Eagle Trail-a great adventure.

Looking for a little adventure, I mean a real ‘out amongst the wilderness’ adventure, if only for a couple of  hours?  How about a bit of danger, difficulty and  natural landscape to sooth the soul?  That sums up a journey on Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park.

I discovered this trail, one of many in the park, years ago while kayaking with my sisters and their children.  We beached our kayaks along a portion of the trail and saw the highlights.  After that small trek, I’ve yearned to hike the entire trail.  Friday I had that opportunity.  I was literally amped with anticipation the entire day, as I waited for my companion to arrive after work.

As I mentioned, Eagle Trail resides in Peninsula State Park, being the second oldest and third largest state park in Wisconsin.  If I felt extraordinarily ambitious, I could easily write about the park in several different blogs.  From a sandy beach and bluffs to a light house and campgrounds, the park has most of what makes for a great family outing.

We start out from my house at approximately 5pm, beginning the hour and a half drive from Green Bay.  We’re not only going hiking, we’ll see a bit of the park and have a few drinks at a local establishment afterwards.

We arrive at the park around 6:20 and decide to buy the annual State Park pass instead of the one day pass.  One day is $10 and an entire year is $28.  I’m sure this will not be the last state park I visit this year.

Note to the would be visitor of peninsula state park,  there are signs that direct you to most of the highlights, but one would be wise to pick up a park map.  We don’t, as I’m confident that I only need to follow road signs.

We stop and see the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which is closed at this time.  Still, the exterior is pretty cool.  We start a conversation with vacationers who, of all things, tell us they are finishing up there vacation in Green Bay.  I ask, since I didn’t see any signs, if they know how to get to the Eagle Trail.  They shrug and say no.

We hop back in the car and drive a bit.  Finally, after driving for quite a while, we decide to head back to the entrance and grab a map.  Heidi also asks for specific directions. We start off  on Shore rd and turn off at Skyline rd.  This way we’re able to cut across the park.  We hook back up with Shore rd and park at Eagle Panorama, where the trail begins and ends. It offers some exceptional views of the bay.  It’s now 7:30, we’ll barely make it before sunset.

We glance, from the bluff, out towards the bay before us.  Then, we descend a crude and small stone stair case and begin the trail.

The route starts off easy enough, maybe a root here or a rock there to keep me on my toes.  There’s a certain tranquility amongst the trees, as the evening sunlight fights the canopy of green to brighten the forest floor.  The song of birds is in the air.

We’re descending towards the bay, as a small wall of limestone, now and again, juts from the earth creating scenery itself.  For now, its peaceful.  Heidi lingers behind and I can’t contain myself because I know the real treats are further ahead.

As we gain towards the shore the trail is both rockier and muddy.  Now I am watching every step and being cautious as the rocks are atop one another.  In other parts, wood planks serve as a bridge over extremely muddy parts of the trail.  Still, there’s places that you ultimately have to step in mud.

To add to the woes, mosquitoes are in full effect, something about water and woodlands that amass populations comparable to people in New York City.  I spray some mosquito repellant on me and continue further.

There’s actually a sign that urges me to stay on the trail because of  ‘loose rocks above’.  Naturally, I look inland and upwards.  Through the trees, I see the gleaming limestone High above.  I know soon we will  be right at the base of a cliff.

The trail becomes quite difficult as we reach a vertical mass of rock, a member of what is known as the Niagra escarpment.  The escarpment’s most famous piece lies in New York, being the cliff that the Niagra River flows over- giving us Niagra Falls.  Here, it’s just a cliff,  but it’s pretty awesome!

Along with the sheer height of the cliff, along the stony path, spring water trickles from the stony floor towards the bay.  The waves of the bay lapping the shore and birds in the forest serve as background noise.

After we leave the cliff behind, the trail doesn’t get much easier.  Mud and stone still create obstacles.  At one point, the climb is that of an ascent over tree roots.

Once we are near the mouth of the trail the walk becomes considerably less arduous.  We leave the trail early and check out some views along the road,  enjoying the last glimpses of  the sunset over the bay.

