Wednesday 16th October
It’s just before 9 by the time I get to Bay Port. James has prep time second session but upon arrival at his classroom he’s nowhere to be seen - again! I’m back at reception (front office) and I hear someone shouting my name and look around to see him coming from the mail room. We walk back to his classroom and go through the class list and equipment in the sports bag. Over coffee in the social studies classroom we catch up over my past couple of weeks or so of travels - James has taken a real interest in both my personal life and football adventures around America. A former Bay Port graduate Alec Ingold will be playing for the Raiders against the Packers this Sunday at Lambeau and I’m gonna try and get James a ticket and hopefully even his wife Heidi one too. Unlike the last cricket Pirate Time a couple of weeks ago, we are in the gym. No theory this time - most of the student’s signed up the first time. But the gym is sectioned and one of the other classes is using a microphone, making it difficult to explain the rules to the new members of Cricket with Jaz Pirate Time. Thankfully the microphone noise eventually dies down so that we can enjoy our games. For the first session the school principal and district superintendent come and join in - both of them thank me for my efforts which is really nice and supportive. But more importantly both strike the bat with ball well and make a run! Some of the first session student’s stay for the second class whilst others join us. At the end of both sessions the students come and thank me and I explain that as cricket is a gentleman’s (and gentle woman’s) game, we must shake hands. It’s so kind to receive both generous and genuine complements from executive leadership, teaching staff and students not only for Pirate Time but also dropping into academic classes too. James has another prep time after Pirate Time and he takes me to his house to pick up some school items - it’s a nice, huge house located in Suamico, a suburb just north of Green Bay. As we are pulling into the driveway, James points out all the toilet paper in his yard - apparently this is a homecoming prank from some of the Bay Port students! We drive back to the school to drop off these items then pop to Gallaghers for the $10 buffet lunch - we are joined by several off staff members, most of whom are in the sports department, so they also thank me for coming into the school to teach cricket. Once we have had our fair share of food we nip back to the school for the last session of the day - James is teaching social norms and values in a high school setting by showing his Sociology class the high school cult classic film “The Breakfast Club”. The class will over the next week or so have an assignment and a test based on the film. After the school day is over I drive back to the house and have a nap. I have been invited tonight to a a musical called Hamilton in Appleton but before that I’m meeting a guy called Aaron who reached out to me on Facebook - he played for Lakeside in the SBL - Western Australia’s State Basketball League as an overseas import for two seasons. He’s now back in Appleton with a young family, teaching sports education at a local high school. Over a beer and some food I enjoy getting to know him and his journey, and likewise he finds my travels fascinating. I have a ticket for the Packers-Chiefs game in Kansas but no accommodation - a couple of Perth guys that Aaron played with now live in Kansas and he’s going to try and find me a place to stay for the two nights that I’m there for the football. This just keeps on reaffirming my love of Wisconsin hospitality. Just before 7 I walk over from the bar, which is actually called “The Bar” on College Avenue to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for tonight’s show. A woman called Julie reached out to me on Instagram and has kindly donated me a spare ticket - she went with her husband last Sunday and was going to go with someone else again but they couldn’t come so here I am. Hamilton is a sing and rapped through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The singing, acting and dancing is pretty amazing with the quality being the same high standard as I have witnessed in New York’s Broadway and London’s West End theatres. Once the show is over I thank Julie for donating me a ticket for tonight’s awesome show and head back to the house and as it’s late everyone is in bed. I find myself not too tired so I finalise my travel plans for the remainder of the year. I don’t have any plans for tomorrow so I’m up late before heading to bed.
Thursday 17th October
I’m hitting the road tomorrow for a long drive and on Saturday it’s a quick turn around after the Badgers-Illinois game to head back to Green Bay for Packers-Raiders on Sunday so today I aim to have a relaxing day. After breakfast I’m working on updating my website. I have a light lunch and finish watching on Netflix season 3 of GLOW. Then it’s nap time before driving to Jenstar for a Yin class with Megan. Once class is over, Megan and I usually check in on how I’m getting on - Jenstar have been really supportive of my adventure and helping me to find some relaxation through my practice at the studio and providing me with a discounted class pass. Today I’m chatting to both Megan and another yogi and in today’s session Megan talked to the class about trying to seek balance in life. I tell them about how that although I’m enjoying travelling around America, making new mates, watching football games, receiving media exposure etc I’m finding the eating and drinking culture unhealthy. They both agree that this is a downfall of Wisconsin as people tend to choose unwisely in these important aspects of their lives - I have certainly been doing that too for past couple of months! But I’m not here forever and it’s a once in a lifetime trip so I’m gonna go back to my old (healthy) ways once I’m back home in Perth. Upon arrival at the house dinner is again ready and served. I take a shower and pop over to Keggers to catch up with Barnie and Gini Haen - they are taking me with them and their daughter to the Packers-Raiders game on Sunday and wanted to catch up with me in the place that it all started. It’s nice to meet them and they ask me lots of questions about my background and travels. I’m gonna take them to tailgate lot 1 - it would be nice to take them to a couple more tailgates but Barnie has had an operation on his knee and can’t walk too far. I only have one drink then drive back to the house. Everyone is in bed and I watch the end of the Chiefs-Broncos game. Despite an injury to Patrick Mahomes the Chiefs win but if their star quarterback is out for a while then the Packers have a stronger chance of winning next weekend in Kansas. As soon as the game is over I’m off to sleep.
