Wisconsin, Portland Snow Storms, and Yet Another Move

It had been two years since I had been home to Wisconsin for a visit with friends and family so I decided it was time to make a pilgrimage to America’s Dairyland the first week of December, before it got too cold and snowy. Getting ready to head out for a ten-day vacation was a bit more stressful than imagined but after wrapping up things at work, packing, and dropping Cole off with friends, I soon found myself being shuttled off to the airport by a dear friend. After a very quick layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, I safely landed in Madison, Wisconsin where the air temperature was a chilly thirty-four degrees, a significant difference from Portland at the time. Shortly after de-boarding the plane, I grabbed my luggage and quickly headed for the rental car pickup counter. In no time at all, I was on the road, headed to my favorite dive bar, Topp’s Hideaway in Windsor, to see my first round of friends and take in a traditional Midwest Friday night fish fry.

At Topp’s Hideaway

 On Saturday morning, after crashing at a friend’s place in Windsor, I headed to the west side of Madison to treat myself to sushi at Takara, a place that just happens to have the best California Rolls I’ve found so far in all my travels. I had a little time to kill before my next meet up with friends, so I drove by my old apartment, the one I had been living in last before moving to Oregon, to see how it was doing. As much of the city, it appeared as not much had changed so I headed downtown to wander around the state capitol building and take some pictures. Unfortunately, my camera went on strike, apparently it did not appreciate the cold Wisconsin temperatures, so I had to make do with my iPhone. After exploring each level of the capitol building, I met up with a friend at a new microbrewery, Octopi Brewing, that had opened in Waunakee. After sampling a flight of beers, I was off again and headed to Middleton to see my favorite local jazz pianist at Louisiannes. After a dirty martini and a delicious appetizer sampler, I was off to meet up with some friends for dinner at Sa Bai Thong, my favorite Thai restaurant in Madison. It was fun catching up with everyone over the familiarly delicious food but before we knew it, we found the restaurant eerily quiet and it was soon clear they were closing down for the night. After saying farewell, a few of us girls headed over to a wine bar, Eno Vino, to keep the conversation going. A couple hours later, I found my eyes too heavy to continue with the festivities, so I headed over to my friend’s house to crash for the night.

Sunday morning snow

Sunday morning, I awoke to a winter wonderland of falling, fresh, white snow. I quickly took a shower and dressed in my Packers gear and headed out to make the one hour drive east to Delafield to meet up with my family for an early Christmas celebration. The drive was a bit nerve wracking at first, after all, it had been three years since I had to drive in snow but, I soon found it was like riding a bike and before I knew it, after grabbing some lunch at Culver’s, I had safely arrived at my parent’s house in one piece. The Packers game was in progress and my sister and her boyfriend had already arrived so it was easy to slip into the festivities; it almost felt as if I had never left. Throughout the night, we drank my dad’s famous brandy old-fashions, cheered on the Packers as they went on to win their game, exchanged presents, and ate a decadent dinner prepared fresh by my dad.

Packers Christmas with family
Monday morning, I said farewell to my sister and her boyfriend and once my parents were ready, we headed out to their local U.S. Cellular store to trade in their old flip phones and get them new iPhones. That process took a little longer than expected but once all the paperwork had been signed, contacts had been transferred, and accessories had been installed, we were off to lunch at Applebee’s next door to begin the training process. My parents had never used smart phones before let alone texting or Facebook. After a slight technical setback in the setup process, they were soon on their way to practicing texting, making phone calls, using FaceTime and so forth. I wish I had had more time to spend with them to get them better acquainted with their new phones but as in most of the trip, I was on a tight schedule and needed to say farewell and make the drive back to Madison to meet more friends for dinner and drinks. The night flew by and it was so good to see everyone and catch up with all the things that had been happening in my friend’s lives. Before I knew it, it was late, I was exhausted, and it was time to head to my cousin’s place to call it a night.

