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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Miscellaneous Musings While Winter Lingers

We're getting antsy to get on the road again. Especially when winter will not loose its chilly grip on us here in Wisconsin. Rain at the beginning of the week. The next day - snow. The day after - below zero wind chills. Weather-related warnings for our vacation destination - high surf and rip tide. We just won't go swimming.

For this last post before vacation, I was perusing pictures I’d taken over the years that represented some of the unusual.

The Airstream Ranch consists of eight full-sized vintage Airstream camper trailers buried in line off I-4 near Tampa, Florida. The owner, Frank Bates, maintained that his creation, which represents the history of the Airstream line of campers, was art. The county disagreed and took Bates to court. Eventually appellate judges heard the case. While they did not state that the campers were art, the judges did say that Bates' creation wasn’t junk, wasn’t a sign, nor illegal storage of RVs.
Art or something else?
“White Collar Woods” was an installation near Woodruff in the north woods of Wisconsin a few years ago. It was part of “Forest Art Wisconsin,” a project that tapped into a cutting-edge trend in the art community. The forest was the source of artistic inspiration and the trail area functioned as the gallery, a display area for works of art that normally would not be found there. The artist was commenting on the gentrification of the north woods. The French cuffs symbolized an invasive species which also brings jobs and livelihood through tourism. But the artist was asserting that at some point, making a trip to the woods similar to a trip to the opera could be as absurd as the cuffs of the installation.

We were on our way to the Amana Colonies in Iowa two years ago when this "horse" caught my eye. Perhaps it was an advertisement for a museum, maybe it was folk art out there for the public's enjoyment. I can't remember. Nonetheless, something unusual and fun.

We’re looking forward to finding more of the interesting and unusual as we wander south. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beer and Cheese Fest

Last Saturday Rick came to Madison and we attended the Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest. We were first timers at this event. 
We arrived shortly after the festival opened to the general public and stood in a long line to get into the exhibit hall. Those with VIP tickets were able to enter an hour earlier but paid for the privilege to do so. There was confusion as to just what the entry process was. We eventually learned that the wrist band we received was merely to show that we were over 21 years of age. Then we had to present our tickets to someone else at another gate.

We visited most of the craft brewers and artisanal cheese makers. It's great to see microbreweries making a comeback in Wisconsin. Not quite as many as there were in the 1800s, but a respectable number nonetheless.

Our complimentary tasting glass. It may look like it's a
standard pint but it is about half the capacity.
I was delighted to see Potosi Brewing Company in attendance and had to have a sample of my favorite - Snake Hollow Pale Ale.
We've not been to this brewery in Eau Claire. It's on our
list for the next time we travel north.
A glance at a beer aficionado's garb will give a clue as to his or her favorite brew.
And then there are the generic t-shirts that cause a smile.
My friend and former colleague, Jim Draeger, author of Bottoms Up! A Toast to Wisconsin's Historic Bars & Breweries, was at the Fest. In addition to the book, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press partnered with Wisconsin Public Television to produce a documentary that features many of the bars and breweries in the book. A few weeks ago I also viewed the current Bottoms Up! exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. This exploration of Wisconsin's tavern culture is on display until March 23. Check it out.

All in all, the Beer and Cheese Fest was a good event for a beer snob who appreciates the flavor of a good microbrew! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting Out of the Cold

Soon we are going to practice being snowbirds  for the third winter. To prepare, I thought I would look back at our first trip to Florida two years ago. Then we spent a week in the Orlando area and, of course, had to visit Disney World. It was my first time at this particular theme park. I had been to Disneyland in California in the mid-1980s. I was in Anaheim for a conference and our conference social was held at the park.

