Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

A Wisconsin fall getaway

 

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

 

Picture a small town where goats on a restaurant roof can cause a traffic jam in a county where visitors to its scenic towns often gather around huge outdoor pots to watch traditional fish boils.

 

It is Door County, a peninsula that separates the calm waters of Green Bay from turbulent waves of Lake Michigan and where the must-take-home items are chocolate covered cherries or cherry pies and the must-visit time of year is fall.

 

An easy drive from Green Bay’s airport, the route on the way to the Sturgeon Bay, the first vacation town on the peninsula, is dotted with the crimsons, golds and pinksm of changing leaves. And, as TV ads say, “But wait.” The colors keep intensifying, driving northwest along curving roads through picturesque villages.

 

Sunsets over the harbors, bay side, are phenomenal. This is from the Sister Bay Yacht Club where stayed in September. (JJacobs photo)

Sunsets over the harbors, bay side, are phenomenal. This is from the Sister Bay Yacht Club where stayed in September. (JJacobs photo)

 

That restaurant with the goats is up in Sister Bay.  The fish boils are in Fish Creek, Ephraim and a couple of other villages. But Door County’s famed cherry items are everywhere from farm and orchard markets such as Seaquist Orchards Market and gas stations to wineries such as Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville.

 

However, a trip to “The Door” means you can leave the car at your B&B, inn or condo. This is a great place to bike, hike or walk.

 

I’ve biked the great trails in Peninsula State Park  on the bay side and the back roads across fields and woods.. My place had loaner bikes but there are bike shops including one near the south entrance to the park. I also loved walking around the harbors and hiking Dunes State Park on the lake side.

 

The reward is ice cream sundaes at Wilson’s or fudge  and cherry/chocolate cookies from Seaquist Orchards‘ market.

 

But not everything here is horizontal.

 

If the Cana Island Lighthouse near Bailey’s Harbor on the lake side is open, do the 97 stairs up. The view is spectacular, particularly in fall. But I also loved taking a fall cruise out of Sister Bay to see the park from the water.

 

At Hands On Studio visitors can make jewelry, do ceramics, work with stained glass to to frame as sculptures and work with metal. (J Jacobs photo)

At Hands On Studio visitors can make jewelry, do ceramics, work with stained glass to to frame as sculptures and work with metal. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Colors here are not just outside. Door County is an artists’ colony.

 

Potters, painters and photographers have studios and shops in every town. Artists from across the country go there to participate in the Peninsula School of Art’s annual prestigious July Plein Air Festival.

 

Edgewood Orchard Gallery in Fish creek has an amazing sculpture park.  Or you can also do your own thing, from stained glass and sculpture to jewelry and ceramics at Hands On.Art Studio, up the road from Edgewood.

 

Take a Door County Trolley tour to see part of the peninsula or for a haunting experience. (J Jacobs photo

Take a Door County Trolley tour to see part of the peninsula or for a haunting experience. (J Jacobs photo

 

Oh, and if here in October take the  Trolley Ghost Tour or the Haunted Pub Crawl. I think I saw a strange face in a mirror at a haunted house and felt shivers when visiting a haunted lighted house.

 

Just remember to charge your phone each night so you are camera-ready for fall.

 

For accommodations and other help visit Door County Visitor Bureau or call (800) 527-3529.

 

 

 

The Wright trip for stage and scenery

Peck's Farm Market is a definite stop when visiting Spring Green in Wisconsin. (J Jacobs photo)

Peck’s Farm Market is a definite stop when visiting Spring Green in Wisconsin. (J Jacobs photo)

A fall vacation that is not the same-old, same-old awaits 189 miles (about 3 hrs., 20 min.) northwest of Chicago in Spring Green, WI.

 

Water bottles, check. pillow ( I like mine), check. Phone, cords and bathing suit, check. Well, there is a lap pool at The House on the Rock Resort, my weekend retreat.

 

On the agenda is see a show at American Players Theatre which everyone calls APT,  tour Wright’s Taliesin, explore the hilly countryside and stop at Peck’s Farm Market East on the way home for yummy, fresh corn. The town is surrounded by farmland so visitors will be treated to true farm-to-table products that are not just a nod to today’s popular menu phrases.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright Visitors Center near Spring Green Wisconsin. (Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

Frank Lloyd Wright Visitors Center near Spring Green Wisconsin. (Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

For Chicagoans and west suburbanites, I90 to US 12/14 around Madison is arguably the shortest, quickest route. Coming from the northern suburbs, I mosey west over to US 12 because I94 is under construction and it means I can stop at Anderson’s Candy Shop in Richmond, IL  for chocolate and Kindfolk Coffee inside a boutique center in Cambridge, WI, for a latte.

