It was one of those days where nothing went according to plan, every turn ending up very different than I had hoped. Despite the difficulties, the day turned out to be a fairly cool experience, considering that even the weather seemed to be against me.
I have made it a habit, after reading a little advice about starting a blog, that I would publish the same day every week. My reading suggested publishing three times a week. However, reality points to a different road. Taking into account that I work a full time job and I chose to write a part-time travel blog, I’ve decided to make it once a week. So, since August 1 of last year, I’ve consistently posted every Tuesday.
My work schedule this week was Wednesday through Sunday, giving me Monday off. No, problem, I decided I would visit some place, during the day, and write about it in the evening. That’s where My troubles began.
Since I usually write my destination experience ‘first person present tense’, I’ll take it from there.
I arrive at the ‘Hearthstone Historic House Museum’ and am indecisive. The Red Brick parking lot is incredibly small, so small, in fact, I park on the grass. My stomach sinks as I see the groundskeeper approaching. I am anticipating to be chastised by this mild looking man for treading on his well manicured lawn. However, very much to my surprise, he informs me they are closed. That conflicts with the information I read the night before.
No matter, I am thinking, I have a back up plan, well, a semi back up plan. I had wrote about the ‘Paine Art Center’ a few weeks ago, vowing to return after the gardens were in full bloom. However, before I start that trek, knowing many attractions are closed on Mondays, I check their hours of business. I am left deflated as I discover they won’t open again till Wednesday.
Alas, there is another back up. Thinking back to my searches last night, I came across a mineral museum Known as ‘R. Harder Gallery of Gems and Minerals’. I’m sold on this curious sounding place because it is in the Neighboring town of Neenah, as I am now in Appleton.
I arrive at a building known As the Jeweler’s Mutual Insurance Group building. Yes, that’s right, I’m at an office building. There are signs for the gallery as I drive into 24 Jewelers Park drive. I walk in through double glass doors and two receptionists point to a room on my right.
It’s a small black room accented with the coolest rocks I’ve ever set eyes on. It’s pretty cool, but I can’t blog on this. I mean, the CEO’s corner office is probably larger than this room. I’ll definitely share some photos because the rocks are outstanding. If your looking for some time to kill in Neenah, I do suggest taking a gander.
So, I’m in a predicament. I really have no other Ideas and being Monday it might be hard to find a place. But wait, I have a list of suggestions that a friend texted me. Some of these are five star winners! I work through the list and find an interesting ‘museum’ Known as the National Mustard Museum. I know nothing about the topic, actually I hated mustard as a kid. Yet, its grown on me and I’m wondering what kind of spot labels itself the National Mustard Museum. Better yet, what’s there?
I check the hours and make my way towards the center of the state, what the heck, I’m a quarter way there already. Its overcast and raining and the road is wet, not to the point that I’m hydroplaning, but its annoying. Trucks, which are frequent on this stretch, spray fountains of water on my windshield. My wipers are stuck on high.
I arrive and find the building fairly easily, using GPS navigation of course. At first I’m delighted by the genuine General Store appearance from outdoors. I take a closer look at the sign, discovering this place makes its money selling gourmet mustard. I feel a sense of disappointment overcome me. Did I really drive halfway across the state for some gourmet mustard? Is that even remotely interesting?
I am won over the minute I stroll through the door, however. A no nonsense lady greets me cordially and points out the highlights of this, I’m not sure what to call it, museum? Gourmet mustard shop? What ever it is, I love the rustic approach, I sense the one room corner grocery store I knew as a child. Every thing says old fashioned General Store.
Along with the ambiance, there stands plenty of creative mustard products. I also discover some barbecue sauces that catch my eye. Not only are the products ready for sale, there’s also a tasting bar where you can sample these concoctions. Seriously, they mixed chocolate in a mustard?
I’m undecided so I’ll check out the museum.
Down stairs, where the Museum is located, I find glass cases filled with old mustard bottles, labeled according to state, country or continent they come from. This is the largest collection of mustard memorabilia in the world. There’s a room with a small flat screen TV, cleverly labeled the ‘Mustard Piece Theatre’, playing a documentary on the topic of the museum. Center stage are antique mustard pots, one used by the king of England, that fill substantial cases, set in the middle of the small museum.
I’m not blown away. It’s mustard. Yet, the uniqueness and style of the venue make it a ten on the interest meter. I mean, I can find wine tasting, I’ve seen micro brew conventions, I love chili cook-offs and I can visit Costco and consume a small meal on their samples throughout the store. Yet, I doubt I can go any other place in the world and sample Tequila Mustard.
I buy a bottle of beer mustard and say my good bye’s to the cashier. As I head towards the car I’m struck by the quaintness of Middleton. So, instead of heading home, I decide to find something to eat.
I discover a throwback diner, its front windows adorned with neon. It’s right next to the Museum, just on the other side of the establishment’s parking lot. I down a delicious hamburger, cooked by a man who compliments me on my shirt, and head for home.
There you have it, a productive but difficult journey. I hope you had as much fun reading as I did finding the places that make this blog worth writing.
Paine Art Center and Hearthstone Historic House-in blogs to come
R. Harder Gallery of Gems and Minerals -Open during business hours-no Admission
National Mustard Museum-10am-5pm Monday-Sunday no admission but hard not to buy a bottle of mustard.