You can see Sindi's regular page at grex, our local Ann Arbor bbs. To join grex telnet to www.grex.org or go to the website.
You can view Jim Deigert's home page with his freeware tiny text editor at grex. Here are some photos taken before the trip:
CAD drawing of the house we are building
Sindi and Jim building a house in Ann Arbor
Sindi in her office
Ann Arbor depot Packing two bikes and eight panniers into three boxes, 7 am, Sept. 5, Ann Arbor Amtrak station
La Crosse depot 8 pm La Crosse, 1920 train station which they refused to let be turned into a night club. We stored our gear here while exploring town the next day, also our bike boxes for later use
Red Cloud park. A few blocks from the depot, on the edge of a huge city park with marsh, river, egrets and cranes, and a magnificent bike trail system which takes you all over town UNDER the highways
It connects the zoo, the mountain, and the waterfront (Mississippi, with two public beaches)
bike trail after last two years' flood.
grand canyon of La Crosse
Amtrak station interior, a dry haven in a terrific thunderstorm, taken 7:30 am next day.
La Crescent MN:
A 10 mile bike ride across the mighty Mississipi, over a big blue bridge (possibly visible in a later mountaintop photo) and then along a paved bike trail in WI, which in MN changed to a 10 mile wide third lane (which we were told is for the Amish buggies). Visited the public library, then took refuge in the apple store (10 types - La Crescent is MN apple capitol, with apples grown along the high ridges to prevent cold spells).
During a letup in the storm, made it to the park, where we cooked lunch until it let up again. You can see Jim in his leaky raingear.
We cooked grains and beans and oatmeal in a midget aluminum pressure cooker and vegetables in a too-big wok (just fit into the pannier). There was only a small dry spot in the pavilion, with rain coming in sideways (so Jim cooked in the shelter of our orange tarp). A river started flowing past the pavilion, and we had to cross it where it crossed the sidewalk later.
From La Crosse to Iowa we had a choice of 4 miles of Highway 16 (similar to I-94) and then smaller roads along the valley, or the ridge, so of course we took the ridge. The first hill was two miles uphill. Sometimes we would stop pushing our bikes to look down, or admire the limestone bluffs. This area of WI/MN/IA is unusual in that the glaciers missed it, so it is high and rocky with limestone and sandstone bluffs and deep valleys full of rich soil. They grow mostly corn, beans and cattle on the tops and bottoms, and the sides are forested.
It rained about half that day after we got to the top of the ridge. We took shelter in a barn, under a few leaky trees, in a garage with three curious puppies (nobody was ever home) and finally just gave up and biked wet. Jim's goretex raingear needs seam sealing. I had wet feet for three days. Around 7 pm we arrived in the local version of heaven, known as Houston MN, a town of 1000 that is now the start of the bike trail in that area.
Our introduction to Houston was the Houston Nature Center, a combination natural history museum with contents donated by the city biologist (who also gives talks at schools and writes grant proposals), tourist info center (with a nice map of town including an architectural walking tour), handicapped restroom and handicapped (!) free hot showers. (We have not yet come up with a plausible scenario in which wheelchair users would work up enough of a sweat on the bike trail to need instant hot showers). The city got a matching federal grant to construct their part of the Root River bike trail in an area where the railroad right of way was no longer available (meaning some expensive bridges had to be built). There is even a handicapped Port-a-Potty midway on the trail.
Houston has bike parking in front of nearly every store. Also a non-profit bike repair and sale store opened by the public schools, with 35 applicants for a dozen places a year (in a town of 1000 - how many students total?). And the local market is coop, opened when residents bought shares after their IGA closed. They have it all - except for the laundromat and hardware store which burnt last winter. So we attempted to dry our wet clothing under the donated roof of the bike center picnic shelter (which had a floor bigger than the roof that acted as a bathtub during that night's storm when we tented there. The storm helped drown out the local high school football dance nearby).
Houston recycling plant won a state award for second-best rural recyclers. The head of it started a recycled bike art program. Some of the winners are displayed at the center: boy and dog and mummy. These are clever - take a look!
We spent a day in Houston, then took the easy way along the level part of the bike trail through Rushford (bowling alley, IGA with lots of muzak and Pepsi advertising) to Petersen, a 'city' of 269 population. The mayor came out to greet us when we were cooking supper at the park and collected $5 camping fee ($14 for RVs or for the site occupied by three cars, two tents and eight people). He said they lost most of their businesses when the railroad closed in the sixties. Houston still has one bus a week to La Crosse mall.
We camped (in the rain): lighted (!) picnic shelter in the morning mist. Our clothes did not dry at that picnic shelter either but the laundromat was open 24 hours. Nothing else was open except the town's five Pepsi machines, one at the campground. Is this a recent epidemic of Pepsi machines? I saw one in downtown Ann Arbor recently.
