Well we made it to Elkhart, Indiana. Our goal was to set-up at the Goshen Fairgrounds like we did 3 years ago when we were here for a Holiday Rambler gathering but to our surprise, they were just about ready to open with the year’s biggest event…the 4-H Fair. Well darn, now we’re going to have to “look for someplace else”. Biting the bullet a little, we decided on a large and close-in campground in Elkhart. A little bit “spendy” but with the heat and humidity that is still with us, we’re ready to fire-off both of our air-conditioners which means we’ll have to have a 50 amp service available. Our first attention to duty is getting the coach over to the mechanic for our “service” (Oil, filter, and lube). While we were having that taken care of, Louise and I did some exploring. We’ve known that the National RV Museum was located here so what better time than the present to see it. We both really enjoyed the time spent walking the exhibits, especially Louise when she found a cigar smoking friend…
We did see some amazing RV’s, some from the very modern,
the present and to the very first RV’s to hit the campgrounds.
We saw some from the bazar to those that would fit into ANY spot they wanted
…something I‘ve tried myself without success (as was evident from the dings and scratches prior to the re-painting). Our “Air-Horn” is honked to those that put this together… Nice job !!!
_Leaving Wisconsin behind we drive into Illinois, more specifically Waukegan. In attendance for our wedding in 1960, we had a little 5 year-old girl that found her way from Evanston (Chicago), Illinois with her parents, Louise’s Aunt Josephine and Uncle Bill. Well we thought it would be great to stop in and say hi to Peggy while in the area. Unfortunately their daughter was in Arizona going to school so we didn’t get a chance to meet her, but meeting husband Bob and son’s Luke and Matt, along with seeing Peggy again was well worth the stop.
_Again it was a chance to learn a little more about the family, current and the past… Arriving in the Chicago area presents a little problem for those of us that would like a place to park the RV for a few nights, especially with an electrical hook-up. We did find a nice campground about 45 miles away from Chicago, and we did stay for a night, but with a little more checking we found an Elks Club within 12 miles of “The Loop”. They had a 20 amp electrical plug we could use but with the weather being so hot and sticky (90-101) we couldn’t use our air-conditioning units to even half their ability. To use too much electrical power to run our air-conditioners might mean we would blow a breaker…to blow a breaker after everyone was gone meant we would go through the night VERRRY WARM…and that’s not what we wanted. IT WAS HOTTT !!! We did make it through two nights, and it was because of the closeness to Chicago that made it worth the uncomfortable temperatures in the coach. Everything we’ve read and heard about Chicago made it sound like it was “The” city to see and explore, and since we’re here, we’re ready… A quick thought about riding the metro (train) vs. driving our car into Chicago was won over when we found that we could pick up a parking spot for the car, IN TOWN for $20 and right where we want to be to grab a ride on the “Jump-on-Jump-off” site-seeing bus. We LOVE the “Jump” Double Decker sightseeing buses and we use them to our advantage every time we get the chance. After driving the side streets and freeways to “The City” we found our way to The Navy Pier.
_Standing right on the lakeshore (it seems funny to call it a lake, it feels like and looks like we’re standing at the shore of one of the oceans…) and jutting out into the lake on a pier, with a large amusement park, more restaurants and bars than you can count, and an unmatched view back into the city. After checking out a couple of the vendors we purchased our tickets for the bus. After making a choice of seats (there were only 3 to choose from) on the top and getting the camera ready, we head off into the city.
_There was a little bit of history mentioned to us but the main topics were the buildings, and they were impressive. I remembered a statement from reading a Rick Steves book on traveling through Europe, “don’t forget to look up, some of the best sights are there”… That suggestion runs true here as well.
_I can’t tell you how many times we got off and on the red bus throughout the day but on the second stop we got off for lunch AND a view from the sky… The John Hancock Building has a restaurant and bar on the 96th floor so we hopped on the elevator and WHISSSHHH we were there. We decided to have lunch in the bar (a much better value for us penny-pinchers). Surrounded by floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows this bar gave us the view of the city we looking for.
_Louise also heard that the “ladies room” had a special view from each stall. Yep she says it’s true, one of the walls of the stall was nothing but window, 96 floors high. Throughout the city we were shown some really great pieces of art and one was just placed…Marilyn Monroe.
_Obviously she was getting a lot of attention, especially from the men. One of our other stops turned out not to be what we expected. The Aquarium was hyped up to be one of the best in the country but we unanimously disagree with all that hype. I’ll leave it there without any further statement. Well it’s been a very hot and full day and there seems that the only thing that we (I) had left on our (my) agenda was to have an official “Chicago Dog” and the place that was suggested to us for this official dog was “The Wiener Circle” in north Chicago…I wasn’t totally disappointed but… Over all we did have a great time in Chicago and we would love to come back !!!
