Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

The North American Philosophy, Poetry, Politics and Sauna Society

Saunaman, Canada, Road Trips, Family, Saunas

The first time I met Saunaman was the summer of 1992.  Jill and I were on a marathon roadtrip with my daughter and one of daughter's pals from 71st Street.  We had packed-up my Toyota 4Runner with camping gear, food, water, Sony Walkmans for the 12 year-olds (remember the technology?) and set-out to circumnavigate Lake Superior.  An open road tent camping adventure. A good old-fashioned road trip.

One of the two previous times I had make this trek around Gitche Gumee was in 1976.  My brother and I set-off on a whim with my 1968 VW Westfalia Camper bus.  It was very short notice.  My recollection is that we raided mom and dad's fridge for anything we could grab, cobbled together whatever cash we had and hit the road.  No real plan in mind.  An ad-hoc road trip as it were.

A word about that VW bus.  Visualize a 21 year-old, red-blooded American male with a pop-top VW bus, Craig AM FM Stereo cassette with four three-way speakers - two in the front and two more above the bed in the back.  Beer and wine chill'n in the camper ice box and all of the creature comforts.  I miss that bus. 


Towards the end of our trip we coasted thru Thunder Bay, Ontario and right past all of my future Canadian family acquaintances.  Little did I know.

With the much later 1992 road trip I became acquainted with Jill's Canadian side of the family.  They were the elusive Canadians and I was the mysterious Tom that they had caught wind-of.  An expansive friendship and collaboration ensued with everyone traveling hither and yon to remain in-touch.  As we all watched the children grow and flee the nest we also graviated more closely as family.  At a distance this is not easy but we've accomplished it.

Back to Saunaman. 

Saunaman is married to Jill's cousin who happens to have a sister who is married to Hose.  It was Saunaman and Hose that introduced me to the tradition of a daily sauna.  This is not a tradition to be taken lightly as Saunaman has a woodfired sauna out behind his garage where he keeps a 1957 Mercury Meteor convertible - equipped with a naturally aspirated 5.0 litre Mustang V8.  There is also a 1965 Ford Galaxie parked there too. 

Reading about a sauna, old muscle cars and the exceedingly high probability of Canadian lager being involved I'd be willing to bet that you can just feel the testosterone coursing through your veins.

And while it is true that there is beer involved it's really only a footnote to the total sauna experience. Once the firebox is stoked, buckets filled with icy tap water and the temperature is just right. it's time for a good sweat.  A proper sauna ritual is interupted by only two intermissions that allow for a dowsing of cold water, a retreat to the screen porch for peanuts, pistachios, wild game hot sticks and rehydration.  Throughout there is a high level discussion of politics.  Both local and international .  There are deeper dives into Aquinian philisophy.  And poetry is recited from memory.  A shave, shampoo, lather and rinse are the denoument.

After further rehydration we anoint ourselves with man powder and retire to the house (nice and squeaky clean) for the ladies.

It's an altogether cleansing experience.  Bottoms-up...

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