Once we’re done, we head over to Nicolet beach and change into some fresh clothes, in order to have a night on the town.  Nicolet beach is nice but we really can’t see much of it in the dusk.  Their changing rooms are first rate however.

We make it to Bayside tavern, enjoying a few brews and a pizza.  It’s such a contrast to the trail.  Here,  people compete with the chatter of each other and the music to be heard.

On the drive back, we stop on a country road and immerse our selves in a night sky void of light pollution.  It’s a canopy of a million lights as the Milky Way is prominent.  Finally, we reluctantly head back towards Green Bay.

It was a great evening!

Appleton’s Hearthstone Historical House Museum-the Victorian age ‘house of the future’

They’re  tourist attractions all by themselves.  I’m sure you’ve heard of buildings said to be the “Home of the Future.”  The problem with those houses, in today’s evolving world, shortly they become contemporary.  Hell, after a passing generation or two, they’re outdated and probably out of place.

‘Why mention that?’, you ask.  I came across a landmark that had that billing, and rightfully so.  Today, it’s a symbol of the past, when our nation was benefitting from the triumphs and failures of the entrepreneurial spirit.

While Thomas Edison was trying to light up New York, only to lose out to Westinghouse’s AC current  power grid, A man in Appleton Wisconsin decided upon a new technology.  Mainly, he used the ingenious Idea of a Hydroelectric power plant.  The result was the first private residence in the world to be lit by the means of hydroelectricity.

That house, Known as the Hearthstone Historical House Museum, stands today.

It’s absolutely hot outside.  I can feel the air wrap around me like some unwanted thermal blanket.  The heat causes me to ponder the wisdom of my choice.  Would an old Victorian Era house have air conditioning?  Doubtful.

As, I walk towards the front door, I am followed by a lady my age and what I assume is her daughter.  I feel a tad bit embarrassed as I try the front door of this, almost creepy, old exterior, failing to open the door.  Finally, after fidgeting with the knob to no avail, I notice the sign, asking that I use the electric doorbell to alert the docent.

So I ring it, then again.  I feel a bead of sweat trickling down my temple as, after the third ring of the bell, a smiling elderly woman answers the door.  She apologizes and explains that they’ve been struggling with the card reader, newly installed at the admissions table-seemingly a physical oxymoron in such a setting.  Smiling broadly, I claim I didn’t mind.

As I enter, I’m struck by the sudden change in temperature, relieved in a much cooler environment.  I ask the man tutoring card reader tech to the docent, “Is this place air conditioned?”

He flashes an electric  smile, as my eyes gaze at the beautifully crafted woodwork of the foyer.  “No, well, we have a few units in the  house, but mainly it stays cool itself.”  I’m impressed.

“Is the woodwork original to the house?”

Again, that enthusiastic smile greets my eyes.  “Yes it is.”

He yields center stage to the elderly docent.  We follow her to the library, which was the man’s domain in Victorian times.  I mention the Victorian era because that is when this house was erected, the residents moving in on September of 1882.  Yes, Electrical wiring was already installed when the house was constructed-hard to believe.

The library, along with most of the building, is incredibly ornate.  Even the floor boards are arranged in decorative designs. Of course, besides the beautiful adornments of the room, there is the draw of the lighting fixture. Hanging in the center of the room is what is known as an electrolier.   Four 7-10 watt lightbulbs are installed in the fixture, being the same type as the original bulbs- about as bright as today’s nightlight.

Along with the draw of electric lighting, the docent provides great historical footnotes.  For instance, Do you know where the phrase ‘put a sock in it’ originated?  Tour the house and you will.  I’ll give you a hint-it had something to do with phonographs.

The rest of the house is just as cool, I’ll briefly highlight it.

We follow the docent into the parlor, the canvased ceiling and high walls painted in an replicated Victorian design.  This room is probably my favorite.  It is very vibrant and comes complete with an antique piano in the corner.

There’s also a great dining room, as the house served as a restaurant for many years, however, today it harkens back to its Victorian days.  Different than the rest of the house, the kitchen was a place for servants-the crude wood floors versus the decorative designs of the other rooms is a tell tale sign.  There’s even a scullery.

