Springtime differs according to two groundhogs

 

Woodstock Willie predicts and early spring (J Jacobs photo.)
Woodstock Willie predicts and early spring (J Jacobs photo.)

Of course, the US boasts different temps and climates but just looking at the east and central part of the country, spring was predicted differently by two famous groundhogs on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day.

Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania saw his shadow so predicted six more weeks of winter.

But Woodstock Willy in Illinois, though reluctant to leave his home at first, didn’t see his shadow so whispered to his handler that spring will come early.

Both groundhogs (woodchucks) drew large crowds for their predictions and the activities their towns are hosting.

For more on Punxsutawney Phil, visit Groundhog Club.  For Woodstock Willie visit Prognostication and for more on the movie filmed there see Groundhog Day.

Go back in time to mid last century

Bus tour during Modernism week. (Photo by David A. Lee)
Bus tour during Modernism Week. (Photo by David A. Lee)

Think about a getaway for movie stars close enough for call backs and retakes but far enough from Hollywood to really be a home away from home and you have a star-studded neighborhood in the Palm Springs, CA area.

Now picture several home groupings that boast mid-century modern architecture zoned similarly to 1800s historic designated areas so that changes have to conform with the period and you’ll have more than 30 neighborhoods in and near Palm Springs.

The area welcomes visitors to tour the neighborhoods by bus, bike and double-decker streetcar during Modernism Week, an annual festival celebrating mid-century design, architecture and culture. The event includes talks, a featured home tour and parties.

Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms home in Palm Springs. (Jake Holt photo)
Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms home in Palm Springs. (Jake Holt photo)

BTW, the outside of Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms home on East Alejo Rd. that backs up to Dinah Shore’s back yard is typically on one of the tours. It is in what is considered the Movie Colony/El Mirador neighborhood. And there is a tour that goes to Sunnylands, the former Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage.

Modernism Week is Feb. 17-27, 2022. Find tickets and more information at
modernismweek.

Three fun winter happenings

Wisconsin Team 2 of Sculptora Borealis won the National Snow Sculpting Championship in 2021 with “Inoculation”
Wisconsin Team 2 of Sculptora Borealis won the National Snow Sculpting Championship in 2021 with “Inoculation”

See snow sculptures. Ice skate, Explore an ice village with illuminated caves or a Nordic village with downhill and cross-country skiing. Put Wisconsin and Michigan on the travel excursion list to catch these events and ideas before winter ends.

 

Ice castle kingdom

Stay at Geneva National Resort and Club’s The Ridge in Lake Geneva, WI where guests can now explore an illuminated ice kingdom complete with caves, fountains and frozen slides. Opened Jan. 22, 2022. The Ridge guests get the best available tickets to the ice kingdom, including the difficult-to-get Saturday times.

Call ahead about tickets if driving over to Lake Geneva and not staying at Geneva National. Current expectation is that it will remain open through February depending on the weather. The resort also features ice skating, cross-country skiing and fine dining.

For more information visit Geneva National Ice Castles

 

Winterfest
Walk around and judge for yourself amazing snow sculptures created by 15 state teams from across the county at the US National Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Geneva.

Held Wednesday when snow arrives through Saturday for the judging, the annual Snow Sculpting Championship takes place at Riviera Plaza and flat Iron Park during the city’s Winterfest, Feb. 2-6, 2022.

Wisconsin Team 2 of Sculptora Borealis won with “Inoculation” last year and Florida’s Less Latitutde, more attitude,” took second with “the Power of the Mind’s Eye.”

Winterfest also includes ice sculptures and entertainment. For more information visit Winterfest 2022.

 

Crystal Mountain

Downhill ski at award-winning Crystal Mountain that controls snow quality with its own machines, has good cross-country trails and an excellent ski school. Located in Thomsonville, MI, Crystal Mountain is a scenic, Nordic style resort village with several accommodation choices, spa and large, indoor pool.

For more information visit Crystal Mountain.

