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, May 29, 2012

Flea Markets

We didn't wander too far over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. On Sunday we headed for Cedarburg and its "Maxwell Street Days" sponsored by the volunteer fire department. Actually, this event is really just a big flea market. We were on the hunt for anything we could add to our camping gear, especially vintage stuff.
Nearly 700 vendors were at Cedarburg's flea market along with a number of food stands.
 Where else but in Wisconsin can one have a brat and a beer at 8 o'clock in the morning!
A few vendors offered fresh produce but mostly there was a lot of junk for sale. 
One of the several crafters at Cedarburg. I admire those artists who can
create whimsical characters out of scrap metal. Notice Rick's cap -
something he picked up at another flea market.
We like the flea market that is part of the Allenton Lion's Car Show held around the 4th of July. It's a very complete event with a pancake breakfast, toy show, and polka band. This year's occurrence will be July 1 and we'll be there for about the 10th year in a row. 
The car show at the Allenton event is quite a bit bigger than the flea market.
Last winter when we were in Florida, we checked out the local flea market near where we were staying. It was great to be able to wander the aisles of vendors outdoors in the middle of January and to see flowers in the midst of winter. And the fresh oranges, too. 
Orchids at the Seminole, FL Mustang Flea Market.
7 Mile Fair, about 10 miles south of Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport, is always good for a weekend jaunt. Lots of vendors are selling seconds of just about any household item – and clothing, too. I can always find socks there. 
The person with this carrier is both a fan of flea markets and cars!
I'm sure that we'll hit a few more flea markets as we continue to wander Wisconsin this summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the Grand River

Last week I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the annual conference of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). BALLE is the national network that includes Dane Buy Local and one of my “jobs” is securing sponsorships here in the Madison area. I heard many passionate speakers who not only talked the talk about the importance of thinking local first when making purchasing, banking, and even investing decisions, but they have walked the walk over the years. 
A view of Grand Rapids from the Amway Grand Hotel where we stayed. 
An interesting part of the conference was a sustainable manufacturing tour. We visited the headquarters of Herman Miller and Haworth, two of the companies in what is now known at the “Furniture Capital” of office furniture manufacturing. Both companies put NOTHING in landfills these days – amazing stories of how they manage to repurpose, reuse, or recycle just about everything that is used in the furniture manufacturing process.
A green roof at Haworth that is planted with sedum. The roof keeps the building
underneath cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Excess water
runoff is directed to a rain garden. Employees tend the garden. 
Frank Lloyd Wright designed windows displayed at Haworth.
(It's always important to find a Wisconsin connection
no matter where I wander!)
I had some free time and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Museum that was on the other side of the Grand River from our hotel. 

I learned that an attempt to restore the "rapids" in the Grand River has been in talks
for years, and now Grand Rapids Whitewater is working to do just that.
The organization hopes to restore 2 miles of the rapids and turn downtown
Grand Rapids into an outdoor hotspot for kayaks and fishing.

Looking for Wisconsin connections, I found this official
Green Bay Packers helmet in the exhibit that had been autographed
and presented to President Ford by team members.
 Where are the autographs? Maybe they've faded with time!
My colleagues, Lark and Leslie, and I checked out a local restaurant, the Electric Cheetah, for lunch one day. After a short stroll down the street, we ended up at Art of the Table, a unique specialty retail shop with gourmet foods, tabletop accessories, and home accents. The beer cooler at the back of the store was an original from the early days of the store. The store is located in Heritage Hill, one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. The district includes 1,300 homes that date from 1843 and represent Michigan’s finest collection of  19th and 20th century architecture.
The walls of the women's bathroom were "papered" with zig saw puzzles.
A return to Grand Rapids would be fun for Wisconsin Wanderers – lots to do and see in a city that’s right across the lake from Milwaukee!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dutch Oven Success

Because of other commitments on the weekend, we were only able to camp at Ledge Park, our favorite, on Saturday night. 
It was an opportunity to experiment with our Lodge Dutch Oven and, as is my wont, I tried something new when company was coming for dinner. We had stopped at the Lodge cast iron cookware store in South Pittsburg, Tennesse on our way back from Florida this past January. We picked up the proper lid and stand to use for outdoor cooking. And a recipe book, too.

I prepared a basic pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms. The biggest challenge was browning the meat. I ended up using our camp gas stove to do that because the Dutch Oven just didn't seem to get hot enough. However, the temperature was just right to cook the meat and veggies to a delicious doneness. The Dutch Oven just might replace my Cobb Grill, but I'll have to make sure I have enough charcoal briquettes since I used about four times as many with the Dutch Oven as I would have with my Cobb.

