Minnesota and Wisconsin June 2018:
Day 4 - River Road and Wisconsin Dells


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Minnesota and Wisconsin June 2018: [Day 1 - St. Paul] [Day 2 - St. Paul] [Day 3 - St. Paul] [Day 4 - Wisconsin Dells] [Day 5 - Madison]

Sunday, June 10, 2018: This photo says it all.
We snuck out of the dorm at 6:45 AM. Tom got the van from the top secret parking spot and pulled around so we could load it up.
We sped past downtown St. Paul and waved goodbye to the Bank with the One at the Top.
We headed down to the Great River Road and got to the critical intersection: go straight to follow the Minnesota side; turn left to follow the Wisconsin side. We chose the Wisconsin side for a change.
We crossed over into Wisconsin at the place where the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers converge, ...
... Prescott, Wisconsin.
It's a cute little town with a classic main street.
This mural confirms that this is a river town.
We stopped at the Great River Road Visitor Center.
This sculpture of a deer with birds on its head appeared to be made of trash, but the mosquitoes here were so bad that we didn't stop to read the plaque with it.
Debbie took a quick photo of the rivers upstream.
Bluffs line the entire drive.
Maersk! We saw many trains to our right along the way.
There are lots of historical markers along the drive, and we stopped at most of them.
Here's Maiden Rock, home of ...
... Smiling Pelican Bake Shop.
It's located in a converted house and we were fortunate that it wasn't too crowded.
We each selected a strawberry almond brioche and oh my, they were so delicious.
Here's beautiful Lake Pepin. It usually is much more impressive, but the clouds weren't helping.
The historical marker for Maiden Rock was almost ten minutes down the road from the town of Maiden Rock. Go figure.
We entered the little town of Stockholm, population 66. Nothing was open yet but a couple of hours later in the day, this has the potential to be a hopping tourist destination.
There's Lena's Lucky Star, a cafe, ...
... the Swedish-themed post office, ...
... the Stockholm Pie and General Store with a Dala horse on display, ...
... Sandy's Clothing and Art Boutique, ...
... and Ingebretsen's av Stockholm, the sister shop to the one on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
On the way out of town, we spotted these colorful Adirondack chairs, unoccupied. This photo is for our Mac friend Steve, whose theory is that it is very rare to spot someone actually sitting in one.
Speaking of Adirondack chairs, here's a giant one in the town of Pepin.
In the same park, there's a historical marker about Pepin being the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
There's also a tiny little train museum.
We spotted another giant Adirondack chair down the road a bit.
There's a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in town too.
We had breakfast at Homemade Cafe across from the park.
Everything was delicious, right down to the homemade preserves on the toast.
We passed a very long, very impressive display of skis along the side of the road just south of Pepin. Google Streetview shows that in November 2016, there was only a fraction of what we saw, so this is clearly a very recent project.
Here's a little strip of water alongside the road.
We crossed the point the Chippewa River on its way to join the Mississippi.
More lovely scenery of the bluffs along the river.
Welcome to Alma!
Here is Lock and Dam 4 in the town of Alma, ...
... and here's the town itself.
In Buffalo City, we made a side trip ...
... to the city cemetery.
Debbie's Uncle Bob is laid to rest here alongside his parents and infant sister. A spot awaits Aunt Mary when her time comes.
Here's the back of Bob and Mary's tombstone.
We photographed numerous other Stirn graves as part of the volunteer work we do for Find A Grave, a fantastic genealogy resource, and even added a few Schilling graves as well (no relation).
Nearby, we stopped at Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum.
It's an unusual place filled with sculptures by a man who owned the land years ago.
After his death, it was turned into a county park.
There are all kinds of interesting sculptures.
They follow a similar theme of design.
However, there are also sculptures by a different artist mixed in, such as this man fighting a bear, ...
... a dinosaur, polar bear, snake, ...
... and a couple more dinosaurs.
The park is right next to a swamp, so the mosquitoes were out in force and they were huge. Our stay was brief as a result.
In Fountain City, we passed the former home of Lefse Time, a mail-order company that used to have a store as well. There's no trace of it anymore other than the cute blue edging on the building.
Here's the main street of the town.
It's pretty impressive to be in a land where the snow can get so high that you have to have very tall signs indicating where the fire hydrants are located.
Here's more river scenery.
Our next destination was Elmaro Winery in Trempealeau. We followed numerous bike riders to the winery.
Look at that pretty grape factory! (That's our latest term for vineyard. We'll see if it sticks or not.)
The bikers were part of an event that ended at Elmaro, so the place was filled with visitors.
We headed to the tasting room but were in no mood to consume alcohol after three days of reunion drinking.
Besides, we've already tasted most of the Elmaro wines and we are big fans. There's a reason they win awards regularly.
