Reader mail: Great but lesser-known lodging

Time to dip into the reader mailbag. Thanks very much for taking the time to be in contact.

Kellie Williams writes to rave about “a lovely weekend” spent at Village Green Lodge, Ephraim.  “The innkeepers were so hospitable, food was great, and the rooms were well-kept, with a country décor,” she says. It is “just off of the highway, which makes for a very quiet environment,” and in addition to a great breakfast, the innkeeper “has even written a cookbook containing all of her breakfast secrets.”

For more: www.villagegreenlodge.com, 920-854-2515.

Barb Linton recommends tiny B’s Lakeshore Cafe of Ashland, on U.S. 2, “for a good home cooked meal, prepared by the owner herself, Belinda. The Thursday night ribs are excellent, and the Friday fish fry is too.  Breakfast is superb.”

For more: 715-682-9344.

“You might want to check out the Fanny Hill Inn and Dinner Theatre in Eau Claire,” writes Don Hodges. For more: www.fannyhill.com, 800-292-8026.

The Highground Veterans Memorial Park, west of Neillsville on U.S. 10, is an especially good autumn destination because of changing leaf colors and Veterans Day, says Wally Orlikowski of Athens. For more: www.thehighground.org, 715-743-4224.

Bill Williamson of Madison takes issue with our description of Madison’s Arbor House as being across the street from the UW Arboretum.

“Sure, that block may be under Arboretum administration, but you really are pushing it,” he writes. “I doubt that there is any contiguous land under Arboretum control joining that spot and the actual Arboretum.”

Innkeeper John Immes responds: “I could not disagree more … the official Arboretum map shows all the land including the prairie, woods and Wingra Marsh under Arboretum control. That is not to mention the oak savannah, springs, official trails/markers and everything else. In the winter, we clearly see the west end of Lake Wingra and in the spring, Arboretum crews burn the prairie.”

For more: www.arbor-house.com, 608-238-2981.

Several people have asked for the U.S. 51 “Passport to Wisconsin,” materials that promote tourism along this Hurley-to-Beloit highway. Consult: www.explorehighway51.com, 888-WI-VISIT.

If you have a good experience or memory associated with a U.S. 51 city, add it to the “share your story” segment of the website.

Danny Rodriguez of Kenosha writes to suggest that Metra train riders board in Waukegan, Ill., instead of his own city, since there are more trains to/from Waukegan and Chicago.

“I never could understand why Metra is so discriminatory to Kenosha,” he writes. “I’m sure many more people would come visit the lovely city of Kenosha, or the beautiful beaches of Winthrop Harbor,” if there were more arrival/departure options.

“Should you miss (the last) train, you will be faced with either an overnight stay or $40-plus cab to Waukegan.”

Danny also noted how hard it is to buy a Chicago Transit Authority day pass, which makes it possible to ride city trains and buses for one fee. (I order online at www.transitchicago.com.)

“It would seem in the era of encouraging mass transit that the big corporations would do something, at little cost, to make life more easier and user friendly to the public who is struggling to make ends meet, which is probably the reason they are really taking mass transit in the first place. Who can afford to drive, park, and pay gas and parking to go to Chicago (and not worry about having your car towed for $500)?”

Regarding the growth of arts venues in Minneapolis, Beverly Blahnik of Oregon writes:

“Great article, and I now want to go. Is there a service or company that offers tours of the city that would include those mentioned in the article?”

I know of no such tour company, but the city does have more generic tours. One is via trolley; see www.minneapolis.org/travelinfo/trolley.asp. Another is on Segway scooters; see www.humanonastick.com.

Regarding efforts to attract gay and lesbian tourists:

“The article you did on gay and lesbian tourism was excellent and a market that I suspect many tourism operations completely overlook either by choice or by not realizing the potential,” writes Kim Tschudy of New Glarus.

“When I first purchased my beat up old hotel out in Iowa, that was one of the first markets that I thought about going after, because of the leading role gays and lesbians have played in historic preservation across the country.”

Kathy Shattuck, who rents yurt for overnight retreats, near Spooner, wants us to know that her family’s inground swimming pool cannot be used by yurt occupants. It’s a state licensing hassle. For more about Namekagon Waters Retreat: 715-635-2027.

Ronald Luskin writes that “For some reason, more often than not, newspaper stories about new facilities fail to mention the architect or architecture firm responsible for the design of such new and wonderful spaces.” He asked who designed Milwaukee’s new Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, and the answer is Jim Shields of Hammel, Green & Abrahamson, Milwaukee. For more: www.pierwisconsin.org, 414-765-9966.

Norske Nook managers are aflutter about the employee who told us that pie crusts in the Hayward restaurant actually are made in Osseo, then frozen and sent to Hayward.

“All Norske Nooks make all the pies from start to finish,” writes Debbie Zeller, general manager in Osseo. “They make dough from scratch, hand roll out each crust at each location, and bake each pie at each location.  Nothing is transported from restaurant to restaurant.”

“My bakers here in Rice Lake were very hurt to read that the pie crusts they hand make and hand roll daily were instead made in Osseo, then frozen and transported,” writes Cindee Borton, general manager in Rice Lake.

“This is a false statement. Rice Lake store helps to make Hayward’s pie dough, because they don’t have the space for the large Hobart mixer. It is not frozen. Rice Lake and Osseo make their own pie dough.”

For more: www.norskenook.com, 800-294-6665.

Regarding good mom/pop lodging, and other Wisconsin Dells observations:

“I spend a lot of time in the Dells, going to concerts at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre,” writes Cheryl Kohnhorst of Wausau. “They have a wonderful variety of entertainers and we are there almost once a month to see someone.

“We always stay at the Grand Marquis. It is a wonderful motel with a large variety of rooms. We always get a suite with three queen size beds, plus a couch. They have an indoor pool and two whirlpools, an outside pool and a nice area at the back of the motel for little ones.”

For more: www.grandmarquis-dells.com, 800-447-2636.

A Lake Delton woman, who prefers anonymity, writes: “My favorite undiscovered places in the Dells are the White Rose Inn and the Dell Creek Motel.” Consult www.thewhiterose.com, 800-482-4724 and www.dellcreek.com, 800-525-7301.

We heard from several families who have used the Ties Program, which fosters homeland tours for families with children adopted in a foreign land. “A person from Wausau emailed us, saying she had read about our organization and was thrilled as she has always wanted to return to Korea,” writes Bea Evans of New Richmond. “Thanks so much for including us when writing about Korea.”

For more: www.adoptivefamilytravel.com, 866-359-0995.

I always look for Wisconsin connections in faraway places and will soon head to Santiago, Chile, and an ecolodge in Patagonia. If you know of Wisconsin connections to this part of the Earth, please let me know!