I was on my way home from Madison, after watching my buddy – Nils – compete in and complete his second Ironman. For some reason, I wasn’t paying attention to the modified route iPhone was taking me through. Just as I was making up my mind to take the next exit, turn around and follow my usual route (Madison – Green Bay – Houghton), a sign for the town of Portage caught my eye. Gears started spinning in my head and I did take the very next exit – to a rest area to ensure the gears were indeed spinning in the right direction. Turned out they were, and with barely a single bar for the cellular network, I was able to confirm with Wikipedia that neighborhood of Portage, Wisconsin, was indeed where John Muir’s family first settled when they immigrated to the US in 1849.
I stopped at a couple shops – one each in Portage and Montello asking for more information about John (if I may so take the liberty of referring to him by his first name; I feel like I have known him forever). I drove back and forth a couple times between these two towns looking for any signs in honor of John. For some reason, I was expecting a grand gesture/sign on par with John’s contributions, and as such, I didn’t make much of the signs for a John Muir Memorial County Park. With not much luck and with time running out, I returned home empty-handed but with hopes of doing a better search for what I needed and seeing John’s house the next time I had an opportunity to visit Madison area.
Fast forward two months
Now on my way to Madison to participate in the Madison Marathon, I pulled into the John Muir Memorial County Park and got out of the car. I had done my research but hadn’t found a whole lot of information about the whereabouts of John’s house. I did learn, in the process, that Fountain Lake is now called Ennis Lake. I asked a cheerful looking lady who seemed to be finishing her hike do you know where John Muir’s farm house is? The lady, named Toby (a current resident of Connecticut I later learned), acknowledged she didn’t but thought her mother did. Unfortunately, neither did her mother.
But upon learning that this was my bucket list item, the lady took down my phone number and offered to do some search on my behalf – so that I’d have an improved chance of seeing it on my way home on Monday. A little later on than a few minutes, she called me with directions! I went and saw the entrance to the farm house and was on my way down to Madison.
Toby called me again few minutes later and asked did you go into the house? Having seen the no trespassing sign, I said I hadn’t. But apparently she had spoken with the current owner of the property and guess what, he wanted to meet with me! The owner turned out to be a kindhearted gentleman, and a former resident of our very own Keweenaw Peninsula! A lovely little conversation ensued about what we do and how John had impacted (and continues to do so) our lives. I got to see the house where John’s family house once stood. And now I have a new friend in Wisconsin – a place to stop and share a conversation and a meal with. I hope I get further opportunities to visit this place and spend more quality time.
Thanks be to
the beauty of randomness and the kind lady from Connecticut that made my bucket list item – a couple months in the works and many years in my dreams – her priority for no obvious benefit, and helped me check it off!!
EXIF and other information
|Date and Time||2015-11-06 15:35:43|
|GPS Date and Time||Image does not include relevant information|
|GPS Location||43.6906 N, -89.3954 E, 715 ft (Goolgle Map: Pin | Directions)|
|Lens||AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED|
|Focal Length||18.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 27.0 mm)|
|Shutter Speed||1/125 second(s)|
|Hyperfocal Distance||2.89 m|
|Focus Distance||2.82 m|
|Depth of Field||91.05 m (1.43 - 92.49 m)|
|Field of View||67.0 deg (3.73 m)|