Category Archives: Cultural Stuff

Milwaukee to Cedar Key in Instagrams

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travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Before we left Milwaukee, probably for the last time this “season”, we had dinner with our good friends Larry and Maribeth at Mo’s Irish Pub. The company was awesome; the steamed veggies were crisp; and I was digging the light fixtures.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

In the morning before we left town, we stocked up at the grocery store so that we’d have healthy stuff and save money by not shopping at the truck stops.  We also popped into Hobby Town, so Mike could pick up something airsoft-related. I can’t keep track of all those gizmos!  At the checkout counter, I spotted these freaky snacks. If these are what the early bird gets, I think I’ll sleep in from now on!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

It’s amazing how impressive a city’s skyline can be as you motor by in the RV.  The Chicago skyline was enchanting.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

It’s not every day that you see a dinosaur as you roll down the interstate!

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The Corvette is Mike’s favorite car, so we had to stop at The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. We didn’t buy the $10 per-person tix because we were meeting Stevi for lunch in Smyrna and didn’t have time to do the full tour. That meant that we didn’t get to see the sink hole either. The docent told us there was plexiglass around the hole so museum goers could see it, and apparently there’s a live webcam of the repairs.

 boondocking, Cedar Key, Chiefland, Florida, fresh-squeezed, Georgia, grapefruit juice, Instagram, iPhoneography, Milwaukee, orange juice, pecans, photography, Roadside America, roadside attraction, Sunset Isle, travel, Walmart, Wisconsin

One of the very best things about our RVing adventure is reconnecting with friends we haven’t seen in forever.  Mike worked with Brian at MMI; they were both instructors. But Mike hadn’t seen Brian and his wife Donna since 1997! So, after we had lunch with Stevi, we caught up with Brian, Donna and their grandson Bowe for a late dinner at the Montana Saloon & Grill in Talladega. I was delighted to meet them – such nice people! – and was sad when Donna had to take Bowe home since she had to be up early the next day. Thankfully, Brian was able to hang out for a while, and he and Mike visited over a couple of beers in the rig.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

No drive down I-75 in Georgia is complete without a stop at the World’s Largest Peanut. There’s a picnic table and plenty of grass to walk the bark babies. As a bonus, it’s right next to Carroll’s Sausage & Meats, which has an adjacent RV park.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

We knew we were outta the cold when we saw this orange-and-pecan stand in the parking lot of the Flying J at the Georgia/Florida border. We bought a bag of fresh oranges, a bag of homegrown raw pecans and a bag of pralines from Moses himself. $30 well spent!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice at the Florida Welcome Center. We picked up a Sun Pass while we there to cover those pesky tolls that are so easy to miss when you’re driving.

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

We arrived in Florida two days before our campground reservation. Sunset Isle in Cedar Key couldn’t squeeze us in, so we boondocked in the Walmart parking lot in Chiefland. We snagged a lovely spot next to the water. Practicing good boondocking etiquette, we asked management’s permission, didn’t put down our jacks or push out our slide. Feel free to send us a gold star!

travel, photography, iPhoneography, Instagram, roadside America, roadside attraction, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, pecans, fresh-squeezed, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cedar Key, Chiefland, boondocking, Walmart, Sunset Isle

Our boondocking parking lot not only had a Walmart but also a hair salon, a Radio Shack, a clothing boutique and a Mexican AND a Chinese restaurant. Viejo Amigo was a surprisingly charming eatery. It was the first time we’d been served a salsa carafe.

We’re super excited to move into our camp spot – with full hook-ups! – for a week. Bring on the famous Cedar Key sunsets!  But it sure has been a fun trip getting here.

