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.

Bob De Vita of Marshfield has been a loyal Wisconsin Badgers fan since he was a kid in the 1960s, and he takes issue with my displeasure about the no-alcohol rule for tailgating at Ohio State University.

“I have been disturbed by the public drunkenness which seems to follow our Badgers,” he writes. “At last year’s OSU game, the amount of pre-game OSU fan intimidation and despicable behavior was at its highest. I intervened a few times with drunken fans who were becoming dangerous – and apologized to many OSU fans.

“Our aim should be to show that boorish fan behavior, often displayed by public drunkenness, is emotionally immature, very risky and potentially illegal.”

He reminds me that “college football is about honoring atheletes, the game and the school … Want to give up your tickets to the Minnesota game?”

You make valid points, Bob, and I’ll keep those tickets! My only response is that my tailgating group was a pretty sedate bunch, and the enforcement of the no-alcohol rule – by writing $100 tickets – seemed overly aggressive.

We saw many tickets being written, and not just to the young UW alums who were parked next to us.

I still wonder about the guy on his cell phone, who came up to our group and asked for directions to the track field. It seemed like he was peering into our plastic cups, but maybe I’m just paranoid.

All I know is that we were 11 people in Badger shirts, pretty much surrounded by Buckeyes. Why should we know how to get to an Ohio State track field?

Whatever. Public drunkenness indeed is a problem on college campuses. Can’t argue with that at all.

“I enjoyed your article about the birthplace of the Republican Party (Ripon) and especially enjoyed the questions about whether you had to be a Republican to enter the Schoolhouse,” writes Katherine Brophy of Madison. “If that were the case, I would have been kicked out many times!

“The thing I find most interesting is that the article does not mention Ripon College. As someone who grew up in Ripon and who is a proud graduate of the college, I found the omission very troubling.”

Katherine describes Ripon College as “one of the main sources, if not the only source of culture” in the city.

No offense intended, Katherine. My intent was merely to write about Ripon in conjunction with the summer GOP convention, and that’s why the city’s GOP heritage was emphasized.

Ripon College indeed hosts foreign film screenings, theatrical performances, touring musicians and artists.

When activities involve a cost, “they are much cheaper than the comparable event in other cities and are not that much more expensive than a movie ticket,” Katherine contends.

Harrison Ford, Spencer Tracy and Al Jarreau are among the notable alums. For more, go to

Al Lori of Wausau writes to agree with my early-summer assessment of the new Lake Express carferry, which links Milwaukee and Muskegon. Mich.

“My experience with customer service was also less than stellar,” he says, regarding an attempt to make reservations online.

“I went to the Lake Express website and saw that I had a few questions. I started making many calls (thank the powers for REDIAL) and was getting, at best, an answering machine – never a live voice.

“My problem was that I couldn’t book space for a trailer (although there is a price schedule) … Finally resorted to booking/paying for one extra car/person,” to get space for the trailer.

“The real point of the letter is that I am very grateful for an honest article and not the vanilla crap I have read” in other publications, Al says. “It is great for a paper to support local and new businesses, but a person who is using the service wants the REAL heads-up.”

I’m optimistic about Lake Express’ growing pains. This year’s season ends Oct. 31 and resumes next spring. Watch for details.

As an aside, Al mentions that Grand Haven, Mich., is his hometown and recommends the annual U.S. Coast Guard Festival. It is July 29 to Aug. 7 next year; for more, go to

Many thanks go to Ruth Elvig, Eau Claire, for pointing out an error in my column about Washington Island. A passenger ferry operates between the island and Northport, which is near – but not the same as – Gills Rock.

Suzanne Frank of Waukesha liked the column about Tenuta’s Italian deli in Kenosha.

“It is my all-time favorite deli in Wisconsin, and that’s high praise since I come from New York (Rochester),” she writes. “When I need good Italian food, I’ll go there from Waukesha, which is just a little out of the way!”

Another favorite food stop is the Norske Nook in Rice Lake, Osseo and Hayward.

“In our book, it ranks right up on top of places for a phenomenal piece of pie. The pies are probably four to six inches high when sliced, and the taste is out of this world. They even offer a pie sampler plate of four different varieties, which I once ordered in lieu of bacon and eggs!”

The Norske Nook is one of my favorites, too, Suzanne, and its typical for me to swing over to the Osseo restaurant (you’re right, that’s the original one) for pie when I’m returning to Madison from the Twin Cities.