Four top ideas for a fun and different holiday gift

Long Grove Confectionery. ( JJacobs photo)
Long Grove Confectionery. ( JJacobs photo)

Shopping on-line makes holiday gift-choices COVID safe and fun. Just try to do the shopping now while orders have a good chance to make it to their destinations by Christmas. You also are likely to find some things you would like. Hey, give yourself a gift.

For the traveler or travel wannabe National Geographic has a holiday special –   for $39/year that includes immediate digital access, 12 print issues, and a tote bag. Find the details at NationalGeographicHolidayGift.

Find the perfect gift online at a historical or landmark site such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin or Taliesin West in Arizona. Both of Wright’s famous homes have books, home décor items, ties, clever socks and jewelry. Visit Shop – Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation for Arizona and Shop – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin (taliesinpreservation.org) for Wisconsin.

Check out the giftshop on-line at a favorite museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago. The shop has great scarves, books, calendars, jewelry and home décor items. Look for gifts at MuseumShopartic.

Share your love of fine foods. Order from a favorite coffee or candy store. A couple of examples are Door County Coffee and Tea which is the go-to place in a Wisconsin vacation spot and Long Grove Confectionery in a historic Chicago suburb.

Visit them at Door County Coffee & Tea Co.  and at Long Grove Confectionery Co. and Chicagoland Favorite! Decadent chocolate gifts for business & beyond! – Long Grove Confectionery Co

 

 

Art Preserve is short travel trip or part of a larger getaway

New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)
New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)

Instead of merely zooming (the old-fashioned sense of the word) in on your fall destination, check out places along the way to stop that you might not get to in a separate trip.

A surprising thing happened as we planned a Door County getaway for October.

Looking at the map ((we use GPS and paper maps) we realized we could break the drive up from Chicago into two destinations with a short stopover in Sheboygan. We know and have been to the American Club in Kohler, but why Sheboygan?

The John Michael Kohler Art Center downtown Sheboygan on New York Avenue has opened an exceptional branch called the Art Preserve over on Lower Falls Road that celebrates intuitive Wisconsin artists. Not only is the building artistic, its contents include large and sometimes full collections from each artist.

P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)
P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)

I had seen good intuitive exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum so hearing what the Art Preserve would have and that it would open in July I was excited about stopping there on our way to Door County for a fall color trip.

The art work is remarkable!

Fantastical animal sculptures. (J Jacobs photo)

The Art Preserve may seem small on the outside but that is an illusion. The art fills three floors.

Visitors wander around well-placed sculptures and home-made structures that have been taken down and moved there. They then move on to startling paintings on dividers and top notch (I want one) ceramics on tables and in cases. There are also artists’ amazing renderings of animals and people.

Some artists' houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)
Some artists’ houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)

To stay within COVID protocols visitors should register their anticipated arrival time before leaving home. Once there, take all the time you want but allow for two hours.

If familiar with the parent museum you probably guessed the bathrooms are tiled with art (yes people go into each).

Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)
Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)

A good place for lunch is the Café over at the Kohler Art Center where you order at a small counter and the food is brought to your table. My husband and I each had a superb salad.

We spent the day in Sheboygan but it only is about three hours from our destination in Door County so it could have fit into the morning.

However, the Art Preserve is worth a return trip.

The Art P:reserve is at 3636 Lower Falls Road, Sheboygan, WI. find more information at Kohler Art Preserve. The JM Kohler Art Center is at 608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, WI.

Chicago International Film Festival

 

After cancelling shows and closing theaters due to COVID last year, Chicago has reopened this fall.

The Lyric Opera is back as well as Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre and Broadway in Chicago. So come enjoy live theater.

But while in town check out the Chicago International Film Festival Oct 13-24.

Begun in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza it promotes diverse subjects and filmmakers.

If in town Oct. 13 try to snag a ticket for the 7 p.m. showing of the French Dispatch or Halloween Kills at 10 p.m., both at the Music Box Theatre.

Or at 7 p.m. go to the Chitown Movies drive-in  to see The Velvet Underground.  For more film-fest showings visit the presenting organization’s Cinema Chicago – Upcoming Events Calendar and look at the Filmfestt Guide for kickoff ideas.

