Thursday, August 28, 2014

Springfiled, IL 8/25/14

We only had one day to spend in Springfield, IL.  It was a very hot day, but we decided to head out early.  Our day was so interesting and of course we finished it off with local food fair that we deemed Drunch (Dinner and Lunch), doing the local Horseshoe dish . 

We first visited Lincoln's Home along with his neighborhood that has been wonderfully preserved, wood sidewalks and all.   After Lincoln's home and neighborhood we went to the Lincoln Museum and Library, the old State Capitol and also the new State Capitol.  It really was a wonderful and informative day, despite the heat.

Lincoln's home was one of the best preserved sites we have seen to date, furniture and such.  The home has a lot of the furnishings and other items that the Lincoln family actually used.  We so enjoyed climbing the stairs and holding the same handrail that Lincoln held.  We learned a lot while in Springfield about the Lincoln family, including how they lost 3 of their four children in such a short time losing sons at ages 4, 11 and 18. Their first born, Robert, amazingly lived until age 82.  But while so many talk of Mary Lincoln's insanity, we could not help but wonder how losing 3 children and then the tragic gun shot to her husband would effect most.  We learned a lot about how Abe was self taught in basically all of his education.  While not specifically a huge supporter, or non-supporter for that matter, of freeing the slaves, he was all about saving the Union, any way possible.  Amazingly, we learned how a young girl wrote him a letter explaining how women love whiskers, which he appears to have taken head to.  Prior to the White House, Lincoln was clean shaven.  And, he was the first president to sport a beard. One thing we have especially enjoyed, is each time we visit a museum that addresses Lincoln, we get a fuller understanding of this complex man. We learned on this trip how his views on slavery seemed to have evolved over time.  It was also interesting to hear about what a permissive parent Abe was.  His children, it seems were allowed to run wild in his law offices.

The Lincoln Museum is one of the best museums we have been to, to date.  If you are near, be sure to visit.  Besides doing a good job of covering Lincoln, it is one of the best, up to date, technology wise, museums we have been to.  Their various Holographic theaters were wonderful as were their presentation of Lincoln's life.  We headed across the street to see a local special Steven Spielberg movie set display of the Lincoln movie.  From there we went by the two Capitols (Springfield's old and new Capitols).

The Old Springfield Capitol was used from 1839-1876.  Amazingly enough this was Illinois's 5th state Capitol.  Lincoln, however, tried many cases here and also delivered his famous House Divided Speech here. House Divided Speech

The New State Capitol building is impressive and for those interested, can be explored further at: IL State Capitol

As mentioned, we partook in the local Horseshoe fair.  Wow, while very un- healthy they were tasty.  Like glad we do not live here. Horseshoe_sandwich

We headed out to Lake of the Ozarks, MO from Springfield.  We chose to take the back roads and stumbled upon a pleasant surprise.  The Pike County Courthouse built in 1894 but was also the site of one the senatorial campaign speeches in 1858 (Lincoln vs. Douglas).  We took a short moment to go inside and found the inside to be absolutely beautiful!  We are always amazed at what we sometimes simply stumble upon.

The Lincoln Home
Formal Lincoln Parlor with
Original Horsehair Furniture
Lincoln Formal Parlor
Mr.. Lincoln's Bedroom with more horse hair funiture
Mr. Lincoln's Bedroom Desk
Mary Lincoln's Bedroom
The Lincoln Family Sitting Room
Dormer Windows in Lincoln House
Huge in Aiding in Ventilation
as there was no electricity in this home
Lincoln Hired Girl's Room
Lincoln Stove
Lincoln Museum (no pics other than this allowed)
Lincoln Spielberg Movie Set
Old Illinois State Capitol
New Illinois State Capitol
Pike County Court House
Pike County Court House Interior
Pike County Court House Interior

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chicago, IL 8/16/14

We drove into Chicago from Belvidere, IL to attend the 55th Annual Chicago Air and Water show.  Taking the beast (our truck) into the city and trying to find a place to park her was very, very challenging to say the least.  Persistence paid off, however, and we finally found a place that would keep her for the day (even if it was $40).

The show was along the shores of lake Michigan.  We brought our portable chairs and found a nice spot on the grass to take in the show which lasted from 10 AM - 3 PM.  Being at an air show, all the locations to set up for the day were great, as was our weather - sunny, but not too hot.

The day seemed to speed by.  Lots of talent, that was impressive.  When the Osprey came out, all of the crowd perked up.  When the F-22 came, we thought that the crowd interest could never be beat.  But then came the Blue Angels.  The crowd was so excited as was Teri as she has not seen them perform since she was a kid.  (guess that is why they got more picture coverage on this blog.)

We had a great day, are up for a few days of down time (which actually means work-cleaning, waxing etc).  But all is good here in Illinois.  Right now, we plan to depart on 8/26/14.