_Where else can you get a full day of parking IN the city for $5.00? Well I’m here to tell you that it can be done in Milwaukee but then again it could be because there is no one visiting the city and it isn’t because it isn’t worth visiting. For an example, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s “Quadracci” Pavilion with its majestic, kinetic wings and breathtaking atrium,
_and by the way, ranked #1 on the list of “Top Sexiest Buildings” is in my opinion, “a must see before you leave the area”. Milwaukee also has a “Hop-N-Shop, Wine-Dine” Red Trolley that will take you for a long loop through the city for $1…can you believe it, $1. I didn’t think you could get anything for a dollar anymore. The only problem was, it wasn’t running today, it was “Tuesday”!!! Oh well, we’ve got some good legs, good shoes, and the ability, so we took off walking the route that showed on the brochure. We did some of the River Walk, ate at one of the many Sidewalk Café’s, sampled and purchased, cheese at one of the Cheese Markets, spices at the Spice Store, sausage at Usinger’s Famous Sausage Mart, and took time to sit down and have an IPA at the Sprecher Brewing Co. Milwaukee also has some of the most amazing “Private Homes” that you can see as you drive along the water coming and going into the city. Also we found this amazing St. Maries Hospital Chapel which sits overlooking Lake Michigan. A huge surprise to us was the location of the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
_It’s located about 5 miles outside of the city and in a suburb that “needs some cleaning up”. Sadly so does the landscaping circling the Basilica, but nothing that couldn’t be remedied by a few volunteers a weekend or two a year. The first church was built in 1888 but burnt to the ground a year later. Another smaller church followed but as time continued on so did the changes in the structure of the church.
_The dome was patterned after St. Peters in Rome and is the largest dome ever built in the United States.
_The Harley Davidson Museum took our heart the next day.
_What an amazing story of beginning time after time which needed a lot of HEART. Today, no matter which highway you take across the country, you will see one of those large and beautifully done dealerships with a quanity of quality motorcycles.
_The first dealership was here in Milwaukee, right in the middle of town as shown in this painting.
_The war effort the Harley Davidson factory put forward was nothing but heart-warming and patriotic. As we toured the museum we had a chance to listen to the famous sounds of the different "Harleys" and sit in the saddle to get the feel of all that iron under you.
_We had a great time and HIGHLY recommend to you that if you are in the area you take the time to visit this wonderful place.
_She-boy-gan… We thought we would spend a day or two in Sheboygan but found that one afternoon would do just fine. The first thing we did was to find and explore the Sheboygan Indian Mound Park. It seems that over 1000 years ago the “Effigy Mound” people (500-750A.D.) made their mark by mysteriously making it a custom of burying their dead beneath mounds of dirt shaped like animals,(the picture above represents a deer), reptiles, and birds. These mounds varied in size from a length of 36’ to 118’ and a width running from 19’ to 39’. Those that we found matched those sizes but were only in the 1’ to 3’ height. Elsewhere in Wisconsin and Illinois they have been found three tiered mounds to be as high as 135’. Our next stop was two-fold… to see the Sheboygan Falls
_and have lunch. It didn’t take much time to see it all as seeing the falls (not quite what we expected…) was accomplished by just driving to the city parking lot and walking across the lawn to the fence. Finding a place to have lunch took a little more time, but that too was accomplished quickly. As we've been on this trip, we've unfortunately noticed a lot of towns having a hard time making it, and Sheboygan Falls fits right into that package. They told us the weekends did bring out some of the public but it still is a great loss. Then all we had to do was drive back to Wal-Mart, re-hook the car, and continue our way to Milwaukee.
_Continuing east we find ourselves driving into Green Bay. The first thing on our mind now is to find a place we can land for 2 or 3 days. Heading north up the “finger” jutting out into Lake Michigan we found a very nice state park about 20 miles out from Green Bay. This gave us a great jumping off point to see some of the local sites. Our only regret was we didn’t get a chance to kayak around the Sturgeon Bay area…too hot to be out in the open, even with being surrounded by water while paddling. I did get a chance to BBQ the pheasant we were given in South Dakota, but to be honest, I'm not big on the taste of this bird...I'll stick with chicken.
