Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Forest Hill


Let’s say you broke your hip 5 months ago, and you are eager to walk less like Frankenstein’s monster and more like your old self, and you know you have to do your exercises and do a lot of walking to get stronger and faster…. Oh, let’s just say it’s ME, because of course it is.

I try to get outside each day to walk a bit, but I’m still a little unsteady on my feet. I often feel that bumping into someone or something could send me sprawling (been there, done that) and so I’m cautious of crowds and uneven ground just now.

Sidewalks seem treacherous to me these days, fraught with all sorts of things to trip me up. Cracked concrete, pebbles or gravel, uneven pavement. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. The Lakewalk is nice and smooth, but I currently walk at a snail’s pace, and would be passed by bikes, strollers, joggers, kids on skateboards, dogs on leashes, and other things that might sneak up behind me and throw off my concentration. Walking is serious business these days.

But I’ve managed to find the perfect places to walk: Cemeteries. Aside from the bucolic setting and historical headstones, lush green grass and beautiful old trees, cemeteries are generally free of bikes, dogs, walkers, runners and crowds. They are peaceful and serene. Of course if you manage to actually fall, you’re completely on your own.

How many ghosts does it take to…. Well.

At Forest Hill in Duluth, the scenery is breathtaking and you can walk long stretches (if you count one block as a long stretch) without being accosted by pitfalls. Earlier this month, all the ducks and geese and other quacking critters were on the ponds, showing off their babies. What a sight! So glad I had taken my camera.

Go have a look when you have time.

Take bread.


Baby ducklings out for a swim.

Mom (or dad, I can never tell) keeps a watchful eye on the babies.

“Take a picture. It’ll last longer.

And so I did.

A Superior Drive


As you head out of Superior on Hwy 2E, take a left at Moccasin Mike Road and drive to Wisconsin Point. It’s a beautiful drive on a newly-paved road, and leads to the end of the point, where you can walk the pier, read the history of the area, or pull in to one of the parking areas and walk down to the beach.

The Indian burial grounds are located on this road, too, and worth seeing.

Stone-markerThough the actual graves have been removed, visitors to the remaining rock monuments (parts of our old Arrowhead Bridge) have left walking sticks and assorted items of memorabilia that cause the imagination to work overtime.

Reminders of a past friendship? Tokens to say “I was here, and I was thinking of you?” Only the persons who left them know for sure.

Whether you go for the drive (particularly beautiful this time of year) or the pier, or counting gulls, or curiosity about the Indian grounds, the trip is definitely worth the drive.

Believe it.

Road Trip! Duluth to Rice Lake, Wisconsin


Road Trip: Duluth to Rice Lake

For the past 2 weeks, I have been driving this 2014 Ford Fusion. It is a sleek car; low to the ground and very fast, but it’s too low and too fast and too computerized for me, and I was happy to return it to its rightful owner, which is Link Ford in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Such dashboard craziness.

What does all this mean, anyway?

(And why can’t I make pictures go where
I want them to go?)

One major complaint (and I always have one) is that everything you need is located on a touch screen, so that if you want to turn the heat down before your shoes melt, or change the station on the radio, or figure out your mileage, you have to select screens and press here and there and over there. It takes your eyes off the road for too many seconds. People who drive new cars are probably laughing about this, but I found it irritating as hell, especially since they did not include the manual with the car. One great thing about it is that when you put the car in reverse, you get a lovely screen shot of everything behind your car. I was rather enchanted with that, so I found lots of reasons to back up.

How I came into possession of this lovely roadster is a sad tale of woe, which I will save for another time when I’m ranting about how life is unfair and everything happens to ME. The short version is that I had to replace the engine in my (old) Ford Escape, which is hideously expensive, especially when it happens on a Saturday when you are far from home. In Rice Lake, let’s say.

So after two weeks and much angst and a huge dent in my budget, my own car was ready to pick up on Saturday, and I was eager to have it back. Off I went.

While Superior is a fine town and the drive on Highway 2 is picturesque, my favorite part is where Hwy 2 turns onto Hwy 53, where all of Wisconsin seem to open up. The wood, the green rolling hills, the cows and horses, the eagles and circling hawks and turkey vultures and bears and badgers and turtles crossing the highway… I love all of that.

