Archive for Wausau

Wausau and Ashland, Wisconsin

July 15, 2008

 

I am camping in Ashland, which is near the Apostle Islands.

Yesterday morning started the same with the bright and cheery innkeeper lady.  I knew I was headed to this area, but again, had spent my time the nite before writing my email.  Again, she came at me with both guns a’blazing.  Again, she had great suggestions.

I left Wausau and took the scenic route out of town.  Then the scenic route along the river.  I stopped to pick strawberries.  Since I’m on the road, with no refrigeration, I bought what I thought I could eat.  Still, it was probably more than a quart.  Came to $1.75.  The strawberry patch didn’t look too big.  The kid working said that they’ve been thru it picking 7 times, then they open it up for people to pick their own.  He says that the farm is making money.  Nice to know that they can keep afloat and have what I consider a small patch of strawberries.

About a mile down this scenic road, I see a bear and two cubs cross the road about 100m from me.  Remember when I was hiking at Lands End [Quebec] and thought I spotted a bear, but it was really a fat porcupine or something?  Well, this time I was correct.  It WAS a bear and her baby cubs!!   I am having a blast!

I then went to the Concrete Park.  This is an outdoor park with almost life size people and animals re-creating scenes.  The figures are made out of concrete and adorned with broken glass and marbles.  Kind of fun and goofy.

I think I’ll be saying this a lot the next few days, but it’s really pretty here.  Lots of green, trees, rolling hills, lakes and rivers. However, hardly any places to pull over and picnic.

I had a late lunch and thought this café looked cute.  But in the window it said that they also sold nite crawlers.  So…I moved on down the road.

I seemed to have lost cell service, but it came back again when I arrived in Ashland. Unsure how much longer I’ll have that and thus my internet.

I went hiking in the National Forest to a waterfall [Morgan Falls] and to a lookout area.  Well, I should say I attempted this.  I went way out of my way to drive to the trailhead.  The hike to the waterfall was very easy and short.  And the waterfall was a disappointment – hardly any water.  Then I set out to hike to the lookout.

The problem…bugs.  Oh my.  Unsure what all there were – black flies, mosquitoes, gnats and others.  But there were buzzing around my head and ears.  I could literally see them orbiting my head around and around and around.  And for some reason, they seemed to want to get into my ears.  They weren’t bothering the rest of my body…they just liked my ears.  And it was driving me insane!!  I wondered if I wore ear plugs and couldn’t hear them, if that would bother me…would I still know they were there [besides the ones orbiting me].

After about 45 minutes, I realized that I am NOT having any fun.  I am being tortured.  They say the noise that will “break” a person being tortured is a baby crying.  Well, I can think of #2.

So I turned around and went back to my car.  I sure hope this isn’t how being outdoors for the rest of my time here will be.  If so, then it will be short.

The innkeeper highly suggested I make Ashland my home base while exploring the area.  It is on the water, and has great paths along the water and the view is simply beautiful.  However, the town itself does nothing for me.  I’ll be moving on…up to Bayfield which is right there next to/near the Apostle Islands.  Unsure if today I’ll kayak or will take a ferry and ride around one of the islands.  Probably kayak since I can’t do that every day.

 

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Wausau, Wisconsin

July 13, 2008

 

Right now I’m out on the balcony.  It’s 64’ and very windy.  I am on the “curve” of the wrap around balcony, somewhat shielded from the wind.  It feels like a cool, crisp Fall day…all except the leaves are still green.

I will dig my hat out of my “winter clothing” bag. 

 

My only “problem” with staying at a B&B is that I have to be somewhat sociable first thing in the morning, talking the inn keeper and the other guests staying here.  As most of you know, I am NOT a morning person.  I got down to bfast this morning, and she [the owner], who has been up for 3 hours, is full of energy and light.

Right out of the shoot she asks me what I’m doing today.  I haven’t had time to do any research cuz I spent all my time last nite writing up my email. Well, she starts off rapid fire with all these things I can do…and each one is an excellent idea!

