Dear Hippo,

Seeing as how you are the only one of the group that can read, I believe I will address the first few of these letters to you.

First, in the tradition of far-away-friends, I must begin this letter by admitting to you how dearly I miss your company. Hopefully things at home are not too dull (what with the birds spending the week downstairs).

Second, I would like to calm your worries: we have survived our first day and safely arrived at a hotel in Milwaukee, WI. We passed the day in Old World Wisconsin (a 400-acre Living History park). It was both beautiful, and insightful. During our time there, we had the chance to watch an old fashioned baseball game (which made Marta, who is not usually an avid baseball fan, quite excited. I can only assume it is because of all of the nice looking young gentlemen running about). Dad was the self-proclaimed Heckler who contested the Ref’s calls and cheered on the underdogs.

You will be interested, dear Hippo, in one bit of information that we learned while visiting a German farm. One farmer had designed a “Pig Treadmill” that served as a generator for his butter churn. Think how much time and energy one would save, while also ensuring you have nice lean pork.

I was also struck by the poverty-stricken Norwegian immigrant farm from the 1860’s. I can’t imagine the life of this 17-year-old mail-order bride who came across the ocean to marry a stranger, care for an indoor pig, have 3 children, and spend her entire life scratching out a living. The story of her husband sounded a bit like the story of my own great-great-grandfather. I feel very blessed for how easy, in comparison, my life has been thus far.

Anyway, dear Hippo, I’m sure you are as tired of reading as my fingers are of typing. I’ll post a few pictures and write again soon.

Give my love to everyone,