After the smaller towns of Gordon, Solon Springs, Trego, Minong and Sarona, Rice Lake seems like a bustling city, which I guess it is. There’s lots to see there (including my old newly-engined car) and I decided to take some times to explore.

You can’t go to Rice Lake without stopping in at their huge Goodwill store, which contains more new stuff than old. I bought some fuzzy socks and a pretty scarf. I figure once you spend thousands of dollars on car repairs, what harm in spending a few more dollars? None. That’s how my reasoning works.

Girly stuff from Goodwill

Next stop was Herbergers (stop that snickering this instant!) where I shopped for a new winter jacket, which I did not find until I got to a thrift store and purchased one for $10. Life is good.

Check out that busy parking lot!

Also had to stop at Aldi’s, a grocery store whose cart and bagging structure remains a mystery to me (“Ma’am, please don’t take that cart unless you brought one into the store!”) but who sells the most wonderful 3 cheese salad dressing which my friend Cathy introduced me to in Pennsylvania last June. How’s that for sentence structure? They also had huge pomegranates off 79 cents, so I had to get those, too. The thing I like about this particular Aldi’s is that the parking lot faces the town cemetery. A lesson for us all.

(Pay attention to those “use by” dates…)

At a Salvation Army Thrift Shop, I spotted this license plate. What the hell?

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw on a van in Duluth. I am guessing it was made specifically for the owner of the car, perhaps by the owner of the car, and which made almost no sense to me, except I nearly missed the green light. I believe this is a one-of-a-kind, and makes me think of that line from a movie where someone says to the other person, “Do you ever think things that you don’t say?”

Said bumper sticker: “I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes. I am an adult, and I understand this is part of the deal.”

Yeah, whatever, pal.

But I digress.

After a truly miserable lunch at Hardee’s, which I thought would be nostalgic but which was really dry and icky, I headed back to Duluth.

One thing I love about this stretch of Hwy 53 is the little yellow train in Trego that I call “Little Toot.” I know that traditionally Little Toot was the name of a tugboat, but isn’t it a perfect name for this gem? I see this nearly every weekend, but this is the first time I’ve had time to get off the highway and get up close to see it. It is especially impressive to see Little Toot when an actual real train is next to it. I love its friendly face, and I wish I had it parked in my back yard.

Also in Trego is the Dinner Bell, where I probably should have had lunch, and then the lovely produce stand where I buy my Halloween pumpkins every year. (Thanks a lot, you pumpkin-smashing jackasses that struck my house this year.)

This time I bought a variety of squash, but wish I’d bought more. I bought spaghetti and acorn squash, and these little roadside beauties. (That’s probably what the tow truck guy said when he saw my Ford with the thrown rod. “A little roadside beauty. Cha-chinggg!”)

Examples of roadside beauties:

Ha ha. I crack myself up.

That was my exciting road trip (210 miles of adventure and fun) and as much as I appreciate the hard work they do at Link Ford, where they have bailed me out of trouble twice in the past 3 months, I hope I never have to see them again. But Rice Lake is always on my list of  places to go for fun.

Go see it.

And say hello to Little Toot!

Dr Evermore’s Forevertron, North Freedom, Wisconsin


This is such an amazing place. You could spend hours walking around and being amazed at this person’s creativity and wit. It’s free to visit, and I think were were almost the only ones visiting on that particular day. Go! See!

Not sure why this was there, but the sad clown sort of reminded me of Krusty.

Exotic Birds

Ancient Warriors?

Happy characters

Another happy character: Jean at Forevertron

Big Bird

Road Trip! (Part One)


Is there anything better than getting into the car and taking off to see the world? Or even just 2,000 miles of it?  I don’t think so.

My friends Jean and Dave and I set out for Pittsburgh on May 16, eager to see the sights. They had been planning on driving their new car out there to visit their daughter Molly, and I begged them to take me along so I could visit my friend Cathy, who lives in that area. They readily agreed. (I hope they are not kicking themselves today.)

