Hello, I’m Veronica

The sky is not completely dark at night. Were the sky absolutely dark, one would not be able to see the silhouette of an object against the sky.

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    This Summer’s Best Outdoor Excursions

    So, the Fall Equinox is upon us- or past us. I guess, the best way to put it, and probably the most efficient way to word what I mean, would be to say, “Fall has arrived.” With that, recollections of summer, as I’m plagued by yearnings for one last mid-70’s day, come to the forefront of my mind. So, with warmer days fading from memory, I figured I’d jot down my favorite 2022 summer outdoor excursions. Whether arduous hiking expeditions , relaxing paddling efforts or challenging bike rides, the fresh air certainly subdued that ever imposing stress monster.

    This is a short list, but maybe, as you may be ruefully disappointed in your own summer exploits, (believe me, I wanted to do a ton more myself) I’ll give you ideas for next year. Heck, the ground isn’t hidden by snow, at least not yet, and the leaves are beginning to hint at fiery hues. So, maybe, you can notch one more adventure before the bitter cold envelops the earth.

    I’ll start with a passion of mine. Well, I don’t know if it’s a total passion- definitely a past-time though. Today, I was shown that I’m not the greatest mountain biker in the world. I discovered a trail that, quite frankly, humbled me in severe fashion…I’m not writing about that place. Forget that spot.

    Yet, even if I can’t conquer every trail, I still consider myself an average mountain biker, and there’s a great park, for individuals like myself, to let loose near Suamico, Wisconsin.

    In this area, the lush green serenely enters your soul,

    and the hill climbs and descents liven your senses.

    The main single track, I’m speaking of the Reforestation Camp’s stacked loop, is listed as a blue trail…some segments are even easier. If you don’t know, blue signifies an intermediate trail. If you choose the full ten miles, give or take a few tenths, you’ll find a fun and challenging ride. Not to fear, if you have any experience under your belt, while these paths do present challenges, you should finish unscathed.

    I’ll also mention, while I’m promoting the Reforestation Camp, that this area is alive with family friendly activities. Points of interest include a campground, the NEW Zoo,

    an event lodge

    and an adventure park.

    Also, along with that, should your party have a few scaredy cats, or if you have novice bikers in your group, a very easy double track would allow the rookie a scenic ride. Added to all I mentioned, and I shouldn’t have listed it last, there’s hiking and horseback riding trails here.

    So, with all that said, you could make an exciting family vacation, one everyone can enjoy, as you plan your mountain biking weekend. I’m practically here three days a week.

    Paddling the East River

    This was another activity that, as I engaged in it many times this summer, soothed the nerves. The placid, although murky, waters of the East River, which is a very tame waterway, eagerly lie in wait for the Green Bay resident. And with more than one kayak launch, both of which happen to be located in the village of Allouez, access to this river is no problem.

    My choice is the departure point installed in Green Isle Park.

    I believe, at least according to my reading, that the maximum depth of the river is six feet. Still, a life vest is a damn good idea. Unfortunately, in a few spots, mainly under the HWY-172 bridge, the water is much shallower.

    So, proper navigation is a must.

    From the launch in Green Isle Park, while one can enjoy critters such as otters, turtles, deer and a ton of waterfowl,

    you can either travel east or west. Westbound craft, after traveling about five miles, will run into the Fox River- which happens to be a much broader artery. Conversely, should you direct your craft eastbound, after a little over two miles, you’ll run into an impassable obstruction.

    Besides paddling, the East River Trail can also be accessed near the kayak launch. This paved trail, which runs right along the river’s banks, is a lengthy paved path. Both running and bicycling are permitted on the trail.

    Hiking High Cliff State Park’s Redbird Trail

    High Cliff’s Redbird trail is located near the park’s observation tower- and the park is located west of the Fox Cities…right on Lake Winnebago. The three mile trail, coursing atop a large bluff, is an easy trek through woodlands and atop limestone flats.

    What makes this hike so inviting, at least for me, is the unofficial trail that rides along the limestone bluff. The scenery is splendid! With the cliff adding an element of danger, in a matter of a half an hour, you can feel like a true adventurer.

    Also, along the trail, which allows for some spectacular panoramic views,

    you’ll discover ancient effigy mounds. These were created by the woodland people over a thousand years ago.

