Eco Efforts

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(…)

Take Ten: Women-owned farms to visit

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Lisa Kivirist and husband John Ivanko of Browntown have earned national recognition for their farm and renewal energy work. By Lisa Kivirist This Mother’s Day, celebrate the women championing Wisconsin family farms when traveling. We women in agriculture are increasing in number: In Wisconsin, the number of women-owned farms increased over(…)

Hot Springs: smallest national park, historic spa setting

The average spa treatment in this country involves low lights, soothing music, a heated massage table and complete privacy (unless booking a massage for two). The more celebrated the facility, the more likely that services command three-digit prices, plus a tip for the therapist. Buckstaff Bathhouse, open since 1912, breaks all those rules. The location,(…)

Take Ten: pretty places to hike in Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Wisconsin-native Kevin Revolinski is the author of 60 Hikes Madison, Best Hikes Near Milwaukee, Paddling Wisconsin, Best Tent Camping Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide. His blog is Revtravel.com. By KEVIN REVOLINSKI You don’t have to go as far as the Appalachian Trail for a fine walk in the woods. Wisconsin’s state park(…)

Take Ten: beautiful, challenging places to canoe in Wisconsin

Guest columnist Lynne Diebel of Stoughton is the author of numerous books about the outdoors, and the most recent is Crossing the Driftless (University of Wisconsin Press, $20). The book is both a traveler’s tale and an exploration of the land the glaciers missed, an ancient landscape of bluffs, ridgetops and steep valleys that long(…)

New visitor center hikes visibility of The Ridges

A longtime but quiet force on the quiet side of Door County gains wider visibility this month. The opening of a unique visitor center at The Ridges Sanctuary moves the work of researchers and naturalists from obscure quarters to busy Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor. The Ridges is the oldest nature preserve in Wisconsin and(…)

Machu Picchu pilgrimage: a study in engineering, miracles

When pelting rain wakes me at 4 a.m. on a Monday, about all I can do is listen and wonder. The closest weather forecast online is for a city 70 miles away and 3,300 feet higher in elevation. This is the day. There is no rain date. Our train leaves in mid afternoon. What sounds(…)

Eagle watch: Mississippi River, Raptor Center

Up to 2,500 bald eagles winter near the Mississippi River’s locks and dams because open water makes it easier to fish for dinner. That’s why we consider this the time of year to seek out the once-endangered raptor. The population estimate comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and most bald eagles head north(…)

Indy’s International Orangutan Center protects, learns from endangered species

Two friends move 1,000 miles together, then another 500 after meeting three decades ago. That is the mark of a special relationship, made extraordinary because of who is involved: a longtime expert on primate behavior and a middle-aged orangutan. The ongoing partnership between Rob Shumaker and 36-year-old Azy soon helps introduce a remarkable place that(…)

Your trash, their treasure: art from recycled materials

With spring cleaning comes the urge to discard and replace, but there are notable exceptions. Sometimes it’s a higher priority to reuse and recycle. One person’s trash is the backbone, or accent mark, in wondrous artwork for another. Consider these examples. — For years, I have noticed and occasionally photographed the big, eccentric and rusting(…)

For the birds in Wisconsin: fests, counts, city commitments

You could say Wisconsin is for the birds and be relatively accurate, for at least three reasons. One-third of the state’s residents who are age 16 or older consider themselves birders. Only Vermont has a higher percentage, concludes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. No state presents more International Migratory Bird Day events than Wisconsin,(…)

Sheboygan’s Bookworm Gardens inspires reading in children

Gardens are about planting and growing, but most fruits of harvest on a 2-acre plot in Sheboygan are not edible. What visitors reap are the words, characters and lessons that good books teach. Bookworm Gardens, on the city’s outskirts at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, opened in 2010 as a way to inspire reading and make(…)

For disabled travelers: Fishing Has No Boundaries

This is the second part of a series about efforts that address the challenges of traveling with a disability. — It is not unusual for people who fish to rise before dawn, plan a weekend around angling and trade “one-that-got-away” stories with friends. This happens in Fond du Lac, too, but with one group there’s(…)

Megabus: Bundle up and wait, but price is right

Even on a glorious, wintry day of bright sun and no wind, we bounce uncomfortably from one foot to another. Our ride is late, no indoor refuge is near and we have no clue about how long of a delay to expect. The silver linings: It’s noon, not midnight. About 20 of us share the(…)

Raccoon Den B&B on Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary

Second in a series about the wide range of bed and breakfast lodging in Wisconsin. Many innkeepers include breakfast for overnight guests but are not among the state’s 300-plus licensed B&Bs. That is the case with this property, which is licensed as a tourist rooming house. — The most unusual thing about Raccoon Den Bed(…)

New food book also works as guide for hungry travelers

Cooking with nutritious and locally grown ingredients is easy at this bountiful time of year, and a new book offers a glimpse about which Wisconsin chefs make it a priority and habit during all seasons. The 2013 Wisconsin Local Foods Journal ($17.95, Ginkgo Press) is a self-described guide to sustainable eating, but it is also(…)

Rustic Frog Bay, first national tribal park, opens in Red Cliff

The opening of Wisconsin’s newest and most unusual park, north of Bayfield, will occur with little public fanfare this summer. Frog Bay Tribal National Park is not the kind of place that will ever be praised for its size, amenities or attendance. You might not know how to get there unless someone guides you. You(…)

Woodlanders Gathering in artsy Mineral Point

The day before I meet Ann Gronbeck-Peterson, she spends a part of the day converting an old railroad spike into a knife. Why? Because she can, it’s fun and all that pounding at an anvil can be pretty therapeutic. The finished product? It’s pretty artistic, in a rustic way. Ann is a former nurse who(…)

New Jerry Apps book, events, trips for gardeners

One of my treats on Sundays is reading the latest blog entry by prolific Wisconsin writer Jerry Apps, whose keen observations about life always seem universal. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a farmhouse or high-rise condo. My favorite part is “The Old Timer Says,” a one-liner of homespun wisdom. Examples: “Sometimes I don’t see(…)

Fight gas price hikes with train trip travel

By the time you read this, I’ll have returned from a trip to Germany that involved planes, trains and no automobiles. Mass transit has long been my preference when traveling a long distance. It’s good for the planet, my pocketbook and my sanity. Let’s add my eyes to that list: They are having a harder(…)