The second floor is full of bedrooms, guest bedrooms and a sitting room, all filled with Victorian furniture and décor.  We’re not allowed on the third floor but are able to view a huge skylight fixed in the ceiling.  I should mention that the furniture is not original to the house but is of Victorian design.  I do like this place, as it has the feeling that someone wealthy lived here.

After we finish with the upstairs portion, we head to the basement.  This is where we get an education on how hydroelectric power works.  The demonstration  comes  complete with water wheels and lights.   We learn that, in its early years,  one man was in charge of regulating the current being provided to the city.  After that, we’re allowed to peruse the other artifacts in the basement. Interesting facts, like Appleton being the site of the first trolley, fascinate me.  Eat your heart out San Francisco!

I leave enlightened.  The house is a significant landmark in the evolution of the technological world. With it’s detailed wood working and paintings, I didn’t even mention the beautiful Victorian fireplaces, it is an elegant and stately structure, being a  symbol of wealth in the early days of Wisconsin.

A Stroll down Lombardi Avenue-Title Town District, Lambeau Field and more.

There are a plethora of roads that have Iconic Identities.  There’s Rodeo drive, Route 66 , Broadway, Wall Street-I could go on but you’d get bored and I’m sure I’ve made my point.  One road, as many Wisconsin natives know, speaks everything football, at least if you’re a fan of the Pack.  True, if you know the area, there are venues, like the Hutson Center, that aren’t set on Lombardi.  Yet, If you stroll the walk starting at the Title Town district and continue on Lombardi Avenue, you can’t help allowing a little green and gold to flow through your blood stream.

I got the Idea for this blog after I came across a mile long trek, known as the walk of legends, which flows on Lombardi’s commercial district side. ( In contrast, the other side of the road is residential) I decided to check it out, take a few pictures, and see if it was blogworthy.  Of course, with the Stadium in the distance I just kept strolling.  Granted, there are a few busy intersections to contend with, but it was a pretty pleasant outing.  I was left psyched for the upcoming training camp which, if your from Green Bay, is a fan event in itself.

I am Down Lombardi Avenue, parking in a local business parking lot-I’m sure they won’t mind.  I am curious-“What is this attraction known as ‘The Walk of Legends’?  I find out quickly.

Simply, the walk is a string of Monuments paying homage to the traits and players that made the Packers 13 time NFL Champions.  The Walk is a mile long and intersects Streets boasting names such as Bart Starr Drive and Tony Canedeo Run.

The monuments are cool, as not only do they spruce up this business district but inform anybody who cares to read on Green Bay Packer history.  There’s all sorts of good info.  For instance, Don Hudson was both an offensive and defensive player-I’d like to have seen his cardio routine.

After the walk, I’m gaining on the stadium known as Lambeau field.  There is quite a bit to do in the in this gigantic mecca of football.  The Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame is located in the atrium of the arena.  Also, a tour of the Hallowed grounds itself is available.  I haven’t toured the Stadium yet, but my blog The Packer Hall of Fame-Green Bay’s shrine details my earlier excursion in this great museum of Packer glory.  There’s also a pro shop that is open year round attached to the atrium.

The stadium parking lots are buzzing with activity.  I enter the lot casually and snap a photo of statues representing two of the most iconic men, not only in Packer lore, but the NFL itself.  One of the statues is Curl Lambeau, the player, coach and founder of the franchise.  The second is Vince Lombardi who assembled and coached teams that won five championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.  They stand guard at a flight of concrete stairs, ascending towards a gate facing Lombardi Avenue.  I’m not the only one hoping to get a great picture of these detailed depictions.

Across the street from the Stadium stands another landmark.  Its simply a fence, you know, like a white picket fence, except its painted with packer graffiti and a slogan.  It’s been a tradition that has been kept for over thirty years.

I continue on and make my way to a quite recent addition to Lombardi Ave, the Title Town district.  This place provides year round fun.  In the Winter, there is a hip and charming skating rink beneath a large, man made, sledding hill known as Arien’s hill.  Tubes and skates are available for rent for these activities.

