The picture above was taken near the Como Zoo main entrance. There will be more about the Como Zoo below and in other photo albums.

§ The Road to Minnesota – Literally


On the other page you saw pictures of our stops at Ella’s Deli in Madison and at Ochsner Park in Baraboo. Here is the route that I like to take from Lisle, IL to St. Paul. We head west on Interstate 88, and then we cut north to Interstate 90 at Rockford. We take I90 into Wisconsin, but then we take Hwy. 12 around the south and west of Madison. Sometimes we stop and see my old friends Bob and Monica Ziegler on their farm in Roxbury. (You’ll see pictures at some point.)

After passing through Baraboo Hwy. 12 takes us to the Wisconsin Dells. Look for some pictures about the Dells in 2010 or so. We then get back to I90 which is also I94 at this point. I94 will lead us home.

§ In the Walek’s Back Yard


When we first got to Minnesota we went straight to the Walek’s house to stay with Aunt Lynn, Uncle John and Cousins Michael and Tony. But this time we were joined by the Kinns! In fact, all aunts, uncles and cousins would be in attendance for a slightly overdue celebration of Grandma and Grandpa’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. Ironically I have no photos from that event, but I do have a large print of the entire family posing on the hill behind Uncle Ed’s house on Christmas Lake mounted on my wall.

The weather was awesome for a game of Badminton. Above Cousin Michael demonstrates some finer technique to Max while playing against Cousins Mitchie and Diana. Below Cousins Tony and Janae take a turn as well.

Damien and Cousin Haley are more interested in the neighbor’s swing set. Uncle John and Aunt Lynn have sent their play gym to Cousin Haley’s house.

§ Lots of Family on Hand


These first few pictures were taken on that first day while the kids played Badminton. On the left above we have Aunt Lynn, Aunt Ruth, Cousin Laura and Aunt Sue. Aunt Lisa is above and right. To the left Uncle John arrives with his coffee, and finally Uncle Jim appears to need sunglasses.

On another day we see Aunt Lisa with Cousins Haley and Laura resting on the front steps. We also see Jacob’s special bond with Aunt Ruth.

We see Adam, Grandpa Ed and Grandma Judy. We will see Uncle Ed, Aunt Vic, Cousins Vanessa, Brett and Blake later.

§ Como Zoo – The Gardens


We started in the newer Japanese Garden which I don’t believe we had visited previously. Damien and Haley enjoyed looking at the Koi in the pond.

When I was a kid I remember live tortoises outside the main building at Como Zoo. They have been replaced by this memorial statue which probably feels much less stress due to the endless stream of riders, pokers and prodders. I guess there are many approaches to tortoise riding.

§ Como Zoo – The Animals


The animal exhibits at come are quite nice, especially as compared to when I was a kid. May as well throw in a few just for memories.

We have been to this zoo on so many trips back, so between the different visits there should be a nice assortment of pictures. Notably on this trip many of the older cousins are no longer so interested in the zoo.

§ Como Zoo – The Playground


These giraffes are especially fun because the boys have been posing on them every couple of years since they were very small. Some of the older pictures were on film, and maybe someday I can get them scanned.

This playground was a lot of fun when we played here for the first time two years ago with Grandpa Ed and Grandma Judy. Resting their bones on some old bones is a great way for the cousins to cool off and create a photo opportunity.

It would seem that, two years later, the ground is much closer to the zip line! Damien is now quite good at the zip line, but it has become a challenge for max to keep his knees out of the dirt.

Max has always been very good at monkey bars and rings.

§ Out with the old …


Aunt Lynn mentioned that they were considering moving some river rock and creating a garden with more flowers. Max seemed especially enthusiastic, and we started by tossing rocks across the walkway to the other area.

There was so much rock that we had to use small buckets to transfer it to other areas. It turned out to be more work than one might think.

Before long everybody was involved. It was dirty sweaty work. I am not sure the boys realized what they were starting, but with many hands it was more fun.

Hard work and perseverance led to a job well done and a definite well earned sense of satisfaction

§ … and in with the new!


I’m not sure that it was planned in the budget, but Aunt Lynn decided to take advantage of so much enthusiastic labor. We went to the nursery, and each boy picked one plant that he would then plant himself. Tony and Michael were expert gardners by this point. They helped prepare the soil, transplant flowers from other gardens and then mulch the new garden.

What had been a major project somewhat hesitantly planned for later in the summer was now completed in just two days. Aunt Lynn was thrilled!

§ Loose Ends


I should mention that Aunt Lynn made a gift of some super soakers to the boys. These continued to be fun for about five more years.

The boys took time to pose on Great Uncle Danny’s motorcycle; he is on the other side of the camera with me.

The boys pose in front of the garden that they worked so hard to create.

We took home many bulbs and cuttings from Aunt Lynn to start our own garden. When we started digging at home we discovered the reason for the poor grass next to the walkway; the extra cement from construction had been buried only two inches deep! We didn’t take photos of our own gardening, but the results will be obvious in photo albums to follow.