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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bottoms up!

Now that fall is officially here, I’m starting to think about where in Wisconsin to see some of the best color and maybe stop for a beer or two along the way. Southwest Wisconsin and the National Brewery Museum in Potosi immediately come to mind. The Museum is located in the beautifully restored Potosi Brewing Company and is a place to see an amazing amount of brewing memorabilia – labels, bottles, coasters, glasses, signs, and just about anything a brewery of the past used to advertise its product. The American Breweriana Association and the Potosi Brewery Foundation teamed up to create this museum.

Long before Wisconsin became known as “America’s Dairyland,” our state could have been called  “America’s Beer Keg.” During the 19th century, nearly every town in Wisconsin had a brewery. That’s why this national museum has so many exhibits that focus on Wisconsin brands. Today, the big brewers have consolidated but the micro breweries with their craft beers are making a comeback – much to the relief of those of us who believe that life is too short to drink bad beer!
Bloomer is in northwest Wisconsin - not too far from where I grew up.
Due to its large number of German immigrants, Milwaukee had many breweries. 
Hillsboro has a large Czech community. My mother's ancestors
came from Czechoslovakia but I mostly remember my grandfather
drinking a glass of wine rather than beer on the holidays.
I remember Kingsbury as a brand my dad drank.
Lithia signs can also be seen at Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery.
This brewery in Theresa (with the 'th' pronounced like the 'th' in 'with' and the
rest rhymes with 'dress-a') probably used water from the Rock River
in its beer recipe.

If you like a beer with great hops flavor, I recommend Potosi Brewery’s Snake Hollow IPA. It’s a sturdy ale with character and carries the original name of the Potosi Hollow.

And, if you go to check out the Museum and Restaurant, be sure to observe the speed limit in this town that has one street about three miles long. Rick got a ticket on the north edge of town!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Midwest Vintage Trailer Rally

Most people would think a canned ham is something to eat. To those who’ve been bitten by the classic travel trailer bug, it’s definitely delicious. Envision a trailer that is the shape of a canned ham on its side, and that’s what Rick and many of our neighbors at this year’s Midwest Vintage Trailer Rally in Montello were pulling.

A teacher, Carol, who dressed in the same colors as her
trailer, owns this one.

This "canned ham" is owned by a man from
Chetek. He has 14 more trailers in his collection.

While some enthusiasts maintain the original essence of a bygone era with their vintage trailers, others personalize their rigs into modern travel units with all the appropriate decorations and accoutrements. Of the 40 vintages trailers at the rally, no two were alike. Nor were their owners. Except everyone knew how to have a good time!

The weekend started on Thursday night with a progressive cocktail party. Even spending 5 or 10 minutes at the 20 or so trailers that came early took us well into the evening. The drinks and hors d’oeuvres offered were just as diverse as the trailers themselves. Camaraderie abounded even though for many of us it was our first time at such a rally. Friday featured burger and jello mold contests. Competition was stiff.

Anna, from Freeport IL, took home the presentation prize
for her rainbow jello. She spent HOURS preparing this beauty.
The public was invited to the "Show'n'Shine" on Saturday to look at all the trailers. The owners at Buffalo Lake Campground figured that nearly 250 visitors climbed in and out of our rigs. I had my spiel down pat: “The shutters are a signature of the Trailblazer brand. The ’65 trailer and the ’64 Chevy Panel Truck that pulls it were made in Wisconsin – the trailer in Spencer and the truck in Janesville – both Wisconsin originals.” The adjective used by many who visited our site was “cute.” I couldn’t disagree! We were delighted that my uncle, Oscar, who has a summer home near Pardeeville, and our friends, Gary and Pat from Milwaukee, dropped by.

Green signs in the area directed visitors to the "Show'n'Shine" on Saturday.
A Trailblazer gas stove and a Trailblazer lantern were two accessories
we "exhibited" with the trailer.
Norm and Julia from DeKalb IL have Ronald McDonald
as a guest in their trailer that is painted to look like
a cheeseburger.
I hope Ronald doesn't notice Big Boy at the table.

Vintage trailers have become a new way of life, not just for my “vintage” generation, but for those that follow as well. I was surprised by the number of single women and families with younger children who were at the rally. Vintage travel trailers are growing in popularity as witnessed by the many clubs and rallies that flourish across the country.

A few of the rigs at the campground.