Today, I’m staring at different types of fun.  Yard games from shuffleboard to bean bag toss are set up on the grounds.  Also, there is an elaborate playground, the apparatus for kids play in this park blows my mind-we only  had a jungle gym dangerously constructed with steel pipes. To top off the activity center right, a full length football field, complete with goalposts, stretches beyond the play area.

One could spend a joyful day just playing games and running the field, but there’s more appeal.  Atop the Kohler Lodge, a stylishly classy hotel, lies the Tavern in the Sky.  The bar is much like the rest of the hotel, classy.  What sells this place for me is the balcony, as you sit on the fifth floor, that over looks the Packers’ Stadium.  The beer list is really good too.  There is a dining room set off from the lounge, where one can get a meal, I’m not sure of the prices but its probably safe to say, there a bit pricy.

Nearby rests another great restaurant and bar known as Hinterland Brewery.  Yes, the beer is brewed right at the establishment.  They offer great brews such as Packer Land Pilsner and Hinterland Cherry Wheat, along with domestics and others.  This is a great place for fine dining, but watch out, the prices are quite steep.

The most cleverly titled  restaurant is a small bistro situated under Ariens hill, known as 46 below.  For those of you that don’t know, that was the temperature, if you factor in the wind chill, of the famous Ice Bowl.  I smile thinking that today its in the mid 70’s.

I sigh, thinking of all the football fans that will grace these areas come August. Preseason games do quite well in Green Bay-its a chance for those without season tickets to see a game fairly reasonably.  Today the area is buzzing with sightseers also, but the true electricity will be during the anticipation of a Packer victory.

If your in the Green Bay area and searching for some fun, take a drive to the west side  and follow the Lombardi Avenue exit.  Its the result of a Football crazy town and a national following.  Safe travels!

Cana Island Lighthouse-classic Door County

It seems, these days, that every town is delving into the tourist market, whether it be a museum, multi-use arena, trendy refurbished ‘main street’, historical sight, renovated waterfront, adventurous park and- I’m sure you get the Idea.  Tourist dollars are added revenue for any area.  Why not capitalize?

Some places, however, were practically built on that industry.  Take Door County, for instance.  The northern Half of the county, from practically the moment settlers set foot on the peninsula, was considered a place travelers would enjoy.  It, with it’s 300 miles of rocky shoreline, a dozen or so lighthouses, dense forests, rolling farmland, cherry orchards and steep bluffs, has been dubbed the ‘Cape Cod of the Midwest’

Towns are buzzing with people and festivities these summer months, as there are so many draws that the county possesses. One, as I’ve already mentioned it, adorns a lot of Door County Memorabilia.  From T-shirts to Keychains, lighthouses seem to be a signature trait, well, that and cherries.  I’ll save the cherries for another blog.

I grew up in Door County, so you would think I would know all about lighthouses.  Actually, before today, I’ve never set foot in one.  I decided, after a fellow blogger posted a picture of a lighthouse kitchen, that it would be well worth an afternoon.  It was.

I am headed down, what is known, as a rustic road.  This narrow path curves through a thick cedar forest.  If it was not for the power lines, following the twists and turns, I would assume I was in a tranquil woodland void of man.   I am following markers along this paved trail, directing me to the Cana Island Lighthouse.

Finally the road ends, and I do mean ends, at a shore of Lake Michigan.  Before it does, off to my right, there is a compact parking lot full of cars.  I enter said lot, simmering with anticipation.

I hastily bound for the end of the road and have two choices.  I can board the wagon tugged by a small tractor, that at the moment is traversing the water covered causeway, or I could go at it by foot.

I came prepared with shorts and waterproof sandals. So I think, why not walk it? I stride the Icy waters and battle the mild waves of the rocky causeway.    The water line is just below the cell phone in my pocket, as I remind myself one misstep could be an expensive blunder.

I reach the shore of the small Island and find an admission shack.  I pay my twelve dollars and am off to explore.