Dinner with friends at Bonefish
Since my cousin didn’t have to work on Tuesday, we had the entire day to hang out with each other. We ran a few of her errands before stopping at her favorite wing place, aptly named Chicken Lips, for lunch. We then grabbed a Bloody Mary at the Eagle Crest Tavern before heading north to see my sisters new house in Pardeeville. After getting the grand tour there and hanging out a bit, we drove to Topp’s Hideway (aka the best dive bar ever) to meet up with some more friends and watch my DJ friend host karaoke night. Before I knew it, it was time to take my cousin home. While at her place, I gathered up my things, and headed back to Topp’s to finish out my last night in Wisconsin, karaoke-style. After the bar closed, I got a room next door at the Super 8 hotel, and hung out a bit talking with a friend. In no time at all, it had gotten way too late and I had to say goodbye and get some rest.
A few hours later, with a bit of a headache, it was time to get up and get on the road. After checking out of the hotel, I stopped next door at the Mousehouse Cheesehaus to pick up some cheese curds for friends back home. Then I met up with some more friends for my last lunch in Wisconsin at Ha Long Bay. Again, it was great seeing everyone and catching up over delicious food. When the time came, I hugged everyone goodbye and headed to the airport to drop off my rental car and catch my flight back home.
Landing in Portland was a bit frightening, there were some strong winds that night that shook the plane around and even turned our stomachs a bit. Luckily our pilot could navigate through all that and we landed safely. My same friend who originally dropped me at the airport picked me up and took me to pick up Cole from my other friend’s place before taking me home. It was great reuniting with Cole, who expressed his excitement for my return by running around in circles, barking a high pitched, excited whimper, and essentially climbing me like a tree until he was in my arms and licking my face. It is my humble opinion that everyone should get to experience that kind of greeting at least once in their life, it’s a very special thing. After my friend dropped me and Cole at home, I unpacked, got in my pajamas and hit the sack.
Cole relaxing with me while I was sick
Thursday morning, I woke up with a cold. I wasn’t surprised, my trip had been a whirlwind six days of go-go-go, with lots of drinking and not a lot of sleep. I was relieved that it had held off until after I got home though so that I was fully able to enjoy my time in Wisconsin. I still had four more days of vacation time, originally slated for a road trip to Eastern Oregon, but since a snow storm was approaching and I was sick, I decided to stay home and simply focus on resting in the hopes that I would be feeling a lot better by Monday when I returned to work.
Unfortunately, that did not happen. Saturday and Sunday nights, I was unable to sleep and was experiencing mini-panic attacks every time I dozed off. I had the feeling that if I were to allow myself to sleep, for some reason, I would stop breathing. After 48 hours of not sleeping, I went to urgent care on Monday morning, desperate for their assistance. They gave me some medication for the anxiety, which also helped me sleep, did a chest x-ray to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia and monitored my heart and oxidization rates while I dozed to make sure I was getting enough oxygen and that my heart rate was ok when I slept. The medication did wonders and soon I was feeling a lot better. Since I couldn’t drive on the medication they gave me, a friend picked me up from urgent care and drove me home. Once home, I slept for eight hours, woke up to eat dinner, and then went back to sleep for another ten hours. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling so much better and went back to work to begin the long process of catching up on all that had built up while I was out of the office for eleven days.
By Wednesday though, we had more snow in the forecast. I had left early for an appointment that day. It was already snowing heavily (by Portland standards) when I left work for my appointment and by the time I was done with that, the traffic was almost at a standstill. It took two hours of slipping and sliding but I eventually made it home without any incidents (or accidents). A lot of other folks in the city were not that lucky. Many people slid off the road, into other cars, while others had to abandon their vehicles because they couldn’t get up hills. Unlike Wisconsin, Portland does not use salt on the roads. The whole city shut down and most folks enjoyed a snow day at home on Thursday and even some on Friday too since most schools were still closed at that time.

My new home
I had gotten word on Wednesday night that my application for an apartment I had looked at earlier that day on my lunch hour had been approved and that I needed to take possession of the unit by Friday in order to get the special concession they were offering. Having one day to prepare, I spent a good chunk of time on my snow day making arrangements to move to my new apartment. I managed to get everything in order including packing all my belonging before I left for work on Friday morning.
At 1:00pm on Friday, I signed my lease and by 7:00pm my helpers had arrived in St. Johns to load up my belongings and by 10:00pm, everything had been unloaded into my new apartment in downtown Portland. Shortly thereafter, a friend and I headed out for celebratory cocktails and food a few blocks away at Luc Lac. My new apartment is conveniently located just across the street from my work so my commute is now a two-minute walk instead of a 45 minute drive. It’s much easier to walk Cole whenever I need to and my stress level has significantly been lowered by the move. I’m excited to start cooking at home again and can’t wait to host my first party on New Year’s Eve. It’s amazing how much can happen in such a short period of time. 


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