Chicago Air Show Spectators
Aerostars - Chicago Air Show teamaerostars
Aerostars - Chicago Air Show
Osprey at Chicago Air Show
Army Golden Knights at Chicago Air Show
F-22 at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show
Navy Blue Angels at Chicago Air Show


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Washington Island, WI 8/13/14

Washington Island, WI is located 7 miles off the tip of the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin.  The year round population is less than 700 people.  The island is approximately 5 miles by 6 miles.  We took the 30 minute ferry ride with our bikes which we would end up riding over 20 miles on the island roads.

On the ferry ride over we got a good view of Plum Island Lighthouse.  This Lighthouse was put into service in 1897.  This property was transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Services in  2007.  The lighthouse is viewed only from the water as the island is closed to public access, assuring protection for ground nesting migratory birds.

We first rode our bikes to the popular School House Beach. The limestone rocks were glacier polished thousand of years ago.  This beach is one of only five similar sand less beaches in the world.

Next we rode our bikes to this quaint little, mostly outdoor, farm museum.  The museum is completely self guided, with no museum personnel that we saw on site.  There were several farm buildings, dating back to the late 1800's, including a log cabin and barn.  Within the several buildings were tools, field machinery, photos and homemaking artifacts.  In one building is a sample of stovewood construction, used on the island.  In this construction, short logs would be stacked (cut ends facing out) filling the gaps with 'unslaked lime'. One of the many artifacts we viewed, included a gas powered Maytag washer machine.  That was something we had not seen before.  There was a set up yourself video that was a real joy.  It was narrated by a very elderly local resident (now deceased) Hannes Andersen.

Hannes's mother was the first Icelander born in Wisconsin.  There are more Icelanders here than anywhere else in the United States.  His father died when he was 10, and he immediately became responsible for plowing the fields.  He had many funny stories to tell on the video.  How special that someone had the foresight to have him tell his story while he was still alive, and what a story teller he was.

We stopped to visit the site of the Island's Dairy and finally ended up at Nelsen's for lunch.  Here, our waiter was a very polite local high school young man.  He asked for our order and then asked if we wanted to join the 'Bitter's' club.  We had heard some about this club, but asked Alex to please tell us the story.  Alex proceeded to give us a very detailed account of the history of the club.  He explained how Tom Nelsen, a Danish immigrant, having built Nelsen's hall in 1899, was not about to give up his business and close its doors when probation came about in 1920.  So, Tom Nelsen, applied for and was granted a pharmacist license, enabling him to dispense bitters as a stomach tonic for medicinal purposes.  Bitters is 90 proof, and served a lot more than just  'curing' of tummy aches.  Amazingly, Tom's plan worked and resulted in Nelsen's being the oldest, legally continuous operated tavern in the state of Wisconsin.  This tavern also served as a movie theater, ice cream parlor, dentist office and of course, the local pharmacy. 

So in order to be a full fledged islander, we took the challenge, and both of us are now card carrying members of the Bitters Club.  We both drank a shot of bitters, Alex put his bitter's dipped fingerprint on our membership cards and we signed the membership book. 

We asked Alex if he lived on the Island year round.  He told us he did, and that he went to the smallest public school in the state of Wisconsin, a school K-12 with a total of just 50 students.  Teri asked him how many were in his class and he said three.  Wondering just how a public school system accomplishes this sort of model, we looked up the school on the internet when we got back and were impressed. For those wanting to know more, here is that school's website.  Washington Island School  Lunch at Nelsen's and our visit with Alex our waiter, was a perfect way to finish off our trip to this wonderful island before we rode our bikes back to catch the ferry to the mainland.

Arriving back at the mainland as we started driving back home, we admired the beautiful clouds of Wisconsin-  something we are going to miss as we leave Wisconsin.

Plum Island Lighthouse
The Shores of School House Beach
Stovewood Construction-Farm Museum
Gas Powered Maytag Washer
-Farm Museum
Signing the Bitter's Club Membership Book
Love those Clouds!


Sturgeon Bay, WI 8/12/14

We began our adventure in the campground, which was actually located in Egg Harbour, WI.  We were assigned our camping spot and when we drove there it was obvious to both Bob and Teri, and gee probably Tiger too, that there was just no way our big rig was being backed into the spot we were assigned.  The desk was being run by a couple of high school students that just kept saying I am sure you will fit with no idea of the situation. We were so far from fitting that this situation we found to be almost comical, and oh it was raining too.  We realized that our 'teen' management team was not going to understand the mechanics of this situation, so we finally got the them to agree that we would take a site that we actually fit in, we would clear out prior to the weekend (2 days sooner than we had booked), and they would refund us a couple of days.  As they happens, but this was a first for us, and just shows how fortunate we have been in our travels.  Bob has gotten us into some really tight camping spots, but that spot was just simply not happening....not even close.

