Star Date:  August 2010
United States: Northern Wisconsin, Great Lakes


Hello Dear Family & Friends!



(Hello - Ojibwe 'Anishinabe': The Original People)






" Don't die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be. You may go broke. You may experience failure and rejection repeatedly. You may endure multiple dysfunctional relationships. But these are all milestones along the path of a life lived courageously. They are your private victories, carving a deeper space within you to be filled with an abundance of joy, happiness, and fulfillment. So go ahead and feel the fear - then summon the courage to follow your dreams anyway. That is strength undefeatable."
(Steve  Pavlina) 



The only constant in life is change.  Remaining flexible allows us, like the bamboo, to bend with the winds of life without breaking.  Our exploration of the far corners of the globe has taught us that resistance to this fact of life is in vain.  One day we were in Rwanda in remote Central Africa and a call from our son that my Mom had fallen, sent us hurdling through the looking glass into my small hometown of Mellen, in northern Wisconsin.  Like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting we arrived exhausted at Main St. USA.  Famous artist, Rockwell (1894-1978), captured the hearts of Americans with his authentic portrayal of life in this unique melting pot of cultures.  A country bursting with diversity, one cannot compare life here in the heartland of America to the pulsing megalopolises of New York & Los Angeles or to the bayous of Florida, or life in the rugged Rocky Mountains or the white sand beaches of the coasts.  Pioneers all, life can be difficult in this remote area of Lake Superior.  Residents still face harsh weather and isolation as their ancestors did when immigrating from Europe centuries ago.  Under snow for months on end doesn't daunt the spirits of this community.  A town pride to be admired rings loud and clear on special events like the 1986 Bicentennial celebration or the recent 100th anniversary of the local school.  People rally and work together to create an event to be remembered by all, those still living in the area along with those renegades who are returning home from afar.  Once taken into the fold, this small community rallies behind residents who have fallen on hard times, had houses burned by fire or the recent rash of cancer.

This is a great area to be from.  Stepping back in time has it's advantages.  A slower pace means that people still have time to stop to talk to each other on the streets, when getting their mail at the post office or leaving church on Sunday.   This intimacy does have it's drawbacks at times.  Armed with only a few bits of information, gossip fills in all the blanks on everyone's story until it is hard to separate fact from fiction.  That is just the way it is in Small Town USA or in a remote village in Africa or in Provence, France.  Want the facts, go to the source.  One of the happiest days of my young life was when I realized I really didn't care what people thought of me or what stories they told.   

When you smile, the whole world smiles with you.  A genuine smile here, as the world over, is a language everyone knows.  Looking for the good in those around us is something we all strive for, accepting differences and celebrating commonalities.  With this in mind we started asking around to see if there were any ceremonies coming up at Odanah, the Native American community near Ashland.  The Ojibwe or 'Anishinabe' The Original People of the Great Lakes have lived in harmony with Mother Earth from the beginning of time. These Ojibwa or Chippewa are Native Americans of the Algonquian language family.  During the colonial period, the Ojibwa were one of the largest and most powerful tribes on the continent. Their extensive territory included much of the western Great Lakes region and reached well into southern Canada.  The name Ojibwa (pronounced oh-JIB-wuh), along with its variations, Ojibway, Ojibwe, Chippewa, and Chippeway, and their native name Anishinabe (pronounced ah-nish-ih-NAH-bay) means “first people.”   Under harsh conditions and guided by Great Spirit they made use of everything in the forest, taking only what they needed while preserving and protecting their resources.  Centuries later Mother Earth groans under the weight of the destruction of our planet by greed and excessive numbers.  Addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling, whether in the white or Native American community causes hardship to families, especially for  those close by who suffer the most.  It is an individual decision, no matter what race.  If we each do our small part it is possible to restore the balance lost in the wake of mankind's development.  

