Category Archives: Wisconsin

Wisconsin Part II: Two Rivers

We left our campground in the middle of the farmers and fields in Milton, drove north and east to Milwaukee, got onto Interstate 43 North, and hugged Lake Michigan until it was time to exit for Two Rivers. This time our natural settings would include forests, rivers and Lake Michigan. We stayed at Scheffel’s Hideaway Campground on County Road O, next to Point Beach State Forest. It was a small and clean campground with nice owners. We were on the outskirts of the little town of Two Rivers so the noise level was low and the night sky was bright. We were at this park for two weeks, and enjoyed our time exploring the sister-cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers. We took one daytrip a little bit north to Door County, WI, but for the most part we just took advantage of our quaint surroundings and all the natural beauty of the area.

The locals call Two Rivers “Cool City” because the temperatures in summer are always the coldest in the state. If you look at a map, the geography of Two Rivers jets out into the lake and that physical location causes lots of extra weather issues for the community; such as fog, rain, colder air, etc. They say the effect is opposite in the winter, and Two Rivers is generally warmer than anywhere else (until the lake starts to freeze as winter wears on). All I can say is it was chilly during the month of June. We rarely went anywhere without at least a sweatshirt… and we never even thought about having a loungy day at the beach. It was sort of strange for summer, but we didn’t complain. We just kept thinking about how hot it was in Houston, and enjoyed the refreshing temperatures as a novelty at this time of year.

We selected lots of photos to share from this stop too. I’ll keep this narrative brief and let the pictures tell the story again.

The Manitowoc Lighthouse is at the end of this bulkhead.

The Manitowoc Lighthouse is at the end of this bulkhead, I promise.

Even though it was high noon on a June afternoon, our walk through the Manitowoc Marina on this day felt much more like we were in the thick of a fall evening.

Even though it was high noon on a June afternoon, our walk through the Manitowoc Marina on this day felt much more like we were in the thick of a fall evening.

Mike and his affinity for geese.

Mike and his affinity for geese.

There was a paved 'Trail of Two Cities' along the Lake Michigan shore between Two Rivers and Manitowoc. The trail was dotted by small parking lots along its route. The beautiful landscaping around each parking lot was maintained by private citizens because of their passion for gardening, or in memory of a loved one. The flowers were beautiful, and each bed had a distinct personality. They also had pieces of art at various points along the trail. This eagle sculpture was my favorite.

There was a paved ‘Trail of Two Cities’ along the Lake Michigan shore between Two Rivers and Manitowoc. The trail was dotted by small parking lots along its route. The beautiful landscaping around each parking lot was maintained by private citizens because of their passion for gardening, or in memory of a loved one. The flowers were beautiful, and each bed had a distinct personality. They also had pieces of art at various points along the trail. This eagle sculpture was my favorite.

Friday Night Fish Fries in Wisconsin and the U.P. are sort of like the tradition of Friday Night Mexican Food in Texas. That is what everyone does on Friday. We walked over to a fish fry at the Port Sandy Bay Restaurant next to our campground on the last Friday we were in town. This Point Amber Dude stared at us the whole time we had drinks and ate. He loosened up at the end, and we were friends by the time we paid our tab.

Friday Night Fish Fries in Wisconsin and the U.P. are sort of like the tradition of Friday Night Mexican Food in Texas. That is what everyone does on Friday. We walked over to a fish fry at the Port Sandy Bay Restaurant next to our campground on the last Friday we were in town. This Point Amber Dude stared at us the whole time we had drinks and ate. He loosened up at the end, and we were friends by the time we paid our tab.

A local guy said this steeple in downtown Two Rivers was featured in the movie "Back to the Future". Not sure if I'm buying it... but it was a very pretty church.

A local guy said this steeple in downtown Two Rivers was featured in the movie “Back to the Future”. Not sure if I’m buying it… but it was a very pretty church.

