Monday, February 9, 2009

Wisconsin Concrete Park

We originally visited the concrete park in mid September 2003

My mom, husband and I were on our way to Bayfield, Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands one evening when our headlights glinted off something alongside the road. We didn't think much of it, but on our way back home a few days later we had a bit more light left in the day, and were quite surprised by what we saw.
The Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips, Wisconsin is a collection of over 200 concrete sculptures built by the retired lumberjack Fred Smith.
Fred Smith, a lumberjack, was born on September 20, 1886 in northern Wisconsin to German immigrants.
In 1936, he and two other men, John and Albert Raskie, built the Rock Garden Tavern on Route 13 just outside of Phillips. It was during the construction of the tavern that Smith began to become interested in sculpting.
After Smith retired from the lumberjack trade, he took over the operation of the Rock Garden Tavern.
Over the next several years, Smith created over 200 sculptures which range over a 3 1/2 acre site next door to the tavern.
There are characters and scenes from fiction and history, like Paul Bunyan and Abe Lincoln and the chariot race scene from Ben Hur.
Smith built the figures on wooden frames, wrapped them in wire and then covered them with cement and embedded the broken glass, bottle bottoms and beer caps, among other items, into the sculptures.
What a neat discovery this was for us, and it really sparked the whole Roadside Trail Mix style of traveling we've since adopted.

Wisconsin Concrete Park
N8236 South Hwy 13
Phillips, WI 54555

Monday, February 2, 2009

Highland Park Diner

We originally visited the Highland Park Diner in mid July, 2007.

When I found out we would be coming through Rochester, NY, I made note of the address of the Highland Park Diner so we could stop by and visit this landmark.
When we drove up to the building, we were instantly charmed by it.
The diner is an original 1948 art-deco styled diner manufactured by the Orleans Diner Company, still occupying its original location.
It may be the only surviving one of this manufacturer, as only two or three were produced.
Most of the interior was removed in the 70s, but it was purchased by a new owner in the 80s and restored.
We tucked into a cozy booth in the back corner and admired the retro decor, from the quilted stainless backsplash to the neon lining the arched ceiling.
The Highland Park was cool and clean, the service friendly and the food was good.
We even tried the apple pie because apparently Conde Nast voted in best apple pie a few years back. It was good, but I won't say it was the best apple pie I've ever had. But if I ever find myself anywhere near Rochester again, I will definitely be back.

Highland Park Diner
960 Clinton Ave S
Rochester, NY 14620