New Home, New Glarus

If one looks hard enough, they can find an idyllic corner of Switzerland in Southwestern Wisconsin, where the older buildings and older generation still speak German, where the beer flows freely and the festivals and people are friendly. This weekend, I moved to the town of New Glarus.

It involved a day of packing everything into the RV, carrying many boxes of books while Erin crammed them into the stern, now Storage. (Not Steerage.) The next day, Erin went ahead in her more maneuverable lighter craft, scouting out potential sharks and shoals for my more bulky vessel, loaded as it was with shipping containers. There was some legitimate concern that she wouldn't make it (the RV, not Erin), considering all of the engine trouble she had suffered in the past. But we made it to the new berth safely- and there is no way the journey could have been accomplished without Tugboat Erin.

The new location is decidedly different. I am often the only one in the field, which holds only some fourteen berths. (There is one other empty camper in the lot.) On the weekends one other RV might pull in; on festival weekends, up to five. It is a bit more isolated than previously- but that's the price one pays for cheaper rates. Most of the time my companions are the wildlife of the area. Yesterday I watched one of the many robins working furiously in tug-of-war with an elastic worm. She won, and immediately her near-full-grown children hopped up to her, chirping furiously, demanding the regurgitated food- which she happily accommodated.

I wasn't aware of the weather when I moved in. My first night came with torrential rainstorms, with lightning and thunder. Water was falling in literal bathtubs per meter squared per second. (b/m2/s for the scientifically literate.)

Though I went out a couple times to shake the water off the canopy, I was not quick enough, and the rain - that powerful compound water - completely tore off half the canopy. For a few days, until I found some alligator tape, I relied on elementary principles of balancing physics to open the door.

New Glarus is a wonderful town. I'm at the South end of it, which means it takes all of five miles to bike to downtown New Glarus, and another minute to reach the North end of the village. The people here are amazingly kind and accommodating. Constantly they open the door for me, though I am neither female nor elderly. One receives a number of coupons for meals upon moving to New Glarus- but most of those restaurants are constantly offering me free drinks as well, once they find I'm a new arrival. Stereotypical of Small Town America it may be, but everywhere is a hearty hello and Hail-Fellow-Well-Met.

So far, the two drawbacks I've found have been firstly, limited wireless. There are only two public wireless signals in town, and the stronger of the two at Fat Cat Coffehouse is intermittent- often appearing to be working but more often on the fritz. I found a better signal at Puempels Olde Tavern, and a netcafe hidden in the shopping mall of nearby Belleveille. The second drawback was having to get a breathalizer test after one of those free dinners.

Actually, that's one of the positives of New Glarus. After a meal, and a full glass of wine, I felt a little off. So I left my car at the restaurant, walked the two blocks to the police station, and asked if they could give me the test. The officer there was very accomodating, offering to give me a lift home if it was too high, and we had a very good conversation about policing in New Glarus, and the history of the town. He told me consuming a large meal actually increases the length of effect from alcohol. He also pointed out that Al Capone had his first out-of-Chicago home here (pictured to the left), just across the street from where the police station is now. There's a network of tunnels running under the city for bootlegging, discovered only in remodeling of the last decade- and sadly, rather than taking advantage of the rather obvious sizable tourist possibilities, they bricked all the tunnels up! The officer also kindly filled me in on the other major feature of New Glarus- the largest urinal in the Midwest. It is impressive- waist-high, and you can almost walk into it. The plunger is helpfully positioned as a reference point. (Female readers should of course page down so as not to view the inappropriate commode.)

Oh. Half an hour after a big meal and a glass of wine, I came out at 0.00, and walked back to my car. That's what three years in Morocco does to one's tolerance.

But in truth, what people mostly come to New Glarus for is the Swiss atmosphere and Swiss Festivals. Some twelve festivals in the warm months, differentiated into Polka, Heidi, William Tell, etc. There are many more minutia to Swiss culture than most are aware of! And everywhere, homes and buildings are done in Swiss alpine style, with Germanic lettering, hearkening back to the original settlers of New Glarus.


love, mom said…
I just heard there was a wild storm in Iowa, and all the hogs on one farm blew hither and yon, but none killed, all came back down to earth none the worse for the wear.
Anonymous said…
What a great resource!

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