In no order of importance:

Wausau/Montgomery County is the largest producer of ginseng in the world, besides “the Orient”.  There are over 1,000 producers/farmers of ginseng in the county.  95% of all that is exported from the States comes from here.  So…I went to a ginseng farm.  The ginseng plants are covered with a tarp cuz it doesn’t like direct sunlight.  The tarp is attached to 5’ wooden posts.  Ginseng berries turns red in August, and are harvested in September.  The roots are harvested in October.

The largest dairy in WI is here.  3,000 cows that get milked 3 times a day.

The owner told me NOT to go on the tour. 
Why? 
THE SMELL!  You will have to come back and disinfect yourself – shower and change clothes.  That smell lingers on you.

Hmmm.

Oh goodness was she correct.  I turned off one county road onto another.  I could smell it… the farm was between ¼ to ½ miles away.  The smell of poo was absolutely nauseating.  I quickly did a drive by and took a photo.  I needed to figure out where I was going next, so I pulled over to look at my map, but I couldn’t stand being there any moment more, so drove on and then pulled over a couple miles away.  I suppose once I thought about it, of course it’s going to smell…there are 3,000 cows there!!

The largest circular red barn is here.  Of course, in my mind I thought it would be several football fields big…so I was disappointed.  AND it was brick on the bottom and wood on the top.  But, it was circular, which is impressive.

There are two houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  I need to google how many houses he designed.  Two for one town seems like a lot.  Both houses are in town – I cycled to them.  They are one story, long, and have flat top roofs.  You would walk by both houses and not give them a second look.  One is for sale.  The other houses a radio communications company – and has a big *ss white radio tower on the roof!

I hiked at Eau Claire Park.  They have a Dairy Queen like shop right next to the trailhead.  I hadn’t seen any sort of business for 10 miles, then right there next to the trailhead is an ice cream shop!

I really like Wausau.  There are parks everywhere.  Lots of benches to look at the river. Part of the river has rapids, part doesn’t.  They had a Jr Olympics kayaking competition today over some of the rapids.  Lots of paths/trails near the water.  Lots of kids parks/play areas.  Lots of baseball fields [their summer college team is called the Woodchucks].

Near downtown along the WI River, they have foot/pedestrian bridges that take you to little islands in the middle of the river.  They are 100% nature/trees except for paths along the edge and criss crossing the middle of the island.  Two islands used to house several paper mills, and there are signs/info boards explaining the ruins, and why people first settled here.  The other island – which is off a beautiful park and boat launch, is the Isle of the Ferns.  Wow.  LOVED it.  So many places to sit and watch the rapids go by, have a picnic, read, think…  It was spectacular.  If I lived here, I would be here every day.  I felt as though I was in a national forest with rapids going by.  To my benefit, but sad, I was pretty much the only person out and about on these islands.  If you like nature, you’d like Wausau.

The drive to Eau Claire Park was simply gorgeous.  Rolling hills of either farms or trees.  Just about every house was a nice farm house with the red barn and silo.  Picture perfect.  THIS so far has been the best of Wisconsin. [I still have to write it up, but was disappointed with Door County.]

I didn’t make it to the Geological Marker which marks the exact center of the NW Hemisphere.  This is the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole, and halfway between Greenwich Meridian and the International Date Line.  One is in China, and the other 2 are in the ocean. The Market is 20 miles from Wausau.

I ate dinner at a place recommended to me at the base of Rib Mountain.  I looked onto a golf course, and the ski area.  Before dinner I had planned on going to the base of the mountain and climbing up a bit.  After dinner, I realized that I was 100% out of steam. 

Before dinner I thought I would go back to the B&B and cycle around the historic neighborhood and go back downtown to look at the final chalk artwork.  In reality – I drove the whopping 5 blocks from the B&B to downtown.

They judged the artwork and I agreed with 3 of the winners, the 4th looked like someone doodled in black and white.  It seemed that most were drawn based on a photo, but I’m unsure if that was a rule.  If so, then the doodle would have been difficult to re-create.  All the winners looked professional.  I would have liked a winner for the kids’ drawings, but they didn’t do that.

We now get to the part of my day where I have concerns that you will start thinking I’m making this sh*t up.

