In a word: rain
In 2 words: pouring rain
In 3 words: endless pouring rain
But enough of brevity. Exhausting as it was to drive yesterday, ‘rain’ wouldn’t describe everything.
Before we headed out of town from our first stop, Goodnight and I went back to the county records building. I had two more people to look for and I wanted GN to do the hunt, not because I didn’t want to, but because I wanted it to give her the sense of family connection. She was with me in the records office on Day 1, but we had just driven a good share of the day and hiked two cemeteries and she wanted to chill to her music and a cold beverage.
But she had a good night’s sleep after her swim and didn’t need to chill. She needed to get her nose in the books with me. She liked it as much as I did. We took all the notes we needed and headed out on the road. (The very wet road. The rain is going to be a theme here.)
Because of the weather, I asked GN to decide which way we drove. I gave her two choices: the direct route into Milwaukee, where I could do my research, or the scenic route with the ‘Rustic Road’ signs I knew were there. She chose the scenic route. I thought it was a great choice.
The scenic route found us off the interstate and on the hilly, curvy roads of the kettle moraine area of Wisconsin. I didn’t need a map. I’ve taken this route before. Even in the rain, it was beautiful. I knew why GN picked this route. She wanted to eat lunch at the Monastery Cafe at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill. My family has known this place since long before it got such a long title and with that kind of familiarity, we can feel at home just stopping for lunch. Though my ancestors were in the area at the time, they did not know the Hermit of Holy Hill.
I am usually quite nerdy about my travel plans, but neglected to check the hours of the Monastery Cafe. I had no idea if we were going to actually make it there before they closed. We had stopped at a thrift shop on the way just to stretch our legs and give me a break from watching my windshield wipers go back and forth, back and forth . . .
But we made it in time! The soup was still hot and despite the rain, the porch was open for seating. The windows were open and we could smell the rain.
We ate with the butterflies.
After lunch we both decided that we couldn’t leave without taking a look at the countryside from the third level of the church. the tower was closed to visitors because of the rain, so level three was as high as we could get. Even in the rain, I think it’s breathtaking.
After lunch, we ran into a carload of elderly Discalced Carmelites who live in the monastery. One, with a white beard longer than Santa’s, was curious about us, since there were not many tourists “on the ‘hill mid-week and in such weather!” GN and I stopped long enough to chat with him until his curiosity was satisfied.
Then we made the rest our Day 2 journey, found a place to stay for the next three nights (and the Luxembourg Fest). I wish I could say Day 2 was near an end at this point, but it was not.
Just when we were relaxing from the long day, the rain broke and the clouds parted. We grabbed our shoes and beat a path to the Chevro-sleigh and headed for the two local cemeteries we needed to find. I’m a good girl, but I’m not cleaning headstones in the rain! We found the plots we needed and got to cleaning up the stones. They were illegible because of the grass clippings and moss that collect in the crevices over time. GN likes to do the brushing. I’m in charge of the before and after photos and the note-taking. We are going to need a LOT of flowers for Day 3!
We only managed to clean the over two dozen family stones in the first cemetery before it started to rain again. We decided we were not going to the older of the two cemeteries. Cleaning family stones there involves hopping the fence first. I’m not keen on fence-hopping in good weather, but definitely not in the rain and definitely not a cemetery fence. Can you picture the obituary? “Grandmother dies from puncture by wrought-iron cemetery fence spire as she tried to hoist her girth over the barrier while granddaughter provided verbal support for the gravestone scrubbing adventure.”
The end of Day 2 found us taking a walk in the rain to a sandwich shop for a very, very late supper. Must scoot. Day 3 has dawned and I need to roll my sidekick out of bed. We are heading into Milwaukee this morning, after the I-43 rush hour is over. We are going to pay a visit to the historic St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church where two of my great-grandparents were married.