Wolfenbuttel, Kenosha: sister cities since 1970

The GPS has us driving in circles, so we park and approach the first person we see. Yes, she speaks English. Yes, she knows where we are trying to go. Yes, it is within a walk but, no, she won’t simply provide directions. This friendly stranger insists on accompanying us on a brisk, 10-minute trek(…)

Germany’s natural world: Spreewald, Hainich

Our captain maneuvers us like a gondolier, standing as a pole propels his flatboat through a maze of canals that gingerly pass tree canopies, tiny towns, flower beds, thatched roofs, haystacks and orchards. Between each row of blanket-covered seats is a table with fresh flowers. We have much of the waterway to ourselves, if you(…)

German brewers still abide by 500-year-old beer purity law

First in a series. About 44 percent of Wisconsin residents, the highest percentage of all states, reported German ancestry on the 2000 U.S. Census. (The 2010 census omitted ancestry questions). — If you love beer, this is the year to visit Germany and immerse yourself in its sudsy history, regional specialties. The Reinheitsgebot – German(…)

Lake Geneva mailboat tour has practical purpose, too

With three blasts of the whistle, to signify that we’re backing up, downtown Lake Geneva’s most unique boat tour begins. For the next 2.5 hours, about 160 passengers get acquainted with Geneva Lake as Capt. Neill Frame slowly navigates the waterway counter-clockwise. He is at the helm of Walworth II, built in 1967. The vessel’s(…)

Take Ten: Beyond UNESCO with Frank Lloyd Wright

Wisconsin is Frank Lloyd Wright country, and more of the world may realize this as early as next month, when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets in Istanbul, Turkey. Ready for a vote is a 2014 nomination to designate 10 of our native son’s most internationally significant architectural works as a World Heritage Site. This(…)

Badger beaches: Expect multiple personalities

The arrival of summer means it’s time to hit the beach, and we have a lot of choices in Wisconsin. In the state are about 15,000 lakes, plus shorelines for the Mississippi River, St. Croix River and Great Lakes of Michigan and Superior. Much of what makes Wisconsin beaches different from those in Waikiki is(…)

Water-loving Ephraim about to shake its dry history

Much distinguishes Ephraim, population 288, from other hamlets in tourist-friendly Door County. The local yacht club – organized in 1906 – is one of the oldest on the Great Lakes, but the actual structure is tiny. Membership totals about 480, anyone can join, and children begin sailing lessons at age 7. Ephraim’s annual Flying Scots(…)

Shopping within Wisconsin’s Amish landscapes

Friends near Cazenovia (Richland County) always invite us to their farm during this time of year, and it is a joy to simply follow the quiet, twisty backroads to their home on a hill with an unobstructed, panoramic view of farmland, wildlife and cloud formations. About one dozen of us gather for a potluck and,(…)

Green Lake B&B honors rich resort heritage

The Winnebago tribe knew of the lake as Daycholah, a beautiful, mysterious and magical body of water that seemed to have no bottom. It was a place of spiritual pilgrimage centuries ago, and Native American burial mounds dot the lakeshore. Green Lake, at 236 feet, is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin. On the(…)

Baraboo additions deepen attention to circus history

A note from Dave SaLoutos ends this way: “May all your days be circus days,” and he means it. The ringmaster for Circus World just introduced another performance season in Baraboo. No other Wisconsin city maintains a richer circus history than Baraboo, and now the city of 12,000 is undergoing a significant renaissance. An 1883(…)