    Hiking Governor Dodge State Park

    Of my adventures this summer, our time at Governor Dodge State Park saw me furthest from my home – near a place known as Dodgeville, Wisconsin. The trip was definitely worth it. This park is situated in the driftless area, which is a geographical anomaly. Basically, during the past Ice Age, no glacier touched this land. So, the park is full of ancient hills and valleys.

    We hiked two trails, both took a little over an hour to complete, and, really, I couldn’t tell you which one was better. So, today, I chose to write about both. We started with the Lost Canyon Trail, which I guess would be most people’s favorite, and finished with the Pine Bluff Trail.

    The Lost Canyon Trail descends into an ancient sandstone gorge. The minute you start this trail, after you pass a flowery meadow,

    and then descend a rock staircase,

    you will be awestruck. Once at the base of the staircase, you’re seemingly encased by sandstone, and you’ll glimpse a trickling waterfall.

    After that scene, we felt compelled to follow the babbling brook.

    The journey serpentined through aged, forested, earthen and rocky walls.

    Sounds pretty cool, huh?

    The next day, we chose the Pine Bluff Trail. As you may have guessed, we discovered some cool sandstone bluffs.

    Yet, that wasn’t all. We found cool scenery,

    prairie flowers,

    a lake

    and a tranquil forest along the contours of this particular trail.

    Hiking the Balanced Rock Trail

    Can you tell that I like to hike? Of my summer adventures, this one, which actually occurred in mid May, was my favorite. It took place in Devil’s Lake State Park.

    Along Devil’s Lake, which gets its name from indigenous peoples, ones who believed the lake to be sacred, you’ll find crumbling quartzite bluffs.

    We climbed one of those bluffs.

    The Balanced Rock Trail, named for a rock formation along the trail,

    is a steep climb, one that twists and turns, with the aid of a quartzite staircase.

    This trail, while claiming to be a mere 0.4 miles, borrowed and hour of our time. It’s rated as difficult…but the sights, and the views…well, they left me spellbound.

    I should include the fact that there were other sights at the top of the bluff. Also, on our way back, we discovered a bunch of rock climbers.

    I will always remember that morning.

    So, that sums it up. I had a vision for this summer, and outdoor adventures were definitely part of that vision. While all my goals hadn’t come to fruition, I can certainly claim that I did have fun, and I conquered much. If you get the itch, and are somewhere near one of these great attractions, give it a try. Of course, exercise caution, and set one foot in front of the other. Soon, you’ll discover a path to your own adventure.

    Safe Travels!


  • Traipsing Through Bailey’s Harbor

    It may be late in the season, but, with fall colors in mind, there are still reasons to venture the Door Peninsula.  I know, the trees are still full of green, and they’re not sporting an autumnal collage…give it a couple of weeks.  Anyways, today, I’m  going to simply highlight a town, one on Door County’s lakeside.  This demure collection of genuine clapboard houses, which resonates a distinct laid back vibe, is known as Bailey’s Harbor.

    It was Labor Day weekend, and our hiking lusts were satiated.  Yet, the yearning for food, as the clockhands were far beyond the lunch hour, drove us to seek civilization….

    Wait, is that prose a bit over the top?  How about this; we were finished hiking and hungry as hell.  So, we sought food in the nearest town.

    Unfortunately, due to certain circumstances, our pocketbooks were scant for cash, and finding cheap eats, while playing in Door County, is no easy feat.  Yet, I knew, as I recalled other visits to Bailey’s Harbor, that a food truck, one set on a grassy plot, would provide an affordable meal.

    After eating a gyro,

    and going through a tree’s worth of napkins, which were used in an attempt to wipe cucumber sauce from my beard, we galavanted through the town. 

    This small town has an eclectic assortment of shops.

    Buyer beware: one could lose their hide.

    Actually, while we didn’t peruse every shop, of the ones we checked out, the shop prices weren’t horrible.

    There were also fashionable bars and restaurants,

    and buildings that reminded us that the town’s founders, who happened to be lumberjacks and fishermen, left impossible shoes to fill…

    Yet their footprints are evident…quite literally.

    If I could only use one common word to describe this place, it would be casual.

