Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Concours d'Elegance

Probably the best known of this type of car show is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held on the Monterey Peninsula in central California since 1950. Rick and I and a friend took the opportunity to see Pebble Beach-worthy automobiles right here in the Midwest on Sunday. It was the 7th Annual Milwaukee Masterpiece on the shores of Lake Michigan at Veterans Park. 

Automobiles are on display by invitation only. Some are driven to the event but most arrive on trailers. I have more respect for the drivers rather than the “trailer queens.” I figure, why have a classic car and never drive it? However, when I see the beauty of these vehicles, I can understand why their owners don’t want to take the chance of even getting a bird dropping on their beautiful automobiles let alone being in an accident on the road.
Classic motorcycles were part of the show.
This Indian was a winner in its class.
The owner of this Morgan drove to Milwaukee from the Chicago area.
This Honda was one of the first imported in 1972.
The owner of this Pantera stores other cars in Rick's barn.
Our friend remarked that this Woodill looked like
one of the cartoon cars in the movie, Cars.
This Packard Caribbean convertible looks like it
belongs in the tropics.
John Pranica drove his 1957 Thunderbird from
Appleton with his son, Thomas. John had exhibited
this beauty at the Iola Car Show where the chairman
of the Masterpiece saw it and and invited John
to participate. Needless to say, John was thrilled
to be part of such a prestigious show.
Here's a cute Sunbeam, made famous in the TV series
Get Smart, that was in the parking lot.
Yes, even some of the spectators had cars worthy
of being on the other side of the entrance gate.
It's a Porsche tractor - who knew!
The Deuce of Spades (1932 Ford Roadster), featured
in an indie movie with the same name.
The filmmaker, Faith Granger, produced, wrote,
directed, edited, and filmed it. And, she also starred in it. 
With a car show this elegant, stylish, and artful, I felt like I should dress up. Blue jeans and a t-shirt just didn't cut it when surrounded by such splendor.

Next year's Masterpiece is scheduled for August 25-26. It's sure to be another stunning show!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Look Up

I’m a docent for the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation and I give architectural walking tours of State Street here in Madison. I’ve learned a lot about the history of this iconic street from this experience. I  enjoy showing State Street and talking about it to visitors from out of town or even to Madisonians.

Some of my favorite historic buildings from the 1800s on State Street include:

W.S. Main Building at the top of State St., an example of commercial Italianate architecture, built in 1855 from sandstone quarried near Waunakee. Notice how much more ornate the State St. (right) side of the building is. More traffic used to go past that side so it needed to be more attractive to get the attention of passers by.
The Castle & Doyle Building, former Madison Fire Engine House #2, built in 1857. The decorative neo-classical terra cotta facade was added in 1921.
The Conklin Block, built in 1895, in the high Gothic revival style (the pointed brick arches are reminiscent of European Gothic cathedrals). The building had a conical turret as late as 1978 but it was removed after a fire.

The Matthew Gay Building, a Queen Anne design built in 1899. The motto of architects of that era must have been "too much is not enough." Notice all the design elements on the more ornate State St. (left) side of the building. 
The George Sherer Meat  Market built in 1866. The red siding was added in the 1950s or 60s. The current Badger Liquor sign has been grandfathered in since it is too large for the present-day sign ordinance.
I’ve also gone on historic building tours on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. That city certainly has some impressive architecture. 

One important lesson I’ve learned from being a docent is to “look up” whenever we are in another town during our wanderings. It’s fun to see if the same kind of architecture is evident in another place we're visiting or passing through. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Symco Shakedown

Sim · koh – a crossroads in east Central Wisconsin that for two days last week attracted hot rods from all over the Midwest. This wasn’t your usual car show. It was more like American Graffiti meets Animal House meets Stonefield Historic Site

Larry Werth had a vision of an early 20th century historic village and set out to create one of his own design. With help – and repurposed farm buildings – from friends in the area, he reconstituted “Unionville” at Symco with its post office, general store, school, church, and saloon, among other structures. Mike “Cliffy” Rosenow from Oshkosh had a vision, too – stage a traditional hot rod show for pre-1965 cars, complete with rockabilly music throughout the night, in this unique setting. My goodness, he even had a barber and stylist on the grounds to bring the looks of the guys and gals back to an earlier era. Oh, and cheap ($1) beer!
Lots of gas signs on the grounds.
Interior of the General Store.
The cobbler's shop.
What a woman wouldn't do at the beauty shop of the past to be beautiful!
Unionville is the site of an annual thresheree and tractor pull so antique tractors and engines are also on display on the grounds.
The first year we attended the Symco Shakedown, we camped on the Little Wolf River which runs along one side of the show grounds. That year it rained so heavily during the night that we had a ten-inch deep “lake” in front of our rig the next morning. This year we camped on a higher location across the road and, thank goodness, the weatherman was wrong. There was very light rain on and off on Friday but Saturday was a perfect summer day!
I told Mike Cavin of Green Bay that I would post a picture of the hood ornament on his Hudson Hornet.
Even though I’m not much of a fan of the noise and power of a hot rod, I have to admire the creativity that the owners display with their work. And they all have a story!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fair Season

I have fond memories of my county and local fairs that occurred about this time of the summer. In Sheldon, at the local fair, exhibit entries were limited to 25 per person. My mother entered the limit every year – garden vegetables, flowers, baked goods. My entries (usually sewn items) had been judged the previous week at the county fair in Ladysmith so were merely on display in the youth section of our exhibit building. I can’t quite remember just how many blue ribbons I may have won over the years, but I’m sure there were a few!