 

Wisconsin fall color to peak mid October

 

Take a fall-color getaway. (J Jacobs photo)
Take a fall-color getaway. (J Jacobs photo)

Take a fall color break. Green is a fine summer color but to celebrate the change of season to autumn, drive to northern Wisconsin now or wait a couple of weeks to mid October. That’s when the scenery in southeast Wisconsin blends gold with copper and ruby reds.

But you need to make room or camp reservations now because places such as Door County and even Bay Field further north that are both only beginning to change, are  already putting up “sold out” signs. Another popular destination is Eagle River.

The Iron River area Three Lakes show Land O Lakes and Minocqua already have high color

Check Wisconsin Fall Color Report and Travel Wisconsin for updates.

 

Michigan is bursting with color

 

Driving in the Traverse City area. (J Jacobs photo)
Driving in the Traverse City area. (J Jacobs photo)

Don’t wait until you can’t reserve a room or camp site in Michigan. The state’s fall color map is already showing blazing color in the UP and rapidly changing leaves from the middle of the state north.

Here are just a couple of ideas to get you started.

The state, in itself, is a travel destination so you hardly can go wrong no matter where you decide to go but consider where you want to headquarter and when you can go.

The Traverse City area, Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes are so popular that you should  schedule them for weekdays.

North and slightly east of Traverse City is the beautiful  Petoskey -Harbor Springs Boyne area.

Driving along the west coast of Michigan south and slightly west of Traverse City is Frankfort down to Manistee.

Use Michigan’s Destination Finder for more choices

 

Civilian space travel launches tonight for three day orbit

 Inspiration4 crew with their Crew Dragon spacecraft. (Photo credit: Inspiration4)
Inspiration4 crew with their Crew Dragon spacecraft. (Photo credit: Inspiration4)

Watch the first all-civilian space launch and flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida  beginning Sept. 15 at Space.com.

Called Inspiration4, the mission is organized by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman,  to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Isaacman, the mission commander, will be accompanied by three other crewmembers for a three-day flight around the earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission will be using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Lift off is scheduled from Launch Complex 39A at the NASA Space Center during a five-hour window beginning 8:02 p.m. EDT (0002 Sept. 16 GMT). However, the action can be seen at watch launch here and the Space.com homepage starting at 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 GMT), courtesy of SpaceX. Splashdown is expected to be in the Atlantic Ocean.

Netflix will also stream a live webcast of the launch countdown on YouTube beginning one hour before liftoff, and you can watch that live here.

Also on the mission are geoscientist/science communicator Sian Proctor as pilot, plus physician assistant Hayley Arcenaux as chief medical officer and data engineer Chris Sembroski as a mission specialist.

The mission is expected to pave the way for future private space travel. To see an interview with Issaacman and Arcenaux visit video.

 

 

 

Do a fun visit to a Chicago tourist site

 

Chicago's Picasso ( J Jacobs photo)
Chicago’s Picasso ( J Jacobs photo)

Local volunteers have been taking visitors and residents through neighborhoods, popular tour sites and lesser known gem locations since 2002.

To celebrate them on the 6th Annual International Greeter Day the city is inviting the public to Explore Chicago Sept 18, 2021 with any of three personalized guided classic tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.

The tours: The Loop, Historic Chinatown and Chicago Riverwalk, will meet at Millennium Park at the southwest tent that borders the great lawn. Scavenger hunt experiences will be included at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m.  Tours are free and pre-registration is not required. Walk-ups are welcome.

In addition to the International Greeters Day event, Chicago Greeters have launched three new initiatives  2021.

Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks

Led by diverse groups and organizations, the tours highlight community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds.

Instagreeter Downtown Meet Ups

Designed to offer visitors a quick, flexible tour option, these one-hour tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with no reservation required.

Self-Guided Greeter Tours

Presented by Bank of America, these self-guided itineraries provide visitors and locals with curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems. Through video, blog, and social content, this series spotlights six Chicago neighborhoods.

For more information about the Chicago Greeters program, visit Chicago Greeter.