River museum, parks appeal in Dubuque

Dreary, steep and old. That was my first impression of Dubuque, back in the 1970s, after visiting a friend who landed there because of her first job out of college. The Mississippi River’s presence was largely industrial. Character and charm were lacking. My friend was glad for our visit; no one else had made the(…)

Culinary travel hot trend with vast potential

Let’s assume that you are hungry for something different this month. Wisconsin and its neighboring cities have an abundance of food expos, fancy wine dinners, ethnic culinary getaways, cooking seminars, demonstrations and product samplings. Culinary tourism is becoming more deliberate in both rural and urban settings. People who love to travel must eat, and now(…)

Reader mail: Alaska, ferries, birding, apples

One of these days, I’ll get “Roads Traveled” online, so reader mail can be published in its entirety. Until then, here’s a delightful dip into the mailbag. — “There is a single birding festival coming up that features field trips which investigate enormous numbers of migrating birds and their habitats in three states: Wisconsin, Minnesota(…)

Separating Geneva, Aurora, St. Charles, Ill.

What’s the difference between Geneva, Aurora and St. Charles, Ill.? One way to yank the chain of these good Flatlanders is to suggest that Wisconsin people see them as pretty much all the same place – western suburbs to maneuver through, or bypass, when en route to Chicago. Advocates for each city fight hard to(…)

Coming soon: high-speed ferry, light rail

Taking an order for 43 brats was one of the highlights of working at The World’s Largest Brat Fest on Labor Day in Madison (130,869 brats sold and 40-plus charities helped; go to www.bratfest.com or call 608-236-2021 to learn more). Fielding questions about what to see in Barcelona and Paris rank right up there, too.(…)

For bird lovers: tours, talks, exhibits, festivals

Bird lovers have all kinds of events to attend in Wisconsin during the next month. There are exhibits, tours, field trips, workshops, talks by bird experts and just plain great spots to see birds during migration. Instead of squawking more about it generically, here are the specifics. — For 28 years, there has been a(…)

Indoor, outdoor art shows: raining dogs, cats

In these dog days of summer, the route to relief from the humidity seemed clear. I took a break from the sun and headed to the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan. That’s where an exhibit called “Dog Show” is in place until Oct. 19. Playful photos, emotion-filled oil paintings, drawings, sculptures and embroidery(…)

Pillow talk, Midwest girlfriend getaways

I never bring a pillow when spending the night away from home, unless my destination is a campsite or a floor, and I don’t recall a too-soft or too-hard hotel pillow ever ruining one of my vacations. Perhaps that is too much tolerance, judging from the number of people who will lug their favorite pillows(…)

Alaska: places to expect the unexpected

I am fresh from a trip to Alaska and have amassed hundreds of mental and digital pictures of very cool landscapes, lifestyles and landmarks. It is a minor complaint, but I never seemed to be dressed quite right for the weather. My raincoat was out of reach on a drizzly morning in Ketchikan; I had(…)

Harley’s centennial: It’s time to rock, ride

OK, so maybe you’re a little wacked out – excited or nervous – about all those bikers taking over Wisconsin later this month, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. As the promo goes, get ready to rock, roll and rumble. About 250,000 Harley enthusiasts from around the world, in all their thundering glory, are(…)