Saturday 9th November
It’s Badgers game day so I’m proudly wearing my game day bibs as kindly donated by Tristin. He’s coming back from working night shift as a doctor in Green Bay this morning and joining me at our tailgate. My good friend Scott from Lambeau tailgate lot 1 attends a Wisconsin home game once a year and for this season it’s Badgers-Hawkeyes. I take a Lyft at around ten to the UW-Health car parking lot to catch up with him and his Iowa friends. Tristin joins us around an hour later and we have a fun morning mingling with fans from both sides. A guy off Facebook messaged me with a tailgate offer a few days ago so Tristin and I say goodbye to Scott and the others before heading off to meet Ian, who owns a Badgers ambulance. It’s great to catch up with him and his tailgate mates and Dan who I met in Texas live after the Packers win against the Cowboys joins us with his son. Dan has taken a keen interest in my adventures and we both enjoy meeting up with each other again. Funnily enough I also bump into a guy called Jacob whom I met on a Medellin walking tour when I was traveling around Colombia back in July. As it’s getting close to game start Tristin and I walk towards Camp Randall, arriving in plenty of time. The Badgers return to winning ways in a 24-22 scoreline but it’s not as convincing as previous home games this season with Iowa making a comeback but thankfully the Badgers hold on for victory. After the game we stay in the area around the stadium making new friends who find my story fascinating. We end up in a karaoke place where I sing Down Under and then take an Uber back to Tristin’s place. Hopefully the Packers can return to winning ways tomorrow afternoon too.
Sunday 10th November 200 KM 120 M
It’s Packers game day - but I’m still in Madison so I quickly put all my things into my car to drive back to Green Bay. I check my phone and see a message from Tristin who left the house earlier. There’s quite a few Packers fans on the way to Titletown and the traffic gets heavy as I’m getting nearer to Green Bay. When I arrive back at the house I get showered and ready. It’s gonna be a cold one today so I put on around six layers of clothing. Heather is watching Netflix in the basement so I have a brief debrief with her about my trip and then drive towards Lambeau. First task is to withdraw some cash for my ticket. My yoga teacher Jen has arranged a ticket for me but it’s not a donation but I’m not too bothered as I have been given so many freebies lately. At the bank there are Boy Scouts raising money by charging a $10 contribution toward parking on the car lot so I park my car there and walk towards my first tailgate. I’m stopped by a couple of people that recognise me and when I get to the Fromigos tailgate there is no one to be seen. The guys message me and have packed up and gone to a bar - technically I arrived several hours late! Next stop is the Lambulance with Brad and Sandy. I get to meet Sandy’s sister and brother and learn more about a good mates family background. I’m not there long as I have to meet up with Jen and her crew, whom also have a Packers ambulance, which is called The Meat Wagon. The ticket I’m sold is at face value in section 135 row 8 and on resale it would go for a lot more money. Again I leave this tailgate after a short while as I’m gonna be serving Shotski at Lot 1. Scott is pretty drunk when I arrive yet he still has No Shave November badges for me to sell to raise money. There aren’t too many Panthers fans here today but the ones I do see I try to get them to come and have a drink. It’s good to catch up with the likes of Jon and Matthew plus Colleen and I talk about how cold the weather is compared to LA last weekend. As I’m walking into the stadium I’m provided with some hand warmers for my gloves, kindly donated by a young lady. I eventually take my seat on the first play and despite it being only half past three in the afternoon it’s already getting dark. I’m sitting next to and around Jen, husband Ryan and good friends Matt, Melissa and Amber. It’s nice to finally meet Ryan and we chat a bit as he used to own a Crossfit box in Appleton for several years before selling it and moving on to functional bodybuilding. Ryan also shouts me a coffee which is most certainly needed as it’s so cold. And it’s not too long before the snow starts falling. The last time I saw snow was actually during my first trip to Green Bay back in January 2013 and the last time I lived somewhere and saw snowfall was my last winter in England back in 2008. I’m loving the snow and the others find it funny how much I’m fascinated with the snow flakes. But I’m not loving the cold. Despite wearing several layers and thermal leggings and socks I’m freezing by half time. Jen, Ryan, Melissa and I walk over to the area that the Tundraline perform and some dancing warms me up slightly. I really enjoy like most Packers fans watching the Tundraline - today they came to the area where the Lambulance is located so I get to see them twice. At half time the Packers have a small lead in a 14-10 scoreline but another Aaron Jones touchdown and a Crosby field goal give the green and gold a 10 point cushion. Jones‘s touchdown tally goes up to 14 for the season and combined with holding up Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey inches short of the goal line helps the Packers return to winning ways after a disappointing loss in LA last Sunday afternoon against the Chargers. Overall the Packers are 8-2 in what is turning out to be a really good season to follow the team. I walk back to The Meat Wagon with Jen, Ryan and Matt the latter of whom kindly drops me off at where my car is parked. Next to the bank car park there is a Vietnamese restaurant so I have a hot and spicy Pho noodle soup to warm me up. Once back at the house I get to meet up with Heather and Nick and chat with them both about the game and my travels. It’s not only been a long weekend but a busy couple of weeks traveling around the country. I’m glad to be back with my host family and have a nice comfortable bed to sleep in again.