There were not a ton of waterfront dining establishments in the area we were visiting. We heard about Gibs on the Lake Supper Club, and stopped in Kewaunee on the way home from our daytrip to Door County. It was a beautiful setting.  We wanted to have a drink before dinner so we decided to sit at the bar instead of at a table in the dining room - because it had the best view of the water.  The bartender was new (as in 4th day on the job). Mike ordered our martinis and the nice kid brought them to us WARM. No ice, no shaker. Warm martinis. Because of the view, we stuck it out. We coached the lad a bit on the second ones, and he did much better. We are glad we persevered because our dinner was delicious.

There were not a ton of waterfront dining establishments in the area we were visiting. We heard about Gibs on the Lake Supper Club, and stopped in Kewaunee on the way home from our daytrip to Door County. It was a beautiful setting. We wanted to have a drink before dinner so we decided to sit at the bar instead of at a table in the dining room – because it had the best view of the water. The bartender was new (as in 4th day on the job). Mike ordered our martinis and the nice kid brought them to us WARM. No ice, no shaker. Warm martinis. Because of the view, we stuck it out. We coached the lad a bit on the second ones, and he did much better. We are glad we persevered because our dinner was delicious.

Our Door County daytrip included a stop in Algoma. Sport fishing is big there. The fishermen concentrate on Trout and Salmon because the waters around there are stocked to eliminate another species of predatory fish. The Ahnapee Brewery and von Stiehl Winery are owned by the same people and located next door to each other where the Ahnapee River meets Lake Michigan in downtown.  It was a great spot to grab some refreshments and enjoy the sunshine (which was warm until the wind suddenly switched directions and started blowing off of the cool waters of the lake). I must have taken my jacket on and off about 20 times during our two drinks! My mind kept telling me it was summer and my body temperature kept telling this Texas Girl that it seemed more like late fall.

Our Door County daytrip included a stop in Algoma. Sport fishing is big there. The fishermen concentrate on Trout and Salmon because the waters around there are stocked to eliminate another species of predatory fish. The Ahnapee Brewery and von Stiehl Winery are owned by the same people and located next door to each other where the Ahnapee River meets Lake Michigan in downtown. It was a great spot to grab some refreshments and enjoy the sunshine (which was warm until the wind suddenly switched directions and started blowing off of the cool waters of the lake). I must have taken my jacket on and off about 20 times during our two drinks! My mind kept telling me it was summer and my body temperature kept telling this Texas Girl that it seemed more like late fall.

The marina in Algoma.

The marina in Algoma.

Have you ever seen this? A fake (plastic) coyote-type bird deterrent on the beach in Algoma. It is mechanical, and motion sensors cause it to move from side to side when something goes near it. Not sure if it works, but it sure was fascinating to see. (I'm thinking that if it WERE effective... we might have stumbled across more of these contraptions during our travels... maybe it is cutting edge)!

Have you ever seen this? A fake (plastic) coyote-type bird deterrent on the beach in Algoma. It is mechanical, and motion sensors cause it to move from side to side when something goes near it. Not sure if it works, but it sure was fascinating to see. (I’m thinking that if it WERE effective… we might have stumbled across more of these contraptions during our travels). On the other hand, maybe it is cutting edge!

 

Cave Point County Park is in Door County just north of Whitefish May.

Cave Point County Park is in Door County just north of Whitefish Bay.

We stumbled upon these rock stacks while exploring Cave Point County Park.  Apparently the act of building Carins is a big deal there. We didn't know, but it didn't really matter, either. They were such a whimsical and unexpected surprise to stumble upon. It made the day and the stop at this special county park extra memorable.

We stumbled upon these rock stacks while exploring Cave Point County Park. Apparently the act of building Carins is a big deal there. We didn’t know, but it didn’t really matter, either. They were such a whimsical and unexpected surprise to stumble upon. It made the day and the stop at this special county park extra memorable.

