What’s new? B&Bs, beer, books, bike ride

OK, that’s it. Time to stay home for a change, and deal with the mounds of press releases that engulf this desk. It’s both spring cleaning and a way to give lots of answers to the innocent inquiry of “what’s new?”

Check out these little news flashes, then gas up the car.

New digs: There are at least two newcomers in the 2004 Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association directory: Eagles Rest, near Tomahawk (www.eaglesrest-bb.com; 715/453-7515) and Country Pleasures, near Cashton (www.countrypleasuresbandb.com; 608/839-4915).

Eagles Rest is on Lake Alice, known for its musky inhabitants. The B&B is a five-bedroom, Northwoods haven that is operated by Ray and Linda Bunbury, who say it is a good match for people who seek peace and quiet.

Country Pleasures used to house an Amish family with 19 children; it is next to 100 acres of woods and has six bedrooms. The rural property, operated by Jim and Mary Lou Reinwald, is billed as a good place for families, reunions, retreats, quilting getaways.

New guidebook: How did glaciers change the state’s landscape? What rock types and rock formations inspired our greatest architects and conservationists?

“Roadside Geology of Wisconsin” ($20, Mountain Press Publishing Co.) tells a very old story – one that dates back many millions of years. The state’s geological history and points of interest are presented through 35 road tours that invite readers into caves and to the top of scenic bluffs.

New gallery: An old paint store at 3379 N. Pierce St., Milwaukee, has a new identity, as Hotcakes Gallery. Owners Mike Brenner and Susan Kriofsky say it’s their goal to make art appreciation and ownership within the reach of everybody.

What does that mean? The duo has sought affordable artwork from around the country; some of it is sold from vending machines for as little as $2. There also are fashion accessories and other funky, contemporary forms of art for sale.

“Sweet Home Chicago,” a six-artist show about what makes Chicago feel like home, is up for display until May 28. A beer tasting, with proceeds to support community garden and urban green space advocacy, is May 20.

For details, go to www.hotcakesgallery.com or call (414) 961-7714.

New brew: The Berghoff Solstice Wit has been added to the product line at the Joseph Huber Brewing Company, Monroe. It is a seasonal beer, meant to celebrate the approach of summer, and handcrafted by brewmaster Kris Kalav.

Bottles and half-barrels are making the rounds at bars, restaurants and beer sale outlets. The new beer, plus other brewery products, also can be sampled during the brewery’s tours ($2 admission; reservations recommended). For more, call (608) 325-3191 or go to www.huberbrewery.com.

New on air, water: To see sky-high thrills but avoid crowds during the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture (July 27 to Aug. 2 in Oshkosh), head to Milwaukee a few days later.

The first TCF Air & Water Show will be on the city’s lakefront Aug. 7-8, in and near Veterans Park. It is described as a family event that will feature military aircraft, including a P-15 Mustang, the B-17 Memphis Belle, plus wingwalkers and aerobatic stunt teams.

To learn more, go to www.milwaukeeairshow.com or contact a TCF bank. Event admission will be $8 ($4 for ages 12-18, free for ages under 12).

Looking to get wet? Head to Wausau, where a 140-suite indoor waterpark resort opens in June. The Lodge at Cedar Creek will have a Northwoods theme and pay tribute to the area’s lumber production.

The waterpark, at 30,000 square feet, is called the largest in northern Wisconsin. For more, go to www.lodgeatcedarcreek.com or call (888) 365-6343.

New promotion: Go to Green Bay soon, and you can “Be a Tourist in Your Hometown.” That’s the slogan for the May 15-16 celebration of the city’s sesquicentennial.

Pay $10 to get free admission to 14 attractions in the area – that’s $10 per family, not individual. The “passport” also has coupons to use during other times of the year. For more about where to buy a passport, and what it covers, go to www.packercountry.com or call (888) 867-3342.

Venturing out of state? Here’s a hint of what has changed.

New thrills: Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Ill., will have a new themed area – called Mardi Gras – when it opens May 1. There will be four new rides here, and the biggest hype is going to Ragin’ Cajun, the amusement park’s 13th roller coaster.

The coaster’s cars are designed to spin independently, so “no two ride experiences on the Ragin’ Cajun are ever the same,” says press materials. For more, go to www.sixflags.com or call (847) 249-4636.

Head in another direction, and the Timberland Twister already is producing a dizzying spin. It is the newest roller coaster at the Mall of America, Bloomington, Minn. It’s a wicked option for people who don’t merely want to stroll through the Camp Snoopy amusement area. The new ride spins as well as plummets.

For more, go to www.mallofamerica.com.

New records: Yes, that’s redundant, unless “records” refers to “music.” The River Music Experience, a museum about American roots music and its international impact, opens June 11 in Davenport, Iowa.

Roots music is defined as any type that is connected to the Mississippi River: blues, jazz, gospel, rock and more. Museum content is geared to please the average person as well as the scholar and performer.

For more, go to www.rivermusicexperience.com or call (563) 322-1706.

OK, now consider records that are meant to be set. Trail Breaking the Mississippi River Trail is an awkward name for a cool event that will be May 1, all along the river.

Bicycle riders will each pedal about 35 miles, at one of eight river locations, at the same time. The goal: to cover all 586 miles of the trail with bikers during one morning.

This is a way to call attention to the bike trail and other parts of the Mississippi’s shoreline.

There is no charge to participate in the bike ride. For more about where the trail goes, see www.mississippirivertrail.org or call (651) 698-4568.