Just for the record, I kept track of gas prices along the way, because the day we left, Duluth was at its highest price to date, a cool $4.17 a gallon. Turns out it was the highest on the trip, with Smithfield, PA, being the lowest at $3.43. What gives?

Anyhow, our first stop was Chetek, Wisconsin, where we visited a very cool antique store whose name I’ve forgotten. On to Osseo, where we stopped for pie (Coconut, one of my favorites) at the Norske Nook. We visited another antique store there, where we were cautioned to not pet a very friendly cat. What the heck? We did anyway. We all lived to tell the tale.

It looked kinda like this one. Who wouldn’t pet him/her?

Later that day we reached one of the highlights of the trip, which I highly recommend if you like oddball stuff made from wild imagination and probably lots of money: Dr Evermore’s Forevertron, in North Freedom, Wisconsin. It was a little difficult to find, since the folks we asked hadn’t ever seemed to hear of it. If you need directions, just ask for “that monument place.” That’ll get you there.

Here’s Jean going into the post office to ask for directions, which they didn’t seem to know. There’s Dave going in to double check!

I’m going to post some photos of Dr Evermore’s in the next entry.

After the self-guided tour around Dr Evermore’s park, we drove to Baraboo, Wisconsin, which used to be the winter home of Barnum & Bailey, or maybe Ringling Brothers, but I don’t think it is anymore. Looked like a great little town, and we had dinner at a silver diner, which sounds like a line from a song.

I loved the toll roads (except for the paying part) and the Oasis stops with large clean bathrooms and lots of little shops and maps. We’ve come a long way from Stuckey’s, though you can still buy chachkes if you need ’em.

We spent the night at a hotel in South Bend, but got there just as every restaurant in town was closing. (And it was Notre Dame’s graduation weekend, so what the heck?) We ate a late dinner at the Steak and Shake, and went to our separate rooms and slept like dogs. At least I did!

In the morning he drove through Elkhart, Indiana, and on to Toledo, Ohio, stopping for Starbuck’s coffee and caramel corn. You gotta have that on the road. We listened to a beautifully poetic short story called “The Distance of the Moon,” by Italo Calvino, and read by actor Liev Schreiber. I want to read it or hear it one more time. I thought it was a perfect bedtime lullaby for adults and children alike. Gorgeous.

Near Sandusky and Norwalk, we stopped at an Oasis where Jean and Dave wisely ordered lunch, but I opted for Hershey’s ice cream. Think about it (which I did when I saw the sign.) What could be better than ice cream made by Hershey? Turns out, just about anything would be. The ice cream was marginal (they only offered about 3 flavors) and when I asked for hot fudge, they said they didn’t serve that. They had sprinkles, though. So I had a cup of grocery-store quality ice cream, for a mere $3.69, and that was that. I also bought a bottle of water for the road, only to discover it was actually sugar-free Sprite, or something like that. Foiled again!

We arrived in Pittsburgh around 5:00 and were directed to “The Strip,” which was a fun touristy area of town where I discovered Lidia Bastianich has a restaurant, which might have been fun to visit. (The short haired lady from the Create channel’s “Cooking with Lidia.”) We visited the public market which seemed to be closing up, and tried to buy a drink somewhere but nobody would acknowledge our presence (take THAT, Public Market!) and visited a wonderful antique store where we didn’t buy anything but the friendly owner gave us a lot of tips on what to see and where to eat.

My cheap TrackFone apparently does not work outside the confines of my car, so Jean had to use her phone to call Cathy and Cathy’s husband Pat, to give them directions on where to find us in the seemingly busiest section of Pittsburg on a Friday night after work. One of my favorite memories of the trip is Jean on the phone, walking down a busy street waving and guiding our friends to a parking place. Had it not been for Jean, I’m not sure how we’d have found each other. Are there public phones anywhere anymore? I never saw one.

So, part one of the trip. Part two to follow. Pictures of Dr Evermore’s Forevertron on the next page. Go there. You’ll love it. Take a lunch and have a picnic. They’ll let ya.


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PPS: I’m not proofreading this, just so you know.