June 16 - 22, 2016 - Buffalo Bob's Big Polish-American/Canadian Adventure
LEG I: June 16 - 19
WI-FI, but no time - Well I think it's time that I reveal my travel plans. I am planning to attend America's largest Polish festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's one of those things I have had on my bucket list; life is short, so I'd better go now before I get any older. Along the way, I will spend a night in Toledo, then visit the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, another bucket list item. I especially want to see the Steinway piano that Ignacy Jan Paderewski played in his cross country tours. Paderewski is someone I have greatly admired all my life. Unfortunately, my visit will be brief and I am sure I won't have sufficient time to take in everything there is to see. Looks like I may have to return in a year or two.
You can follow me here or on Facebook. Please bookmark this page because some photos will be posted here that will not be posted on FB. (I have a feeling I will not be posting much throughout the trip however. I will have WI-FI but I won't have time.)
Time, but no WI-FI! - Instead of returning the same way I will drive Milwaukee, then I'll head north up along the western shore of Lake Michigan to the Wolverine's State's Upper Peninsula for a little camping and biking in Hiawatha National Forest. I hope to be able to bike at least part way to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. Hopefully, I will have good weather, but if it rains I will have to drive. I don't expect to have any WI-FI or phone service at Hiawatha.
The rest of my trip will be through Canada. I will cross the border at Sault-Ste. Marie, then head east to Espanola near Sudbury, then south do Route 6 to the ferry at South Baymouth. The ferry ride is one hour and a half to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula north of Wiarton. I'll spend my last night there on Georgian Bay. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a short bike ride, but maybe not. Then I'll continue south along Route 6 toward Hamilton, then cross back into the States at Lewiston-Queenston. I don't want to dawdle on the way back because I have family things to do when I get back home, including my grand daughter's birthday party and our annual family bike ride along the Lake Ontario shore. So basically, I will have visited all five Great Lakes along the way. Good times!
There are so many wonderful things to see at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago.
I am glad I finally had a chance to visit. Of course I will have to return some day.
Thursday, June 16
Rochester to Toledo - I went to bed early last night, but woke up at three AM ready to hit the road. I left town at 3:00 o'clock full of energy. I have a GoPro camera mounted on my dash so took some video along the way. The weather was good although I ran into a nasty rainstorm east of Cleveland. Fortunately it didn't last long.
I know where I would to live in Ohio if the need ever arises. I had a bit of time to kill so I decided to I visit the National Museum of the Great Lakes in the town of Vermilion near Sandusky. Beautifully crafted signage guides you from I-90 to the museum's location. Vermilion looks like a fun place, especially if you like boating! Everywhere you look there are boats -- kind of a Midwestern version of Venice, Italy. They say it's a city, but it looks like a town to me. Nice place though, lots of festivals going on. Too bad the museum was closed. :-(
Here are some photos:
The rest of the ride to Toledo was clear sailing, although it was windy and drizzled lightly a time or two. The afternoon was spent exploring the old Polish section of the city, which included a trip to Stanley's Market for some Polish treats. I did have one problem, however. Serious bike problems, and I don't that he time, tools or desire to deal with it. I took the wheels off and stuffed it in the back seat of my car and put the bike rack in the trunk. I'll take care of it when I get home.
In case you were wondering: I paid $2.259 for gas in Rochester. It was $2.539 at the Flying J just south of Toledo. I was mucho surprised.
Polish in Toledo - For years I have had a page for Toledo on this website but no photos of my own to share, until now.
St. Hedwig Catholic Church
Historic Mother Parish of
Friday, June 17
Toledo - Chicago - Milwaukee: I understand it is a four and a half hour drive to Chicago, the another hour and thirty minutes to the Double Tree in Milwaukee. I don't know if I will have time to update tomorrow, but I'll try.
UPDATE: Chicago traffic can be a problem, but finding the Polish Museum of America was no problem, and they had plenty of parking. I poked around the neighborhood a bit and liked what I saw. The museum houses some very impressive items. Many of their treasures were originally a part of the Polish Pavilion collection displayed at the 1939 New York World's Fair. (Thank you, Kasia and Adam for the tour.) Hopefully I will get around to writing more about their collection when I have more time. Here's a quick look:
UPDATE: I made it safely to Milwaukee after an inspiring visit to the Polish Museum of America. I'll be heading over to the festival site soon. Updates will be hit and miss from here on in. Looks like I'll have lots of work to do catching up once I get home. Take care. PARTY!!!
