Navigating Taylor County
Hello patrons of The Star News, my name is Arrielle Eckhardt. You may or may not remember me from last summer when I was an intern reporter. Since then, I have graduated from the University Of Wisconsin-Platteville with a BA in English and have moved up in The Star News world from part-time intern to full-time reporter.
Something that I realized that some people did not know about me is that I am not from this area and I only became a Wisconsinite about 3 years ago. I am originally from Rock Island, Illinois which is one of the Quad Cities. Despite its name, the Quad Cities is made up of 5 main cities and various smaller cities, villages, and towns in Illinois and Iowa.
After moving to Medford I realized that living in an area with so many cities clustered together with minimal miles between them is somewhat of a unique experience. You could basically make it anywhere in the Cities in under a half an hour, depending on traffic. This made getting to places a fairly pleasant experience, but because the area was so large and clustered together, I often had to use a GPS if I was headed anywhere I wasn’t completely familiar with.
My reliance on Google and Apple Maps was never a problem when I lived in an area with endless cell service, but this habit quickly caught up to me when I began navigating around Taylor County where cell service isn’t always available. My first realization of this is when I started as an intern-reporter at The Star News last summer and had to drive around various areas of Taylor County to go to events, interviews, and recreational areas. Before then, I was always traveling with my family who are Medford natives and know Taylor County like the back of their hand.
When I first began driving around Taylor County it didn’t take me long to come to terms with the fact that I would need to learn how to get around without the assistance of my cellphone. I actually had my first experience using a map when I drove to several campsites including the Mondeaux and Miller Dam. I did end up getting lost in both of those areas, but made it back home with the assistance of a few very kind Taylor County locals who probably pitied me due to my frantic state and general ignorance of the area.
After an entire summer of roaming around the various towns of Taylor County, I started to become more familiar with the area and was able to use my surroundings to help guide me with the partial assistance of a few downloaded Google Maps directions to ensure that I ended up making it back home one way or another.
Now a year later, I have found myself in the same position, with an upcoming summer full of events and places to travel to. While I am sure that I will get lost a time or two, I think that with my endless experiences from last summer, the helping hands of Taylor County locals and their “turn left at the red crooked mailbox” directions, various downloaded Google Maps, and a few calls to home, I will be able to navigate around Taylor county (almost) flawlessly.
Arrielle Eckhardt is a Reporter at The Star News.