On the way home from the Wisconsin Governor's Conference on Tourism I decided to take the Yellowstone Trail home since it was a beautiful spring day. I placed a bunch of photos in the gallery from along the way- however the photos are reversed so they start near Waupaca and end in Germantown.
WI Yellowstone Gallery
Here is a handy guide for the Yellowstone Trail- Online WI Yellowstone Guide
Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin is known as the Little Everglades of the north- and for good reason! The number of bird species that make it home or migrate through the area is astonishing.
For years I had visited the area during the fall season for the annual migration of Canada Geese. As the geese flock to the area, so do the the bird watchers and tourists. We drove and hiked through the marsh area and it was amazing.
Then one spring we took a pontoon ride through the marsh with Marc and Gayl at Blue Heron Landing. It was AWESOME! Marc knows the marsh and all of its inhabitants better than anyone- he has been doing the tour since he was 11 years old. He knew every bird and animal that showed itself. He knows the history of the area, and is active in its present and ensuring its future.
He even pointed out the great whirly-bird when it flew over head.
The pontoon ride allowed us to see a side of Horicon Marsh that had been previously hidden to us. Bring along your binoculars and explore!
Here is there website: Blue Heron Landing
Well, we may not have found any pinball machines while visiting Madison, WI- but we did visit two great attractions that neither my husband nor I visited while a student at UW-Madison (too busy studying- of course ).
Our first stop was Olbrich Gardens BolzConservatory. In the summer their gardens are amazing- but in the winter their tropical greenhouse is paradise! It houses "more than 650 plants representing more than 80 plant families and 475 species and cultivars from tropical and sub-tropical environments around the world." (From their website http://bit.ly/UWMOlbrich). One note of caution though- during the winter the change between the outdoor and indoor temps/humidity will cause your camera lens to fog up, so bring a clean cloth to wipe it off continuously.
We then wandered over to the UW-Madison Geology Museum (http://bit.ly/UWGeology). It is a small yet very cool museum. It includes a good selection of gems and minerals, a great explanation of the geology of Wisconsin, glow in the dark minerals, and a fine collection of fossils. At the very end of the exhibit is a room with several dinosaur skeletons.
Both stops were great fun for the whole family. Each stop took approximately an hour, and the cost of admission was right ($1.00 for the Bolz Conservatory, the Geology Museum was free!)
There is something that stirs my soul when I return for a visit to Madison, WI. Maybe it's the 5 or so years I spent there going to college... and occasionally studying. Even though the landscape has changed and many businesses I once frequented are no longer there (not to mention campus buildings like dormitories), I still love to reminisce as we wander the campus(mostly because it really annoys the kids).
I have learned to accept the changes that are bound to occur as my college days fall further into the past... but this last visit I came across a change that really sent me into an all out funk. The Plaza Tavern, home of the addicting Plaza Burger, had not one pinball machine!! For close to thirty years I have counted on them for my pinball fix while in Madison.
In talking to the owner he commented that he was the last holdout and that they had just removed the pinball a few weeks before. He said they just didn't make money- but he also said video games did not make much money either. As I walked down State Street, which is lined with similar establishments, I came to the horrifying conclusion that he was correct... not one pinball machine!
When I arrived at Memorial Union, the student union, I tried to ease my depression with Babcock Ice Cream (a must eat if you are in Madison) but was stunned to find that the arcade had been turned into a coffee shop!
My daughter saw my pain...she suggested a game of Pinball on the Wii...
This time of year provides the opportunity to cross from Bayfield, WI to LaPointe, WI (Madeline Island)by wind sled. During this window of time there is too much ice to cross by ferry, but not enough to open the ice road. You can check the status of the ice road and wind sled schedule (and the ice caves) here: http://bit.ly/Bayfield.
I am often lured in by the promise of seeing the "World's Largest.. (your favorite animal name here..." and my wheels always turn at the sign of a history museum or the glow of a diner's neon.
But, the sight of a small cemetery makes my head turn every time. I can't help but wonder what history awaits to be found carved into the old stones. It started as a quest to find my heritage- but now I like to stop at cemeteries that bear no last names in my genealogical roll call. And more often than not my kids wander with me- and occasionally Bob the dog.
The artwork is amazing on many of the stones- symbols, poetry, maps and more. We have noted memorials in the shape of logs, trees, columns, lambs, urns, houses (Native American burials on Madeline Island), books and more.
Sometimes the brief inscriptions speak volumes:
"Step gently for here sleeps my dream..."
"They are coming..." (That one still makes me go "Hmmm..."