Monday 11th November
I’m up at half 8 and I’m soon on the radio with Josh Dukelow on WHBY Appleton to catch up over the last weekend of games and the previous couple of weeks of travels around America. The last time I was on the radio was after the Packers win against the Chiefs in Kansas City but Josh wasn’t well so it was with producer Zach. It’s good to speak to him again and we chat about the weather, my visit to LA and how the Badgers and Packers both produced narrow wins. Also I give a shout out to Jodi and Tristin who respectively donated me tickets for the Packers-Chargers and Badgers-Hawkeyes games. Josh has been a good supporter of my adventure and he even raises my No Shave November efforts to his listeners. Next weekend is a Packers bye so we will probably catch up after the next game which is in San Francisco in a couple of weeks time. I spend the rest of the morning relaxing and working on my website. For lunch I pick up a carry out from Applebees. I have never visited the restaurant and I order a healthy sandwich and salad which isn’t too bad at all. During the afternoon I continue to work on my website and do some organising for the next Badgers game, which is on the road against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. I’m driving to Nebraska but as it’s a long straight drive from Green Bay I’m breaking up my journey in Des Moines on the way there and Iowa City on the journey back, staying in Airbnb properties for my four night trip. Couchsurfing has been fun (and cheap) but it’s better to sleep on proper beds so that I get decent rest for the road. Dinner is a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal cooked by Heather. Afterwards I drive to Sobieski, 30 minutes outside Green Bay to catch up with my good mate Will and his family. I have previously met wife Alyssa and their four year old daughter Noora but have yet to me the newborn twins - Grant and Grace. Upon arrival Noora is heading to bed but the 8 month old twins are fast asleep. Will and I go into the hot tub which is heated to 102 degrees farenheint with a short journey in just swimming trunks in the freezing cold from his kitchen to the hot tub in the back yard (garden). But once you’re in the water it’s so nice and most certainly what my body needs after a busy couple of weeks traveling. Will and I chat about various things and then quickly nip back inside to watch the end of the 49ers-Seahawks Monday night game. Baby Grant wakes up and not only do I get to meet meet him but also cuddle and feed him milk. He’s quite restless even after his drink so Will takes over from baby duties. Eventually he falls asleep and Alyssa joins us for the last quarter of what turns out to be an amazing finish for the best game of the season so far. With only a few seconds left the 49ers rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin is the hero to level the scores at 24-24 at Levi’s Stadium and take the game into extra time but then misses a more straightforward attempt to win the game and at the other end the Seahawks kicker Jason Myers steals the game to give the 49ers their first defeat of the season. I end up leaving Will’s home just after 11 so it’s just before midnight when I finally get to sleep.
