Reader mail: trip ideas, chocolate, resources

The reader mailbag is pleasingly plump, so let’s digest a bit of it.

I read your article about BOW (Becoming an Outdoor Woman) and noted the reference to the outdoor bathroom issue. The book “How to S!!! in the Woods” by Kathleen Meyer (Ten Speed Press) is full of funny anecdotes of mishaps in the outdoors but also covers the practical matters, including a chapter just on women’s issues. It’s a great way to let people know how to “go” outdoors. No matter how dysfunctional you might feel, someone else has made a bigger muck of it.”

— Laura Brown, Madison

We enjoyed your list of Wisconsin chocolate candy makers, but here are others that are outstanding:

Hughes Homaid Chocolates, 1823 Doty St., Oshkosh, located in a house. People line up outside to get in to pick their chocolates. Long, long, lines!

End-of-the-Trail, 928 E. Main St., Waupun: outstanding chocolates and candies. www.endofthetrailcandy.com, 920-324-3331

Confections for Any Occasion by Joel Bernhard, 101 N. Milwaukee St., Theresa: Joel is a blind candy maker who bought an old general store and has a restaurant there, The interior still looks like the old-time store. www.confectionsbyjoel.com, 920-488-9269

— Nancy Younkin, Fond du Lac

I’m a huge fan of chocolate and dare to even call myself a connoisseur, having tasted chocolate from all over the world. Another Wisconsin favorite that you didn’t mention is Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, 2086 Atwood Ave., Madison. www.gailambrosius.com, 608-249-3500

— Lisa Percy, Stevens Point

Our travel business is about partnerships – with local experts – and sustainability, the investment in regional and local culture abroad. We create and foster friendships. We aim to leave where we visit better than when we came. It’s small group quality, in-depth cultural experiences: We stay in family-owned inns/hotels and dine in family-owned restaurants. 
 
Our offerings this year include “Food Fun, Fitness, Family and Favor,” Bologna and the Adriatic Riviera, with Suzy Favor Hamilton; “Capture Croatia,” with Joan Gillman of the University of Wisconsin School of Business; “Focus on Croatia,” with Sun Prairie photographer Chris Joyner; “The European Union in Depth,” Frankfurt, Berlin and Prague, with Jeff Mayers, WisPolitics.com president; “Wines of Burgundy, with Paris,” Brian Johnson of the Madison Club; and “In the Steps of the Saints, with Paris,” sacred sites of France, with Steve Ellsworth of Sinsinawa Mound. 
 
Look for online updates soon at www.culturetouring.com or call 800-546-8520.

— Karl Gutknecht, Madison

You featured us in your article about people who travel with with grandchildren. We are about ready leave, with Jill and Melissa, for our annual trek – this time to New Orleans.  We’ll tour areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, listen to jazz at Preservation Hall, have beignets and chicory coffee at Jackson Square, enjoy a Mississippi River ride and see Mardi Gras floats under construction for next year.

Breakfast at Brennans, the Imax movie, “Katrina” and an above-ground cemetery will be other stops. www.neworleanscvb.com, 800-672-6124.

— LuAnn Williams, Madison

I thoroughly enjoyed your articles about Bavaria. We have traveled to many of the countries in Europe, and it is so great to refresh the mind and see how someone else pictures the same things we saw.

— Jean Drewiske, Wisconsin Rapids

I have enjoyed you articles about Bavaria. Although I have not been there, I have spent many Decembers just before Christmas in Cologne and saw many similarities in your descriptions of the country. Germany is beautiful and the people are so friendly. I look forward to my next visit.

— John McDermott, Madison

I read with interest your article about Bavaria and the German heritage here in Wisconsin. The Madison Maennerchor is the oldest German men’s chorus here in Wisconsin, and we think the second-oldest in the United States, having been formed in 1852.
 
Please take a look at our website, www.mmc1852.org, and read about our history and programs.
 
— Tim Hughes, Madison Maennerchor president

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I never knew there were so many interesting places in Wisconsin. Have you ever been to the Lakeside B&B in Florence? It is truly a delight! The food, atmosphere and hostess Rita McMullen are fantastic. My family and I can’t say enough good things about it.

— Mary Huberty, Eden

I operate a web site named “Wisconsin Central” as a hobby (www.wisconsincentral.net). I drive around the state, often on “get lost rides,” take photos of things that interest me, then return and research what I’ve seen. Then I prepare a story and post it.

I’ve been doing this for about a year. I have only lived in Wisconsin for two years, so everything is new to me, and I love the state.

— Ed Marek, Wausau

You probably have some good ideas for a family get-together. We are trying to get together this winter for snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding.  We would like to rent a house/cabin/condo and would like to cook our own meals. What would fit the bill?
 
— Pam Pisca, Schofield

I’ve had great luck when using www.vrbo.com, a website where property owners across the nation list their vacation rental units. They are as small as a one-bedroom condo, as large as luxury homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

A friend used this website a year ago, to plan a reunion of 15 relatives in the state of Oregon. He was not disappointed.

That said, be sure to read descriptions closely. Occasionally cleaning fees or security deposits are charged, in addition to daily/weekly rental fees. There also is a place on the website to ask questions of the property owner, before committing. You could ask about access to skating/sledding/snowshoeing, if that type of thing isn’t addressed in the property description.

Do you have any info on spa retreats in southern Wisconsin?

— Susan Radtke, Madison

It’s not exactly southern Wisconsin, but I’m partial to the Kohler area, and it need not be over-the-top expensive.

The Inn on Woodlake, 705 Woodlake Road, is a terrific alternative to the typically more-expensive rates of The American Club. This hotel, also part of the Kohler family, is an easy walk from almost everything that the area offers, fine dining to spa services, free factory tours to industrial art walks. 

Guests receive an extended continental breakfast with at least one hot item (such as biscuits with gravy, or pancakes). Bakery comes from The American Club kitchens – a wonderful plus. www.destinationkohler.com, 800-344-2838, ext. 700. 

Saturday cooking demos are offered at the Shops at Woodlake this month. Check the website above for topics, details.

Check out Hidden Treasures Botanical Tours, a Missouri-based company that leads garden tours throughout the world. We went on the master gardeners’ trip to Costa Rica trip last year, and it was excellent. www.hiddentreasuresbotanicaltours.com, 573-881-6316.

On our return flight, we bumped into some birdwatchers from Madison Audubon who had also been on a Costa Rica tour. (The group lists Wisconsin field trips at www.madisonaudubon.org. The National Audubon Society organizes trips worldwide, through Audubon Nature Odysseys at http://travel.audubon.org, 800-967-7425.)

— Ronnie Hess, Madison

If you haven’t voted for your favorite small towns in Wisconsin, now is the time to do it. More than 20 voting categories – involving 66 communities of less than 15,000 residents – are listed at www.wondersofwisconsin.com. Only one vote per e-mail address is allowed. Sorry, there are no paper ballots.