April 29th , a Saturday, and I was not scheduled to be at work today! By the sound of that statement you might think that I have a terrible job, or a horrible boss, who never gives me off on a Saturday. The truth is…I am the master of my own domain, and I am the one who makes up the work schedule! I usually take Saturdays because they are longer than most work days, and this is how I express my leadership skills to my staff.

What a coincidence. This particular Saturday was also the same Saturday as the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department annual Bar-B-Que and fund raising auction. This event has got my name written all over it. Could it be true that my day off and the auction were an actual coincidence?

 For the readers who do not know me well, we will leave this part of the story to be a coincidence. As for the rest of my friends and associates, this was a well-orchestrated boondoggle of a scheduling masterpiece on my part. I was up early in the morning, and ready to go for a full day of fun.

Let’s get it started…Just down the road from Onalaska is the town of Blanchard. Now Blanchard does not really offer much in the way of sight seeing or any significant sites of historical significance, but they do have a really great breakfast spot.

The next time that you are in the area, take a few minutes and visit The Cottage Café, located on Fm 3277.

Debbie is the owner of this cute little diner, and she does the cooking herself. All of the breakfast items are good, but her breakfast tacos are really something. Everyone knows that I am “The Breakfasts Guy”, and a big day on the town call for a hearty meal to get me going in the right direction.

The auction would not start until 1 pm, and I was only meeting my friend Jason at the firehouse at 12:30, meaning that I had a couple of hours to kill. It was still too early in the morning to start looking for an adult beverage, so I decided to check out a couple of community garage sales in the area.

I had never visited the neighborhoods of Canyon Park or Texas Acres in Onalaska, and these garage sales gave me an opportunity to see these neighborhoods as well. What I discovered, is that the people selling their goods at garage sales are selling the same junk that I already had in my garage! This garage sale thing was definitely not for me. If you want me to attend your garage sale, have beer.

While perusing the garage sale goods in Texas Acres, I met a young lady who said that she had just visited a new antique store that was having its grand opening that day just over the small bridge on highway 190 heading towards Livingston. I still had an hour to fill in, and thought I would check it out. I have a large amount of cash with me for the auction, and I had not purchased a single item this morning except for breakfast.

It was not hard to find “The Bean Patch” located at 11623 Hwy 190 in Onalaska. There were banners, flags and balloons flying and a full parking lot of cars when I arrived. I was not looking for anything in particular, but the quality of the merchandise made me curious enough to step inside. I found a few interesting items to buy including a beautiful French Coffee Press. I do love my coffee in the morning, and have always wanted one of these contraptions. On the way out, I met the owner of the shop, who helped me carry my purchases out to my truck.

Mrs. Leah Everett is a charming and enthusiastic business owner and I am sure that The Bean Patch will be a welcomed addition to the town of Onalaska. I wished Leah the best of luck and success with her new venture, and promised that I would be back. I arrived at the Firehouse in Onalaska at 12:30 sharp.

With a plate of Chicken and Ribs in one hand, and a list of 162 items being auctioned in the other hand, I found a great table in the second row and waited for the festivities to start. The firehouse was full of people eager to support the department’s endeavor, and everywhere I looked were friends of mine.

There was Amy and Angela, who own a local fireworks stand, sitting behind me, as well as and my local banker, and my golf buddy, the unbelievable photographer of the galaxies, Gary, right beside me. Jason arrived just before the starting bell, and we were off.

By the time the dust had settled, and the last items were auctioned off, everyone seemed pleased with the results. Having a volunteer fire department, and a local community that supports their needs and efforts, makes me sleep very well at night. I have met many of the men and woman who volunteer at the department ,and I am proud to be a part of their community.

My only suggestion for next year’s auction is to have beer.I promised the department that if beer was served they could increase their revenue by 30%, and that might just be me! I did buy some items at the auction, and I am still negotiating with my wife where we are going to hang the Miller Lite NASCAR racing car hood that I bought. It is presently in my garage, and not for sale.

Never lost….but sometimes hard to find.
Till next time, this is

The Piney Woods Wanderer