Tuesday 12th November
I don’t have much planned today. After breakfast I work on my website in the morning and for lunch I head to Taste Of India for their buffet special. As I’m sitting down I hear someone say “Hey Jaz”. I look up and notice Ryan. I met him at a tailgate party a couple of months ago and remember being told how he played for a team in the State Basketball League in Perth many years ago. I’m invited to sit with him at his table and I get to meet two young college players called Taulvish and Lou. Ryan tells them my story and I show them my schedule which they both find fascinating. The two young guys ask Ryan and I questions about Australia so in the process I get to learn more about Ryan, who also kindly treats me to lunch. Back at the house I have a lazy afternoon watching Family Guy. My mate James from Bay Port High School messages me and asks if I’m coming round for dinner. I completely forgot so tell Heather not to make dinner for me tonight as I’m heading around a mates place. The drive to the Radish family home takes just over twenty minutes, slightly longer than usual due to the bad weather (something which I’m slowly getting used to). It’s good to see James and Heidi and the two eldest boys Gavin and Logan but tonight I also get to meet the two youngest fellas, Braedyn and baby Owen. I can’t believe how big Owen is for an 8 month year old! I jokingly tell James and Heidi that he will make a good rugby player or a defensive footballer. I enjoy holding him whilst James feeds the others and Heidi does some organising. It’s pizza with salad tonight but I only have a couple of slices due to a big lunch and also I’m trying to be healthy. For entertainment the family have been watching Home Alone. James tells his kids that him and I remember watching this film a long time ago and I won’t forget how much I enjoyed this the first time that I saw it. We pause the film and it turns out that I’m gonna get some hot tub action for the second night in a row. It’s a bit more squeezed tonight with James and his three boys plus me but I still enjoy getting some rest and relaxation. Afterwards I read a bed time story to the three eldest and then say goodnight as they go upstairs to bed. James, Heidi and I chat for a bit, specifically how expensive it is to raise a family with childcare and health costs having becoming a major burden on budgets. I mention my volunteering at the food bank and teaching my students back in Perth about the growing “working poor” whom have been pushed into poverty. I’m getting tired so say goodnight to them both and arrange to meet up with James tomorrow morning for teaching cricket for Pirate Time. The drive home is non eventful but I have started listening to the UK and Irish Packers podcasts, which I’m really starting to enjoy. I get back home just after 9 and do some reading before heading to sleep.
Wednesday 13th November
I was planning on going to the gym for a Crossfit workout but I end up sleeping in until 9 and realise as soon as I’m up that I need to get ready for teaching cricket. It’s been snowing again and the weather has made the roads both slow and slippery. I arrive into the school gym at Bay Port during the first over (play) and I’m quickly back into it. There are a couple of new kids but most are regulars and they welcome me back nicely and I get a couple of positive comments about my moustache for No Shave November. For the first game one rookie student takes a hat trick with the ball and hits four runs batting, a great effort for a newbie. The second session of Pirate Time gets really interesting as one team makes 40 runs but the other team chases it down. At the end I bring them all in and tell the students how impressed I was with their energy, effort and enthusiasm. As always I acknowledge and thank Green Bay Cricket Association for lending the school their equipment. For lunch James and I nip to a Mexican restaurant for their lunch special with the guacamole being super awesome. Back at the school I leave James and visit another teachers class so that he can utilise his prep time effectively. The final period is a Sociology class on bureaucracy and the McDonaldisation of society, topics is which l studied as part of my postgraduate (Masters) degree. At the end of the last session I thank James for another good day at the school and make the drive back home. Heather is home and asks if I have checked my tire pressure after I tell her how slippery my car has been. There are two branches of Tires Plus in Green Bay but the closest one to the house in Ashwaubenon is busy so I drive to the east side of Green Bay branch. A young guy kindly puts the air pressure back to normal levels and the good news is the tread on my tires will last the winter saving me a bit of money. I just have enough time to head to Jenstar yoga for some meditation. The gloves that I left in The Meat Wagon are handed back by Jen and at the end of class she wishes me well for my travels this weekend. I stop for petrol (gas) on the way back home and upon arrival Heather is preparing another healthy meal. Jack has a bit of extra energy tonight so we try and prepare him for bed by talking quietly. Eventually Heather takes him upstairs leaving Nick and I to chat, something we haven’t done for ages due to my travels and being away from home for the last two nights. We loose track of time and it’s nearly ten when we say goodnight to each other. As per usual I do some reading then I’m off to sleep.