For a walk through history nothing beats a cemetery. Just remember to tread lightly, leave no trace, pick up trash when you see it and set right flowers and such that have gone astray.
I just returned from a conference in Norfolk, NE (that's pronounced Nor-FoRk) and had a great time exploring despite the rain.
I visited the Elkhorn Valley Museum and Research Center. They have some great vignettes- blacksmith, the parlor, the kitchen and more. Norfolk is the home of the square-turn tractor and they have one there to prove it (built in 1916)! They also have some great memorabilia from local restaurants- I especially like the menu from the Brass Lantern.
The biggest exhibit by far is the Johnny Carson area. He hailed from Norfolk- and they even made a special show of one of his "home comings" to Norfolk. The exhibit features a really comfy sectional sofa with a big TV and headphones- there is no way you can pass up this invitation to sit back and listen to one (OK- a few) of his monologues! There is also a life size model of him on stage- complete with the multi-colored curtains that everyone remembers from The Tonight Show (they actually are from a resident's house- she recreated the Tonight Show curtains for her living room- now that is devotion!). Just don't be surprised when the opening song starts to play as you approach the stage area. There are no pictures allowed inside the exhibit- but I was able to get one of the entry area (see the photo album attached).
Their research area was great! It was well organized, well stocked and the people were very nice about making copies for me despite the fact that they were expecting a bus load of folks at any minute (Thanks ladies!)
I also stumbled upon a great antique shop in the downtown area. They stayed open late and had a great selection of stuff. I bought an oil lamp and a Boy Scout Song Book from 1960's (complete with a "Cussing Chip" which has now been copied for use at our local Boy Scout Shop for Scout Masters to purchase before outings... they should actually be called anti-cussing chips probably). The owner was really friendly and we had a great discussion as we both noticed that we knew the words to an old Charlie Daniels song despite having not heard it for several years. I have included some photos of the shop as well.
Here some links about Norfolk, NE:
http://www.newvictorianinn.com (This is where I stayed- very nice and really reasonable rates!)
Took a weekend trip over to Marinette, WI to drop off Mike for a 5- day bike trip. Each year Mike takes a ride and I take advantage of the drop off and pick up trips to explore with the kids. This year it was a drop off in Marinette, so on the way home we stopped at the Peshtigo Fire Museum and Bay Beach Amusement Park (Green Bay). Great fun, educational and economical!
The Peshtigo Fire occurred the very same day as the Great Chicago Fire (October 8, 1871), it killed more people and caused much greater damage. The mix of poor land management, draught conditions and a strong wind caused not just a forest fire, but a devastating fire storm. The Peshtigo Fire Museumis located in an old church that was moved across the river and contains a artifacts from the fire (including some raspberry preserves that were petrified by the flames!) They also have a nice selection of items from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. There is also an adjoining cemetery where some of the fire’s victims are buried, including a mass grave for those who could not be identified. Several of the graves include a plaque with information about their fire experience. Admission is free- donationa are appreciated.
Bay Beach in Green Bay is a traditional amusement park. In fact it is celebrating 100 years this year! It has many picnic areas for a lunch and a pavilion for sitting (or having a burger). The rides include a nice mix of rides for small children and exciting rides for big kids. Favorites for this crew were the Yo-Yo (swings), Scrambler and Tilt-A-Whirl. Admission to the park is free, the Rides take 1 – 2 tickets and tickets are just 25 cents each.
Roy and Johnny. Idols of 1970's American youth... or at least my youth. Emergency! Do you remember the guys at Station 51 (Chet, Cap, Marco) and at Rampart (Doctors Joe Early and Kelly Brackett and Nurse Dixie). I still love to watch them and I have hooked my kids on the show (along with Adam 12 and other clasics). I am incredibly jealous that in Milwaukee they can watch Emergency! every night at 6 PM. Thank goodness for DVD's and Hulu!
Which brings me to the purpose of this entry... today's impromptu road trip south to Stevens Point.
I saw in the paper today that Randolph Mantooth (Johnny Gage for uninitiated) was going to be in Stevens Point signing autographs and such. So... when 3:30 hit I was out the door with my daughter Greta (who was pretty excited, too) and on our way. I remembered to grab Mike's Emergency! game from his youth, but forgot my purse.
It was a small crowd so we were able to get autographs right away and get a few pictures even. It was a brief encounter- but a fun one. It took a few years to finally meet him, but I am a patient girl. Robert Conrad, you're next...
Eat your heart out Becky!
By the way, a bit of trivia... Bobby Troup (Dr. Joe Early) wrote the song Get Your Kicks On Route 66. Here is a link to him singing one of his signature songs: