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2017 travel hot spots: Canada, Europe, Finland, Montreal, Anchorage

Visionaries bring out their crystal ball in January and share what they know, think or hope for the new year. That is especially true during years when a new U.S. president begins work, but the whirl of predictions thankfully doesn’t begin and end with politics. As you burrow in for the winter and await vacation,(…)

Take Ten: Northwoods wedding venues

Midwest Features Syndicate is partnering with the Department of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to help students gain work experience and build a writing portfolio. This week’s author is Jessica Johnson of Roberts, a senior majoring in journalism with an emphasis in writing and editing. She was editor-in-chief of the Advance-Titan, the college(…)

“Roughneck Grace” book excerpt from Michael Perry

It is rare for me to track down an author to his home, but that happened 14 years ago, to interview a guy in New Auburn about his first book with a major publishing house. Although dozens of unsolicited books made their way to my newsroom desk in Madison, this one seemed extraordinary because of(…)

Reader mail: national parks, Germany, Twin Cities, Ephraim

Readers, thanks for filling the mailbag. Here are excerpts. We have two winners in the challenge to write about your favorite national park experience in 50 words or less. Both will receive National Geographic books about the National Park Service during this NPS centennial year celebration. “While in Yellowstone, a bear reared next to our(…)

Reader mail: polka, accordions, Vietnam, dinner

Readers, let’s empty the mailbag! — Fans of polka music sure seem passionate about this style of music. Jim Lueneburg of Menasha says his dad worked six days a week as a barber, then played drums in a polka band at weddings, anniversary parties and other events. “I would go along with him when I(…)

Pizza lovers know where to find the perfect slice

Pizza lovers, you have spoken. Dozens of you have made your allegiances clear, often using more exclamation points that pepperoni on the average slice. Who makes the best pizza in Wisconsin? We sought your opinion in 50 convincing words or less. Ann Schnuck of Pleasant Prairie wins for this entry: “Wells Brothers restaurant in Racine(…)

2016 travel predictions, trends:

Prognosticators are plentiful when a new year begins, and so are resolutions. If you intend to travel more or pursue the trip of your dreams in 2016, there is no shortage of experts to offer observations and advice. For me, contemplation begins with a review of my Tweets from the most recent Society of American(…)

Reader mail: hiking, golf, Germany, supper clubs

Readers, it’s time to lighten the mailbag. Here is a selection of your most recent notes and questions. — Jim and Monica O’Brien of Madison asked for ideas about what to do in Two Rivers. Three unexpected pleasures in this area are: Bernard Schwartz House, a Frank Lloyd Wright design that is based on his(…)

Essay winner’s good deed helps another, not herself

In “The Happiness Hypothesis” (Basic Books, $17), social psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes that the goal of positive psychology is “helping people find happiness and meaning.” My friend Bob Sessions in Iowa made me aware of this 2006 book, and the author acknowledges there is no clear road to happiness in this complicated world of unexpected(…)

And our photo contest winner is: Only in Wisconsin

Beautiful natural settings, culturally unique attractions and comical snapshots all were in the mix of “Only in Wisconsin” photo entries that you shared with me recently. Yes, we have winners, but these were not easy decisions. Good photography is a mix of skill, awareness, planning and luck. The instructions for this exercise: Submit an image(…)

How to deal with the unexpected during travel

I sometimes welcome the unexpected in travel because that’s the foundation for fond and lasting memories, even though you might not think so at the time. An overnight at a Buddhist temple north of Busan, South Korea, had us fumbling with chopsticks, in fear of an order to swig a slosh of wasted food, then(…)

Reader mail: River cruises, Holyland churches,

Time to lighten the reader mailbag – thanks for taking the time to write with your questions, ideas, critiques and praise about destinations close to home and abroad. — I certainly am not the only one whose Danube River cruise was interrupted by flooding. Kathy Thomas of Pleasant Prairie says her trip was rescheduled from(…)

Frommer’s travel advice: Bali, Europe, Nashville are good value

So many travel stories concentrate on exotic and extravagant destinations that have huge budgets for marketing and promotion. We all know they are off-limits to average people because of the excess and expense. Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel columns, magazines and books are a longstanding exception. His guidebook “Europe on $5 a Day,” published in 1956,(…)

“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(…)

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.(…)

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(…)

Reader mail: shrines, wines, BBQs, B&Bs, world’s fair, restaurant fare

Recent mail from readers seeks and gives advice about travel that is close to home. Here is a selection of what’s on your mind. — My column about the devastating 1871 Peshtigo fire and the city’s fire museum prompted you to write about a place of religious pilgrimage, 60 miles south. “I am familiar with(…)

Readers share their top, unique Wisconsin attractions

What excellent attractions are unique to Wisconsin? You sure weren’t stumped by that question. Here are favorite destinations that you were willing to share. “We just did a short trip around Wisconsin,” writes Barb Wesle of Stetsonville. “Go see the (architect Santiago) Calatrava addition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The best show is at noon,(…)

Best of Wisconsin: a Top 10 list for travelers

This out-of-the-blue challenge came from a stranger in New Jersey this month: Soon, “three of us will be in Wisconsin for six days, intending to just drive around and see good things,” wrote Jim Elliott. “Could you please list 10 places/things that we absolutely MUST see or do in Wisconsin?” It would be the trio’s(…)

Reader mailbag: many updates on camps, resorts

Recent reader mail contains all sorts of news and reflections. Let’s get right into it. — Several were in contact about the July 27 death of Dale Petkovsek, the owner of Sunset Pines Resort. Dale died within one month after I wrote about his property, whose design makes the needs of physically disabled travelers the(…)