Thursday 14th November 700 KM 430 M
It’s 11 months to the day since I left Perth, Western Australia. What a journey and who knows where it’s gonna end. Heather and Nick advised me last night to get my car serviced for the long road trip to Nebraska so I’m up early to head to Woodman’s garage in Howard. Google maps say that they open at 7:15 but when I arrive I’m told by an attendant that it’s 8 for servicing so I head to the Pancake Place for a hearty breakfast. Nick’s mother Barb is a great fan of this place due to their amazing value for money portions and as a patron you will not be leaving this establishment either disappointed or empty. Once back at the garage I don’t have to wait too long for my car to be seen and it’s pretty quick for my car to get a basic service which only costs $28 - exceptional value for money, particularly when compared with back in Australia. Upon returning to the house everyone has left and I get showered and ready for my big road trip. I’m gonna be driving for just under 7 hours with a couple of stops to break up the journey. For the first two hours or so I’m traveling towards Madison, a route that have I got to know pretty well over the past couple of months and keeping me company is Annie Mac’s show on BBC Radio 1 from last Friday night. I stop at a service station just outside Madison for a restroom break then continue south towards Iowa. I listen to Armin Van Buuren’s ASOT show from last week and decide I will stop for lunch as soon as the two hour show is over. It happens to occurs at a small place called Monticello, a small town between Dubuque and Cedar Rapids whereby I stumble across a Mexican restaurant for a nice good value lunch meal deal. For the next stage of the journey I listen to Pete Tong’s Essential Selection with my final stop not far Des Moines to fill my car up with petrol (gas) and use the restroom. During the past couple of hours or so I have gone from snowy farmland in Wisconsin to the huge cornfields of Iowa. Heather and Nick noted that it would consequently be a boring drive for myself but on the contrary I find the journey reminding me of the many journeys in India from Delhi airport to our small town of Mansa in rural Punjab, passing through field upon field of wheat. I’m at my Airbnb house in Des Moines just before 5 and it’s a self check in by entering a code on the keypad. The owners don’t live here with all three bedrooms listed for rent and I have been assigned the middle room with the gold bedsheets - fancy. I spend the first couple of hours or so working on my website and making a list of things to do for my morning in the city tomorrow and Omaha later in the afternoon. Using google I find a sports bar to both have dinner and watch the first half of the Bears-Steelers Thursday night game. I return back to the house to watch the second half in bed and as soon as the Browns score their third touchdown to secure victory in the final few minutes of the game I turn off the lights to go to sleep. I’m so tired after a really long, busy day of driving.
Friday 15th November 320 KM 200 M
I’m up just after 8 and as my Airbnb host has provided eggs and muffins I decide to cook breakfast rather than heading to a diner. I’m gonna be driving around three hours to Lincoln but have some sightseeing to do first in Des Moines and then Omaha. It’s a short drive to the State Historical Museum of Iowa where I spend an hour or so learning about various topics such as the political importance of the state in the Republican and Democratic Presidential nominee. I walk over and take a quick photo of the State Capitol Building and once back at my car I’m off for the two hour drive to Omaha. After a light lunch at a fallafel diner I stop at a Malcolm X Historical Marker as the civil rights activist was born in the city. The Durham Museum is the main draw card for me as it was the former Union Station from 1931-71 with its great main building architecture and decor. Also the trains on display are splendid, especially those with sleeper compartments. As well as transport models there are Native Indian and Civil Rights exhibits and information on display in what turns out to be a busy couple of hours of exploring and learning. The old town is not far so I walk over and drink a cup of tea whilst working on my website. It takes a while to leave Omaha due to Friday early evening traffic but once out of the city it’s a short drive to Lincoln, especially as the speed limit is 75 miles per hour. I arrive at my Airbnb property just after 6 and once I’m settled I start listening to the Bay Port-Kimberley Division 1 semi final. It turns out to be an amazing game for the Pirates as they go 13-0 to set up a state title championship game with Muskego next Friday afternoon at Camp Randall, a game that I will most certainly be attending. I drive to an Irish bar for dinner where I also get to mingle with some Badgers and Cornhuskers fans. I don’t stay out late and drive back to the Airbnb house to get some rest.