Paralympics’ best Nordic skiers in Hayward for world championships

If you look at winter as a season of limitations, head to Cable and Chequamegon National Forest in southern Bayfield County for a profoundly different perspective. I’m not talking about the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski races in February, held since 1973, although the demonstration of athleticism, endurance and grit is bold. What the area hosts(…)

“1,000 Places” author: thankful, curious, loves long-haul flights

Patricia Schultz was raised in Beacon, N.Y., a Hudson River town with some of our nation’s earliest settlements and the late folkster Pete Seeger as a hometown icon. She calls the city “a real Norman Rockwell corner of the world.” “I had a lovely childhood, but it wasn’t quite enough for me,” says the author(…)

Major Nuremberg brat exhibit opens in Germany

You say you love bratwurst? Germany’s Bavaria is centuries ahead of us in that regard, and now a new exhibit in Nuremberg’s local history museum is devoted to the sausage. The show about Nuremberg Rostbratwurst fills the first level of Stadtmuseum Fembohaus and is a first step toward deciding whether the city should open a(…)

Unexpected gems: Bay Motel, Leg Lamp Lodge, Molly O

Little luxuries and surprises are a part of what makes travel a joy, and this applies to my wanderings throughout Wisconsin in 2014. Remember that what you take for granted in the back yard indeed might earn ovations from out-of-towners. Here is a glimpse of what impressed me unexpectedly. Bay Motel and Restaurant, 1301 S.(…)

Green Fountain B&B in Waupaca serves other meals, too

Booking a bed and breakfast at the Green Fountain Inn could mean lunch or dinner, too, if you time it right. Accommodations at the Waupaca B&B, a roomy Victorian-style house built in 1908, are more about comfort and affordability than excess and luxury. Room rates stay well under $100, which includes a continental breakfast with(…)

Where the locals go in Madison during winter

Dreams of a white Christmas usually come true for us in Wisconsin, but there’s a quick skid of difference between picturesque wintry weather and an avalanche of discontent. A new exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, Madison, gently reminds us that the modern-day pleasures and pitfalls of winter are gentle when compared to what our(…)

Chicago gangster tours delve into bullet-riddled history

Mobster Al Capone was released from federal prison 75 years ago and sent home to Chicago. He was 40 years old and in bad health, mentally and physically, because of advanced syphilis; he refused treatment because he didn’t trust people with needles. That’s how Johnny Three Knives recounts it, and he’ll tell a lot more(…)

New museum exhibits: neon, androids, photos, fibers, history

Art, history and other museums in Wisconsin offer ongoing opportunities to learn and appreciate the world and home. Consider this sampling of special exhibits that will carry us into the new year. – “Changing Currents: Reinventing the Chippewa Valley” addresses at least 350 years of local history through a diverse array of local figures (including(…)

New Midwest cookbooks with wassail, apple, locavore recipes

With colder weather comes the inclination to cook more, if for no other reason than to add warmth to the kitchen. This new trio of cookbooks, each associated with a destination to visit, just might add ideas for holiday gift lists or inspiration to your own recipe repertoire. – Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. recently(…)

A few pros, cons of river cruise vacations

Living out of a suitcase usually is an irritating necessity when a trip involves multiple cities, states or countries. You can stay in one place to avoid a jumble of hotels, but that means renting a car or riding trains to and from home base, which can eat up a lot of time. Cruising is(…)

Reader mail: shrines, art, lodging, dining

Time to sort through the reader mailbag. ’Nuf said. – Some of you share my enthusiasm for Clear Lake, Iowa, and its rock music heritage. “We were impressed with the way the Surf Ballroom has been preserved, and the community spirit behind the preservation,” write Dick and Sharon Rayborn of Wausau. The couple also especially(…)

Atlantic City: going beyond the casinos

My bet is that Atlantic City isn’t on the radar of football fans heading east to watch Wisconsin play Rutgers on Nov. 1. Atlantic City, 100 miles south of New Jersey’s largest university, is quickly losing its reputation as a gaming mecca. Four of the city’s 12 casinos closed this year, and a fifth (Trump(…)

Better than trick or treat: Riding a New Orleans parade float

One visit is enough for some places, but that’s not how I view New Orleans. The city has a flashy array of personalities, none boring. If I could be anywhere in the country as this month ends, it would be The Big Easy, and the Oct. 26 Packer-Saints football game is just one reason why.(…)

Food on the farm: Restaurant ingredients truly local

Lots of chefs develop farm-to-table menus to showcase local ingredients, but these restaurants go one step further. Each is on a Wisconsin farm and open all year. North Star Homestead Farms, 11077N Fullington Rd., Hayward: A trio of women – Ann Berlage with daughters Laura and Kara – operate a café, market and creamery on(…)

Grand Hotel: How to save money while savoring the landmark resort

Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel – unusual because of its appearance, architecture, attitude and location – soon goes into hibernation for six months. The Michigan summer resort, a National Historic Landmark, is among the Midwest’s most precious getaways. It’s among the pricier, too, but there are exceptions if you know how to time a visit. Schedule(…)

Fermentation Fest: making beer, kraut, yogurt, bread, art-farm bonds

What, besides corn and cows, might you find in farm fields near Reedsburg in October? A. A woodwind quintet and ballet dancers. B. A place to paint silage bags. C. Sock puppets pondering morals and logic. Hah! The correct answer is all of the above. When you talk about culture in this part of south(…)

Rural artists at work in Northwoods to Driftless studios

Outside are the tools and materials of a welder. Inside is the precarious pirouette of a dancer, the menacing glare of a warrior. The unusual combination of what you see is as unexpected as the story of how Sara Balbin leaves her mark in the Northwoods, between Drummond and Cable in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. She(…)

Midwest rural art parks: a smooth blend with nature

When fall colors hit their peak, we hit the road in search of the most brilliant blaze of hues. That part is expected. What adds surprise to the awe of autumnal landscapes? Plan it right, and rural sculpture parks pop up amidst the flaming oaks, maples, birches and sumacs. These unusual destinations, with typically free(…)

Squeezebox Night: monthly Swiss tribute in Monroe

Once a month on a Tuesday night, the basement at Monroe’s Turner Hall fills. Fans of all things Swiss devour Schublig sausages, potatoes with melted Raclette cheese, Hasli-filee pork medallions, cheese pie, fondue and more. Diners linger because of the music, a jam session where accordions dominate. Each of the 10 or more performers takes(…)

Danish kringle bakeries: who makes the best, most?

In the world of pastry production, Danish kringle ranks among the most difficult and time-consuming of challenges. To do it right takes three days from start to finish. That’s because of the number of times dough is rolled, folded with butter and set aside to rest. “The best quality kringle require patience,” notes a Food(…)