More clouds on the horizon. Humidity hanging in the air. So many memories of New Jersey weather! It did seem confusing at times, because many of these small communities could have been from the Jersey state – lilacs, hollyhocks, neat tree-lined streets. Timing was on our side for a quick seating for breakfast at The Chef’s Hat. By the time we left the street was parked up and people were waiting for tables.
Later on down the road, it’s a good thing that we decided to stop at Sturgeon Bay “Where Door County Begins” – it’s a neat town. The main downtown area has Stone Harbor Resort and Conference Center on the waterfront and with a great view of the downtown drawbridge, which we got to see in action (fortunately not while we were on it!). Lots of visitors, good foot traffic on the main streets. Homes within walking distance of the amenities makes for a nice “small town” experience. To think we almost missed it! Our raincoats kept the sprinkles off – those clouds sure wanted to rain but were being polite and didn’t downpour. At least not yet. Luxury boat builder Palmer Jackson is right in town. Heading back to the highway, we stopped at a barn that had a fresh tart cherries for sale sign, picked up a quart – and left our $5 in the money box. Says something about a place that has that much trust.The Montmorency tart cherries certainly live up to their reputation. Driving south on Route 42, heading for the Route 57 merge, dried versions of the cherries can be bought from The Cherry Hut and Cherry De-Lite/Country Ovens in Forestville. We stopped at both, and Cherry De-Lite certainly had the better selection, which included cherry juice that was so fresh tasting, and cherry bits for cooking, etc. – you get the idea! Nearby town Algoma was another cute collection of craftsman-type houses and simple downtown conveniences.
Finally we reached Green Bay. First stop – Green Bay Botanical Garden. The rain was kind enough to hold off while we walked the grounds, which were beautifully cultivated. There’s a rest room building in the shape of Bilbo Baggin’s hobbit hole. There were miniature cottages with paths and a lake with ducks, and an area that was being developed for use by the local university to cultivate grapes and hops. Next we stopped at The National Railroad Museum, which wasn’t too far from the gardens, and was that ever a fun place to visit! There are both outdoor and indoor railcars, many historic, and many that you can climb into and walk through. Some are staged for the time period that they served. It’s well worth the time to visit since it gives such a sense of our country’s history.
Downtown Green Bay and all major arteries leading to it has an incredible amount of road construction going on. And it looks like it will be going on for a while. Our GPS kept directing us to exits that were closed and stripped roads that looked like it would be a while before they were repaved. Despite all odds, though, we were able to find the hotel and get settled before the rain really let loose. We found that our Arizona desert storms can run a pretty good game compared to midwest storms. With so much of the year in dry weather, we really enjoy a good thunder and lightening show because they are so rare. Rain was bouncing off the patio area like ping pong balls.
There is no question that Green Bay is a football town. It screams football from the names of the streets and restaurants and billboards. Game-time food dominates the menus of local restaurants. The next morning we headed over to Lambeau Field. At this point the clouds were our permanent friends, which was ok as long as we didn’t have to pay admission for them, too. The stadium is pretty impressive, and we were amazed at the number of people visiting. We signed up for a tour which took us right onto the field, as well as into the private boxes. Our guide had to time our tour around the rain, which was coming down fast and furious – enough to move the Packers’ practice to the indoor field across the way. A lot of history here. The stadium store is huge, too, and you wouldn’t believe all the items for sale with the Packer logo.
The skies did clear enough for us to explore downtown Green Bay. Being Monday, the museums we had hoped to see were closed. There are different perspectives on each side of the river. More drawbridges, and trains running through as well.
Kavarna Coffee Shop on Broadway – that would be the east side of the river – was a busy place with great coffee and an interesting crowd. Had a bit of a Berkeley vibe to it. (Yes, that means pricey grunge.) We had ringside window seats.
Our last day. Time to check out of the hotel and make the two hour drive to Milwaukee airport. It seemed like such a long time since we were in Milwaukee! Our plane wasn’t scheduled till later in the day, so Cedarburg was well within reach and the perfect halfway point on our journey to get in another walk and grab a good lunch before the airport reality crunch.
I fell in love with Cedarburg.
It’s an old cotton mill and railway town. Here was a microcosm of many of the things that I loved about visiting Wisconsin. Walkability, hometown shops, fiber arts alive and well, good food. We walked on the one of the two last covered bridges in Wisconsin. The Old Mill is now converted into an art gallery, with a museum of old equipment on hand. A resident weaver gave us a tour and showed how they process wool into batting for quilts. Spinning wheels, weaving looms and things I couldn’t guess what they were for filled an entire basement area. How I love that my favorite hobbies are part and parcel of the towns and people. They take it to heart in Wisconsin, that is for sure. So much personality and pride in craftsmanship. Did I live here in another life? Don’t forget the food, too!
It was hard to choose a restaurant, yet narrowed our choice to The Anvil. Yes, it was originally the Blacksmith’s shop. By this time I was pretty beered-out, so I went with the salad and hot tea.
Oh well. Time to go. We enjoy the changes in perspective and we travel through our lives, cherishing our present experiences while knowing they will soon be memories. Driving back to the airport, things started looking familiar from our first days in the state. Was it that long ago?
While we checked our bags and were going through security, Phoenix was being slammed by the monsoon, and televisions at the airport kept running pictures of so much flooding – what were we going to get back to? Would we be able to get back? Despite the doomsday reporting, our plane left on time, and landed on time, and we were in our car and on our half hour ride home before the rain started to fall. More thunder and lightning – and what a welcome home show! After all, there is no place like home!