The next day we headed up over the next ridge, up and down and up and down. Stopped for lunch at Highland , which has 20 houses and a real general store with luncheonette which caters to farmers whose wives work in factories at lunctime. A local said they have good meatloaf and spaghetti, much better than the last owner's cooking. They also fetch things from town for the Amish. We avoided small brown piles along the side of the road.
A few hours of hills later, and a few threatening clouds we reached the Iowa border, where we followed the end of the rainbow to our final destination. We took lots of rainbow shots:Sindi sideways,
Note the DOUBLE rainbow (you can see it with Netscape, but possibly not with IE, which is showing only 256 colors at the library), at the end of which is:
III Seed Savers' Exchange in Decorah, Iowa
The cabin where we stayed, 1870s Norwegian, restored by the Amish:
cabin close up
in the cabin
the nearby creek(the 'shortcut' to SSE to save 1 hour biking, through LOTS of corn and soybeans and past the rare white cattle)
cabin from the trail
Seed Savers' Exchange
, which now has about 15 employees plus 8000 members who trade seeds, was started about 25 years ago by Kent and Diane Whealey, who pose in the garden and in the office with Jim and Sindi and both with Jim. Matt was recently hired as a plant pathologist (who also picks watermelons, Angie coordinates field work (and lives in a bus), John keeps the computers going, and Arliss and others produce the catalogs. Seedsavers' not only coordinates exchanges between members who trade seeds, it grows out 18,000 (!!!) different vegetable varieties (and most of the known apples and grapes) and sells about 400 of them in its catalog. Some pumpkins
. They have cold storage, dry storage, test tube babies (potato cells stimulated to outgrow their viruses) and the world's nicest people working there. We forgot to take photos of the excellent suppers that Diane prepared for us out of little-known vegetable varieties. Jim kept his reputation as a good eater - lots of calories to make up for.
Jim found a few new little friends:
A walking stick.
A couple of humming bird moths which he found on the ground but stuck for photographic purposes on Diane's grandfather's heritage morning glories
. A toad on one of the sunflowers that we helped to harvest (for the catalog) and placed near some peppers.
In Decorah itself (an hour's bike ride along a lot of loosely gravelled hills):
The Norwegian museum : the griddle used to cook flat mashed potato pancakes by the same method as rye crisp.
Dunning's spring (former grist mill), a short walk from downtown: the spring with Sindi, with Jim and both of us .
IV Lacrosse again:
Not sure we could have made it back in less than three days, but Kent was driving to La Crescent for some orchard supplies so we hitched a ride that far. It only rained at night this time. We camped off the bike trail under a big maple and then cooked breakfast at the zoo, where we admired the very slow porcupines, badgers, and lynxes.
A short bikeride along the same LaCrosse river brought us to the local nature center and hiking area, where we climbed a real rocky mountain!
Sindi and Jim with a view.
Can anyone identify these possibly Alpine flowers: one
Jim also took pictures of the rocks with lichen.
We cooked breakfast near the Amtrak station at the Kane Community Garden which we helped weed.
We took the train back from La Crosse to Chicago, and it was FULL! Something to do with airplanes.
We visited with our friends from Ann Arbor (originally from northern China): Ming, Yilin and Jing.
pouring the new patio
view from breakfast into their quiet cul-de-sac.
Chicago botanic garden - nowhere near enough time to see it all.
Of course the high point of this visit was a lot of good home cooking:
and her future helper.
We walked (in the rain, of course) from Chicago Union Station to the Nelles Translation Company, for which I have worked longest of all: all of us and Peter, Rita and Larry .
Back in Ann Arbor:
The bike boxes being biked to storage.
Andy and Roy finally came to pick up computers for the Newman Catholic Center to open its free computing center in Charleston IL. Here they are posed with some very durable IBM Model 80s
in front of the van,
which could barely hold all that we gave them, and
in front of our building site.
a sugar maple tree down the street
the leaves under the tree
my Japanese lanterns.
We are back to work on the house, and put up snow guards. Here is Jim on the ladder and looking through the porch window.
Meet our neighbors william in his butterfly costume
Piper and Daniel
Michael under his truck.
Here is Jim fixing a free refrigerator.
Pictures of our friends Bob Trees and household:
Jim Deigert with flowers
Bob and Jim
Greg Delasu (sp?)
back of Bob's house
front of Bob's house
June 16, 2002. We finally developed our last roll of non-digital film at Kmart (photos dating since fall of 2001, thru May of 2002) and K-Mart offered one set of prints and one set of online images. They turned out to be rather small compared to what our digital camera does, and we probable could have scanned our own faster than it took to download them one at a time, but here are some of them.