So tomorrow will be a full day at the fair. I wonder which batteries will die first, mine or my cameras? Any bets?
Saturday, June 18
Full day at the fair: At the moment, I am in my hotel room taking a break from all the activity. The fair opened at noon and I go there early ready to go. I videotaped a number of performances by Radość-Joy (Toronto), Polonez (Hamilton), Syrena/Syrenka (Minneapolis/Milwaukee and Lajkonik from Chicago. All performances were stellar. It's unfortunate I was not able to tape everything, but then again I shouldn't because you need to attend these of folk festivals to see it all for yourselves. By the way, I am only able to tape bits and pieces. There is so much to see I can't even come close to covering it all.
Before leaving for my hotel, I got high. What I mean is I took a ride on one of those sky-rides to videotape the entire fairgrounds from above. Why invest in a drone when you can have the thrill of risking your life for just $5.00? So much easier!
In the wings
EVENING UPDATE My body's batteries were drained by 7:30, so I am back in my hotel room posting the last few photos and getting ready for an early departure. There is a beautiful Polish church not far from here, so I'd like to attend Mass there before heading north to the Upper Michigan Peninsula. I have no idea how long of a drive it is. By the way, despite having updated my GPS before leaving, it hasn't worked since Ohio. I have maps, so I will be fine.
I would like to thank JG for inviting me to room with him during the festival. I also leave Milwaukee and Chicago with a very favorable impression of the people. Everyone was very friendly. Take for example the lady at the hotel who recognized I was an out-of-towner on my way to the festival site and suggested I follow her to make sure I would not get lost.
There is much goodness in this world.
This concludes the Polish portion of my adventure. The second part should be a good time too, but I think I will just post videos of the second leg of the journey. The videos won't be done until ??? Dobranoc.
Thursday, June 23
Here are two good videos. A separate festival video page is now complete. CLICK HERE.
"Begin to make hay: rain will fall the same day"- from Reymont's "The Peasants" (Chłopi)
others following him one after another, in a slanting line, for fear of accidents. So they cut their way into the mist-covered meadow with a steady rhythmical advance, their cold blades glistening, with a swish at every stroke, and forming long swaths heavy with dewdrops.
The breeze rustled in the grass; overhead, the lapwings screamed more and more plaintively: and they, rocking their bodies from right to left, mowed on unweariedly, conquering the meadow foot by foot. Only now and again did one or another of them halt to whet his scythe or straighten his back, and then once more he mowed away with a will, leaving behind him ever more and more numerous swaths.
Before the sun had risen above the village, all the meadows echoed beneath the strokes of the mowers;: the blue steel of the scythe-blades flashed everywhere; everywhere could be heard the stridulous clang of the whetstones; everywhere the strong perfume of mown grass was inhaled.
It was a perfect weather for haymaking. An ancient adage says, indeed: "Begin to make hay: rain will fall the same day"; but this year it was quite the other way round. Instead of rainy weather, there was drought.
The days began moist with dew, and yet parched, like a man in fever; they ended in nights baked with heat. Some wells and rills had been dried up; the corn was turning yellow, the plants withered away. Countless insects assailed the trees, which began to cast their yet unripe fruit. Cows, returning hungry from the sere grass of the pastures, had ceased to give milk; and the Squire allowed none to graze their beasts on his clearings but those who paid him five roubles a head.
Very many had not so much cash to pay him.
But, setting aside these particular inflictions, the hard times usual before harvest were this year harder than ever.
They had reckoned on rain falling surely in June, and the field crops benefiting thereby: nay, money had even been offered for Masses to that intention. And now, some had really nothing to put in the pot!
Vol.3 SPRING, pp. 314-315; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow
Pulling off their spencers and tucking their breeches up, they formed into line, and thrust the scythe-handles into the ground, to sharpen the blades with their whetstones.
"The grass is as thick as the wool of a fleece; some of us will sweat soundly," said Matthew, who stood first, testing the sweep of his scythe.
"Thick it is--and tall!" said his neighbour. "Well, there'll be plenty of hay."
"Yes, if the weather be fine," said a third, glancing up at the sky.
"When you are mowing a meadow, rain always is ready," remarked the fourth, with a grin.
"The saying's not true this year!--Come, begin, Matthew!
They all crossed themselves. Matthew tightened his girdle, straddled forward, spat on his palms, took a deep breathe, and launched his scythe far into the grass, plying it with swift strokes; the