The Island is absolutely beautiful and well maintained.  I follow a trail that winds through shrubs and trees, the Beacon looming in the distance.  Not only is the steel cylinder, which has cased the tower since the turn of the last century, standing  on the grounds, but other rustic buildings add an old world feel to this very quaint, and seemingly secluded, parcel.

I enter the house, which is attached to the light tower, that claims itself as a gift shop.  It’s much more than that, as many rooms of the house are filled with old artifacts and info. There’s chipped paint, bare plaster and worn wood everywhere.  I am free to read the info and inspect the rooms.  For its time, this would have made more than an adequate family living quarters.  The house is slated to be refinished, to the way it would have appeared circa 1910, in the next year.

After sauntering through the living quarters, I’m ready to climb the beacon.  As I enter, intimidated by the Iron spiral staircase that literally winds towards the top, I gather my courage.  I believe its 97 steps, as the lighthouse is 89 ft.

Being inside the light tower, I can tell that it is much older than the steel façade.  When it was built in 1869, one would have seen a brick exterior.  The worn interior seems to fit the living quarters and is proof of genuine antiquity.

After the daunting climb, I am greeted by a friendly man who recites information about the light itself.  The last source of light used in this beacon was a 250 watt lightbulb, which is fitted in the fixture today.  It could be seen from eighteen miles away.  When the tower was first lit in 1870, lard was the fuel for the lamp, later replaced with mineral oil.

After the information, I am invited to experience the exterior of the lighthouse.  I’m left to indulge in a panoramic view of the Island from atop the light house-absolutely spectacular!

After I descend the staircase, I get one more glimpse of the house.  I then investigate some of the rustic buildings a little closer.  There is an outhouse, made of brick, and a building where the fuel for the lamp in the tower was kept, plus a few more.

Today was enjoyable, as I’ve never been inside a lighthouse before.  It’s such an interesting and, at the time, very necessary structure.  Today, it’s a monument of a past Door County, built and lit around the same time many immigrants began settlement farms in Wisconsin.

Go see Cana Island lighthouse, It is a unique excursion.  My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture of the tractor and wagon that brought people across the causeway.  Darn it!

Cana Island lighthouse open 10-5 seven days a week, May thru October.

 

Exploring the sights in Green Bay-letting loose

 

People come in all shapes and sizes, and varying tastes and expectations.   I have to keep that in mind.  I blog with the intent, if I enjoy an attraction, to draw someone to that place.  If the reader has heard about the location before, possibly they gain insight about the Park, Museum or quaint little town I write about.  That being stated, it seems I have found a rut and, maybe, just maybe, my blog doesn’t include everyone’s tastes.

You might say, I can’t please everyone.  Yet, I don’t have to pin myself in a corner either.   Small tourist towns and Parks are pleasant, sometimes breathtaking.  Museums and historical sights are informative and interesting.  Sometimes, however, you have to let loose and have a night, or afternoon, in a great downtown setting.

My intentions, for the day, were different than the end result.  I’m pretty happy with my choices however, as you will find, we had an incredible afternoon that started with a rather lack luster start.

My companion startles me at 10:15, as she enters my room and breaks up my slumber by asking,  “Are you ready?”  She notices my disoriented and confused face, apologizing for waking me up.

She really doesn’t have to apologize.  I told her it was quite alright if she came right in, while discussing our plans last night.  I quickly get ready and we’re headed for some place in South Central Wisconsin.  Well, we start out that way.  That is to say, I take Highway 172 towards the other side of town to catch I-41.  As I do, I feel my heart sink.

I had just finished a six day stretch last night and am still rather spent from the rigorous day six.  I just don’t feel like a long drive today.  So I turn to Heidi, rather sheepishly, and voice my feelings.  She shrugs and asks, “What do you want to do?”

“I’m not sure, something closer to home. I know there is some house around here.”  I mutter as I exit off the highway and park in a local business parking lot.  I pull out my cell phone, with its trusty list of places.  I discover the spot I just alluded to, a place called the Hazelwood Historical House- right here in Green Bay.  Heidi shrugs  “Sounds cool.”

