Don’t let gas cost, hurricane hits kill travel

A few days after Hurricane Katrina, I started digging around the basement for a box that hadn’t been opened for a dozen years. It was bulging with memories of other lives, from other places. Then came a hunt for the photo album. The pages used to tell sweet stories; today there are pockets of empty(…)

Reader mail: favorite diners, kid getaways

A soaring heat index, then buckets of much-needed rain, made it a fine time to take a cool dip into the reader mailbag. Here are excerpts: Jean Sweet of Madison writes to let us know about Ron Lukes’ “Toft Point: A Legacy of People and Pines” (Nature-Wise, $24.95), the story of Emma Toft, whose family(…)

Advice about how to take good travel photos

I have albums that are full of postcards from trips of a lifetime, taken when my only camera – if it was packed – was a cheap 1970s Instamatic. Then my equipment got slightly more complex, but the composition stayed predictable: friends or family squinting or blinking in front of something famous. It wasn’t until(…)

Grandma’s Christmas tradition: a gift of travel

Lu Ann Williams begins her holiday shopping months before Christmas, but it’s not about filling a closet with toys for her two grandchildren. She’s doing research online, but it’s not with eBay. She’s collecting shopping materials, but they are about cities, not catalogs. What she and husband Gary, who live in Madison, end up with(…)

Reader mail: favorite churches, getaways

Between Plain and Loganville, in southwestern Wisconsin’s Sauk County, is hilly terrain that seems idyllic and never-ending. The coulee area is magnificent – yes, even in these last few days before the trees and groundcover green. Highway 23 zigzags up, down and around clumps of woodland and fields of cattle. There are horses with sun-kissed(…)

Apathy, lazy advice drive tourists away

Not all that long ago, in the gift shop at an upscale Wisconsin resort, a friend asked whether there were any antique stores nearby. “I don’t know,” was the reply. “I’m not from around here.” There was no offer to find out more, and no clue about the impression that had been left with her(…)

How innkeepers ensure a good night’s sleep

When I’m away from home and have an extraordinary night of sleep, it’s not above me to tear away a part of the sheets and mattress pad, trying to over-analyze just what made the difference. This is not something that I bothered to do after a night on a mattress whose firmness could be pumped(…)

Detroit battles bad rap, bad image

“It’s takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.” That comes from Warren Buffett, one of the richest guys in the world. “To gain a good reputation, endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” That’s from the Greek philosopher Socrates. “You can’t build a reputation on what you are(…)

World of travel shows resilience once again

Channel NewsAsia has issued an amazingly optimistic report about how tourism outlets hit by the deadly tsunami are likely to recover in as little as three months. The world remains vulnerable and resilient, forgetful and hopeful. The traveler, both wary and adventurous, has been tested in other ways since the millennium began. The sucker punch(…)

The year in review: noteworthy lodging

I was in my own bed at the start of this new year, and that’s not a complaint. After spending two months of the past 12 away from home, it’s fine to stick around for a while. Besides that, Badger sports – football and hockey – would be a priority for this holiday. Before My(…)

Truck driver’s photos from the road dazzle

It is humbling to think about all the good people who intersect our lives briefly, but with impact. That’s what I’m pondering today, as I recall meeting Roger Blake on a Sunday night in St. Paul, Minn. Our conversation lasted all of five minutes, while I tried to give justice to Mickey’s Diner, a 1937(…)

Readers write about OSU tailgating, Tenuta’s

One of the fun things about having this column appear in 11 Wisconsin newspapers is that I get to exchange mail with some of you. That’s one of the best ways to understand your interests and concerns about travel. Here is a selection of recent feedback and observations. Thanks for taking the time to write.(…)

A tailgate without beer: Only at Ohio State

I am learning to respect ritual as well as adventure while on the road, although nothing can be taken for granted – not even the commonplace tailgate party, particularly when you’re in Columbus, Ohio. First, let me tell you about the crowd that I’ve been running with for a few years, The Guy’s longtime circle(…)

Huh … Farm Aid never makes it to Wisconsin

Back in 1995, friends and I hopped on a plane to Louisville for the 10th annual Farm Aid concert, a sold-out event that brought 47,000 farm advocates and music fans to Cardinal Stadium. It was a fun getaway with an amazing lineup. And as the daughter of a dairy farmer, it was satisfying to know(…)

Sheboygan County: Pro golf to Parnell Tower

My assumption is that almost everybody – from Fairbanks to Miami, at least – will know what a brat fry is by this time next week. Spectators at the PGA Championship, and the event’s worldwide commentators, will devour Sheboygan County from Aug. 9-15. My question is whether they’ll stumble across anything beyond the obvious. This(…)

Real-life vacation strategies, challenges

Interesting things are happening as I wait for spring and contemplate ways to favorably alter reality. — My guy and his buddies went to Mississippi recently, for a little golfing near Biloxi, and I found them reasonable vacation components online. Cost was about $560 per person for air from Milwaukee, four nights of lodging and(…)

Vacation condo growth spurts

Was it all that long ago when a respectable vacation getaway meant a modest lake cottage – heat and indoor plumbing optional? Or a patch of land big enough to put up a tent, or park a trailer, so you could watch the stars and tend a campfire? Times indeed are changing, not just in(…)

Shop online when planning next vacation

The Internet has become an amazing tool for deciding where to go on a vacation, then comparing prices for various elements of travel. When a trip is being taken close to home, the state Department of Tourism’s site ( has long been an excellent starting point. It’s surely not the only helpful online resource, though.(…)

Aspiring innkeepers learn realities of B&B life

The next time you head to South Carolina, consider bringing your horse. The ink just recently dried on Jerry and Linda Gray’s purchase of the Schell Haus, a six-room bed-and-breakfast on 25 acres in Pickens, across from Table Rock State Park, in the northwest part of the state. What does that have to do with(…)

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(…)

Reader mailbag: where to hike, bike, canoe

This weekend I am reacquainting myself with one of the more well-known and  historically rich urban walks in the country, Boston’s Freedom Trail. It is a 3-mile route that has Boston Commons and Bunker Hill as its bookends.

The trail was established in 1958 and is easy to follow (just look for a red line on(…)

Reader mail: trip memories, history lessons

Experiences from around the globe are a part of this installment of reader mail. Here are snippets. Please keep your stories and observations about travel coming; it’s great to hear from you! — Harold Kuschel of La Crosse writes fondly of the time he spent in Japan as a cryptographic technician with the U.S. Air(…)

Japan foreign exchange full of goodwill

CHIBA, Japan – For Hiroshi Ebihara, it was “an honor and once-in-a-lifetime experience” to show his country to Americans.

For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime way to see the heart of Tokyo, and to experience the way of life of an average family who had never before had houseguests.

One or more home stays are a typical(…)