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, June 24, 2014

Back to the 50s

This past weekend Rick and I wandered to St. Paul for the "Back to the 50s" Car Show. 
I don't know if this is the biggest car show in the country with more than 11,000 vehicles, but it certainly was one of the largest we've been to, Iola Old Car Show included. The setting was the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Such a beautiful place - lots of trees offering shade on a sunny and hot weekend. As much as I hate to say that anything is better than what we have here in Wisconsin, our state fair park can't hold a candle to Minnesota's.
Even though Minnesota is the "North Star State,"
this little fella greeted us at the fairgrounds.
However, a gopher wouldn't stand a chance against
a Wisconsin badger! So take that, Minnesota!
Rick's friend, Wally, invited us. Because he belongs to a car club (one that he founded), Wally is able to reserve a spot to park his and his friends' vehicles and pitch a tent. Our location was terrific - lots of shade all day long and close to the flush toilet bathrooms!
Where's Neda, you ask? Why it's just a couple miles north
of Iron Ridge. And if you don't know where that is,
Iron Ridge is just a couple miles north of Woodland!
The Minnesota Street Rod Association sponsors "Back to the 50s" and this was the 41st annual gathering. Only cars prior to 1964 are allowed so there are no Mustangs (they came out in 1964 1/2) nor 70s muscle cars. Rick was planning to show his 1964 Chevy panel truck but the shop fixing the brakes wasn't able to finish the job in time for him to take it. So we settled for just being spectators during our inaugural visit.

With benches along the side of his pick-up truck's bed and an umbrella to shade us, the touring ride on Wally's truck was quite good. The traffic flowed throughout the fairgrounds all day long with drivers and passengers checking out the many vehicles just as we did. It was also fun just to sit back and watch the interesting cars and trucks pass by.
Wally's truck - our "touring" vehicle.
Here are just a few samples of what we saw while on the tour.

Wally's classic car is a '56 Chevy. I have a hard time telling one year from another. It's even remarkable I can tell a Chevy from a Ford!

Gotta love that turquoise color!
Another friend of Wally's, Travis, came all the way from Colorado to the show. He's staying in Wisconsin for a while before going back west. 
Travis's Suburban is about the same color as Rick's truck. 
Attendees at "Back to the 50s" number more than 125,000. Maybe even more.
The streets were packed. If you look closely, you can see Rick in the
front with his "safari" hat, print shirt, and black shorts.
Now for a few of the cars that caught my eye. . .

Love those Corvettes of the 50s.
And another one - great lines on these cars.
So many bold colors on these classics.
Easy to spot in a crowd!
More colorful cars. . .

I'm always on the lookout for a 1955 Ford.
The first family car I can remember - a '55 Ford custom sedan. My dad
always bought Fords, except for his last car which was a Mercury
Marquis. Apparently the equivalent Ford Crown Vic didn't have the
directional indictor beneath the rear-view mirror so that's why he
changed brands. But at least the Merc was in the same family!
And panel trucks since Rick has one.
This one is a Ford, probably a 50s vintage.
The show even featured a celebrity - Paul Petersen from the Mickey Mouse Club and the 50s/60s Donna Reed Show. 
This former child actor formed "A Minor Consideration,"
a child-actors support group in 1990. Today he is the
most dedicated advocate for protecting both present-day
child stars and shunned one-time celebrity tykes as well.
Gotta love the sense of humor these car guys have.
Restoring old cars can be an expensive hobby.

The work that some owners put in on their restored vehicles is nothing short of incredible.
This is a step van. I'm not sure what year. Maybe
from the 1950s. 
I can't begin to imagine how many hours AND
dollars it took to beautify the interior.

Because classic cars tend to be an interest of more men than women, the MSRA doesn't want to leave the ladies out of the picture. One entire building on the grounds is dedicated to a "Ladies Showcase." Makeovers, fashion, and cake baking were some of the topics on the main stage. On Saturday morning I was able to snag one of the 1,000 canvas bags (with zipper - very nice) that were given out. To get to the bags, however, we had to snake through the entire exhibit hall! Actually, that wasn't bad since we had the chance to briefly look at all of the booths. Then on our way out of the hall, we could fill our bags with beads and baubles.

From our vantage point we didn't miss out on this entertainment.
A Dixieland band on the back of a vintage truck. The musicians were quite good.
Not sure if this DeSoto carried a canoe back in the day, but the combo would have surely turned a few heads.

And one final picture. . .
Lady Rose
We headed home on Sunday morning with two stops on the way back to Madison. First was to have lunch with our vintage trailer friends, Jim and Kaye, from Menomonie. Then it was on to see my sister, Linda, and her husband, Dick, and to share a home-made rhubarb dessert in Eau Claire.

Rick says we'll be "Back to the 50s" again in 2015. Maybe we'll see you there - June 19-21 - in St. Paul.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Birds & Bovines II - Vintage Camping Trailer Rally

Rick and I couldn't have asked for better weather than what we had the first weekend in June for our second annual "Birds & Bovines" vintage camping trailer rally. Fourteen other rigs and their owners were part of the weekend's festivities at Ledge Park near Horicon WI.
Our mascots - the Bird and the Bovine. Our name for the
rally is because Ledge Park overlooks the Horicon Marsh
(Birds) and it's June Dairy Month (Bovines).
Friday night we played "Trailer Trash Bingo" to get to know each other at the group cocktail hour. We now know who in the group goes winter camping or plays the piano or has been on television. At next year's rally, the test will be to see who remembers everyone's name!

