Wednesday 9th October 265 KM 165 M
Once I’m showered and ready after waking up I walk to a well rated diner close to downtown for breakfast. Although the service is slow the food is good and then it’s a short stroll to the Alabama Sate Capitol Building and subsequently the Civil Rights Memorial Center, which is dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives during the movement for racial equality. Afterwards I head to the Freedom Rides Museum, located in the old Greyhound coach station. It was closed down back in 1996 and as it was built during an era of racial segregation with the colored and white only sections still distinctly marked as a reminder of the inequality that existed. The aim of the freedom riders was to end the segregation not only in waiting rooms, but also ticket counters, restrooms, lunch counters and of course seating. A group of young university students both black and white set off in 1961 from Washington D.C. to New Orleans to promote this ideal of racial equality. However, predictably they were met with resistance and in Alabama it was particularly strong with groups of racist men attacking the riders when they arrived at this very bus station with the police deliberately arriving late. One freedom rider, Jim Zwerg, was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and was on exchange at Fisk University, Tennessee from Beloit College, Wisconsin and he was so badly beaten that he couldn’t continue the journey. In Anniston, Alabama the coach was attacked and lit on fire by klansman with the police again not providing any assistance and the freedom riders were attacked when they tried to escaped from the burning vehicle. Despite having to fly the rest of the journey from Birmingham to New Orleans the freedom riders were successful in ending racial segregation in coach transportation. My final visit to a museum is the Legacy Museum, tracing the historical origins of racial segregation back to slavery, which was based on notions of non white people being of a racially inferior complex. The museum also indicates how discrimination has become more subtle or indirect in areas such as education, housing, employment and crime. My Greyhound coach to Atlanta is delayed by an hour and so after lunch I sip on a light beer in a bar not far from the current bus station. The journey takes just under three hours and upon arrival I find that not many restaurants are open in the downtown area near the coach station. Eventually I find a restaurant serving mediocre Chinese fast food. The only positive thing about this place is that it’s near the bus stop that will take me to my Airbnb. It’s a short journey to what turns out to be a bed and breakfast kinda place. My room is spacious, clean and comfortable with a huge bathroom. Plus loads of snacks, fruit and both hot and cold drinks are provided so I make a herbal tea and help myself to an oatmeal cookie. I turn on the TV and watch Wednesday night’s AEW (All Elite Wrestling) Dynamite show. It’s a new promotion and I have heard good things about it and I was particularly impressed from this evening’s performances. I have been a fan of pro wrestling since I was a young teenager and my interest hasn’t waned as I have got older. Once the show is over I do some reading and then I’m off to sleep.
Thursday 10th October
I take the bus into downtown Atlanta once I’m showered and ready. I have breakfast in a diner and again although service is slow my meal is pretty decent. I’m gonna spend most of the day in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Center. It takes around 25 minutes or so to walk over from the restaurant. My first task is to visit the information center to register for the tour of the King family home. The first tour I can get on is at two o'clock so I spend the first couple of hours learning more about the life and work of Dr King. I read every single information card, and as always taking lots of photos for future teaching use. Many people associate Martin Luther Kind Jr. with racial equality but he wanted to raise living standards for all Americans, regardless of race. In 1967 a Poor People’s Campaign was promoted to represent the common problems of both poor whites and blacks. For me this is his legacy and why he is a personal hero of mine - and along with many other people too, irrespective of skin tone. Before the tour I pop over the road to see the Ebeneezer Baptist Church where Dr King was baptised and become a minister at the age of 19, although it was also the building where his mother was tragically shot in 1974. I also visit the tomb of both Mrs Coretta Scott King which lies next to her husband’s and the eternal peace flame. For the guided house tour no photos or video recording is allowed but it's still such a special experience to visit the home where a hero of mine was born and grew up and a fundamental figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Once the tour is over I walk back to downtown Atlanta and get some Indian food for carry out. I take the bus back to my Airbnb and eat half of the food and put the rest in the fridge for later and go to my room for a nap. I wake up and watch the cult classic comedy film White Chicks whilst also watching the Thursday night game between the Patriots and Giants. The Patriots are annoyingly looking good. I can’t be bothered to watch the final quarter and the movie has ended so I read for a while before going to sleep.