The trail at Cave Point County Park was pretty rugged. The roots and rocks were so thick that it was not feasible to gaze at the beautiful view of the water while walking. Instead, it was necessary to look down and avoid tripping into a face plant.

The trail at Cave Point County Park was pretty rugged. The roots and rocks were so thick that it was not feasible to gaze at the beautiful view of the water while walking. Instead, it was necessary to look down and avoid tripping into a face plant.

The water blowing off of the Lake and into the caves on the point created a violent yet strangely soothing noise that stifled all of the other tourist voices around us.

The water blowing off of the Lake and into the caves on the point created a violent yet strangely soothing noise that stifled all of the other tourist voices around us.

The Rawley Point Lighthouse is a working lighthouse in Point Beach State Forest.

The Rawley Point Lighthouse is a working lighthouse in Point Beach State Forest.

The back of the Frank Lloyd Wright House, "Still Bend", that I didn't even know I was going to get to see before we arrived in Two Rivers.

The back of the Frank Lloyd Wright House, “Still Bend”, that I didn’t even know I was going to get to see before we arrived in Two Rivers.

I was reading a newspaper after our arrival to Two Rivers and learned that a private individual owned a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the East Twin River - right in town! The Bernard Schwartz House was a Usonian Design that was completed in 1940. Its third and final owners are brothers from the St. Paul area. They rent out the property as lodging and also host special events on site. He gives private tours on the third Sunday of each month, and we just happened to be in town at the right moment! Guess where I was when 3:00 PM came around on that Sunday afternoon.

I was reading a newspaper after our arrival to Two Rivers and learned that a private individual owned a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the East Twin River – right in town! The Bernard Schwartz House was a Usonian Design that was completed in 1940. Its third and final owners are brothers from the St. Paul area. They rent out the property as lodging and also host special events on site. He gives private tours on the third Sunday of each month, and we just happened to be in town at the right moment! Guess where I was when 3:00 PM came around on that Sunday afternoon. You can find lots more information at www.theschwartzhouse.com

A selfie at Johnny Chimpo's Bar in downtown Two Rivers. Aside from us, everyone in the place new everyone else in the place. It was very obvious we were not locals. However, Sam the bartender was a great kid, and all the patrons were extremely friendly. We got tons of great advice on things to do and places to see while we were visiting the area. The locals always spot the out-of-towners in the churches and bars.

A selfie at Johnny Chimpo’s Bar in downtown Two Rivers. Aside from us, everyone in the place new everyone else in the place. It was very obvious we were not locals. However, Sam the bartender was a great kid, and all the patrons were extremely friendly. We got tons of great advice on things to do and places to see while we were visiting the area. The locals always spot the out-of-towners in the churches and bars.

A selfie at the Two Rivers Carp Fest. They sold beer and pop at the event... but there were no fences or gates or anything. We found this to be a great excuse to bring our own wine, beer and tequila with us. We just left our personal bar in our car in a cooler with some ice. We made our way back to the Honda for refills, and no one cared one bit.

A selfie at the Two Rivers Carp Fest. They sold beer and pop at the event… but there were no fences or gates or anything. We found this to be a great excuse to bring our own wine, beer and tequila with us. We just left our personal bar in our car in a cooler with some ice. We made our way back to the Honda for refills, and no one cared one bit.

Live music on stage at the Two Rivers Downtown Commons during Carp Fest. The actual fishing is catch and release style. The participants fish from several local parks along the Twin Rivers. Winning is based on the highest weighing catch. We didn't watch any of the fishing, just came for the music at the end of the day.

Live music on stage at the Two Rivers Downtown Commons during Carp Fest. The actual fishing is catch and release style. The participants fish from several local parks along the Twin Rivers. Winning is based on the highest weighing catch. We didn’t watch any of the fishing, just came for the music at the end of the day.

A completely restored WWII submarine can be toured from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in downtown Manitowoc.