_We did get out to Algoma to see this quaint little town and its red lighthouse attached to shore by a narrow sea-break. We found a great “Hot Dog Stand” that was serving up the best hot Brat I’ve ever put my mouth around. It was run by a group of baseball players trying to make some money to send themselves to an out of state baseball tournament. From there we found an amazing local bakery which in turn gave us a hint about a place that makes “the best” cheese you will find anywhere… We had also been given a good lead for an orchard that offers freshly picked sweet cherries, but when we got there we found that they hadn’t started picking yet…bummer !!!
_Another afternoon we went into Green Bay. We wanted to touch base with the AAA, a local Information Center, and see Rambo field for ourselves. While visiting the information center (which just happens to be directly across the street from the Packers home field) they mentioned The Lady of Good Help Shrine, which just so happens to be but 3 miles from where we have the coach parked. In October of 1859 the Blessed Virgin appeared 3 times to Adele Brise
_at what was a 6 acre farm parcel and asked of Adele to establish a church to teach the Catholic Faith to the children of a people who were losing their faith through neglect. Well last year Bishop Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay issued a formal decree approving the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to Adele Brise as worthy of belief and designated this place as an official Diocesan Shrine.
6/7 July 2011
Today I (we) had the pleasure to see my cousin Armella and her husband Lyle. We have not seen each other for 60 years. No problem they made us feel right at home.
_They have a beautiful home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and it’s right on the shores of the Eau Claire river. We had some great conversations about our families with both of us learning things about the other, Joel and Lyle spent time out at the river tossing the "bird" for their dog.
_It’s funny how much alike or families were. What nice and gracious people I’m related too!! This morning (the 7th) we moved on to Wausau where I was born. We are parked at the Marathon County Park which is just across the river from the city. No sooner had we parked the coach and we were off for a ride north to Tomahawk.
_This is where my Grandparents had a cottage on Road Lake. It was not too hard to find it although it has changed. Some parts were just as I remembered it. The rock wall and flagstone terrace with the water pump just outside the door were a step back in time.
_I had a good time telling Joel the stories of the time I spent here with my grandparents. No one was home (it looks like it is a summer and weekend home now) so we walked around the property and out onto the dock.
_I have very fond memories of that place including filling the fish pin (a wire box attached to the dock) with fish I caught all by myself, that is until I got a bullhead and then I yelled for grandma to come and take it off my line for me. We then drove over to Antigo where my mother spent her youth. It is a quiet friendly town. We looked for Bakes tavern but it closed some years ago. My grandparents Ellis had lived in an apartment above the tavern. The town has a beautiful railway depot that is now a museum.
_My grandfather Ellis was a railroad conductor so this was nice to see.
_We did see the Antigo bakery and can you imagine, we just had to stop for a treat.
4 July 2011
We drove down to the northeast corner of Minneapolis St. Paul yesterday morning and found another Wal-Mart for a night or two stay. The first thing I did was take the car over to have it serviced. It was a little overdue… I was told by one of the guys working on the car that there was a pre-fourth celebration going on in Stillwater. Stillwater is a town that reminds me of Coeur d’Alene, only instead of being on a lake it is on a river…the St. Croix River. About ½ mile from town we found the traffic was almost stopped. Cars and trucks were lining the curbs all the way down the hill. Slowly we made it into the village and quickly realized that this was a “happening place”. Alongside the pier we saw the old mixed with the new (talking about the boats at the dock) and restaurants and bars covering from one end to the other. The temperature and the humidity were high so it just made sense that we found a place (Jamison’s) to enjoy some shade and something cool…a Guinness.
On the 4th, we were invited to join Connie (one of my aunts) and her family for a barbeque. Connie has a beautiful lake home in Scandia, complete with a “party boat”,
_jet ski, and a ton of other water sport items to keep everyone happy for a season.
_For us it was a good opportunity to get the kayak out for all to enjoy as well. The lake has an on-going theme for the 4th and that starts with Santa riding by on his skis and then on his party boat tossing candy to all who come to the dock and wave.
_We called it an early night and went home and to bed long before the fireworks…there will be another 4th and we’ll be there wide-eyed.
_2 July 2011 The storm that was pushing us out of South Dakota stuck with us all the way to Sauk Centre and the parking lot of Wal-Mart. Fortunately for us, the storm went south of us and taking warnings of “rotating clouds” (meaning possibly tornado)with it. The next morning we drove further south to St. Cloud. With a full day ahead of us we drove north to try and find some information of Louise’s family. Our first stop was at the museum in Royalton, just off of Hwy. 10. They were just in the midst of setting up new displays so we couldn’t find much to excite us. When Louise was quite small, she visited this area and stayed with her grandmother for the summer. Today, we found the church
_and cemetery where her Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Wiener and Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Burgraff were buried. Today we could only find a couple of the Wiener graves, but on the other hand, we found quite a few of the Burgraff graves. The cemetery was nicely maintained.