This Disney visit was three days  one in Celebration, FL (a Disney planned and branded city), one at EPCOT, and one at the Magic Kingdom. My favorite part of the day at EPCOT was a "behind the seeds" tour at the Living with the Land pavilion. We learned about the hydroponic techniques that were being used to grow gigantic fruits and vegetables. All of the produce is used in Disney World restaurants. Our tour guide was a recent graduate with a degree in entomology. 
"Look, Ma - no dirt!"
I was surprised that EPCOT wasn't more science-oriented with more appeal for adults. Many of our stops were quite "kidified." We probably should have spent more time in the World Showcase area visiting a few more international pavilions. 

Inside the China showcase.
The IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show (lights and fireworks) around the World Showcase Lagoon at the end of the day was spectacular. 
EPCOT at night.
Because we visited Disney World in January, the crowds were lighter and we didn't have to wait in long lines. There's also a way visitors can schedule a time to go on a ride or tour an attraction to avoid spending more time waiting than having fun. We took advantage of that aspect of the park.
Ever-changing colored lights flood the iconic Cinderella's castle at night. 
I'll admit that the Buzz Lightyear ride was fun. We even went twice!
Great marketing - having a picture of visitors available at the end of the ride.
One day we ventured to the east coast of Florida and visited Daytona Beach. More than 100 years ago the rich were racing on the sands of Daytona and continued to do so until the mid-1930s. One can still drive on the beach today, but only at a fraction of the speed that cars go around race tracks now.

This is the ocean side of Florida. We'll be on the gulf side in a few weeks.

We're keeping our fingers crossed that we won't run into any bad weather on our way to Florida. We're also hoping that the "Sunshine" state will, indeed, deliver!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

For the last weekend of 2012 we wandered out of state – to the flatland south of us to visit our friends Anna and Bill in Freeport. We met up at the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum in Rockford. 
Look closely and you'll see Rick at the side of the cottage - playing with his phone, of course!
The backside of the cottage. Its basement is still above ground. Robert Tinker
had his office down there. 
As we learned more of the history of the cottage and its builder during our docent-led tour, I thought about a couple of Wisconsin similarities – the Schlitz Brewing Company and Villa Louis. 

Robert Tinker was a bookkeeper for the Manny Reaper Works (a big competitor to Cyrus McCormick at the time). McCormick sued John Manny over patent infringement – all the way to the Supreme Court – but Manny won. However, the trial took its toll and Manny died only two weeks after the verdict. Tinker eventually married Mary Manny, John’s widow. He connected his cottage to Mary’s home with a draw bridge over the creek that separated them. 

Now for the Schlitz similarity – Joseph Schlitz was the bookkeeper for August Krug’s tavern brewery. After Krug died, Schlitz married Krug’s widow and took over the brewing company naming it after himself. One difference was that Mary Manny Tinker ran the company making her a rarity among women of her day.

As for the similarity to Villa Louis, the Tinker Cottage has many of its original furnishings, artwork, and household items still on exhibit just as the Dousman family artifacts are at Villa Louis. Both homes were turned over to the cities in which they were located after family members lived there for many years. Both are now operated as museums.
The fireplace in the parlor - all decked out for the holidays.

This spiral staircase was fashioned from one continuous piece
of wood that was bent over a period of many months.

One of the serving pieces in the butler's pantry.

All of the china was painted with a variety of flowers.

After the Tinker Cottage, we stopped in at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, also in Rockford. The centerpiece of its paleontology collection is Jane, a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex.
Jane has more of her original bones than any other dinosaur on exhibit in any other U.S. museum.
She was uncovered in Montana.
This depiction is of a Neanderthal, a human's
closest extinct relative.
On New Year’s Day, we met our friends, Laurie and Greg who live in Illinois, for brunch at the Honeypie CafĂ© in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee. Greg grew up in Bay View so it was a homecoming for him. The food was delicious and the conversation scintillating. It was a great way to begin the new year. 

Since we’re still in the first week of the new year, it’s probably okay to end this first post of 2013 by wishing all of my readers a Happy New Year! May your 2013 be filled with friends and adventures!