    But, if I were to be a a tad more descript, I’d throw in the words old fashioned.

    All in all, our time in Bailey’s Harbor, while brief, was very enjoyable.  If you’re wondering, the population of this town would probably be a few hundred.  Yet, during peak tourist times, that total is deceiving.  This small collection of structures, while docile and sleepy, is somehow vibrant and bustling during the same glance.  If you don’t comprehend that, which just might be difficult, you should check it out yourself…

    Safe Travels!


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    This Summer’s Best Breweries

    I’ll start my post with this; Wisconsin is the land of beer and cheese. Now, what you’re probably  thinking, especially if you hail from this state is,”Chris, that’s a cliche opening sentence.”  You’re right, it absolutely is…but it’s also an undeniable fact.  I kind of had to lead in like that, because one of those Badgerland staples is today’s topic.  That topic would be beer…microbreweries to be exact.  To be a bit more precise, I’ll list the top five beer factories, at least the top five I’ve visited this past summer. Each one of them resided in America’s Dairyland.

    Stubborn Brothers Brewery

    I think I’m like a lot of folks; I  love breweries.  What’s more, if a beer factory happens to be set inside a storied building, one that highlights the structure’s original purpose, I’ll remember it for life.   I found exactly that in Shawano, Wisconsin. 

    Stubborn Brothers Brewery resides in an old Vaudeville theater,

    and, with its historic features, you could guess that live performances took place here.  I mean, the place still has its stage and orchestra pit attractively intact. 

    Along with constantly rotating taps, there’s drink specials to boot….

    If memory serves me correctly, a full boot costs ten bucks.

    This place also functions as a full menu restaurant.

    Three Sheeps Brewing Company

    When I was younger, my last choice, as far as a  hangout was concerned, would have been a warehouse.  Do you blame young me? Warehouses are dusty and drab.  Yet, that’s the type of building, though hip and fun, that Three Sheeps Brewing Company is set in.

    And I have to say, this place, with it’s rustic furniture, brings up an interesting thought.  I imagine an old  factory, one that  functioned during America’s manufacturing heyday.   The production plant’s bosses, as I picture benevolent entrepreneurs,  might have wanted to celebrate the company’s successes. Those employees would need a gathering spot.  What better place to congregate than the enterprise’s warehouse?

    So, along with my ruminations on old industrial buildings, whether accurate or not, I’ll mention that this brewery offers a ton of rotating beverages.  That includes a complete section of barrel aged brews.  This place was definitely fun and memorable.

    Lion’s Tail Brewing Company

    Appropriately located on Neenah’s Commercial Street, you’ll find an old, stately financial building.  The Lion’s Tail Brewing Company, which is located on this structure’s first floor, puts a fun twist on this  testament of American prosperity.

    Lion’s Tail offers plenty of taps, bottles and cans.  Its yearly total, when counting its rotating brews, is astronomical.  So, with beer and location scoring high, I had to include this place on my list.

    Stillmank Brewing Company

    Of all the breweries in the state, I frequent the Green Bay beer factories most…and they’re all quality.  If I were to choose a favorite, which I guess I am, I’d choose Stillmank.  That’s due to two very important reasons.

    First, as you can tell, at least by reading my first three brewery choices, I really like a unique setting.  You know, someplace that has a history.  Stillmank isn’t that.  Actually, it’s kind of like Three Sheeps, being that the exterior’s shell is partially corrugated metal.

    But even if it strays from my typical choice, this hangout has mom and pop establishment written all over it. What’s great about Stillmank’s setting, and I truly love this, is its small, intimate taproom.  Along with that, you can sit right amidst the 90 barrel system brewery…and that’s cool.

    But beyond setting, and a I guess more importantly, Stillmank produces some great beers.  That includes my favorite Green Bay beer: Killer Bees.  Its a delicious jalepeno blonde…

    yeah, a hot blonde.

    Sabbatical Brewing Company

    Finally, right on the cusp of Manitowoc’s city limits, you’ll find an interesting spot. Never mind that it features a ton of rotating taps; there’s something beyond well brewed beer here. This place has a VERY appealing shell. Sabbatical Brewing Company resides in an old feed mill.