A completely restored WWII submarine can be toured from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in downtown Manitowoc.

The S.S. Badger Carferry transports humans and their vehicles back and forth across Lake Michigan between Manitowoc, WI and Ludington, MI. The 410' ship holds 600 passengers, plus autos, RVs, buses and large trucks. The trip takes about 4 hours.

The S.S. Badger Carferry transports humans and their vehicles back and forth across Lake Michigan between Manitowoc, WI and Ludington, MI. The 410′ ship holds 600 passengers, plus autos, RVs, buses and large trucks. The trip takes about 4 hours.

The only lakefront restaurant in Two Rivers was the Water's Edge Restaurant inside the Lighthouse Inn. We had drinks and dinner there one evening. The food was okay. The bartender girl kept opening new bottles of beer and giving them to Mike before he would even ask for another. We finally had to eat and run before she stuck another cold one in front of us.

The only lakefront restaurant in Two Rivers was the Water’s Edge Restaurant inside the Lighthouse Inn. We had drinks and dinner there one evening. The food was okay. The bartender girl kept opening new bottles of beer and giving them to Mike before he would even ask for another. We finally had to eat and run before she stuck another cold one in front of us.

The Ice Age Trail in Point Beach State Forest was accessible from our campground. If you trekked along a narrow forest trail for about 1.5 miles, you would emerge from a canopy of trees and end up at this beautiful spot along the lake shore.

The Ice Age Trail in Point Beach State Forest was accessible from our campground. If you trekked along a narrow forest trail for about 1.5 miles, you would emerge from a canopy of trees and end up at this beautiful spot along the lake shore.

This boardwalk on the Ice Age Trail took us from the woods, across the dunes and to the lake.

This boardwalk on the Ice Age Trail took us from the woods, across the dunes and to the lake.

Sand dunes and pine trees at the edge of the lake.

Sand dunes and pine trees at the edge of the lake.

A marsh along the trail from our camp to the lake. One day we stopped here and watched a beaver swimming and playing in the water. The next time we passed this spot, we stopped to watch hundreds of carp mingling around in the shallow water. It looked like they were having their own version of Carp Fest!

A marsh along the trail from our camp to the lake. One day we stopped here and watched a beaver swimming and playing in the water. The next time we passed this spot, we stopped to watch hundreds of carp mingling around in the shallow water. It looked like they were having their own version of Carp Fest!

The trail off of our campground connected to the trails of Point Beach State Forest to one direction and the Two Rivers Municipal Neshotah Park and Beach in the other direction.

The trail off of our campground connected to the trails of Point Beach State Forest in one direction and the Two Rivers Municipal Neshotah Park and Beach in the other direction.

Our camping spot at Scheffel's HideAway Campground. The owners, Tammy and Paul, were extremely nice folks!

Our camping spot at Scheffel’s HideAway Campground. The owners, Tammy and Paul, were extremely nice folks!

 

 

Wisconsin Part I: Milton

Our drive from Sycamore, IL to our first stop in Wisconsin was easy peezy. It was under two hours. We got onto Interstate 90 at Rockford and drove north for about an hour until the exit for the Hidden Valley RV Resort on State Highway 59 between Edgerton (hometown of Pro Golfer Steve Stricker) and Milton, across the street from Lake Koshkonong. We were about 30-minutes south of Madison and a little over an hour south and west from Milwaukee. The closest biggish town was Janesville, a few miles to our south.

The RV Park was very nice. There were about 200 spots, and about half of those were full-time seasonal campers or mini mobile home ‘cabins’. The full time seasonal spots were individually owned, and the rotating spots (like ours) were managed by the campground office. There were plenty of amenities to take advantage of, such as disc golf, pool and hot tub, a snack bar/ restaurant, walking trail, golf carts for rent, etc. We stayed at this spot for 2 weeks. The place was super busy each weekend but things cleared out considerably during the weekdays.

