New NEA grants, waterpark, volunteer trips

If you have resolved to stay home less in 2004, I am happy to point you toward new and great adventures. Two are less than a tank of gas away. Two could take you to another side of the world. First, a bit of Shakespeare. The National Endowment for the Arts is paving the way(…)

Sheboygan area expands its culinary reach

The Sheboygan County that I know, having grown up there, is the culinary hub for hardrolls, brats and the world’s best burgers. We have dozens of torte recipes, most of which contain Cool Whip. We have good fish fries at reasonable prices. We are picky about our potato salad; we use butter – liberally and(…)

Home for the holidays? Say no, then go here

If the notion of being home for the holidays makes you shudder more than smile, getting away from it all could be the best gift that you receive this year. Here are ways to do just that: before, when or after the new year begins. — Canoe Bay is a low-profile but high-quality retreat that(…)

Kosher deli among ethnic riches in Postville

Hanukkah begins at sundown Friday, and that makes it a fitting time to study a small town with more ethnic diversity than communities that are 10 or 20 times as big. Postville, Iowa, has a population of 2,300 and is a half-hour west of the Mississippi River, near Prairie du Chien. It is a little(…)

New self-help books to assist with trip plans

My travel library contains a few new and odd titles, thanks to unsolicited material and my inability to part with a book after I’ve somehow bonded with it. Examples of the former are “Travel With Others Without Wishing They’d Stayed Home (by Nadine Nardi Davidson, $16.95, Prince Publishing) and “Traveling While Married: How to Take(…)

Seek and ye shall find new holiday traditions

For better or worse, holiday festivities soon will consume many of us. Whether it’s a Santa in every parade, a candy cane in every stocking or a fruitcake on every guest list, December can be an extraordinary example of magic, generosity and tolerance. So, what’s it to you – a month of annoying ruts, comfortable(…)

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 (www.travelwisconsin.com) has long been an excellent starting point. It’s surely not the only helpful online resource, though.(…)

Caretaker Gazette: Readers live their dream

“CARETAKER WANTED. We have a 600-acre farm in rural Steuben. Wish to exchange free rent in a 3-bedroom farmhouse for part-time care of horses, barns and property. To apply …” Steuben is in Crawford County. Too close to home? Then consider this: “CARETAKER NEEDED in St. John, Virgin Islands, for a physically fit, mobile, 83-year-old(…)

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(…)

Mill City Museum examines flour power

A new museum in Minneapolis is all about flour and power, potential and resilience, reputation and ruins. The Mill City Museum, 704 S. Second St., on the banks of the Mississippi River downtown, has been open less than two months. It is a candid, airy and fascinating testimonial to what used to be the world’s(…)

Grand Excursion: big Mississippi River party

Thanks to Millard Fillmore, expect a huge surge of activity on the Mississippi River next summer. One of the 13th president’s biggest parties, with the Rock Island Railroad Company, occurred there almost 150 years ago. Now more than 50 riverfront communities are preparing for a high-profile re-enactment. There will be hundreds of events to attract(…)

Fall Art Tour: artistic inspiration in rural areas

In 1979, Jura Silverman became smitten with the picturesque nature of Spring Green, so the paper and printer maker moved her art studio, from Chicago. She has not regretted the decision. Jura was the first artist to set up shop there, and now her business – a former cheese warehouse, built in the early 1900s(…)

River museum, parks appeal in Dubuque

Dreary, steep and old. That was my first impression of Dubuque, back in the 1970s, after visiting a friend who landed there because of her first job out of college. The Mississippi River’s presence was largely industrial. Character and charm were lacking. My friend was glad for our visit; no one else had made the(…)

Culinary travel hot trend with vast potential

Let’s assume that you are hungry for something different this month. Wisconsin and its neighboring cities have an abundance of food expos, fancy wine dinners, ethnic culinary getaways, cooking seminars, demonstrations and product samplings. Culinary tourism is becoming more deliberate in both rural and urban settings. People who love to travel must eat, and now(…)

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(…)

Separating Geneva, Aurora, St. Charles, Ill.

What’s the difference between Geneva, Aurora and St. Charles, Ill.? One way to yank the chain of these good Flatlanders is to suggest that Wisconsin people see them as pretty much all the same place – western suburbs to maneuver through, or bypass, when en route to Chicago. Advocates for each city fight hard to(…)

Coming soon: high-speed ferry, light rail

Taking an order for 43 brats was one of the highlights of working at The World’s Largest Brat Fest on Labor Day in Madison (130,869 brats sold and 40-plus charities helped; go to www.bratfest.com or call 608-236-2021 to learn more). Fielding questions about what to see in Barcelona and Paris rank right up there, too.(…)

For bird lovers: tours, talks, exhibits, festivals

Bird lovers have all kinds of events to attend in Wisconsin during the next month. There are exhibits, tours, field trips, workshops, talks by bird experts and just plain great spots to see birds during migration. Instead of squawking more about it generically, here are the specifics. — For 28 years, there has been a(…)

Indoor, outdoor art shows: raining dogs, cats

In these dog days of summer, the route to relief from the humidity seemed clear. I took a break from the sun and headed to the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan. That’s where an exhibit called “Dog Show” is in place until Oct. 19. Playful photos, emotion-filled oil paintings, drawings, sculptures and embroidery(…)

Pillow talk, Midwest girlfriend getaways

I never bring a pillow when spending the night away from home, unless my destination is a campsite or a floor, and I don’t recall a too-soft or too-hard hotel pillow ever ruining one of my vacations. Perhaps that is too much tolerance, judging from the number of people who will lug their favorite pillows(…)

Alaska: places to expect the unexpected

I am fresh from a trip to Alaska and have amassed hundreds of mental and digital pictures of very cool landscapes, lifestyles and landmarks. It is a minor complaint, but I never seemed to be dressed quite right for the weather. My raincoat was out of reach on a drizzly morning in Ketchikan; I had(…)

Harley’s centennial: It’s time to rock, ride

OK, so maybe you’re a little wacked out – excited or nervous – about all those bikers taking over Wisconsin later this month, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. As the promo goes, get ready to rock, roll and rumble. About 250,000 Harley enthusiasts from around the world, in all their thundering glory, are(…)

Barn styles define ethnic heritage, history

If you consider the farm barn to be an ordinary and ho-hum part of Wisconsin’s landscape, Ruth Olson has this to say: It is a significant symbol of your historical, economic, ethnic and occupational identity. Building techniques may showcase precision, as in the tightly constructed log barns that were a mark of their Finnish creators.(…)

Lumber town Laona’s Camp Five Museum

Tiny Laona, an unincorporated community in Forest County, has a great recipe for soup that has served its residents well for many years. The annual Community Soup began 84 years ago on nearby Silver Lake beach. Families showed up with whatever was growing in their garden, and added it or meat to a soup pot.(…)