Oooh, here's a pretty display. We aren't red wine drinkers, so we passed on buying a bottle of this.
We did bring home a few bottles from the large selection: Elmaro Rosa, Prairie White, and a new dessert wine.
There's much more to purchase too, but we resisted.
We met Lynita, owner of the winery and friend of Debbie's Aunt Carol. She grew up in the same town as Debbie's father and knew several members of his family. She took this opportunity to send a button and note to Carol since we were on our way to see her next.
The winery and grounds stretch to the hill beyond the parking lot.
Our car was parked next to a row of grapes that were still pretty tiny.
Trempealeau is close to Galesville, where Debbie's father is from. Wason's Supper Club, just outside of town, was the location for a couple of family gatherings many decades ago.
Here we are!
Galesville is still claiming to be the Garden of Eden, something Debbie's grandfather was firmly behind when he was major of Galesville in the 1950s.
Just outside of town is Sacia Orchards.
It's been here since 1905 but Debbie had never heard of it before. We'll add it to the list to visit someday.
The Decorah Peak sign reminded us that we really need to come back for a visit where we have more time so we can climb it.
Drugan's near Holmen is another location in the Schilling family history that we'll have to visit someday.
Cheese. Big cheese. No idea why it is here but it is.
We stopped in Sparta for some fast food and were stunned by the sea of orange cones facing us as we got off the exit. Fortunately, it only slowed down our Burger King stop by a few seconds.
We always try to photograph Castle Rock. Here is this year's version.
We picked up Carol in Wisconsin Dells and headed straight for the Seth Peterson Cottage near Mirror Lake. As the sign clearly states, it is only open to visitors on the second Sunday of every month from 1:00 to 4:00, so we were very, very lucky to have plans to be in the area on this second Sunday of June.
We parked the van and walked the short distance to the cottage.
This cottage was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright but fell into disrepair over the years. Eventually, it was purchased and restored to its original beauty.
It bears the official stamp of approval.
Let's zoom in. It says, "An original design of Frank Lloyd Wright. Certified by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation."
Volunteers - mostly architects - give tours of the tiny cottage. Our tour started outdoors with a history of the cabin and its restoration.
The small kitchen is just to the right inside the front door, ...
... which is shown here.
The cabin is designed like a small spiral, with the kitchen and living room spiraling to the right into the bedroom and the bathroom. This is the corner at the other edge of the wall of windows from the entrance.
Here's a small dining table ...
... with the balcony visible just outside.
There's the living room ...
... and the fireplace.
This photo was on the wall of the living room. It depicts the condition of the room when restoration first started.
In the corner of the living room is the entrance to the bedroom.
And here it is.
Like the other corners of the house, the glass here meets in the corners, which means that these are the only panes that can't be replaced with insulated double panes of glass.
Here's the bed again with a glimpse of the living room beyond.
This map on the wall shows all of the original stones in the floor of the cabin. Sponsors were found for each stone with proceeds used to help fund restoration. Our guide told us that the stones were put back down in the exact same spot, but the stones in this map don't match the stones in any of the photos we took. Even the before and after photo above show that the stones don't match.
Here's a closeup of the map, with Tom Diehl and Tommy Bartlett Inc. shown as the sponsor for one of the stones.
Here's the bathroom. It's the most modern room in the place, because this cabin is used as a rental. Want to stay here? You can, but reservations are currently booked up to three years in advance.
This 1992 penny was placed in the floor in the living room to match a 1950-something penny found in the original floor by one of the original builders.
Here's the balcony/patio area, ...
... and the view down to Mirror Lake through the trees.
Here's the back of the house, with the bedroom on the left.
Here are the bedroom windows, ...
... and the vertical windows here belong to the bathroom.
After our tour, we purchased a Frank Lloyd Wright coffee table book, ...
... and picked up brochures for the sites we hadn't yet visited. One of them was the Unitarian Church in Madison, so we made arrangements to fit a tour into our schedule for the next day.
After our tour, we had some wine, chips and salsa, and shrimp cocktail at Carol's house before heading to Jose's Mexican Restaurant for dinner.
Shortly after we arrived, Uncle Mark joined us before heading back to Tommy Bartlett's Show. He retired from his position as COO of Tommy Bartlett Inc. but he still goes back to help out occasionally.
We played a game of Careers with Carol before calling it a night.

We were exhausted from only getting three hours of sleep the night before, so we were in bed before 9:00 PM.

Day 5 >


Minnesota and Wisconsin June 2018: [Day 1 - St. Paul] [Day 2 - St. Paul] [Day 3 - St. Paul] [Day 4 - Wisconsin Dells] [Day 5 - Madison]

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