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(…)

Barn styles define ethnic heritage, history

If you consider the farm barn to be an ordinary and ho-hum part of Wisconsin’s landscape, Ruth Olson has this to say: It is a significant symbol of your historical, economic, ethnic and occupational identity. Building techniques may showcase precision, as in the tightly constructed log barns that were a mark of their Finnish creators.(…)

Lumber town Laona’s Camp Five Museum

Tiny Laona, an unincorporated community in Forest County, has a great recipe for soup that has served its residents well for many years. The annual Community Soup began 84 years ago on nearby Silver Lake beach. Families showed up with whatever was growing in their garden, and added it or meat to a soup pot.(…)

EAA, AirVenture devoted to planes, flight

Head to Dayton, Ohio, this weekend and you’ll encounter the end of that city’s 17-day Wright flight celebration. Events include an air show with three of North America’s best-known military precision flying teams: the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds and Canadian Snowbirds. The Wright brothers used to live in Dayton, so the city calls itself “the true(…)