First day out we drove into Sturgeon Bay, WI.  We visited an absolutely wonderful small town museum-the Door County Historical museum.  We were impressed at what a wonderful job they did at displaying the local flare.  After visiting we saw an article where the Chicago Tribune Travel rated this museum as the best small museum in the Midwest and we fully understand why.  They had a huge display of animals and birds from Wisconsin.  There was an area devoted to patents by locals dating back to the mid 1800's.  We enjoyed their various guess what this was used for throughout the museum with answers found around the corner.  There were areas devoted to farming, dairy, medicine, printing, telephone industry, ice fishing, you name it they had it.  And their information and video on Fish Boil's, a local favorite with a long history we found interesting as well.  Last, the fire engine house had some beautiful vehicles, all in great condition. 

We included the chicken plucker in our pictures (never having seen one before).  The black extrusions, on the drum that spins, are flexible and made of rubber.

We also are posting a picture of the Reginaphone.  The Reginaphone (yes the same company that later brought us the Regina canister vacuum cleaner), was created in response to the competition that the phonograph was putting on the Regina Music boxes.  The Reginaphone was a hybrid machine that played both music box discs and also phonographs.  Want to know what one sounds like? Reginaphone

Fish Boil's are a huge part of WI we learned.  We watched a video in the museum that explained it all.  To do a fish boil, a large stainless steel kettle  is set in a rack and placed over a fire of cedar slabs.  The pot is filled half way with water and brought to a boil.  A stainless steel basket, containing small scrubbed potatoes, is then placed in the pot.  Five pounds of salt is then added.  After 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, small peeled onions are added and a basket containing chunks of white fish is fitted inside the first basket in the boiling water.  The flames are then doused with kerosene and the flames soar high, causing the scum formed on the water surface to be flushed from the now churning water (boiling over the sides of the pot).  When the fire subsides to normal, the fish, potatoes and onions are removed to the serving line.  In the serving line everyone traditionally receives, white fish, potatoes, onions all with melted butter poured over, coleslaw, bread, pickles and Door County cherry pie.  Wish we had been in the right place, at the right time to enjoy one of these fish boils that happen at least once a month in this area during the summer months.

The fire engine area in the museum had several vehicles displayed.  First up was the 1920 Oldsmobile fire truck.  This was the first motorized fire truck in Door County.  It was purchased in 1920 for $1465 and was in action until 1951.

Next up was the 1938 FWD Pumper.  We were surprised to learn that this engines was in service through 1979.

Also, in the same area was the 1913 Horse Drawn Hearse used by the local funeral home-Sloan and Stoneman.

The museum, which looked like not much from the outside, turned out to be a real gem.  We both enjoyed the variety and quality that this small museum had to offer.

Chicken Plucker
- Door County Museum
- Door County Museum

The Beginnings of a Fish Fry- Door County Museum
1920 Oldsmobile Fire Truck
- Door County Museum
1938 FWD Pumper
- Door County Museum
1913 Horse Drawn Hearse
- Door County Museum


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Knowlton, WI 8/7/14 - 8/11/14

On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin plunge right through that line!
Yes we have made it to Wisconsin.

Yet, before getting to Wisconsin, we drove us, the Tiger and our rig to see the Bond Falls in Michigan as we had heard they are not to be missed, and after seeing them, we agree.

Our first stop in Wisconsin, after setting up our rig of course, was to give our new truck it's first service.  We were camping in Knowlton, yet had to drive to Wausau, WI to service the truck. Yes, she passed with flying colors and we are so enjoying her.

After servicing the truck we decided to go and see the Leigh Yawkey Woodson museum in Wausau and also go into town for lunch.  The Docent at the museum was sweet to talk with and the art within the museum interesting as well.  There was a 'print' art display while we were there that we found quite interesting.  Our favorite part of the museum, was probably the sculptures in the garden, however. Leigh Yawkey website for more info Lunch was at a downtown Pizza place named Politos.  We were feeling adventurous and because they sell by the slice we were able to try several adventurous flavors.  We ordered, to split:

Hawaiian Pizza - Sweet Baby Ray's, BBQ sauce, bacon, red onion, garlic chicken, and a two-cheese blend
Steak & Fries - White American, sliced beef, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and topped with crispy French fries.

and a pulled pork pizza that I could not find on their regular menu.  All were so wonderful!

In fact, Teri plans to add BBQ sauce to her home cooked Hawaiian pizzas in the future.

While in Knowlton we also did the local Log Jam Festival.  Not a lot to see at the festival except that the chain saw artist demonstration by Danczyk Woodcraft was incredible and made our day.  It was so incredible to witness what he created with a chainsaw!  See the transformation below.  Staying to completion would have been about 2 hours.  We did not stay for the bear completion, but posted his owl completed work.

We finished off Knowlton with a great bike ride at the George Mead Wildlife area and a shopping visit to a local cheese factory.  It was a peaceful ride, a beautiful day and the 10 year aged white cheddar (from the cheese factory) we are still enjoying.

Bond Falls
Bond Falls
Simon Gudgeon English 1958 -
Woodson museum
 Boys Will Be Boys
Dan Ostermiller 1956
The chainsaw carving demonstration
The chainsaw carving transformation
The chainsaw carving transformation
The chainsaw carving transformation
The chainsaw carving transformation
The chainsaw carving transformation
Finished Owl
George Mead Wildlife area Bike Ride