Friday 18th October 500 KM 300 M
I’m up around half 6 and have breakfast and get ready for my road trip to Champaign. My first task is to drive to the Fox Field House on Shadow Lane for a live TV interview with a guy called Justin. Before my interview I get to meet the Pulaski High School football team who are being interviewed as they are playing Bay Port today. I shout Go Pirates but wish them all the best for tonight’s game. My interview is on the first floor on a balcony overlooking Lambeau Field. I’m on air for a few minutes and it goes well. I get to meet a lady called Sue and I’m invited to yet another tailgate on Sunday. It’s getting tougher and tougher to keep up with all the pre game parties! After the interview I thank Justin for his time and Sue for the tailgate invite - I tell her that I’m gonna try and fit it into my busy schedule. The drive down to Milwaukee is non eventful and I decide to have brunch in a nice diner just off interstate 43. Two of the servers ask where I’m from and I show them a clip of today’s media coverage. They are really interested in my story, asking for my Facebook page and end up taking a photo with me. Whilst I’m at the diner I ring my mate Dennis up and ask if he can meet up with me in Chicago. I don’t need to be in Champaign early and it will be nice to see him again. He says he is a bar somewhere in Damen so I put the address and head there after my meal. I luckily manage to find a parking spot just around the corner from the bar. It’s good to see Dennis again and he has major news - he’s relocating to Denver, Colorado to work for a few months in a ski village. I stay for one glass of water then I drop Dennis off in his suburb of Oak Lawn. I pick up a Powerade from the service station near his place then set off for Champaign. It’s a nice, sunny day and I have BBC Radio 1 to keep me company. Upon arrival in Champaign I park up at where my Couchsurfing host is located. I ring him up but no one answers the phone. I need petrol (gas) and a restroom so I pop to the nearest service station. I’m hungry as I haven’t had any lunch and notice a Mexican restaurant as I’m driving back to my Couchsurfing hosts place. The burrito I have is so good. Whilst eating I get a text off my host saying that he was in the shower and he’s ready for my arrival. Aaron is originally from Columbus, Wisconsin but now lives in Champaign with his Colombian wife, Yudisley, who he met during a trip to Colombia a couple of years ago. As I’m pretty tired they kindly vacate the lounger and open up the sofa bed so that I can have a nap. After my nap I drive them to the main tailgate parking lot of the University of Illinois. I’m meeting up with a guy called Shawn and his mate’s - who all used to be in the Wisconsin Marching Band and every year they rent an RV and travel to a Badgers road game. Their RV is called the Poor Choices Express and so have chosen tomorrow's Badgers-Illinois game as their annual catch up. Furthermore, Shawn is also taking me to the Packers-Chiefs game in Kansas City next Sunday night. We chat for a couple of hours - they are a good bunch of guys and I enjoy their company. Aaron, Yudisley and I then try and find somewhere to eat but as it’s late it’s difficult. We find a bar in the downtown area and order quite a bit of food. It’s around 11 when we get back to their apartment.
Saturday 19th October 500 KM 300 M
It’s Badgers game day! I’m up around 7 and Yudisley cooks a nice Colombian breakfast consisting of arepas and scrambled eggs. I drive her and Aaron back to the parking lot where the Poor Choices Express RV is located. All the guys are up and tailgating. I’m introduced to a game where you have to hammer a nail into a piece of wood with the first person to do so winning the game. I unsurprisingly come last. I say goodbye to everyone to meet up with Matt Boor-he reached out to me on Facebook and is taking me to the game. Matt is accompanied by a colleague and their mate. The complimentary corporate tickets are good - halfway in the middle of the main stand at Memorial Stadium. The Badgers start well but then struggle to a 13-7 half time score against the Fighting Illini. I wan to leave at third quarter to beat the traffic but looks like that won’t be possible today. I leave the stadium with Illinois needing a touchdown and a field goal to win and that’s exactly what happens as I’m listening to the radio in my car. Ironically it’s how the Packers beat the Lions last Monday night - and for the Badgers to lose in exactly in the same manner? Well that’s football - and that’s life. It’s a tough drive back home - especially with all those annoying toll roads. I think I need to log onto a website to pay some unpaid tolls - unbelievable. I stop at a service station somewhere around Chicago to use the restroom and pick up some energy drinks. For dinner I’m back at the Tasty Sheboygan Restaurant as I’m craving Thai food. It’s nice to catch up with Kyo and his mum again plus the green curry is so good. I arrive back at the house at 8pm and Heather is about to put Jack to bed. Nice and I watch the end of the Michigan-Penn State game, which is being played at the impressive Beaver Stadium, the world’s third largest stadium by capacity. It’s a packed crowd and the atmosphere is rocking. Once the game is over I say goodnight to Nick and head to bed.