We drove up to experience the large annual Ojibwe  Pow Wow and were welcomed warmly to this drug free event.  We talked with many Native Americans as they danced, the drum representing the heart beat of life.  Don shared as we circled with the crowd, "We dance and connect to the heartbeat of the Creator.  Wadoo, gichy mani do (Thank you, Great Spirit)."  The colorful costumes were spectacular as were the spirits of these fine folks.  We would encourage locals to head out to the next Pow Wow with an open mind, looking for the good in their neighbors.

Northern Wisconsin is a secluded, scenic part of America.  While there we spent many days hiking through the forest and enjoying the multitude of lakes and waterfalls, such as Copper and Brownstone Falls or touring the picturesque shores of Lake Superior.  We learned about the history of Mellen at the comprehensive Museum snuggled up next to the bell tower of the heritage (1896) City Hall.  We had a fun time reminiscing with cousins & friends visiting from across the country about the good old days and catching the vistas from Mine Hill tower .  We soaked up the excitement of the 4th of July parade, banquet, talent show, baseball games, Bell Ringer run, an impromptu class reunion, pie social, frog jumping contest, fire truck rides, street dance, fireworks; and later the County Fair complete with rides, a carnival, vegetable and animal displays, stock car racing and country western bands.  The famous Red Hats social group invited us to join them to the lively music and dance of the Tamburitzans, East European folk ensemble of 60+ performers.  We delighted in a spectacular evening of musical entertainment under the Big Top Chautauqua after spending the day appreciating the natural lake side beauty of Bayfield and neighboring Madeline Island. 

My Achey, Brakey Heart.  Families change but Love remains.  I visit family every 9 - 12 months either at home or they meet us abroad in exotic places like Sumatra, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.  We are definitely an international family, visiting places I dreamed about while reading 'National Geographic' as a child.  The planet is changing at a fast pace.  Joseph has not stepped foot on American soil for over 7 years.  He especially noticed an increase in xenophobia and fear following the events of 9/11.  It is important for people to question what is being fed to them by the media and to realize that living in fear of the unknown can paralyze us as a nation and as individuals.  Terrorists are simply criminals and the U.S.A has its share of violence and crime.  The world is full of kind, helpful, interesting people, but the 5% causing trouble get all the press.  We are all alike in so many ways.  Everyone wants food to eat, a warm, safe home for their family, enough money to live modestly.  We are asked over and over, "Isn't it dangerous in Africa?"  No more dangerous than large cities in America.  Knowledge helps destroy the fear that grips us.  Simply "Sharing the World" is the message of our free website.  Having over 80,000 people from 120 countries visiting every month inspires us to continue.  What started with only 10 hits per month 7 years ago has grown exponentially (unknown to us until they started reporting statistics 1 year ago).  People are hungry for some truth, some answers in these chaotic times.  Education is the key to positive change.  Research, learn, be part of the solution not the problem. 

Being thrown from Central Africa to Central U.S.A. magnified the fact that we are between cultures.  New tribal mores replace old ones in our ever expanding global life style.  The world is changing  fast, even in this quiet backwater.  You can never go home is the theme of American novelist Ernest Hemmingway's "Adventures of a Young Man".  It was filmed in Mellen in the 60's because the only thing required for an authentic street shot was to cover the pavement with sand and replace cars with horses!  Leaving your hometown and going out into the world to see what you can discover works better than leaving to run away from your circumstances.  Go forth young man or woman but be prepared; as time marches on, change is inevitable.  For better or for worse embrace change, learning the lessons that lie therein.


And so it goes.........................................Next month visiting 3 different regions of the U.S.A.  Until then let's try to remain flexible like the bamboo, to bend with the inevitable winds of life without breaking. Please share this website with friends and family.  First hand experiences and information, not influenced by the media, help us to learn more about this fascinating planet we all share.  Celebrate diversity.  Glad you stopped by.   Thanks for keeping in touch - we love getting your emails!



Love, Light & Laughter,

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

$1.00US = Less every year

Northern Wisconsin:
Most people experience Northern Wisconsin when driving across the country on U.S. Highway #2 near the shores of Lake Superior or north from Chicago (500 miles).  A unique blend of natural beauty and 'stepping back in time' make this an interesting area to visit.  Come enjoy the laid back lifestyle.  Life as it was before the stress of the cities took over our lives.

