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, December 11, 2014

'Twas Three Weeks Before Christmas

We didn't wander too far from Rick's home this past Saturday. The occasion was the 31st annual Monches Artisans Holiday Open House. Monches is an unincorporated community in Waukesha County not even 10 miles from where Rick lives in the midst of Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine.

The Kettle Moraine is really a beautiful area in southeast Wisconsin created some 20,000 years ago when two lobes of the glacier that covered this part of our state collided depositing sediment in between. Kettles (ponds) resulted when glacial ice broke off, got entirely or partly buried in glacial sediment, and subsequently melted. Some of those kettles are now filled with lakes - Elkhart Lake, Geneva Lake, and Little Cedar Lake. Hills of glacial deposits rise between the kettles and lakes giving much variety to the area's topography.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians is located at
Holy Hill - one of the largest glacial deposit hills in the Kettle Moraine.
The Basilica should be on everyone's list of must-see places in Wisconsin.
It's only a couple of miles from Rick's home.
Our first stop on the Artisan Holiday Open House tour was Monches Farm. Lots of people there, including a few free range chickens that greeted us on the way from the parking lot to the store with its many holiday items for sale.
The chickens were not in the least bit afraid of all the
people who came by.
When not outside, the chickens stay in this old barn.
Several artists were also selling handcrafted wares for the holidays at the Farm. Of course, I couldn't resist and ended up with a beautifully painted Christmas tree ornament that I gave to Rick's daughter-in-law the next day when we visited the family in Sheboygan.

On our way to our next stop, we came upon the Christmas Cookie Walk at St. Paul's United Church of Christ Church on the western edge of Richfield. (Richfield is a former township whose residents voted to become a village so the area covered by the municipality is 36 square miles of beautiful countryside.) We thought $7.50 a pound for a great selection of delicious cookies baked by members of the congregation was a bargain.

St. Paul's claim is that it's the oldest church of its denomination in Wisconsin and will celebrate its 175th anniversary next year. 
What could be more typical of a country church than
St. Paul's?
The chancel was decorated nicely for Christmas.
One of the stained glass church windows - more art
in the rural area.

We discovered that Richfield has a winery. It's attached to the Cold Spring Inn, a bed & breakfast that's been written up in Chicago Magazine. One of the winery's white wines has been named for Griffin, one of the goats that lives on the property. Jerry Munley, who owns the Inn with his wife, Kari, let the bunch of them out of their shed so I could take pictures.
Griffin is the big guy eating out of the hand of his owner.

Our friend, Greg, who lives in Highland Park, Illinois came to visit and joined us on the tour. He had never been to the Mineshaft in Hartford so we went there for lunch just so he could experience the busiest restaurant in Wisconsin. One of the features of the restaurant is an incredible game room on the second floor. A great way to keep the kids busy when a family is waiting for a table on a busy weekend. 

Our last stop of the day was to celebrate Christmas at the Mill. This yearly event, sponsored by the Richfield Historical Society, was part of the Christmas in Richfield Day. We enjoyed hot cider, cookies, and Christmas carols at the mill house.

A real treat was listening to Kelly Thundercloud as she sang Christmas carols accompanied by Clara Birkel, one of the board members of the Richfield Historical Society.

Merry Christmas wishes for the holiday season. And good cheer for all . . . 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Eating Locally

When Rick and I are wandering around Wisconsin we like to stop at local restaurants when we're hungry. These places are a lot more interesting than the chain restaurants near the major highways. But how does one know if a meal will be good? We don't concern ourselves with that since Rick recently found this publication:

Wisconsin's Best is in our car/truck/van (whatever we're traveling in) and we check it out when we're ready to stop for a meal. There's a map in the middle showing where all the restaurants are located. Beware - it's not very accurate and some towns are in the wrong county. But that's not as important as the recommendations for the restaurants. So far, so good. We've had good luck with all the places we've been to that are in the directory. And many of the spots we've dined at have a $5.00 coupon in the directory that we've used. 

Where have we been lately?

Brooke's Nook is in Fox Lake. We stopped in for lunch a few weeks ago
when we were camping at Ledge Park. Rick had a burger and I had a chicken
Caesar wrap. We both were pleased with our meals.
This restaurant used to be a gas station. Patrons can see the cooler - something left over from the restaurant's former days - that the new owners decided to keep. They offer a breakfast deal for the community - a $2.00 special (or maybe it was $3.00) for eggs and toast. Nonetheless, a bargain that keeps regulars coming back.

Last weekend we traveled to northern Wisconsin to hear Willie Nelson in concert at the Big Top Chautauqua. We stopped in Tomah for lunch.

The Greenwood Cafe was our destination. We had a nice chat with the owner
who, just that day, received his copy of Wisconsin's Best. This was definitely
a place where the locals hung out. Our waitress knew every one of them (mostly
senior citizens, like us) by name. 
I had a salad with grilled chicken. I appreciated that it was Romaine rather than boring Iceberg lettuce in the salad. The blue cheese dressing had the biggest chunks of blue cheese I've ever seen. Tasty indeed. 