So, I’m walking around looking at the chalk art work.  I see a guy, around 45, smoking a cig, wearing a green shirt, vest, long pants. 

He is also exposing himself. 

The square is packed with people.  This is a family event with lots of little ones here.

So, I think “well, if he wants to show it off…I’m going to capture it on film”.  He sees me dig into my purse for my camera.  He turns to walk away from me.  I get his backside.  I pondered running around to the front, taking a photo and yelling something at him, but I believe, these guys get off on people’s reactions.  And the last thing I want is for him to get any pleasure out of this. 

All day long I have seen 2 cops on bikes.  At one point, I wondered if they were the same 2 cops that I kept seeing over and over again.   After all, how many cycle cops does this town of 38,000 have?  In fact, as I pulled up to the square to park my car, I saw 2 cycle cops talking to a cop in a squad car.  After I snapped my photo, I looked around for a cop.  And of course…where’s a cop when you need one?  I watched the guy walk off, finished looking around and started walking to my car.

That’s when I see a cycle cop.  I wave him over.

Hey – there’s a guy
Yes, we know.  We are trying to find him.
Well, he walked down that street about 10 minutes ago.

The cop races off. 


I yell “I have a photo of his backside if you want to see what he looks like!”
Cop makes a 180’, comes back and looks at my photo.

I tell him I’ll be standing here for a bit, looking around, in case the perv comes back.

He must have radioed the other cops, cuz then all these cops on bikes, cops in a squad car, cops in unmarked cars [one cop per car] pull up to see my photo.

I stood there for about 20 minutes, really hoping he’d come back and I can help them nail the perv, but he didn’t. 

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Appleton, Osh Kosh, Fond du Lac and Wausau, Wisconsin

July 13, 2008

 

I am in “how do you spell” WAUSAU.

Friday nite in Appleton I cycled around to the first residential house fueled by hydro electricity.  It was built 1882 – they call it a Victorian house, but to me it looks more like Bavarian, if that is a “type”.  I would have thought the first house would be a small house to be used as a testing ground, and also so that it doesn’t need a lot of electricity.  However, this is a huge mansion.  Huge for today’s standards, so I can’t imagine what people thought back in 1882.  The owner of the paper mill had the house built to impress his wife.  I bet it worked!

I also checked out Lawrence University.  It was founded in 1849 and admitted women from day one.  The first class had 7 graduates – 4 men, 3 women.

Saturday I checked out the farmer’s market downtown and bought some blueberries.  The oldest indie bookstore [in WI] is in Appleton.  I normally don’t buy books [I use the library or get free or nearly free books], but wanted to keep them in business so I bought that book “Girls Like Us” about Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King.

Later in the day I sat by Winnebago Lake in Fond du Lac and ate my blueberries and looked at the photos in the book.  Conclusion based on the photos: James Taylor sure got around back then!

I went to the Houdini Museum.  Bottom line on how he got out of all those various locks – he either had a duplicate key made [an associate would steal the key for him, he’d copy it, and that person would return it] or he picked the lock.  He said that 25 key pickers [whatever] could unlock every lock in the world.  When the audience would think he’s hiding the key/picks on him, he would do his stunts in his underwear, and hide the key:

* If it was in a jail or room, an associate would hide it in the room
* In his hair
* Between his toes [NO ONE looks at your feet]
* In his butt [I suppose same]
* swallow it, then throw it up

Nice.

Couple other tidbits.  Appleton is Joe McCarthy’s home town.  When George Wallace kicked off his 1964 presidential campaign, he did it in Appleton cuz of his close ties with McCarthy.

Pulitzer Prize author Edna Ferber [Showboat, Giant…] is from here.

I then took off for Osh Kosh.  They were having a Blues and Brews fest.  Blues music and lots of beer.  I checked it out a little bit…the music was ok, but I was ready to keep moving.

As I travel around, I spend a lot of time pondering why people live where they do, how some towns flourish and others flounder, how to bring a downtown “back”, why some towns I immediately love, and others just seem nasty.

