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.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Where's the cheese?

The answer to that question is pretty easy - the cheese is in Wisconsin! 
What could be more typical of Wisconsin than a cow decorated with many
types of cheese.
Just the other day we were talking to a man who doesn't live in Wisconsin. He remarked that in Wisconsin, grocery stores stock so much more cheese than the grocery stores in his state. Wisconsin does produce nearly 25% of all the cheese that's made in this country so it stands to reason that more of the product would be available in grocery stores.
Two weekends ago we were up nort' for my niece's wedding. We decided in stay in Stanley for the weekend. Since the wedding was late Saturday afternoon, we had time to explore a cheese factory in the area during the morning. We finally found LeGrander's Hillside Dairy south of town toward Thorp. 

We arrived at just the right time because Dan LaGrander, owner, was there and gave us a private tour of the facility.
The investment that Dan has made in his cheese factory
is in the millions, if not the tens of millions. 
We learned that LaGrander's produces about 70,000 pounds of cheese per day and operates 5 days/week with 40 employees. Dan's son, Randy, is a Master Cheesemaker. To earn this title, a cheesemaker has to have at least 10 years of experience before engaging in a 3-year program that includes an apprenticeship, course work, and a rigorous final written exam. Wisconsin is the only state to offer this program, patterned after similar European programs. 
Wisconsin's landscape used to be dotted with many more cheese factories than one can find today. The peak was in the 1920s when 2,800 existed. Today only 126 factories are left. However, this is still the most of any state in our country. Wisconsin cheesemakers also lead the country in the varieties of cheese they produce - 600. California cheesemakers come in a far second with only 250 varieties. Mozzarella cheese is the number one variety that is made in Wisconsin - probably because of all the pizza we eat! 
Even though the term, "cheesehead" can be a derogatory slur, many Wisconsinites, like me, are proud to be called one. 
During football season fans wear a cheesehead. We saw this fan in Orlando
in 2011at a bar where more patrons were wearing Packer gear than in any
Wisconsin bar that I've ever seen!
To find cheese factories and retail outlets, check out the Wisconsin cheese map. It's good to have with you when wandering Wisconsin. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Power (and state parks) for the People

The last week of July we wandered up to Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek. But first, a stop in Maribel on Friday and Saturday nights at Devils River Campground.

This mill was on the campground.  Sawmills of the past became grist
mills rather quickly. The lumbering industry in Wisconsin never lasted as long as promised.

The Point Beach nuclear power plant was close by so we decided to pay a visit to the Education Center. We were impressed with the quality of the "museum." Lots of hands-on activities, for both kids and big kids. And, I thought, a well-balanced exhibit that included information about other sources of energy - from coal to solar to wind. Plus we learned from the staff person at the desk  that nuclear power plants - at least the ones in the United States - would not blow up. We're not Chernobyl.
The model of the assembly that contains the nuclear
fuel rods reminded me of the Empire State Building.
All the greats in the field of electricity, including
Ben Franklin, were shown along with an explanation
of their contribution to the field. Ohm, Watt, Ampere
have been honored by having their names attached
to an electrical term.
We learned that the spent fuel rods at the plant are being stored
on site pending the outcome of the federal government establishing
a permanent storage site. Funding for the Yucca Mountain site
in Nevada has been terminated.

Our other visit in the Two Rivers area was to the Rawley Point Lighthouse. We met up with at least three photographers that were taking pictures on an overcast day.

We were glad we had our Wisconsin State Park sticker since the lighthouse is in a "fee" area - the Point Beach State Forest.
One attraction in Maribel - unfortunately off limits because it's on private property - is the Maribel Caves Hotel. All that remains today is the stone shell of what was purported to be a haunted hotel - at least in days gone by.
Our next stop was Door County and Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek where we met up with Rick's son, daughter-in-law, and the two grandsons. Peninsula is one of the most popular of our state's parks. Not very crowded on Sunday when we arrived - the rain probably caused people to cancel or leave early. But a little rain didn't bother us. In fact, listening to the rain on the roof of the trailer is most pleasant.

We've added two more lights (at either end of the awning) to our rig.
Rick says that we can never have too many lights!
We were lucky because the next day was one of the most beautiful summer days we've had in a long time. A perfect day for picking cherries and touring Washington Island. But first, breakfast at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay.
It was a mechanical goat up on the roof this morning to cut the grass.
Next stop - Falcon Orchard where we picked a few buckets of cherries. I was glad the proprietor didn't weigh me before and after we picked cherries to charge me for the all the cherries I ate without putting them in the bucket!
I was told that the best way to pit the cherries was with a paper clip. It worked. 
We ferried across Death's Door from Gills Rock and landed on Washington Island to sunshine and blue skies where we took a tram tour of the island. 

The Stavkirke (stav, or mast, church) was one of the stops on our tour.
Rick's son and daughter-in-law had seen these types of churches when
they were visiting Norway a few years ago. According to Kari,
there were no lights in the Norwegian churches; this one had a few fluorescents!
Our four days were capped off with breakfast at Pelletier's in Fish Creek on Tuesday morning. We couldn't resist the cherry stuffed French toast - a specialty of the restaurant.
Calories don't count when one is on vacation!
Next time we travel to Door County, we'll do a traditional fish boil. Maybe next summer.