Monday, July 9, 2007

Elkhorn, WI: July 9

Did you know that Paul McCartney bought the rights to the song "On Wisconsin!" and then sold them to Michael Jackson? Absolutely true.

Valery Lantratov has been to the United States 23 times on various tours. This was his first time in Wisconsin. We didn't sample any of the famous Wisconsin cheese, but did see some Wisconsin cows. That would have to be good enough for this trip.

To give you an idea of the size and feel of Elkhorn, I'll share with you one interesting sight that we witnessed. We passed some sort of meeting hall and in the parking lot a man was waving two orange flags to help all the cars line up correctly. How many cars were there? Four.

The Crossroads Motel outside of Elkhorn is our favorite hotel so far. It has high arched ceilings with wooden beams that give it a warm, rustic feel. Elkhorn is a bit off the tourist map and we loved the authenticity of it. We ate at a small local restaurant not a chain, and got a feel for normal every day life in small town Wisconsin.

The Toe to Toe Ballet School in Elkhorn is located in a former bank. It may be the smallest, most intimate space we've taught in. (One good grand jete and you could hit both walls) It was also the smallest class in terms of the number of students. There were only five. Each student got true individual attention and there was no chance of a student hiding in the back and hoping the Russian would pick on someone else. Valery was especially talkative during this class. More "good emotion."

After class our travel dramas resumed. We were parked in a two hour spot for our hour and a half class, but of course the class ran long. We left the studio just in time to see a man putting a ticket on the car. "We're here, we're here," I said, but no luck. He'd already written it.

Next we backtracked through Hanover Park to pick up my folder. So far, so good. Because we'd made this small diversion from our plans, we needed new directions to our next city. I called the hotel in Valparasio where we'd be staying. The woman very confidently gave me directions. Unfortunately her directions were as wrong as they were confident. Instead of making a nice loop around Chicago on an Interstate, we took a scenic route through the center of the city. We got a nice experience of driving under the L tracks before our road came to an end in the heart of downtown. I called the hotel again and a new woman at the desk said she had no idea how to get to the hotel and we were on our own.

A big thanks to my brother, Cal Lee. As we sat in rush hour traffic on the I-94 on ramp with our gas tank nearly on empty, I called him on my cell phone and he looked up the route on mapquest. This leg of our trip probably took twice as long as it was supposed to and we arrived in Valparasio quite tired, but not too terribly stressed. Fortunately, we were not racing to a second class that day and the travel troubles were not a disaster.