Experience hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing right outside your door.  Small motels still charge $30-40/night with many upscale options along the highways. 

This is not an easy place to fly into. You can fly into Duluth airport (2 hours north) or CWA (Mosinee 3 hours south) and rent a car.   This area used to be linked with buses or the famous Soo Line Railroad but no form of public transport still exists. 

"Come on Down" - You'll be glad you did!


Check out: (Steve Pavlina is widely recognized as one of the most successful personal development writers on the Internet, attracting more than two million monthly ...)  (Host of a nationally syndicated radio program discussing personal finance topics. Strongly emphasizes reducing, avoiding, and eliminating debt.)


Poem written for us by my Mom, LaVerne Jelich, Mellen's Poet Laureate in 2006:

Going Home

Carry, cherish warm memories and Love in your heart,

And when you miss home,

Remember we all live under the same sky,

Look up at the stars,

Gaze at the moon,

They'll take you back.




Norman Rockwell:









Mellen, Wisconsin's heritage City Hall (1896).

Everyone gets in the spirit for the 4th of July.

 'Leaving Home'.
  One of Norman Rockwell's famous
paintings about life in rural America.

Gossip...................Rockwell captured the essence of life
in Small Town America.

Mellen's school celebrated it's 100th anniversary. (1910-2010).
 Most students attend 13 years, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The spunky Red Hats off on an outing!

A slower pace means that people still have time to stop to talk
to each other on the streets, when getting their mail at the
 post office, or leaving church on Sunday.

Even rain couldn't dampen spirits during the 4th of July parade.  

'73 Prize winning float.

1953 John Deere tractor.

Mayor Barabe speaking to a record crowd at the Talent Show. 
Volunteers did a remarkable job coordinating the activities.

Ooooh!  Aaaaah! Fireworks!

Mellen's comprehensive and interesting Museum.

Keith and LaVerne (Mom) being honored for 68 years of volunteering.
So many projects & grants were realized because of their hard
work helping this Northern WI community


A scene right out of a Rockwell painting!  Tom was busy with a
shop full of cars to repair but he took the time to help this
youngster fix his bike.  Only in a rural town.

My 1973 Senior Class Yearbook!  A motto that Eckhart Toole would
be proud of.  What are we waiting for?

A fun, impromptu gathering of the Senior Class of 73 - (37 years ago).

Brownstone Falls at Copper Falls State Park. 

Loon Lake.  The North Woods are full of pristine lakes, waterfalls,
and thick forests alive with animals just waiting to be explored.

We hold many fond memories in our hearts of time in the woods at our
families' log cabin (The 'Shack') on 40 acres.   Outdoor activities keep residents here busy during all 4 seasons.

A regular visitor to our backyard, right in town.  Nature lives side by
side with mankind (except during the 10 day hunting season!)

Lighten up in life and always keep your liftgate slightly ajar!
We helped where we could around the homestead.  The1978
"Green Dragon" lasted another season of 3-4 trips to Ashland
 a week for doctor visits and rehab for my Mom.
  They don't
 make them like that anymore.

Family visits were a highlight for us and Aunt LaVerne Thanks for
making the effort to visit.  Northern WI isn't an easy place to get to.

Hard at work fixing up the house.

Remarkable murals depicting the 'Good Old Days',
line the streets in neighboring Ashland, WI.

 Picturesque Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the world.
 We just visited the 2nd largest, Lake Victoria in Uganda, Africa.

Dancers at Odanah's Annual Pow Wow.

Everyone had a good time at this annual social event.

"We dance and connect to the heartbeat of the Creator.
 Wadoo, gichy mani do (Thank you, Great Spirit)."

Warm, welcoming Anishinabe dancers.  We would encourage locals
to head out to the next Pow Wow with an open mind,
 looking for the good in their neighbors.

 As we travel we love to experience the music and dance of indigenous
 tribes and local cultures.  We were excited to have had the privilege to
visit this Ojibwe ceremony. The colorful costumes
were authentic &
spectacular, as were the spirits of these fine folks. 





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