Sunday 20th October
As the Badgers lost yesterday they are now 6-1 and hopefully the Packers can win today to make it 6-1 too. I’m up at half 6 and take a Lyft to Badger State Brewing Company Tailgate Lot 2 to catch up with the Fromigos. It’s cold and a guy called Dennis who have traveled up from Chicago with his family kindly buys me a pair of both Packers gloves and a headband. After the Fromigos I meet up with a guy called Tyler and his tailgaters who are also in Lot 2. Then it’s time to walk over to the Fox Field House for my tailgate invite. There are not many people but I manage to meet Sue again and the food is really good - they have got a local catering company to put on a really good spread. My fourth tailgate involves meting Barnie, partner Gini and Barnie’s daughter Caroline I’m Lot 3. They taking me to today’s game and are hosting four German guys who are currently on a short vacation around America. For the final tailgate it’s back to Lot 1 with Scott Schwartz and company. I take over from Jon who usually pours Shotki - he’s glad I have arrived so I can give him a rest. I noticed on social media that the UK and Irish Packers are on their annual tour to Lambeau and I invite them to Lot 1. It’s great to meet them and they are likewise pleased to meet me, providing me with words of encouragement and also wanting me on a podcast show. I leave Lot 1 and walk back to Lot 3 and then Barnie, Gini, Caroline and I head into Lambeau for what turns out to be a dominant Packers display on a nice and sunny Sunday afternoon. Aaron Rodgers throws 429 yards and 5 touchdowns including one for himself with a perfect 158.3 rating and also becomes the fastest player in franchise history to throw 350 touchdowns. The Packers win 42-24 to go 6-1 for the season. Once the game is over I say both thank you and goodbye to Barnie, Gini and Caroline for taking me to today’s game and wish them all the best for the future. I catch up with a Brady and Sandy in their Lambulance then head to a local sports bar to catch up with some mates. It ends up being around 10 when I’m back at the house.
Monday 21st October
Today is a post game chill day. I’m home alone for the next few days as Heather is undergoing her second round of cancer treatment. Nick is with her in Madison and Jack will be staying with family. It feels a bit strange and empty that they are not here. I have a lie in and spend the morning watching Family Guy then have a light lunch followed by website work. I take a nap then watch a movie from Nick’s vast collection of DVDs in his basement. I decide on the the classic Adam Sanford film “Happy Gilmore”. A couple of months ago Aaron Rodgers dressed up as the nursing home matron Hal, played by Ben Stillar. Maybe that’s why Rodgers has kept his moustache! I heat up some food Heather left me for dinner then it’s an early night.
Tuesday 22nd October
I’m up around half 7 and drive to Jenstar Yoga for a Vinyasa Flow class with Jen. I pop back to the house for breakfast and a shower and then head to Paul’s Pantry for volunteering. I’m on trolley duties today. I’m helping push empty shopping trolleys (carts) back into the food bank and also collecting trolleys from people are they return them from their vehicles. It’s a role that I did whilst working in a supermarket back in England in the late 90s as a high school student. With some patrons I’m assisting carrying their food into their vehicles too. Some of the people are polite and respectful thanking me and wishing me a good day. Others are not so much, ignoring me or staring blankly into the abyss after receiving my assistance - just like doing any job in reality. In the past I sometimes didn’t like not being acknowledged by students, parents and even school management and fellow teachers but today was about knowing that I’m doing a good job, as I’m trying my best to help people who require my assistance and in life you have to take the ying with the yang - some will appreciate your efforts, others not so much. I end up volunteering for around a couple of hours, eat a light lunch provided for the volunteers and then drive to Shear Sports for a haircut. Afterwards I visit CrossFit Green Bay to sign up. I was really into my fitness back home in Western Australia and it’s been five months since my last Crossfit class, back in Bolivia during my South American travel. I plan to drop in to tomorrow morning’s 8:15am session. Justin is the general manger of the box and it’s good to see him again as I dropped into the box the previous two years. I tell him I have had enough of the unhealthy tailgating and that I’m gonna stop by as much as possible before I go back home. Bay Park Square is not far from the box and I visit a nutritional store to pick up some supplements for my new training regime. Back at the house I continue to work on my website and for dinner I am meeting my good friend Will at Taste of India. I order a healthy fish curry and I enjoy catching up with him. As I’m going to my first CrossFit class in a very long time I plan to get as much rest as possible so I’m in bed pretty early after getting back from dinner.