_Unfortunately some of the headstones were so old you could not read them. Next we drove alongside the Mississippi River to the small town of Little Falls, the playground of Charles Lindburg. The damn in Little Falls was built in 1830.
_Today the gates were mostly open and the water that was racing through gave us quite a sight. Just down the street from the dam, we visited the Weyerhaeuser Museum.
_The ladies there have done an amazing job of archiving years of information on the settlers of this area and thank God they did. We were able to find some amazing and interesting articles on the Wiener and Burgraff families. Fortunately we were able to have copies made for us of the most important information of the family we’ve seen before. We’ll have these sent back home for us to digest when we get back next spring.
_It’s always great to get back to “your roots”… I was born in South Dakota AND I still have family there as well. I must admit it’s been quite a few years since I’ve been back to visit but here I am ready or not. My aunt Shirley from Auburn, Washington emailed the names and phone numbers of some of my cousins that still live in and around Aberdeen, South Dakota so just after leaving the park in North Dakota I made a phone call. Debbie (and Larry Ihde) had the lucky number. After a short conversation with Debbie, she asked….”What was your name again”? She then passed me off to Larry to see if I was real or a nut. After a short conversation about the possibility of our dropping by we were welcomed. Hell, if I would have been her I would have said “keep on truckin Cuz”… Well they didn’t do that, it seems that they dropped everything they had planned and TOTTALLY entertained us with food, drink, great conversation and made we were made to feel right at home. Louise and I were lucky enough to have found a site to park the coach at the Mina Lake State Park which just so happens to be right across the lake from Deb and Larry’s cabin. Our first night there, the four of us had a great dinner at the only restaurant around. It just so happens to be right on the shore of Mina Lake. Larry and I ordered a great fish dinner of Walleye. I told Louise a week ago that that was going to be one of my first dinners if I could find it. We not only found it, the Walleye was worth waiting for. The next day Deb invited all the family that lived within 100 miles to dinner so that we could have a chance to meet and re-live old and new lives (all the youngsters) and experiences. The next day Louise and I drove into Aberdeen for the day and a chance to visit with my cousin Greg. Greg owns the Sander’s Sew-N-Vac store in town. It’s been in the family for two generations and still doing very well. That night we joined aunt Shirley, Greg, Deb, and Larry on their “party boat” for a lake-side tour of homes and land.
_We couldn’t have picked a better night for a boat ride. Well our “schedule” was calling so we bid our “good-bye” the next morning and headed east to continue our tour of South Dakota and beyond. When I was 13, my dad and mom sent my sister (8years old at the time) and me to Lanford, SD. One of the reasons was to help on the farm of one of my aunt and uncles and the other was for me to learn how to drive. I wont get into all the details but it was quite an experience. One thing their family liked to do after a full week of farming was go into Lanford on Friday nights. It was a good time for a beer and have conversations with the other farmers from the area. There is still one bar in town and this bank (not a bank any more..).
_Our next destination was Amherst, SD. Amherst is the small town where my mother was raised. As we drove down Roadway 27 we came to a small sign that pointed us to Amherst 8 miles to the right. About a half mile into our quest we started finding that the road was full of pot holes and deterating fast in front of us. Just as we spotted what we thought was Amherst we passed the corner of this dirt, dusty road by 150 yards. Now you’ve got to understand we can’t back up with the car attached behind us so out we go to unhook. We got the car separated just in time for a huge dirt carrying truck to come up behind us. There was no way that he could make it without me moving the coach way over to the side and then he could barely make it by. We did find too late that there was another road just on the other side of the railroad tracks that would take us to the center of Amherst without having to unhook the car. Well we didn’t hook up, we just headed out for Amherst. Amherst consists of a double grain elevator, one bar/restaurant with 4 young “very private” gents having lunch, and a post office/museum and a dozen small homes.
_That’s it… We spent about a half hour looking at the pictures hung around the walls and found a picture of my mother and three of her brothers (my uncles) all from their high school days.
_I told them I would send more pictures that I had and they seemed excited to get them. About 10 more miles to the north northeast is Britton, the town where I was born.
_Unfortunately the hospital is no longer a hospital but an apartment building for the elderly but on the other hand, the new hospital is very nice. I’ve got to mention now that ever since we left Aberdeen, a large storm has been following us so with lightning flashing, thunder crashing, and heavy rain falling, we head out for Minnesota.