I selected lots of photos from this stop, so I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story on this post.

A view of the vineyard and other fields at Taliesin.

A view of the vineyard and other fields at Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal estate of Taliesin near Spring Green, WI. I drove over by myself one Sunday afternoon to take a tour.

 

The bird walk at Taliesin (and another view of the beautiful landscape on all sides of the house).

The bird walk at Taliesin (and another view of the beautiful landscape on all sides of the house).

This water tower is called Romeo and Juliet. Frank Lloyd Wright's sister asked him to design one for their boarding school compound, and this is what he designed.

This water tower is called Romeo and Juliet. Frank Lloyd Wright’s sister asked him to design one for their boarding school compound, and this is what he designed.

The Wisconsin River outside of Spring Green, WI.

The Wisconsin River outside of Spring Green, WI.

A classic bell tower in downtown Milwaukee.

A classic bell tower in downtown Milwaukee.

Another classic building in downtown Milwaukee.

Another classic building in downtown Milwaukee.

Some public landscaping art in downtown Milwaukee.

Some public landscaping art in downtown Milwaukee.

More pretty architecture in downtown Milwaukee.

More pretty architecture in downtown Milwaukee.

All the baby geese are getting bigger as spring turns into summer.

All the baby geese are getting bigger as spring turns into summer.

Downtown Milwaukee from the shore of Lake Michigan.

Downtown Milwaukee from the shore of Lake Michigan.

A cargo ship and a sailboat heading out to Lake Michigan.

A cargo ship and a sailboat heading out to Lake Michigan.

Milwaukee Harbor.

Milwaukee Harbor.

The Third Ward District in downtown Milwaukee is an historic warehouse district that backs up to the water. The buildings have been converted to residential lofts, and some lucky folks get to park their boats out back.

The Third Ward District in downtown Milwaukee is an historic warehouse district that backs up to the water. The buildings have been converted to residential lofts, and some lucky folks get to park their boats out back.

Brewers Stadium. It is not located in downtown, so we just snapped a photo as we passed by on the highway.

Brewers Stadium. It is not located in downtown, so we just snapped a photo as we passed by on the highway.

This was the outdoor section of the restaurant that was closest to our campground. We enjoyed hamburgers there on Memorial Day, and picked up a full rack of smoked ribs to take home on another afternoon. It was called Lakeview Campground and Bar. Guests could arrive by car or boat.

This was the outdoor section of the restaurant that was closest to our campground. We enjoyed hamburgers there on Memorial Day, and picked up a full rack of smoked ribs to take home on another afternoon. It was called Lakeview Campground and Bar. Guests could arrive by car or boat.

We didn't want to stand in line for a photo with the Wiener Mobile, so we just snapped a shot of another family getting ready to pose.

We didn’t want to stand in line for a photo with the Wiener Mobile, so we just snapped a shot of another family getting ready to pose.

This was the cooking station in back of the Brats Tent at Brat Fest. Outside of the tent they had an electronic billboard flashing the number of brats sold since the beginning of the festival. When we were there on Memorial Day, it was up to 130,750.

This was the cooking station in back of the Brats Tent at Brat Fest. Outside of the tent they had an electronic billboard flashing the number of brats sold since the beginning of the festival. When we were there on Memorial Day, it was up to 130,750.

One of the music stages at Brat Fest. There were four in total. Three of them were facing each other from opposite sides of a big field. They were a little too close together, so the sound all combined together into one LOUD mishmash of noise. Mike had one beer, I had one order of ice cream - then we bailed on the festival and drove to the lake.

One of the music stages at Brat Fest. There were four in total. Three of them were facing each other from opposite sides of a big field. They were a little too close together, so the sound all combined together into one LOUD mishmash of noise. Mike had one beer, I had one order of ice cream – then we bailed on the festival and drove to the lake.