Attending our Wisconsin State Fair has always been a highlight of summer. There’s always so much to see. Along with the exhibits, I love the vendor tents and waterless cookware demonstrations. Who can resist the cream puffs?

We have attended the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau. We saw the youth livestock exhibits, watched a part of the Market Animal Show & Sale, and looked at artifacts in the Farm Museum.
Not the real thing - but the perfect fair symbol.
We arrived at the Calumet County Fair in Chilton a few years ago just in time for the homemade wine judging. Along with their critiques, the judges gave out samples. Now that was a perk I wasn’t expecting!

They grew some mighty big veggies on the east side of Lake Winnebago!
Rick claims that the Sheboygan County Fair in Plymouth or the Walworth County Fair in Elkhorn are the best in the state. I’m not one to argue. The boy enjoys his toys and loves to climb up on the BIG tractors that are being shown by the local implement dealer.
These roosters sure know how to crow about themselves.
With apologies to all my International Harvester friends.
I hope county fairs continue to thrive in the future. They are a precious piece of Americana not to be missed.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Rain or Shine

Even though sunshine is preferable, it didn’t matter if it rained or shined when we visited a number of places. Sometimes, we were lucky and the rain stopped just before we arrived.

We’ve perused the gallery at the Flying Pig Gallery & Greenspace in Algoma and enjoyed the garden as well.

We’ve viewed the exhibits at Circus World Museum in Baraboo and cheered the acts in the Hippodrome.
Can you see Rick at the top of the elephant?
We’ve applauded last summer’s production of Cheeseheads, the Musical from American Folklore Theater at Peninsula State Park. Because the stage is outdoors, weather is always an issue. It was raining the evening we arrived. However, about 15 minutes before the “curtain” was raised the clouds parted, the stage was mopped up, and the show went on.

We’ve not worried about the weather at Big Top Chautauqua because the performances are under a big blue tent. If you want to experience a great evening in a beautiful location, there’s still about a month left of BTC’s 25th anniversary season.

Rain or shine, wanderers in Wisconsin will find a place to see or something to do.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Rainy Days

As much as we would like the sun to shine every day that we wander, that just doesn’t happen. So, on those rainy days, we check out museums. Having gained a deeper appreciation for Wisconsin’s history over the last several years, I've managed to get Rick to historical museums in many of Wisconsin’s communities.

Last week we were at the Indian Agency House in Portage. Our tour guide was a very engaging college student who gained her love for history from her parents.

I couldn't resist posting this image – a section of a large advertising banner that came from the back of a theater stage. It’s at the Malone Area Heritage Museum in Wisconsin’s Holy Land. We’ve been at the modern-day Calumet Brewing Company in Chilton – good beer, good food, and a fun atmosphere.

The Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee is terrific. You can even design your own motorcycle.

If you want to check out more that moves, ride the electric train from Mukwonago to East Troy. Here’s a decorative element from one of the train cars.
A little rain won't dampen the spirits of us who love to wander Wisconsin!

Monday, August 01, 2011

An Up-North Feeling

I grew up on a farm in northwest Wisconsin. My parents built their home on 40 acres of woods so we never felt much of a need to experience nature. I never went camping until I was an adult. Rick, on the other hand, grew up in Milwaukee and camping up north (Minocqua/Eagle River/St. Germain area) was a regular weekend activity for his family - their way to experience nature. However, it was a long way to travel for that experience. 

Rick and I have discovered in our wanderings that we really don't have to go that far for an "up-north" feeling. Give us tall trees and water and we're happy. And campsites that don't have  us squeezed in like sardines.

Here are a few places we've discovered within an hour or two of Madison and Milwaukee that we would highly recommend if you're looking for that "up-north" feeling.

Ledge Park (between Horicon and Mayville) - a perennial favorite - has great sites with beautiful sunsets over the Horicon Marsh. (See my July 15 post for the sunset.)
Castle Rock County Park (on the Adams County side of the lake) was a recent find.
As was Indian Trails Campground in Pardeeville last week.
Yes, up north (and it really begins much farther north than Portage, regardless of what that community claims) is great. But when you can achieve that same feeling closer to home, why travel so far?