Friday 11th October 1840 KM 1150 M
I have a few hours to spare before my flight today so I have booked a ticket for Georgia Aquarium - the world’s largest aquarium. I check out of my Airbnb and catch a bus into town. The aquarium is located just north of downtown and to get there I have to walk through Centennial Olympic Park, where the Olympic Games were held here back in 1996. I spend a couple of hours in the aquarium and although it’s busy it’s not overcrowded, which usually takes place during school and public holidays as well as weekends. A particular highlight for me is the dolphin show in a small indoor type arena. For lunch I walk back into downtown and pop into a nice Mediterranean restaurant. I have an hour until I need to catch a train to the airport so I nip to a bar for a drink. My flight is scheduled at 4 so I arrive at security with over an hour to go. However the flight is delayed so I end up leaving Atlanta an hour late - but at least I get some nice sleep on the plane. By the time I am picked up by Ed it’s just past half 5. As soon as I get to the Haydin family household I collect my car and I’m off for Madison. Although it’s cold driving conditions are good. I’m gonna be staying with my mate Craig for a “boys weekend”. His wife Beth is away and as soon as I have arrived at their home I’m in the shower to freshen up and wear some warmer clothing for our Friday night out. We take an Uber to downtown Madison and the first task is to find a restaurant for Friday fish fry. It takes a few attempts to find somewhere and when we do it’s nowhere as good as the Redwood Inn back in Green Bay. Craig and I bar hop around State Street meeting quite a few Spartans fans who being from Michigan will also be heading to Lambeau for the Monday night Packers-Lions game. It ends up being both a late and big night in Madison before getting an Uber back to Craig’s place.
Saturday 12th October
Both of us have a nice lie in and as soon as I’m awake I’m getting ready for the Badgers-Spartans game. Craig drops me off at my mate Tristin’s house, whose taking me to the game today and providing me with game day bibs - red and white striped overalls! We take an Uber to the red zone tailgate area and mingle with both Badgers and Spartans fans. I really enjoy it today as I don’t have to drive or fly anywhere after the game. It’s a 2:30pm start time and we’re in Camp Randall for just before 2. Tristin has got us really good seats for what turns out to be another entertaining and easy win for the Badgers to make it 6-0 for the season. Really impressed with both our defense and offense this year - for our last two games we have not let the opposition score any points against us. After the game we hit more bars around State Street, making new mates and then head back to Tristin’s where I spend the night in his spare bedroom.
Sunday 13th October 320 KM 200 M
My car and all my belongings are at Craig’s place so after waking up I say goodbye to Tristin and take a Lyft to Craig’s. Upon arrival at the house Craig isn’t there but I’m given the garage access code after ringing him up. I love this about Wisconsin - over the years people have taken me into their homes and treated me like family or a good mate. I watch a Sunday football show then get ready and wait for Craig. I’m panicking as I can’t find my car keys. Luckily they were in Craig’s car. The drive back to Green Bay is uneventful and I listen to BBC Radio 1 Dance Anthems to keep me company for the journey. When I get back the Cowboys-Jets game is still on and the Jets at home end up winning their first game on the season - the Cowboys have lost their last 3 games to be 3-3 overall this season and billionaire owner Jerry Jones personally witnesses his team derail - money can’t always buy you a birthday win mate! I have some leftover food from last night’s meal that Heather cooked and then watch the Sunday night prime time game between the Steelers and Chargers, which ends up being a good road win for the Steelers in Los Angeles - hopefully the Packers can do the same next month. Once the game is over I’m in bed - it’s not only been a big weekend but a big week of travel.
Monday 14th October
It’s Packers game day and my media role is to appear again in studio on Josh Dukelow’s Fresh Take Show. I initially drive to tailgate lot 2 at Badger State Brewing to catch up with The Fromigos and explain how today’s show will work. I then head to the WHBY studio in Appleton but turn up an hour early so I go for breakfast at a nearby diner. For today’s show we get The Fromigos to call into the studio for a live chat. Like the TV interview last month I want them to get publicity too and Matt Breska does a good job explaining the history and work of the ultra Packer fans. Josh asks me about my travels, learning about history of America and volunteering work. We move away from discussing football particularly when I’m asked about my opinion on Columbus Day being renamed Indigenous Peoples Day in the state of Wisconsin. I reply that it’s a similar situation with the debate regarding whether Australia Day should be changed as for Aboriginal Native Australians the first European settlement is known as Invasion Day as their traditional way of life was disrupted due to diseases, genocides, massacres and forcible removal of children from their families. After the interview I drive back to Green Bay, stopping at Festival Foods in De Pere to pick up some supplies for The Fromigos. I’m not there long as I pop back to the house to drop off my car and get some sleep. Heather lends me some gloves and I put on an extra layer of clothes and thermal socks over my usual socks, all to help me survive tonight’s cold temperatures. Nick kindly drops me off at The Fromigos who cook up some food and I sip