 

Fortunately, my room is ready even though I arrive closer to lunch than the 3 p.m. check-in. So after dropping my bags, I get directions to the Spring Green General Store for lunch. GPS is fine but I also like to know ahead of time where I’m going.

 

I heard that the Genera Store, alone, is a destination experience. Wow! Can’t believe all the stuff crammed on the shelves and down the aisles. But lunch first. Hmm, heard the soups are good however, I’m going to do a chicken salad sandwich on whole grain ciabatta and wash it down with peach iced tea.

 

After ordering at the counter and receiving a flag from Mexico (lots of countries represented) to ID my order, I find a table on the indoor porch. Totally stuffed, I walk off lunch, peering into boutiques and stopping in Arcadia Books.

 

Outside Freddie Valentine's restaurant in Spring Green. (J Jacobs photo)

Outside Freddie Valentine’s restaurant in Spring Green. (J Jacobs photo)

Then back to the resort to unpack, call Taliesin to book a tour for tomorrow and relax. I get lucky because I should have reserved a tour before leaving home. Fortunately someone had just canceled for the Highlights Tour that goes to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and his studio.

 

APT is also tomorrow and where I plan to do dinner. I ordered a picnic supper when I bought my show ticket.

 

So tonight will try  Freddy Valentine’s Public House in the historic State Bank of Spring Green. Imagine chowing down on great ribs in a bank. I was told by owner David Owen who named it after his dad, that everything on the menu was really fresh.

 

In its seven years, the restaurant has picked up several mentions as one of the best small town restaurants in Wisconsin worth the drive

 

BTW, in this town almost every building is historic. The General Store is in a converted cheese storage building dating to about 1919 that was other things before becoming the store and café in the 1980s. The bank, built in 1915 was listed on Register of Historic Places in 2007.

 

Pool at House on the Rock Resort. (J Jacobs photo)

Pool at House on the Rock Resort. (J Jacobs photo)

It will seem funny going to Wright’s organic, Prairie School style of architecture at Taliesin tomorrow after seeing old, small-town buildings of the same period, today, just a six-minute drive away.

 

Wright first built Taliesin on his family’s large farm in 1911. Then he rebuilt it after fires in 1914 and 1925. It was listed as a Historic Landmark in 1974 and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019.

 

The visitor’s center with its great view of the Wisconsin River and where Taliesin tours start and end, is perfect for lunch. Going on the tour was a great way not just to see the inside of his home and studio but also take in breathtaking views of the Wisconsin River Valley in the fall.

 

Back at the resort to relax, I have time before the APT show to fit in some laps in a really attractive indoor pool where high ceilings and glass walls make it feel connected to the outdoors.

 

Refreshed, I drive less than a mile from the resort to the American Players’ campus, pick up my pre-ordered dinner, then picnic at a table before taking a shuttle up the hill. I will be seeing Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will” in the outdoor amphitheater.

 

American Players Theatre outdoor venue. (J Jacobs photo)

American Players Theatre outdoor venue. (J Jacobs photo)

As the sun sets behind the trees, the seats start to fill with people more inclined to trekking up the hill than I was. Surprised by the many people who seemed to know each other, my seatmates explained that Apt audiences return every year like they do.

 

Not surprising, was that the show turned out to be every bit as good as the version I saw in Chicago a few years ago because APT attracts actors, directors and choreographers from TV, film and regional theaters.

 

Now I’m thinking I should come back next year.

 

For more restaurants, places to stay and things to do visit SpringGreen.

 

 

Vines and Vistas make a great fall getaway

Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.

Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.

 

Maybe it’s the talk of the Chicago Bears’ training camp. Or maybe it’s the ads for back-to-school supplies and end-of-summer sales. All of a sudden I’m thinking about where to go for a fall getaway that is withing six hours of Chicago.  Planning the trip now helps get through the “dog days” of summer.

 

On the map, (yeah, I still like atlases) the Michigan town of Traverse City may seem far  but I have made it up to TC in time for lunch. I love this town anytime of year but it’s still my top Midwest choice for fall.

 

I leave home in the northern suburbs early enough to do breakfast in Saugatuck then head east to Grand Rapids where I pick up US Highway 131. Its bordering forests and little traffic make it a relaxing drive up to US Highway 115 that is a perfect angle west to State Highway 37, the main road into TC.

 

After dumping travel bag and stuff at my lodging (more on this later) I feel my shoulders relax as I thread my way around the rolling, vine-covered landscape of the Old Mission Peninsula that starts at the east end of TC. Over every hill waits another glimpse of the sparkling waters of Grand Traverse Bay.

