Sunday, June 18, 2006

Arrived at Rice Lake

We have arrived at Rice Lake, WI. This is where we will live for the season. We left St Paul, MN this morning around 9 am. We took I-35E north and then turned onto U.S. Hwy 8 to I-59. That practically brought us to Rice Lake. We stopped at Turtle Lake, WI for lunch. The diner was nicely decorated on the inside; they had a Coca-Cola theme throughout with checkered black and white tile on the floor. The menu was a bit limited, but they made the few options very well.
We arrived at Rice Lake a little before 3 pm. It was easy to find the AmericInn. We took all of our stuff off the truck and moved it into the room. We have until Friday to find an apartment here. After that, the company will house us at the motel on a case-by-case basis depending on our success in finding a place to live. Traveling, even though you are sitting the whole time, takes a lot out of you, so we took a short nap. A while later, we got a call from some friends who had arrived here and went to visit a family member. They called us to join them so they could show us around town. We ate at a Taco John's restaurant. This is a franchise similar to Taco Bell, except Taco John's is a little closer, but not exactly, Mexican.
Afterwards, we followed our friends so that we could see where we will be working. We visited the center briefly. The grass in the front yard is tall and it looks like there may be a little work to do, but it looks like a good site. I look forward to working there.
Alma and I went to Wal-Mart to buy some groceries and a cooler. As fun as dining out is, it's bad for your health and economically unsustainable. We just got the staple items and a few other things. We will save a little with the continental breakfasts here at the AmericInn.
There are some big differences between up here and down in the RGV. For one, there are no Whataburgers. That's pretty sad for people who migrate from Texas. At the Wal-Mart, another big difference is that camping and fishing are big-time entertainment up here, so the sporting goods section has some stuff that you don't find back home. Citrus is also more expensive. At Oshkosh, they were selling oranges for 50 cents each! That was at Wal-Mart where they promise low prices, Always! On the other hand, milk is a dollar cheaper than in the RGV.
We haven't had a good look at the housing market. Apartments aren't much cheaper than in the RGV. Rent typically goes between $450 and $600 a month, from our searching. We got one of those free publications with real estate listings. There are many houses in the 200K range listed. Towards the end, they have the cheaper houses, mostly fixer-uppers. I get the feeling that Rice Lake is a sort of recreation town. I'll find out later what the main industries are. By the look of the town, if you just happened to drive in, there doesn't appear to be much going on. Yet, there are good, well-paying jobs here. You have to wonder what sustains this place. For Wal-Mart to put a Supercenter here, there must be traffic. Although, when we were there earlier, the place was almost deserted. At 9 pm at the Wal-Marts in the RGV on a Sunday night, there would be lines at the checkouts.
We have not really talked to many people yet; so, we don't know how the natives are, culturally. Our interaction has been mostly transactional. As I become more acquainted with the area and the people, I'll be posting more about it. Of course, part of my work here entails interviewing migrants, too. So, I'll let you know about the people I meet. Due to the need for confidentiality, I will be calling the migrants by first name and last initial, keeping particulars to a minimum. I will not be writing about the children with whom I will be working. Everything I've worked towards for this summer will start to fall in place over the next two weeks.

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