Monday, October 8, 2012

Walk and ride

(My last post about fall was from 1983; I'm zipping ahead to 1998 in this one)

We have lived in Utah for 12 years, and though there are some things I miss about the Midwest (SuperDawg and Leinenkugel's top the list), we don't miss the weather. Winters here aren't as cold and not nearly as snowy, May is absolutely gorgeous, summer is hot but not humid, and fall so far has been sunny and warm. That said, I miss the Midwestern fall, particularly the northern Wisconsin fall. The temps here in Salt Lake stay warm into October, it briefly cools off into sweatshirt weather, and then, it's winter. In other words, true fall is truly short. I don't mind the extended summer, but if winter is going to happen, you might as well enjoy the fall.

While living in Wisconsin, we didn't get up north in the fall to visit Lori's family as much as I originally thought we did. I can remember three fall trips and that's it, and one was a weekend to Wausau in which I was a zombie after working very late on Friday night (and it was my birthday weekend -- past the peak colors). Fall weekends were so dominated by Wisconsin football that if we weren't seeing a game, I was likely working the days around it. But in 1998, we made it to the Northwoods for a memorable, and tiring, weekend.

We had already planned to visit Three Lakes that weekend, which also was Eagle River's Cranberry Fest. We bought new bicycles that summer, and one of the Cranberry Fest events was a 30-mile ride through the woods at the most colorful time of the fall. The ride was scheduled for Sunday, and when we were pre-registering, we discovered we got a discount for also signing up for the 10-mile walk. Being adventurous, we registered for both.

The walk was nice though tiring. It started in town on a gorgeous morning, found its way to one of the many lakes, included a boat ride across said lake, then returned back to town. Years later, we would end up going to the same park the boat landed at with Michael when he was little, and also hike by a resort we stayed at twice last decade. We got free ice cream at a gas station, then shuffled back into town. I had brought my Walkman and was listening to the Wisconsin football game (playing at Indiana; the Badgers would barely win) and giving Lori updates. We got back to the festival tired but feeling a sense of accomplishment.

The bike ride was even prettier, winding through the back roads southwest of town. We felt great through the first 20 miles of it, but the tour turned hilly and drained any remaining energy we had. We got back to the festival exhausted, but we didn't have too much time to rest: We had to drive home to Madison and I was working at 4 a.m. the next morning.

Despite our fatigue, this was one of my favorite fall weekends from my 12 years in Wisconsin. Today, traveling back to the Midwest in the fall is near impossible -- between soccer, school and work, fall is so busy. The leaves in the mountains change colors and are pretty, but it's a narrow window before they start falling. And the leaves down here in the Salt Lake Valley are unpredictable, particularly when it's warm one day and cooler the next. Maybe one year we will make it back and get Ben to do the hike and Michael the bike ride (which, despite the length, he would love). In the meantime, we have our own fall memories to make here in Utah.

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