    If you don’t know, a feedmill, which happened to be a common smalltown business, was a spot where a farmer would buy his livestock’s food. This midwestern farm boy, who was a dairy producer’s child, remembers trips to a very similar place during his childhood.

    So a structure like this, with very little updating, causes recollections of 25 cent sodas and bonding time with dad. Anyways, for you, I believe it would be an interesting visit. I say this because, beyond the dated exterior, a classy interior vibe lies in wait.

    So, that’s my favorite brewery visits – at least for this summer. Don’t get me wrong, there are other great places, some within the very same city, that I haven’t mentioned. I simply don’t have time to recap each one. These five, and I think you’d feel the same way, had a very strong appeal. I hope, if you’re like me, an avid beer lover, that you’re able to visit a few of these on your own.

    Safe Travels!


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    My Favorite Visits of This Past Summer

    Wisconsin has a lot of great people.  It’s evidenced in bars, restaurants and anything else visited for leisure.  This past summer, I’ve hit a  few of those sensational spots.  So, being that I’m reflecting a bit,  I thought I’d include my top five places in this post.

    Okay, this isn’t going to be the top five spots in the state. Nor will it be my absolute favorites.  It’s simply my five favorite experiences during this past summer.  So, without further ado, here they are…

    AL Ringling Brewing Company

    I’ll start with a microbrewery; I’ll actually include another in this post.  For now, I’ll talk about a pit stop, one on our first day of vacation, that was set inside a circus mogul’s domocile. 

    Al Ringling Brewing Company, located in Baraboo, Wisconsin,  features twenty taps,

    reasonably priced pub fare,

    a yesteryear styled beer garden

    and a decent sized mezzanine. 

    The decor, and this should come as no surprise, features a lot of big top flair…

    including a genuine piece dating back to 1903.

    As I recall my visit, remembering how cool this spot was, I’d have to say the high point of my visit was the Ringling Original. It’s a family beer recipe, and it tasted like many domestics of that era. They found this recipe in the floorboards of the mansion. Yes, I said mansion.

    It’s literally attached to the brewery, and it can be toured for twenty bucks.

    The Original Wisconsin Ducks

    Another great place…well, okay, it’s not a place, it’s a tour – a fantastic tour. During this hour long trip, you can view forested lands,

    a wide river,

    tall cliffs

    and a small lake.

    And though the scenery is enough to captivate any tourist, the real sell is your mode of transportation.  It’s known as a Duck.  Actually, Duck was a military nickname given to these amphibious vehicles.  That’s right; I said amphibious.

    These Korean War and WWII vets, which were vehicles that served during the Normandy invasion, will speed around turns,

    splash headlong into waters

    and cruise atop rivers and lakes. 

    You’re probably asking,  “Where is this?”  I’ll tell you: Wisconsin Dells.  There are many tours to choose from , much like this one, and they’re all set in this tourist laden city. Keep an eye peeled for deals; they’re everywhere.

    The Title Town District

    Say you’re visiting Green Bay, and you’re engaging in the city’s number 1 activity: attending a Packer game.  You might be wondering, “Are there any cool places near Lambeau Field?”  Rest assured, there certainly are.

    Of them, a conglomeration of bars, restaurants, multi-seasonal activities and events reside right across from the Packers’ iconic stadium. It’s known as the Title Town District.

    In the summer, you could play yard games

    or dine alfresco.

    In winter, you could ice skate

    or cozy up to a fire, with the added warmth of avid football fans,

    and enjoy a beer.

    There’s also a hotel on this property.  While some of the dining spots are pricey, many of the courtyard features, such as a full size football field and playground, are absolutely free.

    Moose Jaw Pizza and Wisconsin Dells Brewing Company

    I promised another brewery, and here it is!  This one is set in the heart of Wisconsin Dells.  It’s a rustic log cabin on roids,

    and the Pizza…

    well, yeah, DELISH!

    There weren’t a lot of original brews at this place, yet the one I drank was decent.  This establishment, which came complete with its own gift shop,

    will remain in my memory,  screaming Wisconsin woodland sanctuary- even if it is in the most commercialized city in America’s Dairyland!

    The Milwaukee Riverwalk

    Finally, and this place will linger in my memory for years,

    should I not visit again…as I was saying, my last choice was Milwaukee’s Riverwalk.

