Archive for the ‘fall getaway’ Category

The Angel Museum, a perfect holiday outing

When the bustle of holiday preparations start to weigh on brain and shoulders, seek smiles and joyous countenances from angels. More than 12,000 of them are lifting visitors’ spirits at a small museum just over the Illinois border in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Joyce Berg gives a tour of The Angel Museum in Beloit, WI

Joyce Berg gives a tour of The Angel Museum in Beloit, WI. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

They are porcelain, ceramic, glass, metal and wood and nearly 100 other materials. They range from about 1/8 of an inch to life-sized and from candle holders, vases and chubby, cuddly, doll-type cherubs to artistic figures, ink wells, pins and a WWI medal. And they were crafted by artists in more than 60 countries.

Their home is the former Catholic Church of St. Paul building slated for demolition until Beloit residents, the city and angel collectors Joyce and Lowell Berg stepped in. Or as Joyce says, “Angels saved the church.”

Opened in May 1998, the museum’s collection dates back to the Berg’s falling in love with the Italian bisque figures of two angels on a seesaw during a 1976 Florida vacation.

“We stopped at an antique store. We weren’t looking for angels. But that Christmas when we got out our decorations we realized we had other angels. The next year on a trip we bought more angels. It became a passion,” said Berg during a recent museum tour (Lowell has since died but is remembered with a special angel exhibit in one of the cases).

Collecting, however, comes with a couple of problems. The collection grew too large for the Berg home. In addition, people who heard about the angels wanted to stop in to see them. The church building was a perfect solution to both issues.

The museum is in a former church. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The museum is in a former church. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Since then, the collection has grown to more than 14,000, a number that is too large to show at one time. “So, I rotate them,” Berg said.

What is amazing is that she has only one duplicate angel. “It’s mind boggling how artists have come up with so many different angels. Their little faces just make you feel good,” she said.

The museum also contains Oprah Winfrey’s collection of 600 black angels. A passing comment on Winfrey’s show about not seeing black angels resulted in hundreds of black angels sent to the celebrity.

When Winfrey said how much she loved them but didn’t have room for them all, she was told about the museum in Beloit. It now houses her donated collection.

As to most of her angels residing in a museum instead of her home, on the museum website, Berg said, “I want to see a place where goodness prevails and I can share my angels with the masses.”

Black angels in the Oprah collection. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Black angels in the Oprah collection. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The museum also sells angel artifacts in its Heavenly Treasures Gift Shoppe. Hours Thursday-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.The museum will be closed Dec. 22 to March except for special events or tours.

The Angel Museum is at 656 Pleasant St. at Hwy 51, Beloit, WI 53511. It is about a 1 hour, 30 minute drive from Chicago. For other information visit Angel Museum and call (608) 362-9099 or (877)-412-6435.


Enjoy fall color as a day trip from Chicago

Stroll among paths of gold. Hike where every turn reveals another photo op. See the countryside on an old train or find a new scenic vista. Just go. Get out there where the leaves are still changing color and the weather isn’t too frosty.

Elegant Farmer

See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva

See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva

Maybe you have seen and tasted delicious apple pies in your grocery store from the Elegant Farmer. But the farm and its bakery, about 90 miles north of Chicago in Mukwonago, WI, is also a fun destination during its Autumn Harvest Festival. Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through Oct. 23, 2016.  Along with picking up yummy treats from its store, apples and pumpkins from its fields or taking a hay ride, the Elegant Farmer is one end of the turn-of–the-century’s East Troy Electric Railroad.  The train is a remnant of Wisconsin’s Interurban rail system. Train tickets are $12.50 adults, $10.50 seniors, $8 children age 3-11 and free to under 3. The Elegant Farmer is at 1545 Main Street · Mukwonago, WI 53149 at the crossroad of County Highways ES and J. For other information visit Elegant Farmer and call (262) 363-6770.

Lake Geneva

Cruise Geneva Lake or float over its town of Lake Geneva and the surrounding area in a hot-air balloon. Hike the path around the lake or do the zip line across a colorful tree canopy. There are so many ways to see fall color in Lake Geneva, WI you might decide to stay overnight. However, if you go, you might want to tie it in to the Canopy Tours Fall Festival, Oct. 22 or 23 where you get music, food, pumpkin painting and other activities and can watch the Pumpkin Drop from zip liners  (or participate if you do the zip line event). Lake Geneva is about 90 minutes north west of Chicago. For other information visit Lake Geneva or call (262) 248-9271.

Morton Arboretum

Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum

Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum

The Arboretum in west suburban Lisle is coming alive with color. Maples and oaks near parking lots 7 and 8 began changing two weeks ago as have the maples near parking lots 14 and 15. To find out more about the color changes and what’s blooming click on Fall Color Report. Or ask when you arrive. For fun take the Scarecrow Trail on the Meadow Lake Trail. The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Illinois Highway 53, Lisle, IL 60532. For other information visit Morton Arb and call (630) 968-0074.



For a fall getaway, catch the Horicon Marsh bird migration

Pair of cranes photographed in Wisconsin

Pair of cranes photographed in Wisconsin

You can capture two fall happenings at one time by traveling over to Horicon Marsh in Eastern Wisconsin. Horicon is a 33,000 acre (right, count the zeros) of wildlife, freshwater plants and a fall bird migration stop just south of Fond du Lac and about 1.5 hours north of either Madison or Milwaukee. Its bordering trees make photos here picture perfect.

Divided by two government entities, the north two thirds is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. The southern third is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.

You can hike, bike, kayak and canoe. To say bird watch would be an understatement. Thousands of ducks and Canada geese land here each fall.

The marsh is the largest redhead duck nesting place east of the Mississippi and sees the largest migrating flock of Canada geese. Mid-September is fine but to capture nearly 200,000 geese in your lens go in mid-October. As with TV that ads say, “wait, there is more,” you are likely to see some of the marsh’s 300 bird species including cranes and pelicans.

Among the largest freshwater marshes in the United States, Horicon is filled with muskrats, fish, frogs and red fox. Check events at the site for hikes.

There will be a guided hike and bird watch event Oct. 3 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Also a sunset crane watch is at the Palmatory Overlook, 1210 N. Palmatory St., Oct.17 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

A stay at the Honeybee B&B turns a Horicon visit into a vacation

A stay at the Honeybee B&B turns a Horicon visit into a vacation

A good intro to the marsh is the Emporium, a new interactive center that is fun for kids and adults.

Turn the trip into a vacation by staying nearby at the Honeybee Inn. The breakfasts are great, the rooms comfy and innkeepers/owners Barb and Fred Ruka are knowledgeable about the marsh and other area sights.

Honeybee Inn Bed & Breakfast is at 611 East Walnut Street Horicon, Wisconsin 53032, 920-485-4855 .

The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is on the east side of Horicon Marsh, 3.5 miles south of State Highway 49 on County Road Z at  W4279 Headquarters Road, Mayville, WI 53050, 920-387-2658. The Wildlife Center is at N7725 HIGHWAY 28, Horicon, WI 53032, 920-387-7890.

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