I don't have many regrets in life, but not having a camera ready at Chicago airport to capture a memory is one of them. I guess I'll just have to make do with the internal grey matter. Here I was struggling to carry my oversized bags, fighting through the hoard of passengers all vying for exit, eager to get here and there. It was getting to the part of the trip where the constant battle with other passengers was no longer entertaining. There standing in the distance, head above shoulders of the many, was this tall bloke, wearing a pure white stetson, its brim sitting perfectly horizontal upon his head. A warm smile and an open hand to shake hello greeted me. It was Max Wastler.
Like all my hosts for this trip, it was Max who'd organised this leg of the journey, and unbeknownst to me I was in for a special treat. We wasted no time at the airport and headed into Chicago proper to hitch a ride with a beer expert friend of Max's called Michael, who at times reminded me of a hillbilly version of Fidel Castro.
We loaded up the wagon and headed to Wisconsin to eat cheese curds, cook Wisconsin steak and stay at the phenomenal Camp Wandawega. I was a tad drained by all the Kentucky fun, the travelling and the late nights talkin' world savin' stuff so I dozed off to the sounds of American hip hop. The beat of gritty hip hop, I'm sure was replaced by the dulcet tones of my dull roaring snore. I woke as we pulled into a grocery store/mega supermarket to stock up on wine, as Castro had loaded up the wagon with mostly beer, of which I don't drink much of. We made one final stop to grab squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds and some of the largest steak I've ever seen. Pulling into Camp Wandawega was like entering a movie set. It was Americana perfectly preserved thanks to the passion of David and Tereasa. The place just oozed authenticity, mostly from Tereasa's hard work foraging yard sales and thrift stores for peices of history that now fill the rooms of Wandawega.
I cooked a basic meal of mega sized steak (my first for a few years) covered in a red wine onion sauce, with a side of bacon wrapped asparagus. My cooking set off the smoke alarms and soon the local fire department and Sheriff arrived. What a gas.
We had fun and drank nice beer, cider, wine and whiskey well into the evening around a pit fire. One by one we headed to the beds of the camp for a heavy sleep. I ended up in a bunk bed, cosy and feeling like a kid again, Wandawega has a way of allowing you to be young again, and I applaud David and Tereasa for doing such a fine job. And of course, how could I forget to thank Mad Max Wastler for giving me a memory I'll never forget.