Life is beautiful

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travel, photography, downtown, Las Vegas, Nevada, Downtown Container Park, El Cortez, old Vegas, friends, murals, paint, paintings, public art, Fremont Street

A few years ago, Downtown Las Vegas was so rundown and scary that people wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, never mind wander around down there.  But with the Downtown Project and other revitalization efforts, the area has been transformed into a quirky, happening destination for couples, kids, art lovers, and hip bar hoppers.

travel, photography, downtown, Las Vegas, Nevada, Downtown Container Park, El Cortez, old Vegas, friends, murals, paint, paintings, public art, Fremont Street

Jenn and I doing our best cranky model impersonations under the “Life is Beautiful” mural on the wall of the El Cortez hotel

travel, photography, downtown, Las Vegas, Nevada, Downtown Container Park, El Cortez, old Vegas, friends, murals, paint, paintings, public art, Fremont Street

The inaugural two-day “Life is Beautiful” festival took place in late October, drawing celebrity chefs and popular bands, the likes of which you’d normally only find at the mega casino-resorts of the Strip.  The event brought 40,000 tourists and locals to experience the new “neighborhoody” feel of Downtown.  Designed to reflect the festival’s inspirational message, giant murals were painted on a dozen walls, mostly abandoned motels and hotels, the Container Park and a few businesses like the El Cortez.  These shots represent just a few of the fantastic several-story-high works of art.

travel, photography, downtown, Las Vegas, Nevada, Downtown Container Park, El Cortez, old Vegas, friends, murals, paint, paintings, public art, Fremont Street

Even though the festival is long over, most the murals remain, which was the hope of festival organizers.  Their goal was to foster pride in the community, beginning with what we see as we walk by.  Although Mike and I no longer live in Vegas, I was delighted to see these enhancements.  I’ve always had great affection for Downtown.  I worked in the area for a number of years.  I met Mike at a Downtown bar, and I lots of great meetings at restaurants and coffee shops there.  These gorgeous, colorful murals made me want to move back all the more.

travel, photography, downtown, Las Vegas, Nevada, Downtown Container Park, El Cortez, old Vegas, friends, murals, paint, paintings, public art, Fremont Street

Art, history and exercise

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Around 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, it was in the mid-30s.  Practically a heat wave in Milwaukee.  So Mike and I bundled up, hopped on our folding bikes, and pedaled off down the pavement.

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The Hank Aaron State Trail, named for baseball legend Hank Aaron, abuts the back of the RV park.  The trail follows the Menomonee River from Lake Michigan west about 13.5 miles.  We’d never really explored it.

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Right by the park, the trail’s not the prettiest, even in the spring when everything’s in bloom.  But it holds some surprises.  Roughly three miles in, we discovered the Valley Passage mural.  Technically known as the Menomonee Valley Passage mural, it was painted in 2011 by artist Chad Brady.

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The colorful mural is designed to represent the Miller Park area, Potawatomi Casino, the Brewers, The Milwaukee Road, bridges, buildings, birds, deer, Native Americans, fish, the Menomonee River, trees, manufacturing and canoeing.

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The trail also goes through the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District, which is one of three remaining original Soldiers Homes in the country. Since 1867, the homes have provided refuge and recuperation for physically and mentally disabled soldiers – starting with those who had survived the Civil War.  Three of the buildings are being restored, but amazingly, the rest are still being used to care for veterans today.

You just never know what you’re going to find in your own backyard.

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Bite a legend

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Minutes from the Gold Brook Campground is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where the legendary cider donuts are made fresh daily, year round.  These are old-fashioned donuts: cakey and 1950s size, delicately sweet and flavored with cinnamon and cider.   Even after they’ve cooled, they’re delicious or so Mike told me when he finally  had a chance to eat his at the end of the workday.

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You can make these babies at home.  Cold Hollow sells a mix and a cutter and has a tutorial on their website.  Or, if you simply must have the real thing, they will ship two dozen anywhere in the country.

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But there’s much more to Cold Hollow than the donuts.  This is an active mill, and you can wander into the back and see cider being pressed.  You’ll learn the difference between apple cider and apple juice.  You can also see the mill’s bees making honey that’s used in the products they sell.

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Besides that, there are all kinds of Vermont-made foods and other products available for sale.  Only in Vermont would you find a maple walnut peanut butter!  Not sure what to buy?  Don’t fret; there’re plenty of samples to try.

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Harley-Davidson Museum

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The bronze Hill Climber statue in front of the museum weighs 5,000 pounds and stands 16 feet tall.

