Lost luggage, holiday travel: a story, advice

Time to challenge your disposition. Another holiday travel season has begun. ’Tis the season of wily weather, missed connections and lengthy layovers; each roadblock tinkers and tampers with our temperament. I am thankful for many things in 2009, and that includes not losing luggage while traveling. This makes Louise Burke’s list of thanks different than(…)

Field trips abroad widen students’ world view

Breakfast ends with a mug of hot and sludge-like chocolate, the dipping sauce for freshly fried churros – fat and slightly greasy rods of sugar-doused dough. The traditional Spanish treat challenges even the most ardent sugar-holics; only our guide has the gall and gastro-stamina to empty her cup. We are in Zaragoza, the fifth largest(…)

Reader mail: funeral wieners, vacation ideas

I need to dip into the reader mailbag more often. Here is a sample of what you’ve written; a couple of diner/café recommendations will turn into a column before summer ends. — “Thank you for advice about the Speckled Hen Bed and Breakfast” in Madison, writes Mark Tryon of Fond du Lac. “My wife and(…)

Traveling Teddy: Theresa class takes a ride

The note arrived in mid-March, less than one week before the start of spring. “We have been enjoying your letters and treats from all over the world,” the students wrote. “Last week we ‘traveled’ to the Arctic in our studies and thought we’d send YOU a picture for once. Our igloo has made a ‘cool’(…)

How to save money while vacationing

Travel journalism conferences this spring took me to Georgia, where my increasingly frugal nature revealed itself more than once. I hopped a Greyhound from Savannah to Atlanta, instead of renting a car for three times the price and much less stress. Having a good book made the five-hour bus ride fly, although other passengers easily(…)

Souvenir shopping: What says ‘Wisconsin’?

I have just finished writing a story about Wisconsin for a newspaper in Ireland, and it ends with formulaic lists under this heading: “where to go and stay and what to buy.” The latter part threw me. What souvenir is distinctly Wisconsin, the state that markets itself as “where originality rules” and – as Gov.(…)

2008: best dining-lodging combos

Rare is the destination that offers lodging and dining that are both distinctive and outstanding in quality. Here are six places that were delightful surprises in 2008. — Most noticeable is the dinnerware, an odd but lovely assortment of colorful, antique styles. It goes well with the mismatched furniture, tucked into intimate, shadowy nooks and(…)

2008: top lodging encounters of the year

Deep discounts for lodging are commonplace during this time of year, so it’s easier to afford lovely vacation accommodations. Here are my top six experiences of 2008. — When my brother and I travel, it is highly unlikely that we’ll book a bed and breakfast for our overnight stay. Comfortable as these surroundings might be,(…)

2008: fine, unusual dining experiences

The world is full of wonderful ways to add calories in interesting places. Here are my top six dining experiences of 2008. — A $10 ticket buys all you can eat at the annual World Championship Chuck Wagon Roundup in Amarillo, Texas, where up to 40 teams cook outdoors over an open fire, using cast(…)

American Girl Place thoughtful, excessive

Here are three little secrets: I pay $16 for a haircut, $20 if you include the tip. I rarely shop anything but sales racks and resale shops. I make lists for the grocery store but routinely substitute meats, based on what is on sale. So forgive me for comparing Chicago’s newly expanded American Girl Place(…)

Reader mail: food, fairs, finding treasures

Reader mail is plentiful, especially since “Hungry for Wisconsin” book events have begun. The good people of Wisconsin are full of fabulous ideas about their favorite destinations. For example: “You asked for places to see and try,” wrote Pat Tesar of Edgerton, after my recent appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio. “I really hesitate to do(…)

Floods challenge state historic site resilience

Mary Cary is proof that new careers can take hold late in life. She is 87 and has been working at the Wade House in Greenbush for 28 years. We discovered her helping dozens of children carve pumpkins – and turnips! – this month during an autumn activities day at the former stagecoach inn, which(…)

Wisconsin cuisine more than brats, beer

Foodies know and care that authentic Champagne and Parmesan come from specific parts of France and Italy, respectively. Now the International Culinary Tourism Association is developing a website that will help travelers distinguish cities, states and countries by uniqueness of cuisine. When your prospective customers (and critics) are the world, it’s daunting to decide what(…)

Fonz statue upholds ‘Happy Days’ image

Two reminders: What you see in the mirror is a distortion of reality, and growing up doesn’t mean throwing away the past. Milwaukee this month adds an iconic structure to its downtown – an $85,000 bronze, life-sized statue of “Happy Days” television character Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, better known as the Fonz, long portrayed by Henry(…)

South Dakota road trip: It’s a rite of passage

For many of us, a road trip of 600-some miles into South Dakota, the Badlands and the Black Hills is a rite of passage. It is the most classic of summer vacations, especially for families, who follow typically flat and easy-to-drive I-90 for a taste of the Wild West. They encounter Shady Brady hats and(…)

SATW Traveling Teddy: Weston rides along

The interviewers – almost 20 of them – had done their homework, taken notes, made a few judgments and were pleasant but relentless. “Where will you go next?” “Why do you like to travel?” “What is your favorite place?” “Can you find anything in your office?” Patrice Pierce’s spunky class of first graders at Mountain(…)

Survey determines state’s small-town gems

Whenever there’s an election, you hope for fair play. No stuffing of the ballot box, no heavy-handed grandstanding, no bullying to unduly sway the results. Earlier this spring, we asked you to go to and vote for your favorite small towns (population less than 15,000) in 20 categories. We’d wince when hearing rumors that(…)

Kohler champions outsider art environments

“Think like Nick,” the teacher advises her students, in kindergarten to grade 6. About 235 children will bring their treasures and stories to school May 16, and at 1 p.m. begin walking – one mile west, all uphill – to give up the material goods and cement the memories. “If we don’t get rained out,(…)

Reader mail: trip ideas, chocolate, resources

The reader mailbag is pleasingly plump, so let’s digest a bit of it. — I read your article about BOW (Becoming an Outdoor Woman) and noted the reference to the outdoor bathroom issue. The book “How to S!!! in the Woods” by Kathleen Meyer (Ten Speed Press) is full of funny anecdotes of mishaps in(…)

What makes the map? Travelers can decide

You are unlikely to seek Hulls Crossing at all, but especially as a vacation destination. It is the farming community in northwest Sheboygan County where I was raised, and little more than a road sign exists today. Things were a slightly different when Hulls Crossing had a railroad stop long ago, but now the tracks(…)

2007: the year in review, regarding lodging

We didn’t pack snow gear when visiting Oregon’s Mt. Hood in early October because the ski season doesn’t kick in until mid November. So we were astounded to watch, on the morning of our drive to the mountain, befuddled TV newscasters reporting on an untimely 16-inch snowfall there. Driving on I-84 and following the Columbia(…)

For the good of one: A flight takes a detour

Lunch in Munich. Dinner in Glasgow. Breakfast in Chicago. This is how the trip ended, but it was not as thrilling as it sounds. There are many reasons for delays and deviations in flight plans. One of the rarest occurs when a passenger’s medical condition becomes life-threatening. That was the case less than two hours(…)

The value of parades: Everybody has a role

Autumn means homecoming, and it’s easy to go home when you feel welcome. Watching thousands of Penn State fans whoop and applaud during their homecoming parade this month helped explain why the university, despite its mountain valley location, has no problem filling its stadium, whose capacity of 107,282 is second largest in the nation. The(…)