Our next stop was Sheldon, my hometown,  where we spent Friday night with my sister, Nancy, and her husband, Jim. They took is to a neighboring town, Conrath, for a traditional Wisconsin fish fry.
Chick's was in the directory but under a different name.  This place
has been a bar ever since I was a kid but I don't recall that we ever ate there.
The restaurant offers a complimentary steak dinner if you dine during the month of your birthday.
Unfortunately, Jim just missed having his July birthday steak.

Rather than the fish, Rick and Jim each had a delicious steak that we learned came from Iowa. Not quite local, but at least from a neighboring state. According to Rick, it's a better value to go out for steak rather than grill your own these days.

There's no lack of great restaurants in the Chequamegon Bay area, our final destination, where the Big Top is located. We stayed in Ashland in a motel that overlooked Lake Superior and partook of the local cuisine.

But eating locally is not just about the restaurants, it's also about the food that's grown locally.

Our friend, Linda, has a son, Rob, who has a farm outside of Bayfield - Twisting Twig Gardens & Orchard. Rob has owned this 40-acre farm for nearly 10 years. He grows organic produce that can be purchased at the Chequamegon Food Co-op. My brother-in-law jokingly called it the "hippy grocery store" and when Rick asked at a local bookstore where the "hippy grocery store" was located, a young woman instantly knew what he was talking about and gave us directions.

This store reminded me of our Willy Street Co-op here in
Madison with its focus on organic produce and other
natural products.
We were delighted to take a tour of Rob's farm and snag some carrots. Very flavorful - not like what comes from a mainline grocery store. 

Swiss chard ready for market. Rob waters his gardens
with a system of hoses using water from a deep pond on
the farm.
Tomatoes will be ripe soon.

Along with apple trees, Rob has blueberry bushes on the farm. The largest
blueberry farm in Wisconsin is close by Rob's farm.
Rob also supplies area restaurants with produce. One is Maggie's in Bayfield where we dined prior to the concert on Sunday night.

Along with good, local food, Maggie's is all about flamingos.
We vintage camping trailer folks love that mascot!
Earlier on Sunday we went to the Delta Diner, a place listed in Wisconsin's Best, for breakfast. Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (on the Food Network) visited this summer. The production crew was at the diner for two days, Guy was there for 2 hours. However, he had visited the Delta Diner last year and Todd, the owner, was able to get to know him first as a customer. The Triple D episode with the Delta Diner will be airing soon.
It was an hour wait at the Delta Diner but we were prepared that would be the
case. We passed the time sipping our iced coffee purchased at the coffee shop
on the grounds and visiting with our friends. It was a lovely day to wait outside.
Rick decided that from now on we would obtain autographs of the owners at restaurants we visit while wandering Wisconsin. Todd at the Delta Diner was behind the counter cooking on the grill and gladly signed our guide.

What better to host at a classic diner than a classic
car show! (A picture in the diner)
Yes, we were in the middle of nowhere at the Delta Diner, but
a destination not to be missed.
We learned that the wonderful applewood smoked bacon we had for breakfast could be purchased at the Sixth Street Market in Ashland so we picked some up later. Quite the meat market at this place.

One more local stop before we reached home on Monday - Schieneback's Shanty in Butternut for breakfast. This restaurant wasn't listed in Wisconsin's Best but it should have been.
Again, another place where the locals hang out.
I need to take more pictures of food we eat so I can remember what it was that we tried when we stop at local establishments!

Let me close this post with some advice when you are traveling anywhere . . .

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fun with Friends and Family

Someone told me that I shouldn't blog about places we've been to in the past but since the Iola Old Car Show is one of those events we go to year after year after year, I have to make mention of it again this year. However, there was a twist. Instead of camping at one of the usual places we've been in the past, this year it was "driveway" camping at our friend Jay's house. 

Since I've not posted any pictures of the latest addition to Rick's fleet, I thought now would be a good time to do so. This was the rig we used for the past few days.
The new "old" trailer is a 26' Argosy from 1975. We love the panoramic
view from the front window.
The interior is light and airy with a roomy dining area in the front.
The refrigerator, with separate freezer compartment, is almost as big as what I have in my apartment.
It can operate on either gas or electricity and knows which power source to use all on its own!
New stove and oven in the kitchen opposite from the refrigerator.
I cover the sinks with cutting boards to have more counter space.
One bed behind the kitchen.
Another bed on the other side. Bunk beds swing up from
under the windows and are secured to the ceiling.

We plan to remove the bunk bed on the right once Rick finds the right tool for the job so that the sleeping area isn't so claustrophobic. The bathroom is at the back of the trailer. I especially like the "pocket" door that one can close for privacy behind the bed on the left.

This trailer is the second Argosy that Rick has bought in the past year. The first is "Tater;" this one is "Tater II" because of the color on the outside.

We went to the car show on Thursday afternoon and again on Friday morning. Jay showed his Nash Metropolitan. Rick went along for the ride.