We  find  a house that was built in 1837, accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide.  We learn interesting facts about the house, as it is decorated and furnished to represent a latter existence of the structure- during the Victorian era.  My favorite fact, aside from the inhabitants history, was that the front door originally faced the river, because  boats were the mode of transportation in its early years.

As interesting as the history is, I am really not feeling the place.  Much of the furniture is not original to the house, there are additions from the renovation and there is uncertainty as to what some rooms were used for.  Don’t get me wrong, its a nice place with many Victorian age pieces to give the house an authentic appeal.   I just feel, as the time has passed, much of the real character of the home has been lost.

Still, for five bucks, its worth the admission.  Like I said, the Victorian feel is definitely there.

It’s still early and I’m craving more.  So, after a stop at a Mexican restaurant in Green Bay’s downtown, we head to a place that should have always been on my list, a very popular destination.

Green Bay’s Botanical Gardens are seemingly something out of a storybook.  With its well groomed shrubbery arrangements, winding trails, countless species of plants and other features, I feel enchanted sauntering through the growth around me.  The feature attraction, during our visit, are Lego sculptures which are adorning the gardens, in fitting locations.

There is plenty of festivities and fun in the Botanical Gardens.  It is the scene of free concerts on Wednesdays, there is an operatic performance taking place this day, it plays host to weddings and there are other great events in this beautiful venue.

We’re finished at the gardens and its only 3:30.

We now head back downtown, and that’s where I discover the appeal of Green Bay’s City Deck.  We pull into a lot on Washington street, enjoying the free weekend parking downtown.   Almost immediately, as I climb from the car, I can tell the rest of the afternoon, and early evening, will be fun.  Riding on the slight winds, I hear the distinctive sounds of live music.  We follow the enticing sounds and find a small band entertaining patrons on the patio of Hagemeister Park.

Hagemeister Park is not a park.  It’s a Restaurant and bar overlooking the Fox River, trendy and cool.  The name is one that recalls Green Bay’s unique football history. The original Hagemeister Park was the first home of the Green Bay Packers starting in 1919, a fitting name for a venue in a city thick with football history.

We listen to the entertaining music of the three member band before us, drinking some refreshments and enjoying the overcast but comfortable day.  After the band is done, we stroll the scenic path, enjoying the sights and sounds of a late Sunday afternoon.  Kids are frolicking in the fountains, lovers are sitting close to each other on park benches and many people are just like us, taking in the sights.

We discover another Bar and Restaurant known as Fox Harbor, as a band is finishing up their final sound checks.  So, again, we check out the band. This patio is smaller and gated, and manned by a young guy with his head in a book. The place is packed with a fun loving crowd, all around my age or a little older.  We enjoy more refreshments and then head home.  Its already eight when we make it through the doors of my house.

The downtown was really the highlight, although, the Green Bay Botanical Gardens is a close second.  Heck, even the Hazelwood House was cool.  It was a great day.  If you get to Green Bay, I urge you to try some of these great locations.

Old World Wisconsin-little house in the park.

Did your ever wonder, as you sat through history class, what a rural landscape would look like in the 1800’s?  I mean,  you can visit some outdoor museums and set eyes on old structures, like churches and blacksmith shops.  That being said, as you would find such buildings in many  historical parks, most times they are bunched together in a rather random order.   These places are definitely fun and educational, some with workers dressed in period attire.  Yet, and I didn’t realize this till my latest excursion, the feel of the pioneer days is somewhat lost.

I discovered a place, with a historical appeal, that rivals any in this world.  It’s focus is  Wisconsin settler’s rural living.  Like most parks of this manner, there is a small village on the grounds, complete with  many components of old pioneer towns in Wisconsin.  However, what Separates this park from most is that it sits on nearly six hundred acres of land, featuring entire farms and rural homes from nationalities such as German, Finnish, Danish, Polish and Norwegian.