Once a month, from October through March, Mike teaches at Harley-Davidson‘s service school in Milwaukee, and the class always includes an outing to the H-D Museum.  I got to go this time, and so did Russ, Mike’s friend and new contract employee.  (Mike has more dealerships wanting training than he can accommodate, so he’s brought Russ on to handle the overflow.  Russ has a lot of experience as well as his own business with flexible hours.  So he’s an ideal person to help out.)

The Harley-Davidson museum is, to understate it, very cool.  There’s a lot of interactive stuff, like a build-your-own-bike station.   We got to visit the archives on our tour and see the restoration section where bikes are prepped for posterity.    The museum is packed with more than 450 motorcycles and artifacts, dating back to Serial Number One, the oldest known Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

My favorite part was the screen displaying a digital exploded engine diagram.  Mike liked posing by the WXA side-hack prototype.  With so much to check out, you’ll definitely want to devote several hours.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!

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Um, stamp out walking? Funny how times change!

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This made me want to bling out the motorhome!

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Evil Knievel’s bike

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Brunch at the diner

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Lemon Curd Pancakes

There’s something decidedly decadent about brunch.  The late hour, the combination of breakfast and lunch dishes, the leisurely pace.  If you count it as two meals in one, you can forgive yourself for eating too much, especially if you’ve gotten some exercise beforehand.  That’s why I was able to nosh without guilt when we brunched at Phillips Avenue Diner in Sioux Falls’ historic downtown after our chilly walk in Falls Park.

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Of course, I helped things along by thoughtful ordering.  A spinach and tomato eggwhite omelet was accompanied by a side of fresh fruit in place of toast or potatoes.  I simply had to try the lemon curd pancakes, though.  Normally, they come in stacks of three, but that would’ve been over the top.  So, I asked if I could have just one, and our waitress happily obliged, charging me an extra buck for the privilege.  The pancake was infused with lemon essence.  Juice, I think, not extract.  Instead of syrup, it was crisscrossed with glaze, a dollop of lemon curd and some raspberries to add color and a flavorful contrast.  Nummy!  The omelet was good, too.

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The neat thing about downtown Sioux Falls, besides its history, is the SculptureWalk.

SculptureWalk is an exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures displayed year-round in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Artists place their sculptures in the program for one year, and all sculptures are aggressively promoted to the public for sale. Artists are eligible to win any one or more of the 14 awards in the Best of Show, People’s Choice voting and the random drawings. Awards total to $15,000.

Two impressive pieces are on the corner near the diner.  My favorite?  ‘Look and You Will Find It’ by artist Kate Christopher.  It’s so simple but so striking.  The group of standing men, all with heads downcast except one, has a compelling message: the path to discovery reveals itself when we lift our eyes.  I learn the truth of that every day on this amazing journey.

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Look and You Will Find It

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Butterfly by Jaque Frazee

Falls Park

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Native Americans were the first visitors the falls of the Big Sioux River.  The Lakota and Dakota were nomadic bison hunters, and they used the falls as a place to rendezvous with French fur trappers.  As the land around the falls was claimed by European settlers, a 1,200-acre village sprung up.  Sioux Falls became an official city in 1883.  Railroads really put the city on the map, with a population spike from 2,164 in 1880 to 10,167 at the end of the decade.  Economic ups and downs over the years mirrored the nation at large, but through it all, the falls have been central to the city’s industry and recreation.

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In pioneer days, the falls were used for water power to run the Queen Bee Mill.  When it was built, the mill could process 1,500 bushels of wheat and was considered one of the most advanced facilities in America.  Unfortunately, weak water power and a lack of wheat forced it to close in 1883, just six years after it was built.  A few companies attempted to  make the mill a going concern over the years, but nothing worked.  After a fire in 1956 compromised the structure, upper walls were knocked down until only two of the original seven stories of the mill remain.

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Remains of the seven-story Queen Bee Mill

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Millrace and dam

Today, Falls Park covers 123 acres with an average of 7,400 gallons of water dropping 100 feet each second.  With paved walking and biking paths, picnic tables scattered charmingly on the grassy spots, and a cafe in the old Light and Power Company building, the park is captivating place to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

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