Avery Road Dead End Part I

1911 Replica Curtis Pusher aircraft in lobby of Milwaukee's Mitchell airport

Many people seem to have trouble believing that I went to visit the Avery’s on Christmas day, so I thought I would offer up a little proof that I’m not making any of this stuff up.

I flew in to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport from Portland, Oregon around 9pm on December 24th.  I was just going to sleep on the floor somewhere in the airport, but at the urging of a friend I got a room in a nearby, Motel 6 that had fallen into an advanced state of desuetude despite a recently applied coat of fresh paint.

In the early afternoon, I returned to the airport by foot across a terrain not meant for human perambulation, on Christmas Day.  Upon my re-arrival at the airport, not as a recently-arrived-visitor to the city, but as a prospective squatter, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps of this Curtiss 1911 Pusher hanging from the lobby rafters.

Nearby some info on the plane as well…

Exploring the space further, I tried on a little Green Bay Packer gear on display at the adjacent NBC News Stand as well, and thought about buying some of it with the view of being able to “pass” as at least a fellow Wisconsinite, but I figured it would just end up confusing folks more than they already seem to be.


Maybe I made the wrong choice.  Given the luck that I’ve had so far with this admittedly nutty adventure, I think I would have been better off had I been wearing the cheese hat the whole time.  Just as an aside, there were other articles of clothing made from foam cheese, including a tie.  I saw an attractive woman trying one on, as a matter of fact.  That doesn’t happen every day where I”m from, and I took it as a sign, being the ever hopeful guy that I am, that I might have better luck with the ladies than other places I’ve been.

But I didn’t come to Wisconsin to try on silly hats.  My objective was to get to the Avery homestead a good ninety minutes away by car by late afternoon.  The busses that day were running, at least so far as I could determine, early morning or in the evening.  I’m a night owl, so early in the morning wasn’t going to work, and I didn’t want to take the later bus as I would have arrived at the Avery’s at an injudicious hour, particularly on Christmas day.  That left me with no option but a taxi which was going to be expensive, but I had no choice.

After casting around a bit along the row of taxis you typically find at an airport, I finally found Gary, an Iraqi expat who was willing to take me for $150.  I was to eventually learn that the price had been greatly reduced from a year ago owing to the proliferation of services like Uber.

I immediately liked Gary.  As an interlocutor, he was neither indifferent nor overbearing in conversation.  And he had interesting stories to relate.  What more can you ask for when talking to anybody, really?  On the way we fell into conversation easily.   Most interestingly he told me that he once worked at notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad Iraq.  What would anyone think hearing a statement like that?  So I asked him a bunch of questions about it, and it turns out that he was there before Saddam Hussein took power in the early 70s (I believe it was).  He said it was actually a nice place to work then — laid back, no one being tortured or shot.  His job was to manage the workers who build and maintained the facility as far as I could determine.  The next way station on his life’s journey was to move to the US to learn how to become a tractor mechanic.  While he was here, he was able to meet and marry a woman with whom he’s been married to for almost four decades.

He eventually asked me where I was going and why.  I told him I was here in Wisconsin to look into the hunch that I developed while watching Making a Murderer.  He hadn’t heard about the show, but when I explained to him that it was my belief that a killer was on the lose, he understood and offered encouragement.  “You are doing the right thing”, he said.  I asked him if would be ok for me to post the phone number to his taxi business in case others needed a ride out to Manitowok, and he said that would be fine.