating lunch in the park. Great place to go on a super day to be outside. The young mom is getting ready to shove off as well. As am I.

After eating my apple, I took a walk onto the nearby bridge overlooking the DePere Lock on the Fox River.

It was soon time to head over to The Renaissance DePere, site of my afternoon Lights of the Lakes show. The show was attended by about twenty Renaissance Assisted Living residents.

The Renaissance, DePere
The Renaissance, DePere

Side Trip to Kewaunee

After finishing the show and packing up at The Renaissance, I headed for Kewaunee, Wisconsin, about 20 miles east of Green Bay. I’d heard about a new metal roof being installed on the Kewaunee pierhead lighthouse, and it was a nice day for photography. Even the light was right for an afternoon shot at this destination. Everyone knows that I love to photograph Great Lakes lighthouses, and I seize every opportunity to improve on my photos, especially those featured in Lights of the Lakes.

Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse
Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse

While waiting for the light to soften, I stopped for dinner at the Waterfront Bar & Grill in Kewaunee and chowed down on a mushroom and swiss burger washed down with a Spotted Cow. I felt out of place among a handful of construction workers and other blue-collar types, still dressed for my presentation.

Waterfront Bar & Grill
Waterfront Bar & Grill

My trip home was a hassle, because Highway 42 was closed somewhere north of Two Rivers. I had to take a time-consuming detour, which led me slowly through the north side of Two Rivers into Manitowoc, where I was able to pick up US-10 and eventually get back to I-43. It was almost dark by the time I got home. Long day!

Wednesday — Waukesha

No rest for the wicked. Another day; another Lights of the Lakes show on tap. Today’s show was at Mission Creek in Waukesha, before another audience of assisted living residents.

Mission Creek Entrance
Mission Creek Entrance
Mission Creek Residents
Mission Creek Residents
Before leaving for Waukesha, I wrote into my journal:
10:45 am – Another day, another Lights of the Lakes show. Today I’m off to Mission Creek in Waukesha. It’s not too far from GE Medical in Pewaukee, so I at least know the area somewhat. The problem is that by the time I’m done with the 2:30 show, packed up, and ready to leave, the afternoon rush hour will have started on the Milwaukee freeways. That means I’ll probably do better taking the old back roads way home at that time of day.
The trip home from Mission Creek brought on my second traffic hassle in a row. I went up County Highway T past GE Healthcare where I used to work, only to find out that the ramp off Hwy. 16 to Capitol Drive was closed. The detour led me on a wild goose chase through the western suburbs. I didn’t have my phone with me, so I couldn’t use GPS to find out where I was. I just kept driving east and north until I got to someplace I recognized. That turned out to be Pilgrim Road near Silver Spring. At that point I knew how to get home on a familiar route.

Thursday — Day Off!

Thursday was the only day this week that I didn’t have to go somewhere to do a Lights of the Lakes show. I worked my way through a to-do list, so little rest or relaxation came to this weary road warrior.

Friday — Janesville

New day; another trip to do a Lights of the Lakes show. Today’s trip was the longest of the week, over two hours one way. It was made even longer by the fact that I didn’t know where I was going, got off an exit too soon and ended up in a construction bottleneck. When I got to Janesville, I also had trouble finding my way through an unfamiliar town. At least I had my phone this time, and was able to its GPS to get me there. Even after leaving home about a half hour early, I got to my destination, Cedar Crest, four minutes late. My client was standing in the lobby waiting for me when I arrived.

Cedar Crest, Janesville
Cedar Crest, Janesville

Tammy Fatla was really nice. After the show, she even took a stack of my business cards and offered to give them to her peer activity directors at an upcoming conference she’s attending in Stevens Point. That kind of help is very valuable and sincerely appreciated!

After leaving Cedar Crest, I headed for Jefferson, WI and checked into the Rodeway Inn there. I also called my daughter Julie, who was meeting me for dinner at Heron’s Landing in Jefferson. Julie picked out this restaurant, and we enjoyed a nice father-daughter dinner there.

Heron's Landing Restaurant
Heron’s Landing Restaurant
 Before leaving for Janesville this morning, I wrote into my journal:

I’m looking forward to dinner with Julie tonight. I even have a present for her: two New Kids on the Block “Chillin’” comic books. The first one, Issue #1, is from December, 1990. The other one is Issue #3 from February, 1991. I brought these back from Michigan when I was there in May for Tom Moeser’s funeral. My sister Sue gave them to me to give to Julie.

9:55 am – Maps made and printed so that I can find my destinations for the next two Lights of the Lakes shows; one today in Janesville and one tomorrow at Waupun. Kathy is preparing cards for Julie and writing a birthday check.

Saturday — Waupun

My last gig of Hell Week was in Waupun, Wisconsin. I left the Rodeway Inn in Jefferson about 8:30 am, grabbed a quick breakfast at the McDonald’s on the corner by the motel, and headed north on Route 26. This was a pleasant drive through rural farm country. Little traffic, nice weather, and only an hour’s drive today. Along the way, I stopped and photographed a rustic barn that caught my eye:

Barn near Juneau, WI
Barn near Juneau, WI

When I got to Waupun, I stopped at the library to catch up on my email, since the wi-fi in last night’s motel and my MacBook Air didn’t play nice together.

Just before noon, I drove to my destination, the Old School Museum in Waupun. My host for this show was the Waupun Historical Society. Members of other area historical societies were also in attendance. It was a small group of about fifteen people.

Old School Museum, Waupun
Old School Museum, Waupun

Whew! And that was the week that was.



1 Comment

  • Howard Vrankin

    Nice blog, Phil! You’re living the good life, following some of your passions and doing some good things for others as well, with your presentations.

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