Reader mail: AirBnB, craft breweries, accordions, Bob Dylan

When asking for AirBnB stories earlier this winter, I expected tales about money saved and friendly connections made during domestic travel. Two of you took a chance on Airbnb.com during international trips, and I’m rewarding your willingness to engage personally with other cultures. “Sitting on the veranda of The Tree House Lodge, overlooking Long Bay(…)

Iowa Chicken Run: a rural Mardi Gras tradition

On his head is a cowboy hat, between his lips is a whistle and in his hands is a stunned, slow-blinking chicken. The man, Rodney Victorian, leads an impromptu lineup of tractors, wagons, horses and ATVs through Iowa. Not the state, but a weathered town of 3,000 residents in southwest Louisiana. When he toots the(…)

Take Ten: Fox Valley breweries

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 Zemlicka of Ripon, a senior majoring in journalism with a public relations emphasis. She chose to spotlight breweries “to celebrate the experiences they(…)

Field Museum explores tattoo art, history, logic, popularity

More people are adding an indelible mark on their life, based on a process that is thousands of years old. When asked to write about tattoos during my first newspaper job around 1980, it was hard to find anybody besides military vets and bikers to interview. Now nearly one-half of Americans who are 18 to(…)

Great chili debates: sauce to seasoning, mac to meat

If you seriously doubt our nation’s ability to seriously but pleasantly debate anything, I have one word for you: Chili. After asking Facebook friends what makes a bowl of chili distinctive, passionate preferences bubbled up pretty quickly. Geographic loyalty mattered a little, but certainly not politics. Hallejulah! What must chili contain to be worthy of(…)

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,(…)

Carnival’s new Vista: waterpark, brewery, IMAX

Name a village of 4,500 with a brewery, waterpark, casino, IMAX theater and dozen dining outlets specializing in steak to sushi. Thirty years have passed since my first Carnival sailing, and the cruise line no longer is simply a nonstop floating frat party. Sun decks, slushy drinks, silly games and gyrating dancers remain, but this(…)

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(…)

Massive ice castle sprouts near downtown Wisconsin Dells

A farmer’s progress comes at the mercy of Mother Nature, and that’s true for Dan Beck’s crew in Wisconsin Dells, too. He jokes that they have an icicle farm, and above-freezing temps are about as bad for growing them as lack of rain to a corn farmer. Another challenge is wind that races in from(…)

Best lodging of 2016: Eau Claire to Tobago

A memorable overnight getaway doesn’t have to break the budget, or maybe it’s high time that you splurged. Where? I count these properties as remarkable, based on my travels and experience in 2016. Lismore Hotel, Eau Claire: Swanky new accommodations downtown are a quick walk to the riverfront, artsy venues and other casual to classy(…)

Old Fashioned products, recipes, nostalgia, roots

To you, an Old Fashioned is the unofficial cocktail of Wisconsin and a popular prelude to special meals, especially during end-of-year entertaining. To Bob Meyer, the mixed drink is a matter of heritage and livelihood, intensely personal and a part of his family’s legacy. He bottles and markets Meyer Brothers Old Fashioned Mix, which provides(…)

Gridiron game introduces UWO to Salem, Va.

More thrilling than a Wisconsin Badgers victory at the Cotton Bowl, I’ll dare to argue, is an Oshkosh Titans trip to the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va., on mid December. If all goes well for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh football team during semifinal play, the squad heads to the NCAA Division III championship for(…)

Take Ten: Museum exhibits worth a wintry road trip

Take a break and consider a museum road trip where traveling or seasonal shows pay attention to unique endeavors in fine art to pop culture and fantasy to reality. Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum, 3000 Poberezny Rd., Oshkosh: At least 30 pieces of nose art – drawings on World War II bombers and fighter aircraft(…)

Bayless, Frontera Foundation grants help family farms

Rick Bayless knew what he wanted after doing book research in Mexico around 30 years ago: Start a restaurant that served authentic Mexican food. So the Chicago chef opened Frontera Grill, which earned a James Beard Foundation award as Outstanding Restaurant in 2007. His biggest challenge wasn’t finding the perfect music, art or menu ideas.(…)

Titletown, Bucks, Eau Claire: Major projects boost reasons to travel

At least four Wisconsin cities are pursuing huge projects that will give travelers new reasons to visit. The Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus described it as “an infrastructure boom” during the group’s annual conference this month. Here are quick updates. Titletown District, Green Bay: Pro football is why we make our way to(…)

Madison museum is all-year tribute to military veterans

This presidential election sure felt like a nationwide battle, regardless of whether you think we won or lost, and that is what compelled me to visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison on the morning after votes were tallied. Here live the stories and artifacts of wars beyond words and ballot boxes. I needed to(…)

Breakfast: an all-day meal whose variety grows

Remember what Mom used to say about breakfast? Most important meal of the day. Less predictable, as time goes on, is when and what is breakfast. It’s no longer just about eggs, bacon, pancakes … or mornings. Academic researchers recently suggested dessert for breakfast may spur weight loss and dark chocolate at breakfast may enhance(…)

About clowns in Wisconsin, where coulrophobia rules at a Manty B&B

What’s the difference between a clown and a mime? Not much these days because neither is talking, at least to me. Widespread chatter – make that panic – about criminals dressed as clowns has brought a yanking of clown costumes and masks from Target stores, clown costume bans in school districts from California to Connecticut(…)

How and where to find ghosts of Bob Dylan in Minnesota

As I write this, the Swedish Academy is waiting for a call from Bob Dylan about his Nobel Prize for Literature. The award was announced days ago, comparing Dylan’s lyrics to the work of long-ago Greek poets. The singer-songwriter is known for his reclusiveness. Much more accessible are Joe and Mary Keyes, whom the London-based(…)

Anxious about this election? Philly sites reassure us about unity

Many coins from passersby top the tombstone for Benjamin Franklin at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. We still respect this country’s founding father and inventor of electricity to bifocals, daylight savings time to catheters. Fewer hunt for Francis Hopkinson, Dr. Benjamin Rush, George Ross or Joseph Hewes, whose burial plots are in the same(…)