In the 17 years that Rick has owned his '64 Chevy Panel
Truck he has never seen another one at any of the car shows
he's attended. So imagine our surprise when a twin showed
up at the rally only three sites away from us. This beauty
is owned by Neil and Loretta from Illinois!

And then what should pull in but this '66 Chevy Carry-All
Suburban. It's like a panel truck with windows! Who knew
that the trailer rally would be such a great car show, too.
The rally’s organizer, Kimberly Steiner, was amazing. Every morning we had “mail” that included the day’s schedule as well as vintage magazines and other surprises. She’s been coordinating this rally for 10 years and does an outstanding job. We couldn’t have had more fun – and I had a most memorable birthday. We’re signed up for next year’s rally and are looking forward to having another great time with new friends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten Chimneys

Last week my friend, Mona, and I spent two hours on a beautiful summer day touring Ten Chimneys. Ten Chimneys, a national historic landmark located in Genessee Depot, was the summer, and then retirement, home of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The couple was widely considered the greatest husband-and-wife acting team in the history of American theater. 

Lunt hailed from Milwaukee and Fontanne from England. They met and first acted together in 1919 and married in 1922. By the mid 1920s, Lunt and Fontanne were the two most respected, most popular, most critically acclaimed, and highest-paid stage actors in the country. After 1928 and until their retirement in 1960, neither appeared separately on stage again. Lunt and Fontanne had a clause in their contract that provided they would never act in the summer, so they could instead come to Ten Chimneys to retreat, relax, and rejuvenate.

Ten Chimneys today looks as if Lunt and Fontanne would walk into any room at any moment to graciously greet their guests. Evidence of their extensive travels is everywhere. Lunt was especially meticulous about cataloging all the furnishings, art, and artifacts on the estate. How much time he could have saved if only personal computers had been available during his lifetime!

We saw the main house, cottage, and studio on the tour led by an extremely knowledgeable docent. Not only could she tell us about many of the furnishings inside the buildings, but she had stories about many of the famous people who were guests at Ten Chimneys over the years.
The main house has bedrooms named after friends
of Lunt and Fontanne. 
When Alfred Lunt's mother and sister lived in the
cottage he called it the "hen house." 
The studio includes a second-floor performance balcony.
The name, Ten Chimneys, derives from the total number of chimneys on the main buildings on the estate. However, similar to the Big Ten Conference, now with its twelve teams, there are actually eleven chimneys at Ten Chimneys. A building with a chimney was added after the Lunts established the formal name for the estate and decided that they didn't want to change the letterhead on their personal stationery!

Ten Chimneys Foundation bills the tour we were on as "the tour of a lifetime." It was definitely a life that I will never know but it's nice to know that we have such a wonderful place right here in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Overnight at the Orchard

No doubt the best private campground we've stayed at so far this summer has been Dutter's Gibbsville Orchard! 

We've added a few "ornaments" to our camp site - getting
ready for the vintage camping trailer rally that we'll be
attending in a couple of weekends. 
Dustin Dutter, owner of the orchard at N3322 Hwy 32 Sheboygan Falls WI, invited us to park our camping trailer there for two nights during the Labor Day holiday. It was a beautiful setting in the middle of a 20-acre orchard that Dustin took over in July. There's a bakery at the orchard and his cousin makes some really good pies that are for sale at the orchard's retail store along with the 28 varieties of apples and other great Wisconsin food products. The orchard is at local farmers' markets as well. 

This week it's time to start pressing apples for cider. Since the cider isn't pasteurized, it's the right stuff for making hard cider. 
An original sign from the orchard; it fit right in with our
vintage trailer.
Dustin's mom (Lori) and dad (Jeff) are also involved in the orchard operation in addition to running their other business Creative Design Studio in Cedar Grove. We met Lori about 10 years ago when she was selling her unique brand of calligraphy at an art fair in Ozaukee and we've been friends with both of them ever since. By the way, Lori's art is available at the orchard and makes terrific gifts. Just ask our relatives who have many of her beautiful plaques hanging on their walls!

Later in the weekend we stayed at another "private" campground - this time at Rick's son's and daughter's home in Sheboygan. We were only a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan and could hear the sound of the waves throughout the night. 
Since we were plugged into an electrical
source, we put up our pink flamingo
lights around the trailer.
We hope to be able to go camping with the trailer three or four more times before the snow flies. It has been a great deal of fun for us this season.