 

Over every hill is another spectacular view when hiking or driving Old Mission Peninsula at Traverse City.

Over every hill is another spectacular view when hiking or driving Old Mission Peninsula at Traverse City.

Or I head up the Leelanau Peninsula at the west end of TC to meander along the lapping shores of the Bay’s West Arm to Suttons Bay for lunch at Martha’s Leelanau Table, a small restaurant favored by the locals. Her arbor covered terrace is perfect for planning which winery to go to first.

 

Due to the two peninsulas’ prime clime location on the 45th parallel, soil and water protection from the Bay and nearby Lake Michigan, the land here has produced an abundance of cherries (home of the National Cherry Festival) apples and grapes. Translated, that means there are excellent wineries on both the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas.

 

The shops here in Suttons Bay beckon with colorful banners and signs after lunch. And around the corner from Martha’s is the excellent Suttons Bay Bike Shop which I may return to if I decide to bike north to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

 

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Leelanau Peninsula

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Leelanau Peninsula

 

Back to the B&B to relax and make dinner reservations. This time I’m staying on the outskirts of Suttons Bay at Black Star Farms which has a nice habit of serving a free glass of wine and nosh during the cocktail hour and also does terrific breakfasts.

 

Where to make reservations for dinner. Hmm, maybe Sorellina’s because of its really good veal dishes and it is downtown TC so I could work off dinner exploring Front Street.

 

Since my other two faves probably need more time than I have today,  I’ll probably do the teeny, tiny Cooks House tomorrow. It finds innovative but yummy ways to prepare locally sourced ingredients.  Then, it’s the Boat House for its good food and views the next day.

 

The city has lots of places to stay whether looking for something in town, on Traverse City Bay or staying at a winery on the Mission Peninsula. Check out the Traverse City Visitor Center  for lodging choices.

Chateau Chantal

Chateau Chantal

 

I’ve stayed at the BayShore Resort which I liked for its beach and indoor pool, and Wellington Inn because of its charm and good breakfast.

 

However, I’m thinking of staying at Chateau Chantal on the mission Peninsula next time for its views and it reminds me of a chateau in the Loire Valley. Maybe next time I’ll hike to the Mission Point Lighthouse on the Mission Peninsula.

 

Guess there will be a next time.

 

(All photos are by J Jacobs)

 

Famed Oshkosh air show almost here

 

Airshow. Military. F-22. Raptor. (Photo by Nick Moore and courtesy of EAA AirVenture)

Airshow. Military. F-22. Raptor. (Photo by Nick Moore and courtesy of EAA AirVenture)

 

If looking for a different experience this summer consider going to the spectacular EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc.) AirVenture Show July 22-28 in Oshkosh, WI., a historic lumber town on Lake Winnebago at the Fox River.

 

About half a million aircraft and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world fly in for the show which will feature historic military aircraft to today’s sophisticated  machines  – all at the Wittman Regional Airport. Best plan is to start looking now for a place to stay in the region.

 

Early in the week, highlights include the Warbirds of America show when a B-29 Doc and FIFI will fly together and the United States Air force Heritage Flight fly-overs of an F-35, A-10. and two P-51s. There will also be a salute to World War II ace Bud Anderson so all flying P-51s in the U.S. have been invited to participate.

 

In addition, U.S. Navy fighter aircraft, including F4U Corsairs, the gullwing fighters that were a key asset in the Pacific Theater will be on hand and there will be an observance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day with aircraft that participated in the actual invasion on June 6, 1944, as well as C-47 airplanes that will have just returned from a historic anniversary flight to France.

 

Later in the week is a tribute to the Apollo 11 flight.on its 50th anniversary  when Apollo command module pilot Michael Collins will be the main guest, joined by Apollo astronaut Joe Engle at a program hosted by space shuttle astronaut Charlie Precourt.

 

“Even a half-century later, the Apollo 11 mission stands as one of the great human achievements of all time,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions.

 

An additional theme will be aerial firefighting sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service with support from aircraft operators and manufacturers.

 

Activities are planned with the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, EAA Warbirds of America, and individual aircraft owners. Every afternoon will have flight-precision aerobatics plus there are daily programs and workshops.

 

Air Show Hours: Daily – July 22-27, 2019: 2:30-6 p.m. & Sunday, July 28, 2019: 1-4:30 p.m.  Night Air Shows – Wednesday, July 24 and Saturday, July 27: 8-10 p.m.

 

To see headliners and times visit features attractions and schedule.  Also find more information at EAA Airventure.

 

 

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