Help us select Wisconsin’s greatest wonders

You’ve heard about the Seven Wonders of the World, likely know that only one (the Egyptian Pyramids) still stands and may want to help decide what gets on the next list of global greatness.

That’s fine, but first help identify the Wonders of Wisconsin – the natural or manmade sites that explain our uniqueness, diversity and richness. Contrary to stereotypes, we are not just like Iowa or Michigan, and it’s time to demonstrate exactly what makes us different from the rest of the planet.

A few of you will be rewarded for your efforts, because giveaways and getaways are being put together by the state Department of Tourism, to be awarded at random to voters in this exercise.

But first we need a list of nominees to ponder.

Colleague Gary Knowles of Madison recently was on Larry Meiller’s popular Wisconsin Public Radio show, to talk up his Wonders of Wisconsin concept. Jessica Doyle, the state’s first lady, has been recruited to help narrow down the list of the nominees that YOU suggest.

I’ll be on this panel, too, largely because Gary, Madison travel writer/consultant Betty Stark and I found it easy to make up our own lists, during chit-chat and wine this winter.

We love lists. They help us appear organized, help us prioritize, help us remember what not to forget. In this case, the list could contain the Milwaukee Art Museum as well as House on the Rock, Stand Rock as well as Rock Bottom Brewery.

Only in Wisconsin.

Gary has conjured up an assortment of categories, and subcategories, to get your brain and imagination moving. They are:

Natural Wonders – with subsets of “massive” (can’t be seen from one spot, or in a few hours – think Apostle Islands), “big” (requires hours, but in one spot – think Big Manitou Falls), “standard” (all can be seen in a few minutes – think Stand Rock) and “small” (time to get close – think contents at the Top Spinning Museum in Burlington).

Human Created Wonders – to include a dozen subsets … attractions and historic sites, breweries, wineries, buildings/architecture, businesses, events, golf courses/other recreational venues, parks, performances, public art works, pubs/bars/saloons and restaurants/cafes.

Scenic Drives – nominees should be at least 2 miles long.

Human Wonders – the greatest Wisconsinites of all time, people who are/were closely associated with the state.

So please contemplate these categories and send your nominations to mary@roadstraveled.com. I’ll forward them to Gary, after taking a peek. Please include your name, e-mail address, nomination, where it is located and 25-word (at maximum) description of why it should be included in the Wonders of Wisconsin ballot.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 15. We’ll let you know what made the cut, how to cast your vote and what the rewards will be for doing so. It’s not a bad way to break up the winter.

As mentioned, all but one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World still stands. The rest fell victim to earthquakes or fires.

Now there is a worldwide effort to update the list, based on the voting for 21 finalists at www.new7wonders.com. The top seven vote getters will be announced on July 7 (that’s 07/07/07).

Being considered for the New Seven Wonders of the World are the Acropolis, Greece; Hagia Sophia, Turkey; Kremlin/St. Basil’s, Russia; Colosseum, Italy; Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany; Eiffel Tower, France; Stonehenge, United Kingdom; Alhambra, Spain; Great Wall of China, China; Kiyomizu Temple, Japan; Sydney Opera House, Australia; Angkor, Cambodia; Taj Mahal, India; Timbuktu, Mali; Petra, Jordan; Pyramids of Giza, Egypt; Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil; Easter Island Statues, Chile; Machu Picchu, Peru; Chichen Itza, Mexico; and Statue of Liberty, United States.

And what were the first (as far as we can tell) Seven Wonders? That’s an already obscure trivia question for many of us.

On the list were the Egyptian Pyramids, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes and Lighthouse of Alexandria.