After a walking tour of Madison we stopped at a sidewalk café for some drinks and an appetizer. This cool motorcycle dude passed by us with his super cool dog riding shotgun. The girls at the table started taking photos of them with their phone. The biker dude loved the attention. When the light turned green, he wasn't done with the spotlight, so he circled the block and came back to pose for more pictures during the next red light.

After a walking tour of Madison we stopped at a sidewalk café for some drinks and an appetizer. This cool motorcycle dude passed by us with his super cool dog riding shotgun. The girls at the next table started taking photos of them with their phones. The biker dude loved the attention. When the light turned green, he wasn’t done with the spotlight, so he circled the block and came back to pose for more pictures during the next red light.

The Wisconsin Capitol.

The Wisconsin Capitol.

Lake Mendota, on the western side of downtown Madison.

Lake Mendota, on the western side of downtown Madison.

The University of Wisconsin campus has a beautiful walking trail along the lake.

The University of Wisconsin campus has a beautiful walking trail along the lake.

We think this was the location of the University of Wisconsin commons or union area. There is a food court area and beer carts located along the lakefront. Brightly painted tables and big picnic tables are located at the water's edge. It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere on the Saturday afternoon that we visited. Of course, the gorgeous weather didn't hurt anything.

We think this was the location of the University of Wisconsin commons or union area. There is a food court area and beer carts located along the lakefront. Brightly painted tables and big picnic tables are located at the water’s edge. It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere on the Saturday afternoon that we visited. Of course, the gorgeous weather didn’t hurt anything.

I didn't have to worry about finding a farmer's market near our campground because this old farmer brought his trailer of goods directly to us!

I didn’t have to worry about finding a farmer’s market near our campground because this old farmer brought his trailer of goods directly to us!

After we left Brat Fest in Madison, we drove back to the Sunset Bar and Grill on Lake Koshkonong. They had a live band and lively crowd that we enjoyed watching for a couple of hours.

After we left Brat Fest in Madison, we drove back to the Sunset Bar and Grill on Lake Koshkonong. They had a live band and lively crowd that we enjoyed watching for a couple of hours.

Sunset Bar and Grille on Lake Koshkonong. This is where I learned about pigs wings. YUM!

Sunset Bar and Grille on Lake Koshkonong. This is where I learned about pig wings. YUM!

Our campground had a disc golf course. It was 9 holes of wide-open grass field. I am the most awful disc golf player. When I let loose of the disc, it flies sideways. I give lots of credit to Mike who constantly encourages me instead of laughing into hysterics. Not sure I would be able to do the same.

Our campground had a disc golf course. It was 9 holes of wide-open grass field. I am the most awful disc golf player. When I let loose of the disc, it flies sideways. I give lots of credit to Mike who constantly encourages me instead of laughing into hysterics. Not sure I would be able to do the same.

Our campground had two cute little cabins for non-camping campers.

Our campground had two cute little cabins for non-camping campers.

Their was a trail around the edges of the campground so it was easy to walk the dogs in the mornings and evenings.

There was a trail around the edge of the campground, so it was easy to walk the dogs in the mornings and evenings.

Mike and Piper discussing the drive up from Sycamore, IL.

Mike and Piper discussing the drive up from Sycamore, IL.

A super full campground over Memorial Day weekend.

A super full campground over Memorial Day weekend.

When we arrived on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, the campground was almost empty. One of the campground workers told us the place would be totally full over the coming weekend. I didn't believe him. Turns out he knew what he was talking about!

When we arrived on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, the campground was almost empty. One of the campground workers told us the place would be totally full over the coming weekend. I didn’t believe him. Turns out he knew what he was talking about!

Our spot was #221 on the last aisle up against the asparagus field of an neighboring farm.

Our spot was #221 on the last aisle up against the asparagus field of a neighboring farm.

The view from our bedroom.

The view from our bedroom (asparagus).

 

A selfie by the pool at our campground.

A selfie by the pool at our campground.