    This progressive, fashionable path is set on the banks of the Milwaukee River,

    and it awaits anybody who cares for a stroll.

    We found ourselves at an establishment,

    drinking beers and feeling the setting’s lax electricity. 

    Every leisure boat imaginable cruises the river, and the vibrant souls aboard emit a jovial atmosphere. 

    You’ll also find cruises,

    art

    and festive parks.  

    The stroll was an inexpensive, and uplifting, Downtown Milwaukee excursion.

    So, there’s my favorite visits of this summer. Although it certainly seemed like a lackluster year, I look back and say, “Yeah, I actually had a bit of fun.” I hope I inspired your own late-season sense of adventure, and you decide to visit one of these excellent spots. If not these, maybe I’ve sparked a desire to visit your own choice of leisure.

    Safe Travels!


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    A Powerful Exhibit

    It may seem, if you wander Appleton’s College Avenue, that this is an ordinary, bustling city – a prime example of a Midwestern community. Yet, this city’s history, while similar to many metro areas, had its own unique influence on this country. So, a trip to an old masonic lodge, set in the heart of Harry Houdini’s childhood hometown, would sound pretty cool, right? Add a powerful exhibit, one that draws from a desperate hope, and this spot’s ten dollar charge isn’t overly exorbitant.

    I’ll start off, as I’m going to focus on the main exhibit, which I was told opened today, with a few of the museum’s other points of interest.

    Of course, residing on the top floor, you’ll find the ever present Houdini exhibit.

    This fun segment tells the tale, through interactive and cased displays,

    of Appleton’s most famous resident.

    Then there’s the Fox Cities ABC’s.

    It’s another fun exhibit. This time, the tale is told of the people, products and ways of life in this area’s past.

    There is also a small bit on the economic, governmental and social climate of the United States.

    Finally, I discovered ‘Stitching History From the Holocaust’.

    This is a sad and powerful story, one you see through the eyes of Czechoslovakian Jews. It’s about a couple trying to earn passage to the US.

    Their ticket, or their hope, as Paul and Hedwig resided in occupied Czechoslovakia, was to escape Nazi tyranny through Hedwig’s stylish dress designs.

    From what I gathered, while, today, her dresses stun those that peruse this exhibit, their hopes were dashed, and a talented woman was taken from this earth….

    I guess I really don’t have to say anymore.

    These designs, while never put into production, were found in a family member’s attic. It was Paul and Hedwig’s hope that these designs, which Paul sent to an American relative, would earn them a VISA into the US…that never happened.

    So, while in Appleton, as the town will soon be celebrating Octoberfest, keep this thought provoking exhibit in mind. I think, while enjoying the festivities, which is a fun College Avenue celebration, a stop at this cool museum would be in order…and an appreciation of voices gone forever may be soberly understood.

    Safe Travels!


  • Exploring five Wisconsin State Parks

    Did you know, and if you really don’t care, you probably don’t know…anyways, I was going to tell you that Wisconsin plays home to around fifty state parks.  I wish I could tell you that every one of them is awesome.  Truth is, I’ve been to less than half, so I can’t speak for every park.  Yet, and I mean this sincerely, most parks, with very few exceptions, cause me to turn to Heidi, as we head out the park gates, and simply utter, “Hey, that place was awesome!”

    So, today, as I gave myself a ton of downtime, I’ll list my five favorite park visits –  at least for this year.  Most likely, as I glance back at this past summer, I’ve probably visited closer to ten, but I’ll highlight the ones that left a significant impression on me.  It won’t be my top five of all-time, but these were this year’s most stellar visits.

    Point Beach State Forest

    Okay, this Two Rivers site, set along rural Wisconsin countryside, isn’t a designated state park.  Yet its size, being an adequate 2,903 acres , certainly suggests it is- and you  need a park sticker to enter.  Plus, this place has anything, and maybe a bit more, that any other state park has: hiking, biking, a campground…oh, and one dune laden, lighthouse hosting, Lake Michigan bordering beach.

    Of our activities while visiting this year, we went on an excellent hike,

    and sought the solace of Lake Michigan’s icy waters; we did that on a 90 degree day.

    We also enjoyed the lighthouse towering over the dunes.