Here's Rick with the "birds" and "bovines" at our site. He's even wearing a few!
The big hit of the rally was our Open House on Saturday afternoon. People who were camping in the park as well as others from the outside stopped by to see our trailers. Everyone has a story. Hearing those stories and seeing how lovingly restored those trailers are is so much fun. Vintage folks aren't the least bit competitive. Rather they're full of helpful tips on materials and techniques to use if you're restoring or rebuilding a vintage trailer.

Kay and Jim's Shasta. They're from Glenwood City and came the farthest.
It's always easy to spot a Shasta - it has wings.
The Shasta's interior with its vintage-color cushions.
Bill and Anna (from Freeport IL) have a Shasta that they've dubbed the "Cowboy Camper."
It's a work in progress. The "barbed wire" fooled us. It's actually plastic!
Great saddle on the outside. . . 
and cow print cushions on the inside. (The cushions came
from a trailer that Rick had. Bill and Anna purchased
just about all of it - in parts - from him.)

It's always fun to see the accessories that vintage trailer enthusiasts add. I've seen a number with ironing boards for a table on the outside. Makes sense. The right height and easy to fold up and store.
Tammy from Marengo IL has this cute Trailblazer. It was made in Spencer WI.
And now for another Trailblazer that was at the rally. . .
If the trailer has shutters, it's probably a Trailblazer. This one belongs to
Dave and Monica from Baraboo.
Dave did some of the best work on the inside that I've seen.
He even made the modern flat screen TV look vintage!

We were pleased that so many from Illinois were at our rally. Always good to show our neighbors to the south what great parks we have here in Wisconsin.

This is George and JoEllen's Avion - from Elgin IL. Most Avions usually have a matte metal finish.
George polished this one up so many people mistake it for an Airstream.  
Speaking of Airstreams, the iconic shiny silver bullet, we had two at the rally but these were of the painted variety. The Argosy brand was manufactured by Airstream only in the 1970s. 
Rick's Argosy is a "Minuet." I think the last two letters
should be reversed. The trailer is minute because it was
built for the European market and is extra narrow.
The other Argosy at the rally was a motorhome, built in 1976 and owned by Liz and Dave from Okauchee WI. 
This was our only motorhome at the rally.
LOTS of orange on the inside - and it's all original!

BJ from Johnsburg IL has been hosting spring and fall vintage trailer rallies that we've attended for a couple of years now.  The outside of her Trotwood had these great lights.

Not just one - but a string of ten. What a great garage sale find!
This Layton is owned by Jon and Veronica from Rio (Wisconsin, that is, not Brazil!)

Two doors - you don't see that too often.
And a few more. . .

Jay came from Waupaca WI with his trailer. He's here because of our friend, and his, Linda.
My apologies to Dave and Joan from Racine. I did not get a picture of their Avion. Although they were in another section of the park away from most of us, they were good sports to walk up and join the group for all the activities.

And I don't want to forget Rick's son, Jon, who was at the rally with his two boys. They stayed in Rick's Frolic. The boys are great campers. We love it when they are able to join us.

Even though we billed ours as a "vintage" rally, we don't discriminate as to age of the trailers, nor of their owners. Here are a few that are on their way to becoming vintage.

Jim & Vicki's A-frame is amazingly spacious. They were the closest from
Hustisford WI.

It'll take some time before Skeeter and Donna's rig is vintage.

Sherry from Jackson WI can pull her teardrop trailer with a bicycle!
Someone has a sense of humor!
A complete kitchen in the back. Now that's livin'.
One last trailer - this one designed by Tammi out of cream cheese and veggies! Definitely the best-tasting trailer at the rally.
We already have the dates for next year's "Birds & Bovines III." Mark your calendars for June 4-7, 2015. By popular demand, we're adding an optional Thursday evening to the rally - especially for those folk who have a longer distance to drive. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Tent Show Radio

A few weeks ago, before camping season began, Rick and I spent an enjoyable evening at the Overture Center for the Art's Capitol Theater here on Madison's State Street. We attended a live performance of Tent Show Radio featuring the Blue Canvas Orchestra from Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua near Bayfield.
The Capitol Theater was originally built in 1928. It became
part of Madison's Civic Center in the 1980s and was known as the
Oscar Mayer Theatre. With the building of the Overture Center,
this stage house reopened as the Capitol Theater once again.
Tent Show Radio weekly concerts feature music from Big Top Chautauqua and monologues by Wisconsin's own Michael Perry who is also a best selling author, humorist, and pig farmer. The show has been broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio since 1994. In celebration of its 20th anniversary year, Tent Show took to the road with a live show in a variety of communities around the Midwest. 

I probably first heard Tent Show Radio soon after broadcasting began on WPR. I was lucky to get to a Big Top Chautauqua performance soon after. I introduced Rick to this great venue and the terrific performances maybe 10 or 12 years ago. And now BTC is a favorite of his as well.
Before the show began we saw that we fit in perfectly with this audience.
Lots of "mature" adults in the seats.
Given that not many 20- and 30-somethings were in the audience, I had to remark to the young woman who sat next to me that she didn't seem to be the right age to be at the show. She wasn't typical of the crowd in the theater with their white hair and canes. After a bit of chatting she said that she was there with her mom who had taken her to the Big Top when she was a child. It took a little more conversation among the young woman, her mother, and me to realize who we were, but we eventually figured it out. Turned out that this young woman's mother and I had gone to high school together and we were in the same graduating class!

The Blue Canvas Orchestra performed a number of songs from BTC house
musicals. Visuals at the back of the stage complemented the lyrics to many
of the original songs.
If you've never been to Big Top Chautauqua, put it on your bucket list. The Chequamegon Bay area of Wisconsin (Ashland/Washburn/Bayfield) is one of the loveliest in our state. BTC is a great venue and the music under the big blue tent is wonderful. We're excited to be going back in August when Willie Nelson performs. Ballyhoo!