Saturday, June 24, 2017

MIlwaukee Lake Express Ferry to Michigan

We lived in Milwaukee for thirty years. We used to see the Lake Express Ferry take off from the port on Lincoln Memorial Drive all the time when we were crossing the Hoan Bridge. But we never took it ourselves. So on the way home from our roadtrip to the great Northwest, we decided it might be a good time to try it. We didn't want to drive through Chicago, and we also wanted to see the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We got our tickets for the car and ourselves on line a few days earlier for the 12:30 excursion. The 6 AM ride would have been much too early! We drove around the old neighborhood in South Milwaukee for a little while before reaching the terminal. My husband drove the car on board at the designated time and I met him up in the cabin. It was quite cold and very windy on the deck - typical for a Milwaukee June, but even worse on the cold Lake Michigan. It was rainy and cloudy for the entire two and a half hour ride over to Muskegon. It felt like winter when we went back on the deck to observe the landing. We were both glad it was over when we got in the car to disembark. It was a great opportunity for this watery diversion, but we probably would have enjoyed it more at the beginning of the trip rather than at the end of it. I think we would still prefer driving - only because we would have more control over the timing of when to start and stop. I can't believe I'm my dad's daughter. He was in the Coast Guard for twenty one years with many of those years on ships all over the world and during WWII. I think I like being on land more.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Northern Wisconsin Farms

We lived in Wisconsin for thirty years, but we never traveled to the northern part of the state - especially near Michigan and Lake Superior. But as we were winding down our recent cross country roadtrip from DC to the great Northwest and back, we took a detour on our way to Milwaukee. Some very good friends of ours have a place in Boulder Junction and live near a river and love to fish. So when we left Saint Paul, Minnesota we drove north east through some very desolate places. But those desolate places were some of the more interesting ones with up close views of farms and barns that Wisconsin is noted for. For whatever reason, the buildings looked so much more like traditional looking barns than what we saw everywhere else on our travels. Maybe it was just being in a more familiar state. Maybe it was the time of the day. Or maybe it was just the anticipation of meeting good friends. What did surprise us was a black bear of some kind that went scampering past us and through the fields. I hardly had enough time to get a photo - a little black dot. We had been through Yellowstone and all over the northern Pacific states and never saw a bear. Who would have thought it? The good thing about being out if the sticks is the solitude and open spaces; the bad thing about it is the solitude and open spaces - especially when you need a restroom or gasoline.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Minnesota School of Botanical Art, Minnehaha Regional Park, and Minneapolis

When we stopped in Saint Paul, Minnesota to visit two dear friends of ours, we were taken on a tour of Saint Paul, and also Minneapolis. We were also introduced to a delightful artist, who started the Minnesota School of Botanical Art. It is located at the Longfellow House in Minnehaha Regional Park. It was so interesting to see the watercolor process of preserving and documenting the plants of the wildflower garden and finally meeting the person we had heard about for so long. After walking through the park and seeing the waterfalls, we drove to downtown Minneapolis. We passed by the Guthrie Theater, and stopped by the Mill City Museum. I always wondered what went on inside those huge concrete cylinders where Food Medal Flour and the Pillsbury Doughboy resided. The film about the history of Minneapolis was probably not as uncommon as so many other cities, but it was presented in a very quirky way. Then we walked downtown over the Mississippi River on the stone arch bridge and absorbed the high level of activity around us. We had a wonderful time in Minnesota. It would not have been the same without our friends taking the time to show us the sights.

LLBean Cooler was a Lifesaver

We are on the last 85 miles of a cross country trip from DC to the great Northwest and back. The last few miles is always the worst. Along the way we tried to maintain a reasonable diet, but we failed miserably in the exercise department. We usually walk at least two and a half miles every day. I think one day we walked almost five, and the rest was nothing! We started out the trip with cheese crackers and peanut butter. That would be our lunch every day, along with cherries, grapes, and oranges. I would pick up a banana at the hotel. We needed to replenish the fruit somewhere in Wyoming and again in Fargo, North Dakota. But we also needed to keep the fruit cool in a container, and our LLBean Cooler did a great job. It's just the right size for all the stuff we brought along with some cookies and water bottles. It also saved us the time of having to stop and spend needless time getting lunch. So we don't know when the next mega trip will be, but we are glad we had the cooler for this trip. But I think we are ready to get back to our routine.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Saint Paul Minnesota Tour

We like to travel by car all over the country. We are winding up our latest trek from DC to the Pacific Northwest and back. But we also like to visit family and friends if we are driving near to  where they live. And so we did. In Olympia, Washington we met up with my husband's cousin's daughter and her husband; in northern Wisconsin we drove to our dear friend's cottage almost near Lake Superior; and just before that we stopped in Saint Paul, Minnesota to visit with more dear friends. It's a treat to get the tour of the town, and we did. We stopped at the botanical gardens and zoo complete with an old carousel; downtown Saint Paul with magnificent churches and mansions; tributes to Charles Schultz and Charlie Brown and his friends all about; a statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his theater; the new streetcar/trolley car heading to Minneapolis; the packed Mickey's Diner from 1939; and a building that half belongs to Saint Paul and the other half to Minneapolis. It was a lovely day for a walk and we spent the next half of the day in Minneapolis - that's another story. In case you didn't notice there is a bit of a rivalry between the two cities. What made it all so much more fun was to share it all with the people we love - and laugh and joke and smile. It was a very memorable time.