Aug 16: Q & A

Aug 16: Q & A

[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on August 16, 2004]

Hello again. I'm enjoying my day off here at Dreamtime Village, which is a community of artists and craftspersons who moved to the unincorporated town of West Lima to start a community and basically homestead on unwanted land. For more information, read the excellent anthropological study at .

Now it's time for Q & A! Hooray!

Q: Do you do email at libraries, or via cell phone?

A: I had planned on mostly using my PalmPilot for e-mail, using its modem and an inexpensive Internet provider with dialup numbers all over the country ( Although this works great when I'm within local calling range of one of the dialup numbers, the rest of the time it's impractical. (On my last bike trip, I dialed long-distance to my Minneapolis ISP and racked up a very impressive phone bill.) So I'm using Web mail at libraries and other public access points more often than I expected. These also give me the ability to upload photos as I did yesterday.

Q: Do you eat the sweet corn raw? I think you said you weren't cooking on this trip.

A: That's right, I prefer it raw. Even some farmers have never tried it that way; one who watched me eat an ear said he intended never to find out whether it might be better raw. Apparently some people have trouble digesting it.

Q: Regarding dietary fat, how about peanuts or peanut butter?

A: Up until a few months ago, I ate peanuts all the time, but then I realized they were making me sick, so I've cut way back. Now I'm eating sunflower seeds (shelled) instead. I guess they have some fat, but not like a good ol' fried breakfast. :-)

Q: Have you had much trouble with mosquitos, ticks, etc.?

A: Very little. The two state parks I stayed at were almost mosquito-free. The worst campsites were the fur farm -- no surprise, right by a river -- and the walk-in campsite where I stayed Saturday night, just outside Sparta, WI. In both cases I was the only stationary person for miles. I put on repellent as soon as I stopped my bike, then put on my headlamp and my mosquito hat over that (since if the headlamp goes on second it collapses the netting against my skin) and pitched my tent. I've gotten probably 5 bites total, and seen no ticks at all.

Q: How are you getting your photos into the computer?

A: Although a friend lent me a digital camera for the trip, I haven't been using it much because I like to have negatives I can keep and store. So that's my backup camera... mainly I'm using a film camera and having the photos developed straight to PictureCD. That allows me to upload them to Yahoo or elsewhere from any computer with a CD-ROM drive, and I can make prints from the CD at little kiosks in a lot of photo shops, supermarkets, etc.

Q: What's the deal with your phone service?

A: On my last bike trip, through Iowa, I sprang for AT&T's cushy Digital One Rate plan (where you pay the same price no matter whose signal you're using) but found that I had AT&T brand service most of the time. Silly me, I assumed that two years later that would be the case in Wisconsin as well, so I stuck with the plan I used in Minneapolis. Turns out the phone companies have moved on to a newer technology called GSM, which my phone doesn't support, and AT&T never implemented digital service in Wisconsin. So I've been basically roaming nonstop since I left Minnesota. Effective today I'm back on the One Rate plan so I can finally return some calls, but when I pass through Appleton next week I'll see about getting a newer phone -- which would pay for itself in a matter of months by allowing me to use a cheaper calling plan.

Q: I notice that the Yahoo! group description says "This is an announcement list" but also it is configured so "Anyone can post". Is the latter intentional?

A: Yep. If you attempt to post to the list, the message will just go to me.

That's it for now! --Ben


to Dreamtime Village, West Lima, WI

to Dreamtime Village, West Lima, WI

I began the day on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.  There were other ways to go, by road, but I wanted to check out the (former railroad) tunnels along the path.  The trail maintains a maximum of 3% grade, so it's much easier going than the roads alongside.  There were places where the railroad grade towered at least 200 feet above the landscape on either side!

I left the trail at the little town of Norwalk, whose twin mottos are "Gateway to the Tunnels" and "Black Squirrel Capital of the World."  I didn't see any squirrels, but the logos were cute.  I got an early lunch and prepared for the road portion of my ride.

The route I had chosen bypassed the town of La Farge via a local road.  This seemed like a good idea on the map, and it looked that way for the first mile, but then the pavement gave out and I had to climb a long, steep hill on gravel, pushing the bike.  So that wasn't fun at all.  But I still wound up arriving at Dreamtime Village at about 5:00.

I knew that Dreamtime Village is primarily a community of artists, but I wasn't sure what that would mean... it seems to mean that a bunch of individuals do their own thing and cooperate when they get around to it.  I was looking forward to sitting in on the group meeting tonight, but it's been cancelled because one of the key players is out of town.

The building I'm staying in has been very elaborately and artistically painted but not well maintained; a plumber or handyman in the community could really improve the facilities.  But the gardens are lush, the animals are surviving, and they're eking out a living in what was a ghost town.

Total distance: 38.2 miles


Dreamtime Village

Dreamtime Village

I spent the day today at Dreamtime Village, resting and preparing for the coming week and basically hanging out. Two of the men took me into La Farge with them to the post office and grocery store, both of which I'd been meaning to visit.

I walked around the village this afternoon to get a better feel for the place and succeeded: this place has a real post-civilizational feel to it. The people who live here don't dominate it; they just share the land with the other critters. The weeds and bugs can have anything the people don't currently care about maintaining, whether it's a plot of onions or an old Bookmobile. There's an old school bus full of milk crates of files... who knows? The old school building was pretty intensively decorated by the artists until its roof started leaking and the asbestos started coming out of the walls.

I was having trouble connecting with anyone until the teens came home from Madison where they'd been participating in the annual dumpster-diving festival. Zon And has lived here most of his life and is a budding computer geek, so we talked computers for a couple hours. Another teen has a room here but lives most of the time with her father. The character of the place really changes with kids around! It's so much less sombre.