This is an extremely huge draw for me.  I’m a quarter German and have heard stories from my paternal grandmother.  Also, and probably more largely, I’m half Polish. So, I would imagine, as it is for many from the state of Wisconsin, there is relevance and significance in these authentic buildings, having been moved and reconstructed piece by piece on the Old World Wisconsin grounds. The buildings in this museum are the actual structures settlers occupied, all coming from somewhere in Wisconsin.

We arrive at Old World Wisconsin after a pleasant drive through lush green, near Eagle Wisconsin.  At the admissions desk, I am presented a map, which, considering how large this place is, is something we’ll use frequently in the future.  We’re offered Museum tokens, at a cost of five dollars a token, to be used at the general store and other venues in the park.  Also, for a price of $5 a head, they offer carriage rides.

We learn of events that are taking place, both today and in the future.  There’s everything from Christmas time adventures to old fashioned baseball games.  Today we’re late for the carriage rides but, to my delight, there is a demonstration on beer brewing and samples of the final product.  The demonstration lasts until three.

Needless to say, we’re headed towards the German section of the park where, naturally, the beer is being brewed.  It is two, and the German homesteads, according to our map, are a little over a twenty minute stroll.  Fortunately, there are ‘Trams’ that transport park goers much more quickly.  There are many stops for these motorized vehicles.

We start off on a rather sour note, as we wait for a tram for a considerable length of time.  After some time, I suggest we hike to the village area, which is only a five minute jaunt, noticing that there are two tram stops on the way.

We begin our trek and discover a simplistic and tiny, but beautiful, church on the way.  As we walk through town I’m tempted to stop at more establishments.  My companion urges me to stay focused and head to the German section.  So we walk, and almost make it to our destination without the aide of a tram.  At the final stop, before we arrive, we pick it up and ride for a few seconds.

When we arrive at the demonstration, there’s a healthy gathering and the beer brewing process is open for everyone to see.  Adding to the old world feel of this little area, the hops fields are just across the road.  I enjoy a slight cup of  brew from this process. They’re also offering bottles from a local micro brewery.

We enjoy the cup and walk to a German farm.  As we look through the different homesteads, there are rustic gardens, historic breeds of livestock, interesting farmhouses and rather rudimentary barns.  There are three German immigrant farms and a polish house in this section. We finish up the tour by stumbling on another small church that hardly looks the part.  The history of the church, as it belonged to a fully integrated community, makes you proud to be a Wisconsinite.

We return to Crossroads Village.  However, as I’m enthralled with places like a boarding house, known as the Four Mile house, my companion is worried we’ll miss the Scandinavian immigrant portion of the park.  So we head off to see the homes of the Norseman.

As we trek through the Finnish, Danish and Norwegian settlements, we find one can hike to certain farms through the vast woodlands.  There are trails that actually take you from the German area right to the Scandinavian without using park roads.  The trails are beautiful, some being about a half mile long.  I believe, as we only end up taking one trail, they could have saved some time.

Besides the trails, there is plenty at the Scandinavian homesteads.  More historic breed livestock is to be seen in this area.  Probably the most interesting of these are the freshly shaved sheep.  There are demonstrations at the Norwegian farm on washing, and preparing wool for the spinning wheel.  Also, in this area, a schoolhouse from the turn of the century stands.

We finish up our visit at Cross roads village, checking out a playhouse, blacksmith shop, general store and a few more homes.  Also, the wheelmen’s club allows you to take a try at riding a high wheel trike.

This cool venue is south of Milwaukee near a town known as Eagle. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit as did my companion.  It rests in what is known as Kettle Moraine State Forest.  If you’re ever in southern Wisconsin, check it out.

Bringing in Summer Right-Gardens and sunsets.

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It’s May, well, the end of May. So, I wanted to find a destination that celebrated those words. Spring has been with us for awhile and, as the past weekend was memorial day weekend, the mark of summer is upon us.  Where to go? What to do?

With late spring and summer come many things.   There’s boating, hiking, camping, bird watching, and, well, I’m sure you get the point.  The options are limitless.  I feel like a dog released from his leash, left to explore till his hearts content.