Our neighbors Dan and Hannah Hannah with Piper's little brother Charlie, born January 2001, on their steps next door to us on Felch St.
The winter before last we put furring strips over our aluminum vapor barrier. See Jim thinking about how to do this best during warm weather, and then Jim and Sindi putting up furring strips during the winter.
Last summer we spent a few weeks redesigning the sunporch ventilation system and finally decided to use cheap aluminum louvers, two down four up.
Here is Jim putting up a louver. See the nice pokeweed growing below him. It matches the plaster bas-relief over the front door. The lower west louver in place, and the east lower louver with Jim and with Sindi's bike.
During the fall we put up snowguards on the roof. Here is Jim on the kitchen porch assembling the brackets. Admire our used stove, which we cook on in the summer to keep the house cool, and a view of the back yard in late fall. The previous winter was one of the snowiest winters in history, with deep snow starting in November. The winter after we put on the snowguards was the least snowy winter I can remember so we don't know if they really keep the snow from falling off the metal roof.
Over the winter we started putting up sound channel - you will see that in photos from our digital camera. (Almost done as of June 16 2002, but we also had to design all the ductwork and plumbing and closets, and build the closets and we decided to remove the closets between the two bedrooms and put in a movable partition instead so you can combine two rooms. Maybe the house will be assessed lower taxes with just one bedroom?).
From Sept. to May we asked the electric company how to put Jim's electrical service underground so it would not be 4' aboveground, and so we could upgrade and go all electric. One day in May they informed us that they were bringing out a large vehicle and a long pole the next week. They showed up the next day (we were not ready filling in our 100' long 2' deep hand-dug trench yet and the garden was already planted) and came back again next week with a big red corkscrew looking gadget that carried, dug a hole for and placed the pole.
Here it is going in through the neighbor's driveway, with a view of Jim's front yard . Now they are at the compost pile (it had to be moved) raising the pole. Now hooking the cable to the pole, and backing out of the yard.
Jim's yard and the yard from a different angle
His new housemate Joel digging the trench and Joel again
Here is Sindi by the trench and filling it in
and finally Jim holding the new meter box which is a double one - regular and heat/hot water.
Here is Dave with a bike that Jim put together for him, standing in front of Sindi's apartment on Hiscock St. Ann Arbor.
Jim still has to plan out and install electric heat, and find out whether we are approved for the time-of-day rate (one quarter the usual rate, for energy used to heat with from 7 pm to 10 am and on weekends only), but he immediately replaced the gas with an electric water heater and had the gas meter removed. For some odd reason we have not received any electric bills since then. Or gas bills.
We got sidetracked rescuing and rebuilding abandoned bikes. We collected what the students did not want (due to flat tires?) and are slowly putting them together. We have two mountain bikes each to ride, and the extras will go to a local nonprofit organization (Kiwanis) to sell. Once we put racks on our 'new' bikes I will start taking the digital camera along on trips. We used the car only for three days this year (to visit Jim's relatives)and bike everywhere possible.
We are also rebuilding about 15 abandoned computers (Pentiums given us by a company whose clients returned them with pieces missing and things broken) and are now in the Pentium as well as the Mountain Bike age, with 1997 equipment instead of 1993 486s. Lots to learn about motherboards and cantilever brakes and twist-grip shifters. Photos later.
Look for future photos at my ISP www.usol.com/~keesan where I can upload *.jpg instead of having to use Win95/Netscape and type in 14 files names and wait and wait and wait, now that geocities dropped free ftp uploads. But look here too, as the ISP does not offer online editing of the index file.
Will and Ann of Kiwanis
Erika at ITB
local Chinese restaurant Happy Wok
Peg who got her computer from Kiwanis
Hanni in her choir in Rheden
Navasa, student penpal in central India
Shankar, programmer penpal in south India
You can visit Jim's site and download his tiny but powerful text editor, free.
In August 2000 we took an Albanian visitor who is a translator in Tirana, and found me on the web, to visit Jim's sister Dorothy, her husband Judge Sherman Faunce, and daughters Suzanne and Jennifer (currently a state representative) in Warren, MI, during the hottest summer I can remember (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Their house was freezing except during a blackout, during which their neighbors were unable to go anywhere because their cars were locked behind their automatic garage doors. You can see
Eno, Sindi, Dorothy and Jim at Dorothy's house,
Sherman dressed for work,
Eno holding a sink for Suzanne's new kitchen
Jim installing Suzanne's new storm door (which took us three days)
Jim and Suzanne in the kitchen
Suzanne dressed for a party
Sindi and Suzanne and Eno in the kitchen
a passion flower in Suzanne's yard