    Some of the premier activities, as I feel I should mention them, include biking, hiking swimming, camping, bird watching and dog walking.  Point Beach State Forest also plays host to winter pursuits such as skiing and snowmobiling.

    Whitefish Dunes State Park

    My second choice, staying with the Lake Michigan shoreline, hosts the largest dunes in the state.  Trees…grass…flowers all cling to these gigantic, sandy mounds. 

    While one can’t camp in this particular park, picnicking, beach going, hiking and biking offer stellar outdoor excursions…oh, and Old Baldy, a 93 foot tall sand dune, which happens to be the tallest in the state, offers a panoramic view of Door County’s green and Lake Michigan’s blue.  This place, as is the case with Point Beach State Forest, also sports a dog beach.

    As an added bonus, along with the 867 acres of State Park, you’ll find a cool county park, one that’s encompassed by Whitefish Dunes.  There, at Cave Point County Park, you’ll find a dolomitic limestone cliff, one that has been carved for centuries.

    Atop this precipice, you can listen to Lake Michigan thumping the caves below. Better yet, one can  jump into the lake from this cliff.  And, at one of the  beach accesses in Whitefish Dunes, one can register for a seafaring kayak adventure along the caves!

    High Cliff State Park

    This park, which is situated on Lake Winnebago’s shore, and just east of the Fox Cities, has a full compliment of outdoor adventures.  Equipped with the Niagra Escarpment’s limestone rock face, which juts from a lush forest floor, the 1,187 acre High Cliff State Park provides scenic hikes for any soul.

    As is with the case with many badgerland parks,  this area played host to ancient indigenous peoples.  That fact is evidenced in the effigy mounds atop High Cliff’s bluff.

    But beyond that, with a marina, campground, biking paths and a history museum, this park, which gets its name from a defunct mining town, will satisfy many recreational quests.

    Devil’s Lake State Park

    The last remains of an ancient North American outcropping, the Baraboo hills sport crumbling, forested facades. And it’s the only place where you’ll find Baraboo quartzite, a durable purplish hued rock.  If you’d like to see ancient geological features, part of the Baraboo range, with a crystal clear lake held at its center, resides in the gigantic 9,217 acre Devil’s Lake State Park.

    This is the busiest park in the state…and for good reason.  Besides being near Wisconsin Dells, and with over 400 campsites available, Devil’s Lake boasts some awesome hikes.  Our choice of trail, which is probably the most difficult, being that you’re ascending a precipitous bluff, was the Balanced Rock Trail.  It’s unparalleled when it comes to awesomeness!…well, it’s awesome if you don’t mind steep climbs on slippery quartzite.

    Besides the hikes, Devil’s Lake offers rock climbing, boat  rentals, beaches, picnic areas and a boardwalk, which wraps around the lake’s southern edge….oh, and an amphitheater.

    Governor Dodge State Park

    My final entry, and this was probably my favorite excursion, was set in the driftless area.  In this spot, it’s obvious that Ice Age glaciers bypassed the terrain, allowing a place of ancient hills and valleys.

    When you compare Governor Dodge State Park, which is a sprawling 5,270 acres, to other Wisconsin parks, much is the same: excellent hiking trails, lakes with beaches(and boat rentals), off road biking trails, multiple campgrounds….I think you get the gist.  Yet the thing that makes this place different, at least in my book, is the park’s horse back riding trails.  Rider  beware, the hills are steep and muddy!

    During our visit, we camped at the Twin Valley campground,

    rented a canoe,

    and hiked both the Lost Canyon Trail,

    which sported a waterfall,

    and the Pine Bluff Trail.

    So, that’s my bit on our summer travels, and a rundown of the five best parks I’ve visited during the season.

    Who am I?  I’m certainly not an authoritative voice, nor will I ever be.  I’m your average Wisconsinite, proud Air Force veteran and restless middle aged guy that loves to explore this state…with my girlfriend by my side. 

    Am I going through a midlife crisis?  I’m not really sure…but I’ve been doing this for five years, so that’s pretty doubtful.  During those past five years, I’ve discovered how cool Wisconsin scenery, culture and festivals  really are.

