On Walmart and Old-Fashions

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July 2nd 2018
Published: July 2nd 2018
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Rainbow Over the Bayfield Marina
Bayfield/Ashland, Wisconsin

Seems like one of the hazards of traveling in the spring is rain. And it rained again yesterday, most of the day. We spent most of the morning inside, even got in a nap for a while. Eventually, though, we decided that sightseeing wasn’t going to happen, so we switched gears and declared a downday/maintenance day. Aware that the local grocery store was pretty expensive, we decided to drive the 25 miles back down to Ashland and take advantage of the Walmart there.

I’ll state up front that I don’t like shopping at Walmart. The store is just plain ugly and the shopping experience isn’t something you particularly want to remember, but when you are traveling, there is a certain comfort in shopping in a store that you have been in. And, what with all the made in china stuff, the prices are low. If you are buying something like thumb tacks, there is no really good reason to go to a high-end office supply boutique! Walmart thumbtacks will work every bit as well and at quite a bit less. When we signed up for our medicare prescription drug plan for this year, we had to confront the uncomfortable truth that the best plan available was the Humana/Walmart plan. We pay $20/month each for the plan, but we haven’t paid a dime for any prescription yet - our copays so far have been zero. Given that, under our previous plan, we were paying hundreds of dollars per year in prescription costs, this represents a tremendous saving. How can you not take advantage of that when living on a fixed income?

But, then again, that means you have to go to Walmart. You have to pay one way or the other...

So we did the shopping, then gassed up the car, and found a liquor store. The unofficial Wisconsin state cocktail is a brandy old-fashioned. In other parts of the country, old-fashions are made with whiskey or bourbon, but, for unknown reasons, Wisconsinites prefer theirs with brandy. So I googled ‘Brandy old-fashioned’ and found a recipe that calls for muddling a sugar cube, maraschino cherries, and orange slices with a little lemon-lime soda and a dash or two of angostura bitters. Then you add two ounces of brandy to the muddled stuff, pour over ice, and add a splash or two more of soda. It is really pretty good, although you don’t end up drinking too many of them because they take so damn much time to make.

Curiously, though, Wisconsinites apparently prefer Korbel Brandy. Yes, the same Korbel that makes champagne. Brandy is, of course, nothing more than distilled champagne or Chardonnay wine, but I didn’t even know Korbel made a brandy - you don’t see that on the shelves in New Mexico. Here, though, it occupies center stage. So I had to pick up a bottle of the local brandy.

Home again, we put away everything and made a picnic lunch for our planned sunset cruise. Now mind you, it is still pouring down rain. We called the boat cruise place and they said they’d be going out rain or shine, so we finished making our sandwiches and then drove down to the dock in Bayfield.

But it was still raining, and raining hard. We were sopping wet just getting to the dock. There, waiting in the crowded office, we debated whether this was going to be fun or not, and decided that the prospects weren’t great. The forecast called for the rain to quit shortly after we left the dock, but forecasts don’t come with guarantees, do they?

I have to say that the people there offer an amazing deal - you can exchange your tickets for another cruise any time until you actually board the boat. There has to be an opening in the date you are exchanging to, but I think that’s a pretty generous policy. So with it still raining hard and the boat about ready to board, we asked for a different date and they cheerfully changed us to the cruise on Thursday. We walked, in the rain, back to the car, went home, and ate our picnic lunch inside the trailer.

Of course, as we were headed home, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Joan caught some great pictures of the rainbow over the marina full of sail boats. Maybe the cruise would have been terrific, maybe not. Like shopping at Walmart, you have to take the bad with the good


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