Also on my mind, Memorial day weekend in Wisconsin not only marks the beginning of summer, but the planting season.  So, I have the itch.  My gardens have been neglected long enough.  I could use some influence, as the creative juices just aren’t flowing.  So I decide,that this week, I would take a look at a floral garden.

The Paine Art Center gardens were on my list for early May.  Yet, I just couldn’t find a time to fit it into my schedule.  I had visited in march, totally admiring this testament of a Tudor style country manor.  In that blog,  The Paine Art Center-a manor for the community  ,I vowed to visit the gardens when they were ready.

Beyond looking for a floral garden, with the holiday in mind, a campground seemed to be in order. So, the same day, I picked something close, with a lot to offer, and we enjoyed a sunset.

It was a relaxing, productive and fun day.

I wander through the gates of the Paine estate, for a taste of a Tudor fashioned visit.  I must admit, when I start my way through the gardens, I was expecting more blooms.  There’s a lot of shrubbery and trees.  I’m not really complaining, because the grounds are still cool.  Trails wind among plants that appear to be wild flowers, walks are forged through towering hedges, and the courtyard of the conservatory is outstanding.

Cherry blossoms are flowering in the gardens and dust the walks like large, flat snowflakes.  Although there is a large group of workers, landscaping some areas of the grounds, I get the sense I’m meandering some well to do family’s back yard.

I do suggest this place, especially if you’ve never been here before.  The house paired with the gardens makes for an extraordinary experience.  It is located in Oshkosh Wisconsin.  If your heading down 41 and take the Algoma blvd exit,  heading into the city, you’ll run right into it.

I am now returning to my home town of Green Bay, my mind pleasantly jostled by the Gardens experience.  As I mentioned my own yard has been neglected.  I’m in the mood now.  There’s no way I’m going to replicate what I had just enjoyed, but I can still make the neighbors jealous.

I unearth a few rose bushes, plant some Hostas and dig up a boxwood in my shrub bed, replacing it with a Mugo Pine.  I try some flower arranging in a couple of planters, being fairly disappointed with the out come.

I clean up and my companion arrives at my home.  As I can see the sun descending in the western sky, I have the urge to watch it set.  I tell her I’m in the mood for a drive towards the bay.   She agrees and we head for a nearby park, campground and boat launch known as Bay Shore Park.  I know, the name of the park sounds generic and probably overused.  Actually, I believe the name is Cecil Depeau Bay shore Park, but I’ve never heard anyone call it by that name.

As we enter the park, after a jaunt along the bay on Nicolet Dr, I notice the place is buzzing with activity.  It is a few days before the holiday weekend but many seem to have a head start.  I relish the holiday atmosphere, imagining that I’m also on vacation.

There’s many attributes to this park.  There’s a shelter and pavilion(which can be rented for events), volley ball courts, a softball diamond and a large playground.  That’s just the park area, beyond that there are campgrounds and a giant boat launch.

If you’d like to camp in a great family friendly atmosphere, You can reserve your site online or on a first come first serve basis, depending on the site.  There’s also what is known as rustic sites, sites without electricity and water.

What separates this place from many others is the fact it is set atop a bluff, as it is part of the Niagra escarpment, a ridgeline that cuts across half the country.  You can stand atop the bluff and overlook Green Bay, as it spreads before you like a small ocean.  Actually, in the dark, lights can be seen from towns on the distant shore, across this rather large body of water.

We watch the boats return to the launch and the sun plummet from the sky.  When it gets close to disappearing, we walk the steep and winding road that brings us to the breakers.  There is a small beach with rather course sand at the bottom to our right.  However, this is primarily used as a place for boats to cast off into the bay.

We walk the pier and enjoy the the sun’s rays reflecting off the clouds.  It’s a brightly colored collage tonight, as the bay is so calm it appears as a sheet of glass.  People are fishing from the stony structure as boaters leave with their boat in good order.  After the sun has set we leave the park behind.

There you have it,  two Ideas for the vacationer, or someone in the state looking for something to do.  As always, it was a great excursion.

The Paine Art Center-hours 9-5  wed thru Sun.  There is no admission to the Gardens.