a couple of beers whilst chatting with them. I dropped my cricket bat off this morning and enjoy teaching my favourite sport to both Fromigos and nearby tailgaters. A guy ends up proposing to his girlfriend - the third I have witnessed this year! I walk over to the Lambulance to catch up with Brad, Sandy, Roxanne and Wendy then head to lot 1, where I’m a VIP member. One of the guys has a cousin with a spare ticket and for today’s game I’m seated with a woman called Thea. Up until game time I end up taking the role of principal bartender for Shotki’s - this is how I met Scott and the others so I’m happy to give back and help them out. Like voluntarily serving for the VFW beer tent at the last Farmers Market On Broadway it’s a role that I really enjoy. All tips are donated into the jar which helps pay for the drinks and tailgate provided by Scott and the guys - they have never asked me for any money so it’s only fair that I help out. I meet people from England and Australia so I get to share my story and as they are two important countries to me I hand out some free drinks. Thea and I get to our seats just before national anthem. I said on the radio this morning that it’s gonna be a tough game tonight proving to be the case as the Lions race to a 13-0 lead at quarter time. The Packers come back to make it 13-13 but three Detroit field goals give them a 22-13 lead going into the final quarter. Theo is nowhere to be seen and I’m feeling superstitious - if I go inside and watch on the TV until the end then Green Bay will score a touchdown and a field goal and steal the game with a one point win. A nice Allen Lazard touchdown followed by a Mason Crosby 22 yard field goal in the final seconds of the game hands the Packers an unlikely victory - and my prediction comes true. I take a photo with a family who I got to share the final winning moment with and then we head to Green Bay Distillery for a post match celebration win drink. One of the couples live two blocks from me and kindly provide me a lift back home. Packers are 5-1!
Tuesday 15th October
Although I arrived late last night I’m up early as Nick’s dad, Jimbo, is taking me to a mechanic. John‘s workshop is located near Denmark, a short drive from Green Bay. Jimbo and John are close mates from years gone by and John comes highly recommended from all of Nick's family. After dropping off my car Jimbo takes me on a tour of the local countryside which consists mainly of dairy farms - Jimbo grew up on one of these before settling in the west side of Green Bay with his wife Barbs and starting a family consisting of two boys - Nick and younger Nathan. I tell Jimbo about my farming background from the Punjab, India and how important it is to our families. Jimbo kindly drops me off back at the house and I’m back in bed to catch up on some much needed rest. I wake up around lunchtime and make a light meal then spend the afternoon working on my website, which I haven’t updated for the past couple of weeks due to my travels. Heather is at home and later that afternoon she receives a phone call from John with respect to my car and the good news is that it’s been repaired. She generously drives me back to John’s workshop. The final bill comes out to a pretty reasonable amount with Heather pointing out that the cost would be a lot more if I had taken it to anywhere else. I drive the car back to Green Bay and decide to pop into Keggers to catch up with my good mate Will and also pay my telephone bill. My final task of the day is to pick up a sports bag with indoor cricket equipment for teaching students during Pirate Time at Bay Port tomorrow. I got in touch last week with the Green Bay Cricket Association (GBCA) and they have kindly decided to lend the school and I equipment for the winter season - as long as each session both James and I promote GBCA - as expected most of the members are ex pats from the South Asian (Indian sub-continent) region and so are looking to diversify with both newer and younger members from the local community. I’m meeting GBCA member Sankar, originally from Chennai (Madras, Tamil Nadu, India) in what turns out to be in the car park of Best Buy electrical store. It’s a strange situation meeting someone whom I haven’t previously personally met and taking a big bag in the dark from one car to the next - thankfully he’s a nice guy and it’s cricket gear in the bag and I’m also glad that no law enforcement was nearby - two Indian men meeting in a car park, with one (me) flashing his lights to gain attention and taking a bag off the other and placing it into his boot (trunk) followed by a quick shake of the hands and conversion and then both cars immediately driving away in opposite directions would probably have led to a stop and search - my accent, mixed overseas background and current status in Green Bay would have most certainly produced an interesting conversation! Upon arrival at the house Nick, Heather and Jack are about to have dinner so I join them at the table. After eating I help clear up, then Heather puts Jack to bed whilst Nick and I watch a reply of last night’s game. One of the ESPN Monday night football commentators is Booger McFarland and he certainly didn’t like some of the calls that went for the Packers - I noticed lots of negative posts on Facebook today with respect to Booger’s commentary and how the referees did get those close calls right against the Lions defense, much to Booger’s disappointment. Maybe being a defensive player himself he thought the Lions were hard done by in such a close game - maybe he despises the Packers as he was so negative about our team in general during the game. As soon as the replay is over both Nick and I say goodnight to each other. I’m up early too tomorrow morning to go back to Bay Port.