Our friends, Greg and Laurie, and Rick’s brother, Randy, sister-in-law, Patty, and their grandson, Devin, were our guests for dinner that finished with cherry pudgy pies. No leftovers – always a good sign.

We checked out the sunset over Horicon Marsh later in the evening and continued banter around a blazing camp fire as the temperature dropped.
Red sky at night, sailors' delight. It was a clear on Saturday night
and a beautiful Sunday.
Rick’s vintage camping trailer was nice and toasty during the night with just a small electric heater providing the warmth we needed. Breakfast on Sunday morning was followed by a couple of hours of relaxation and conversation with another Devin, grandson of the Ledge Park managers, our friends Joe and Suzy. 
Trilliums turn pink at the end of their season. Lots of them at Ledge Park this past weekend.
 We'll be back – maybe as soon as the coming weekend – for another Dutch Oven dinner.      

Monday, May 07, 2012

Camping Season Begins

It was another vintage camping trailer weekend in northern Illinois with some new old friends. BJ Frantz was our hostess with the mostess at the Thomas Woods Campground in Marengo, IL. Okay, we wandered out of state again but there was a Wisconsin connection – the site is a moraine left by the retreating Wisconsin glacier. 
Blooming wildflowers were abundant throughout the campground.
We gathered to show our trailers (some in the group had procured new vintage ones over the winter), share cocktails, good food, and stories around the campfire. And plenty of good-natured ribbing!
BJ restored her Yellowstone "canned ham." Its floor plan is similar to that of
Rick's vintage Trailblazer.
This 1973 Avion owned by Bill and Anna from Freeport, IL was new this year.
Mike and Jessica from South Milwaukee acquired their 1972 Avion this past winter.
 The Illinois Railway Museum – largest in the country – was nearby so we checked out the really BIG rigs on Saturday with our friends, Anna and Bill.
Some of these engines weigh nearly 150,000 pounds.
We took a ride on an electric train about 5 miles out into the country. Our volunteer motorman explained
the history of this type of train.
Was Thomas the Tank Engine patterned after this engine?
Thomas visits for two weekends at the end of August and thousands of big and little kids come to see him.
So many Trail Blazers - not just Rick's vintage camping trailer! 
We stopped at Donley’s Wild West Steakhouse for lunch – great food but a spacey waitress who kept forgetting to bring all of Bill’s order!
We didn't think this guy mounted inside the restaurant was a white-tail deer - too mean looking.
 BJ treated us to an excellent Dutch Oven breakfast on Sunday – fortunately we were able to finish before the rain deluge.

We’re looking forward to other vintage gatherings this fall and to meeting up with friends once again.
Pretty much the theme of us vintage trailer campers.....

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Moments on the Marsh

One of Wisconsin’s natural treasures is the Horicon Marsh, the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. The Rock River flows through the marsh which is located mostly in Dodge County. The marsh itself is under the auspices of both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (southern third) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (northern two-thirds). Both agencies work together to manage the marsh as one wetland ecosystem. The marsh has been recognized as a wetland of international importance. Our favorite camping venue, Ledge Park, overlooks the marsh on its eastern  side.

This past weekend we were in Horicon to have a beer and a burger with our friends, Joe and Susie, managers at Ledge Park. We also stopped in at the Friends of Horicon Marsh International Education Center to see the latest nature photography exhibit.

One of the most iconic images of the marsh was taken by Edgar Mueller a Horicon photo journalist.  This photograph, along with many other Mueller images of the Horicon marsh and its many bird inhabitants, can be seen at the Mayville Limestone School Museum.
In 1966, Edgar Mueller's single most-famous photo, Goose Explosion, was
published in Life magazine and was subsequently published worldwide.
--Photo from the collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society
While most people think of Canadian geese when they think of the Horicon Marsh, geese are just one of the approximately 300 bird species that have been seen at the marsh over the years.
A heron, perhaps, in the fall (I'm not good with bird identification).

The marsh this past weekend -
as seen from the Education Center.

Another view of the marsh - from Ledge Park.
Spent cattails on the north end of the marsh in the fall.
The land around the marsh is also important to its ecosystem.
My favorite view of the Horicon Marsh -
sunset over the marsh as seen from Ledge Park.
Spend a few hours on the Horicon Marsh. Take a guided tour to appreciate another breathtaking resource we have right here in Wisconsin. Or if you're really lucky and have a friend who knows the marsh like the back of his hand, you might even get to see the marsh in the quiet morning hours from his duck boat. (Thanks, Troy, for taking us out for a spectacular ride!)