It looks like Jay's convertible is a coupe but it really has a back seat.
Of course, only a small child would be able to fit back there comfortably!
For some reason, I'm drawn to red cars. Maybe because that was the color of first car I ever owned.

A fun convertible.
And another one.

A Triumph.
A Mustang - see the pony on the grill.

A 1960 Sport Prinz (that's what the sign said).
The geezer mobile (a Buick).

The theme of this year's show was "Four for All in '14." A variety of four-door vehicles was featured in the theme tent.

Imagine riding in the back seat of this Kaiser.
Or this Frazer.

Or this Packard town car. It must have been quite the luxury vehicle of its time.
Other four-door cars were displayed on the blacktop outside the tent. 

The owners of this car are ready for a summer outing.
There's even entertainment at the Iola Old Car Show.

We left Iola on Saturday morning and motored to the east side of Lake Winnebago with a stop at the Neighborhood Pub & Grill outside of Chilton for lunch.
Rick had the 1 lb. burger - actually two 1/2 lb. patties on a
hoagie roll.
I had the roast turkey BLT.

We spent the night at the Ledgeview Campground. Not our usual Ledge Park near Horicon but still on top of the Niagara Escarpment.

Here's a view of Lake Winnebago as we approached Highway 55. The scenery on this side is so much nicer than what one sees off Highway 41 on the west side. The east side of the lake is not one continuous strip mall.
Oshkosh is somewhere on the other side of the lake.
Sheboygan and a birthday party for grandson #2 was our last stop on our mini-vacation. It's always a delight to spend time with the boys (now ages 4 and 2). Their mother does a great job of themes for their birthday parties. 

Can you guess whose fruit and veggie faces these are?
Why it's Oscar, the Grouch, Big Bird, and Elmo!
This was the second outing with the new Argosy. Rick says this trailer is a keeper. There are still about two more months of camping. Stay tuned for more of our adventures.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

East Meets West - in Milwaukee

On Independence Day, Rick and I attended a Mini Meet-up car show at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee. 

Who knew there would be 18, count 'em, 18 classes of Minis at the car show. I'd seen a few vintage Morris Minis and the current Mini Cooper at the earlier British Car Field Day in Sussex, but didn't realize there were so many other models. The Mini is really a recent car having been manufactured by the British Motor Company from 1959-2000. The Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names (like Chevrolet and Buick are brands of General Motors). It was also the first car to be made with front wheel drive. Performance versions of these models used the name Cooper, due to a partnership with racing legend John Cooper. The Mini was even named "European Car of the Century" in 1999 by a panel of 130 international automotive journalists!

Fast forward to 2001 when the Mini was acquired by BMW. The car is now marketed as a "retro" redesign of the original Mini. Cute, but not as cute as the older models in my opinion.

Even though today's Mini is small, yesterday's was even smaller. Not much engine horsepower either. Even less than the VW Cabrio I used to own. Can anyone over four feet tall fit into one of these?
Apparently Rick can sit behind the wheel of a Mini.
All in a row. . .
Who cannot like a Mini?

All kinds, from trucks (even panel trucks) to Jeep-like models called Mooks.
I can't imagine the bed of the truck carrying more than
a large cooler.
The Mook reminded me of a VW "Thing."
Even a few Woodies in the crowd. Put surfboards on the top of these cars and Beach Boys music comes to mind. 

The plain little Minis are just fine.
Well, maybe a little more than plain. The stripes and white top are a nice touch.
Gotta love the sense of humor Mini owners have.
What could be more fun on four wheels? (Unless it's
riding in Rick's Honda del Sol!)
This caption is popular with many Mini owners.

I can't forget the convertibles - always a favorite.
One more . . a bit unusual and the only one exhibited in its class.
When I saw this car, I was reminded of a Saab. But it's a Mini.
Earlier in the day we were at the world's largest Independence Day parade in Knowles, WI. Well, maybe not the largest, but probably the one with the most fire departments and fire queens represented and the least musical units. Ten different fire companies drove their hook & ladder trucks, ambulances, and other vehicles down Main Street. Along with these big rigs, area trucking companies, excavators, and tractor enthusiasts strutted their stuff. Did I mention the candy? Much better than Halloween for all the kids in the crowd.

The one band was from Lomira High School. The music ended just as they marched past our viewing platform, but we did see some fancy marching.

We had been to the parade last year and I wondered what would happen if an actual fire broke out in one of the communities while its fire trucks were in the parade. Wouldn't you know it, this year there must have been a fire in Mayville because two trucks and an ambulance tore down the street with sirens blaring in the midst of the parade. However, the fire must have been a small one because one of the trucks arrived back in Knowles to take its place at the rear of the parade!

Thanks to our friends, Amanda and Troy, for opening their home (and great front porch overlooking Main Street) to us so we could spectate.

Across the street from our friends, someone knows how to transport
lots of cold beverages on a hot summer day.
No fireworks this year - just firecrackers that Rick's neighbors set off well past dark throughout the weekend.