Monday, August 04, 2003


We just got back last night from the Polonia Jam and our visit with Mark and Martha. Friday night, we visited the infamous Keg in Stevens Point and sampled its wonderful microbrews. Alan lost his deep fried cheese curds virginity and we got to see the stage where Mark and Martha perform their wonderful music on a regular basis.

Saturday, we arrived in Polonia around noon laden with accoustic and electric guitars. We spent part of the afternoon dodging rain, but enjoying Point beer and great accoustic music, highlights including Keg Salad and a beautiful rendition of Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee." As evening rolled in, the music changed to electrical and things began to rock a bit more. Highlights of the night time were, Mad Melancholy Monkey Mind complete with Mark, fingers and hair flying, going to town on the guitar, and the revolving Band of Bobs with their famous rendition of "Can't You See?".

After take down, we moseyed back to the campsite, where I collasped while the others ventured further down the road to Jimmy and Sally's place for good food and musical company. In the morning, Jimmy and Sally fed us a wonderful breakfast and we headed back to Stevens Point after breaking camp.

Back Chez Martha and Mark, we were treated to a private, accoustic performance of Mark's sci-fi inspired Captain Future. (I can't wait to hear the electric version!) As we sat in one of the Point coffeeshops having a last coffee before hitting the road, about half of the people who passed by the window were other musicians from the jam.

So, the Polonia Jam is highly recommended, especially since it's free. In fact, even without the music, the Jam was worth the trip just for all the great stories the musicians told. And of course, there's always Mark and Martha, who are also worth the trip. Also recommended is the upcoming M4 CD since, with the new band members, Mad Melancholy Monkey Mind is really onto something. If you want to visit the Jam, just remember to bring something to sit on or you'll end up with some very sore feet like I did.


In addition to excellent Polonia Jam, Polonia is home to a thriving Polish Catholic Church. Some of the buildings remain from the time when Felician nuns arrived in the community from Poland. The grounds are surrounded by a wonderful rock wall made up of small round stones that another website said was built by the orphan boys that lived there.

Just down from the church is the Depot Bar which hosted the Jam and right across the street is Sylvia's Bar. Next to Sylvia's is the Cafe. With a couple more buildings, this is the extent of Polonia's downtown. I didn't enter any of these places but I would like to try the Cafe next time.

Our camp was on a rarely used property just up the hill from the church. The large clearing had an abandoned white house at the end near the driveway entrance. It was so dilapidated that none of us ventured inside. After a brief peak, Martha and I walked to the other end of the clearing where a tarp hung over a picnic table. We turned when we heard a large crash to find Alan and Mark coming towards us a ways away from the house. The crash came from inside the house and no one had touched anything, so we don't know what caused it. Some things are better left alone and this house was one of them. We took a picture of the house and I'll share it once I figure out how to post photos here. Another thing better left alone was the outhouse which was listing to one side and sagging into the ground.

We decided to set up our tents under the tarp because it looked rain, which ended up being smart because both came through the later heavy downpours completely dry. The picnic table and tarp, and soon our tents, were covered with jostling, mating and fighting grasshoppers. Martha noticed that many of them were missing a hind leg. I guess being a grasshopper is harder than I ever would have imagined, if I had thought about it, but then insects in general have it pretty rough. We made it through the night with only one grasshopper in the tent with us. I don't think Mark and Martha were so lucky. Alan and I enjoyed our first time camping together and a brief respite from mosquitos. Martha thought it had been too dry for mosquitos this year but I like to think they really don't have any. We've all got to have our dreams of paradise.

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