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(…)

Five new books guide Midwest travelers

Shopping for somebody who loves the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin? Out of all the new travel books that crossed my desk this year, here are five favorites. 101 Things To Do In Door County by Richard R. Rusnack II (Rusnack Publishing, $13) — When heading to Door County this year, I was glad to slip this(…)

Lake Lawn Resort expands, upgrades

One of Wisconsin’s oldest resorts is soon to begin a massive transformation that will capitalize on its rich history and may almost triple its size. Lake Lawn Resort, on Lake Delavan and near Lake Geneva, was merely a small, two-story hotel when it opened in 1878. Today it is a 284-room resort with its own(…)

Uniting of indie eateries has Arizona roots

Don Luria is an original, both in personality and mission. He is a gracious and astute restaurateur in Tucson whose Café Terra Cotta has earned accolades from Zagat, the New York Times and Wine Spectator (for its 250 choices of Zinfandel). That was before the mountainview site burned in summer; it should reopen soon. Why(…)

New U.S. attractions are ever-emerging

One of the more educational events that I attend during the year is a trade show for travel vendors and writers. People from all over the country – Albany to Williamsburg – gather in one location, to hear about what’s new and unusual from industry spokesmen. This year the event was in Tucson, Ariz., a(…)

A good retreat uplifts spirit, connects friends

My heart is enriched and eased because of a recent retreat for women in Lake Geneva. It was one of the rare quiet times for the otherwise bustling tourist area. The retreat site was Covenant Harbor, a nondenominational setting with accommodations for large and small groups. Our group of three dozen took over a two-story(…)

Chicago great destination for girls’ getaway

It has been almost 30 years (gulp!) since I shared an Oshkosh house with eight other women and one guy. My memories of college are fond, and I am so proud of the friendships that have endured since then. We try to get together a couple of times a year, if not more, and one(…)

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.(…)

Women of Wings link Wisconsin, Japan

When I flew to Japan last year – my first Asian trip – I expected to be amazed, impressed and perhaps overwhelmed by the differences in culture. Little did I realize that I also would become part of a wonderful sisterhood that relies less on language than goodwill to thrive. Wisconsin and its cities have(…)

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(…)

First Famous Dave’s a study of resilience

One of the coolest Native American stories about Wisconsin tourism has little to do with the luck of the dice and much to do with the will to succeed. “When you set out to be the best, you want to give the best of yourself,” says Dave Anderson, but that hasn’t been easy. He knows(…)

A Superior museum: devoted to accordions

Frankie Yankovic and Lawrence Welk would have loved this place, way up in the city of Superior, way down in the basement of a former Presbyterian church. Here rests about 1,000 accordions, the humble and the complex, the world’s most rare models and the more commonplace. There are about 700 more of these instruments upstairs,(…)

St. Paul loves native son F. Scott Fitzgerald

Summit Hill is a historic neighborhood in St. Paul, Minn., one that is full of impressively huge and grand houses. Three are on the National Register of Historic Places. Dozens of others loom among canopies of shade, sprawling lawns and hilltop backgrounds of nothing but blue sky. It is calm on a recent sun-splashed Sunday,(…)

Hikers, weavers love Washington Island

As autumn nears, let’s plan an island vacation, one that doesn’t require airfare. The laid-back pace and varied moods of Washington Island, a 22-square-mile parcel at the tip of Door County, tend to get ignored when summer ends. Let that be your gain. Locals say the weather tends to stay warmer longer in this part(…)

Bomber, butterfly aerial displays in harmony

Just outside of Babcock, population 218 and near the Wood-Juneau county line, are two spectacular aerial displays that co-exist amicably despite their huge differences. You can’t see one, and can’t miss the other. Both are reminders of the frailty of life, and the extent to which protection of it is a priority. In Sandhill Wildlife(…)

Millennium Park: Chicago wonder to wander

The city whose name came from a Native American phrase for “smelly onion patch” has a new air of distinction – one that builds upon an already strong architectural identity. Millennium Park, a $475 million project on 24.5 acres off of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, is an amazing place to wander. Its bold flourishes(…)

Republicans in Ripon: What’s the scoop?

In recognition of this month’s Republican National Convention in New York City, let’s poke at a few myths associated with the GOP. We’ll keep the spotlight on Ripon, a city of 6,800 in Fond du Lac County that has long called itself the Birthplace of the Republican Party. The Little White Schoolhouse, designated a National(…)

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(…)

Woodstock, Ill.: ‘Groundhog Day’ film site

Imagine the chords of Mozart, not the chortling of Janis Joplin. A place made for passing time, not a joint. There is a tidy town park, not a muddy farm field, and an air of order, not rebellion. This isn’t your mother’s Woodstock, the one with its 35th anniversary today, the one where the crowd(…)

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(…)

Suds it up with beer tours, museums, books

My office is full of suds, and it has nothing to do with the laundry that’s clinking around downstairs. Each way my head turns, I am reminded of our state’s great love affair with beer. If you want to do more than drink it at the local sportsmen’s bar, consider these upcoming projects and events:(…)

Irish influence extends to festival, inns, pubs

If I had the time to take a class just for the fun of it this summer, I’d learn how to play the tin whistle and pretend I was Mary Bergin. That’s what happens when you Google yourself. There’s another one of me who is an accomplished tin whistle musician in Ireland, and the country(…)

Tom Uttech’s focus: surreal wildlife scenes

The most interesting time of the day, to Tom Uttech, is around 3 a.m. to sunrise, when the natural world moves as most people sleep. “It’s spectacular,” Uttech says. “Incredibly beautiful and incredibly active.” The longtime and highly regarded artist can take you to places you’ve been but never seen. His goal is to stay(…)

VocationVacations: Find the work you love

After Brian Kurth got laid off in 2001, he traveled around the country for six months, and that’s how he learned something significant about people. It didn’t matter if he was having a beer in Boulder or hiking the Grand Canyon. When Brian asked strangers about their work, a part of the answer tended to(…)