I had been forewarned by people re both Osh Kosh and Fond du Lac, so my expectations were lowered, and they turned out not to be as bad as I thought.  Both towns have businesses in pretty much all the buildings – not a lot of vacant buildings.  But they are just run down shops, and the building/streets are dirty…just not “clean”.

I didn’t have any desire to get my bike out and cycle around.  Which is always a combo of interest in the town and also if I feel comfortable exposing to anyone who may be looking that I have a trunk full of stuff including my folding bike.

I had a late lunch at the hip coffee shop and was on my way to Fond du Lac.

By the way, there is zero info re the B’Gosh factory or anything involving this in all the touristy info I have.  Now, I would think that would be a great tourist trap.

Osh Kosh too is on the Fox River…a lumber/paper mill town.  Appleton, Osh Kosh and Fond du Lac all have these beautiful, huge houses from a once wealthy era.  Still there, and seem to be well maintained in all the cities.  They all have really powerful Civil War Memorials, and mention Gettysburg on them. They all also have A LOT of houses for sale and for rent.

As I was driving thru downtown Fond du Lac I noticed a street was blocked off and I heard music.  Pull over!  They are having a music fest.  However, there is no one there!!  They have a beer booth, and a food both.  Maybe 20 people there.  So, there is this open place, and chairs set up, and no one is there.  As I walked up, the band took a break.  So, that was that.

I have noticed this past year that root beer floats are the new rage at just about every festival I go to, in a smaller town.  Noticed this when I went to the Americana fest in Nacogdoches, and have seen it just about everywhere since.  I never noticed that before.

Ok, unsure if I can convey this in words so you understand.  I went to St Paul’s Church, cuz it’s supposed to have nice stained glass windows and also a lot of German woodwork. The entire ceiling and upper walls are all made/carved brown wood.  There are a lot of arches going across the room. On each side of each arch is a carved sculpture/statue.  You know how on the front of a pirate/Viking ship, they have a mermaid or woman carved in the very front leaning out, leading the way?  Well, at least in my mind they do.  Well, all these sculpture/statue had men in this same “shape” of leaning out as though they are the front thing on a ship.  Strange.

I then decided to head to Wausau to spend the nite.

It was pretty much flat farm land all the way to Wausau, until about 10 miles out.  Then it became hilly and lots of lakes/water.  Really pretty.  I took the wrong exit, and somehow meandered into the city center.  There is a square and lots of people out and about.  They are having “chalk fest”.  Goodness…3 fests in 3 cities.  People of all ages and abilities are drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk that surrounds and criss crosses the square.  It must go on tomorrow/Sunday, cuz some aren’t finished and the people have gone home.

I did not realize this, but there is a balloon fest going on here. I have since been told that it is too windy, and apparently the balloons didn’t go up this morning. 

I checked out the chalk artwork but was more concerned re food.  The downtown area is nice, but seems to have a lot of non-food shops.  And it was around 9 pm, so what they did have, most were closed already.  I didn’t find any food to my liking, and also asked around and there apparently isn’t any decent live music.  There was a place that had karaoke.  Not my ideal, but I had decided that I would do what I’m going to do, then go find a room.  Becuz once I get to my room…I’m NOT coming back out.

I saw a woman sitting in her car.  I don’t know why, but I asked her if she knew of a B&B in the area where I can stay.  As a matter of fact, she does!  So, I followed her lead and went to a place just blocks from the city center.  They had several rooms, all very nice AND in my price range.  The first room she showed me had a door…which leads out to this huge balcony over/on top of the wrap around porch.  Done!

I was going to sit in the rocking chair on the balcony and read or start this email, but the woman showed me things to do in the area.  I saw a band that I thought I would like.  They gave me directions and I took off to the town next door.  I get there [it’s this huge cavernous bar with a bucking bronc to ride], maybe 40 people there, 10 women dancing.  I sit down and the speakers blow.

So, I’m sitting outside on the rocker.  I have my fleece and a scarf on.  My computer which heats up too much is on my lap keeping me warm.

I will stay another day and take full advantage of the balcony and the pretty tree lined street.  I sure hope it rains for part of the day so I can sit under the awning/over hanging roof and hear the rain come down!

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