    I do try to put a positive spin on my featured places.  I do this for several reasons.  First and foremost, there’s real people responsible for these attractions, so respect is warranted.  Secondly, if I try some place out, and don’t care for it, for whatever reason, I simply won’t write about it…I think that’s fair.

    So with all that said, go find a state park near you. If not one of these, I’m sure others can be an apt substitute. A park sticker, which allows access to every park, is 28 bucks. If you care for a one time visit, there’s a 10 dollar price tag. With fall around the corner, there’s sure to be spectacular scenery in these picturesque spots.

    Safe Travels!


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    Reclaiming Identity at the Trout Museum of Art

    The Trout Museum of Art, situated on Appleton’s vibrant College Avenue, has a brand new exhibition.  And this one, while I contemplate a proud collection of people, ones who are indigenous to this continent,  you know,  the landmass Europeans named North America…anyways, this new exhibit is a reminder of how perception can totally distort the view of entire nations.  The name of the exhibit is titled ‘Reclaiming Identity’.

    I’m a mutt, mostly of European descent.  But I’m a sliver, just a small fragment, Native American.  I say Native American, because, as I’ve been taught, that title is the politically correct term.  But is it?  I mean, it’s better than Indian…or is it?

    Think about this, the word America is derived from a European explorer: Amerigo Vespucci.  Since Europeans simply came, washing away the indigenous people’s means of freedom, it still seems a tad disrespectful.  What I should say is that I’m a portion Cherokee – at least I believe that’s the nation my great-great grandmother belonged to.

    So if anyone asks, while admiring this collection of art, that was the collective message of these bold pieces. 

    It wasn’t hate driven, but rather a bold, prideful declaration. 

    Some were a glowing expression of self.

    Others told the story of the white man’s arrival, as handed down from indigenous ancestors.

    And others, while being arcane symbols, registered as original and cool.

    Beyond those images, if you ventured towards the third floor, you’d stumble upon a resident artists exhibition.

    To me, the reason why I haven’t heard of Laura Schneider is a bit foggy.

    The same can be said for Arimasa Imaizumi.

    However, I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to the work of Erica Hess.

    To tell the truth, which I did in this interactive exhibit,

    my time spent at the Trout Museum of Art was enlightening. I gained a new perspective, stumbled upon new artists and realized that all people want their voice to be heard…at least by someone. And through visual artistry, those voices echo in my mind as I write this post’s final words.

    Safe Travels!


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    MTB Park in the City

    So, this past Friday, which happened to be a rainy affair, I celebrated my 49th birthday.  What did I do?  I tried a mountain bike park in the Minneapolis metro area.  It turned out to be challenging and fun.

    Unfortunately, after visiting the park, I didn’t find a lot of info.  The course we rode, according to my trail app, was just shy of two miles.  We actually biked more than one path, and I’d say our cumulative MTB distance was close to three miles.

    The name of the area, which becomes a winter cross-country skiing haven, is known as Theodore Wirth Regional Park. It’s located in the burbs west of Downtown Minneapolis. The park is full of green, and definitely offers a break from the bustle of the city.

    Theo Wirth offers a few fairly short trails to choose from, including a pump track and a black diamond. Like I said, we hooked up with a couple, and found one path in a neighboring park; that was on our ride towards the regional preserve.

    I let my nephew lead the way.  According to him, he bikes less.  Yet, the kid, in masterful fashion, showed Uncle Chris who the superior rider was.

    See the signing behind him? That was the two mile course. There are  many tricky parts on this particular loop.  It is full of steep climbs, jumps and drop offs.  Yet, the way it’s set up, you can reduce speed, I’m speaking of the jumps and drop-offs, if you don’t want to fly through the air. 

    This hilly circuit is located near a restaurant, which offers progressive food choices. It also sports a training facility. The name of this complex, appearing brand new and fashionable, is the Trailhead. 

    …but getting back to my bike run: for the year, even if these trails were rated similar to my usual haunt, this was my most difficult ride.  And though my ride was ridiculously fun, my legs ached afterwards.

    What I discovered at Theo Wirth, at least before the mid-morning rain set in, was a great collection of trails. If you’re not a seasoned rider, these trails might prove too difficult. Yet, if you have some rides under your belt, and you feel comfortable in your abilities, this small collection of trails is a lot of fun!

    Safe Travels!


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