I still hadn’t quite gotten into the rhythm of my Dateline posts yet on day 2 but things were beginning to develop a bit.
Dateline Eau Claire Wisconsin –
I can’t say that today’s drive was especially pleasant. It consisted mainly of Indiana farmland, stop and go traffic all through the greater Chicago area (which put me off my time table so I did not stop), and rain throughout rural Illinois and Wisconsin. Interstate driving in the dark and in the rain, which was the last hour from Wisconsin Dells to Eau Claire, is not one of my favorite activities but Hope handled the road with aplomb. Large indoor water parks seem to be all the rage in Wisconsin Dells. I did not stop to investigate. I think I’ve gotten to the lazy river age rather than the screaming spiral.
So I find myself going back to my roots in an odd way. The stretch of Wisconsin between Madison and Eau Claire that I-94 runs through is the area of the country that my immigrant Duxbury ancestors migrated to around the time of the Civil War to become dairy farmers. There are still Duxburys in central Wisconsin who are distant cousins. I have no idea if they are still milking cows for a living. My Duxburys all pulled up roots en masse around 1910 and moved to the Pacific Northwest for somewhat obscure reasons. I’m sure there’s a good story there but I don’t know it.
You forget how big this country is until you have to drive thousands of miles and realize that one interstate exit is very like another and that Hampton Inn is about the same in every state (and my Hilton Points are mounting…) Not much else to say about today. Finishing up volume 13 of The Wheel of Time on audio (my third time through the complete series) and should be well into the final volume 14 by the end of tomorrow. Not sure where that will find me. My guess is somewhere between Bismarck ND and eastern Montana.
I will add one short story here. There seems to have been a general exodus from central Wisconsin to Washington state just before World War I. There’s a rather creepy book called Wisconsin Death Trip full of morbid news clippings and photos about the area at that time and it makes it all sound very Gothic horror so maybe they were all running from something. My Duxbury fore bearers all ended up around Southern Puget Sound in various small towns (my grandfather’s family choosing Olympia). My grandmother’s family, the Crandalls, also from this part of Wisconsin independent from and not knowing the Duxbury clan, ended up in Everett. They had originally chosen Spokane but when it came time to make the journey, none of them was sure how to pronounce it so they made a last minute decision to head to Everett instead. They could pronounce that one. Odd to think that my existence depends on a hundred and some year old moment of geographic illiteracy.
When the Crandalls arrived in Everett, they were just in time for the Everett massacre and my great grandfather was deeply suspicious of the Wobblies and labor violence. He packed the family up again and they high tailed it to Oregon after just a few months. My grandmother and grandfather ended up meeting in the greater Portland area about fifteen years later. They married there before returning to Olympia. It takes generations of mistakes, coincidences, moves, social movements, and historical events to create every one of us.