Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Frederick C. Bogk House

The Frederick C. Bogk House, built in 1917, is Frank Lloyd Wright's only single-family residential project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The house is located on N. Terrace Avenue and is used as a private residence.

Frederick C. Bogk House
2420 N. Terrace Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park

The Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park offers visitors many activities including camping, fishing, boating, horseback riding and more.
We made a visit and took advantage of the crushed rock trails to do some biking.
Along the trail you can see truss and lift bridges, including this lift bridge at lock 21.
Opened in 1907, the Hennepin Canal, formerly the Illinois and Mississippi Canal, was closed to barge traffic in 1951. The canal was used as a training ground for engineers that later worked on the Panama Canal.
The state park covers five counties.
We noticed an old white building just past lock 21 which may have been a house or warehouse provided by the Corps of Engineers to lockmen. The houses provided to them weren't wired with electricity and did not have indoor plumbing.
From Wikipedia: "Traffic on the canal was never heavy, and critics complained that it was obsolete when it was constructed and that it was too small and only fit for the early days of canaling. Many have said if the canal had been constructed in the 1830s, 1840s, 1850s or even the 1860s, as it was originally suggested, the canal would have had greater economic potential. On April 7, 1948, the Corps of Engineers issued a 'navigation notice' that put the canal on a limited service basis."
Beginning in the 1970s, plans were made to convert the canal to the recreational use it enjoys today.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sauk City, WI and vicinity

On a recent Saturday morning as I sat reading the paper, my husband said "You'd better get in the shower...you're being kidnapped."
"Kidnapping" is a tradition my friends and I came up with several years ago. The nabbers plot and plan a secret trip for the victim, perhaps having to tell them the date(s) of said trip in advance, but nothing else. The kidnappers plan everything and whisk the person off to destination unknown.
The only clue I received regarding this trip was that it was someplace we had never been before.
We drove for a couple of hours, eventually crossing into Wisconsin. Was it Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's house in Spring Green? Nope.
We decided to detour into Madison for lunch and ended up heading out of the college craziness to a more sedate neighborhood where we noticed an inviting looking place called Mickey's Tavern.
Nearby there was a bike path, the Yahara River Bike Path.
Once inside, we were directed to help ourselves to some coffee or water at the side bar and take a seat.
We selected a small table near the door and I drank in the delightful art deco-esque decor.
After we ordered iced teas, StfRon decided to go with the World's Greatest Sandwich, which was sort of a BLT with an egg and cheese. I went for a steak sandwich which involved ginger after wavering between it and the portobello sandwich. Both came with chips and slaw.
The sandwiches were tasty, the slaw not the creamy variety.
During our visit we did venture to the restroom and were able to check out some of the other rooms. I especially enjoyed the room with the pool table, with its bright, funky colors and mod pendent lamps.

Back on the road, my husband revealed our first destination just a few minutes from our arrival at the Wollersheim Winery in Sauk City.
The property, first selected for vineyards in the 1840s, made us feel like we were back in the Rhine Valley in Germany, with its hills and stone buildings. The property was purchased by the Wollersheim family in 1972.
Oddly enough, I later found that my parents had visited the winery many years ago with me in tow as a child.
We headed to the tasting bar and asked which wines were made with grapes grown on site. We tasted three of them and were surprised to find that we really enjoyed the Prairie Blush, so much so that we each ordered a glass. We normally drink red wine, mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet.
We took our wine out onto the grounds and walked around, heading toward what appeared to be an old stone wine cellar graced with a beautiful ornate gate. We sat on a nearby bench for a bit and enjoyed our wine, then headed back to the wine store.
Upon looking at the literature for the Prairie Fumé, we decided we should sample that wine as well, since it garnered Wisconsin’s famous nationally-acclaimed Double Gold and Gold medals. We found it to be crisp, fruity and refreshing, so we bought a bottle to go.
On our way out, I stopped and snapped a photo of the charming Ganser's Motel sign, which sadly had no vacancy lit up.

We next stopped in downtown Sauk City and poked around in some antique shops, then headed on to Lodi to check into our hotel.
We visited downtown Lodi for a bit of shopping and exploring, then headed for the next phase of my surprise trip, dinner plans at a German restaurant in Roxbury (the address is Sauk City).

The Dorf Haus Supper Club was originally a grocery store and tavern, purchased in 1859 by Vern and Betty Maier who began serving dinners a couple of years later.

Approaching the restaurant, we noticed the parking lot across the road, which was next to a beautiful church, was full of cars. We cruised the restaurant parking lot and found nothing, so headed across the street to park and wondered about our chances at getting a table for our early dinner.
Walking inside, however, we were relieved to see that the hostess stand was quiet and the bar was only moderately full. Turns out there was a wedding party in the banquet room.
We mentioned we would like to enjoy a cocktail before dinner and our hostess was very accommodating, offering to come and get us in about 30 minutes.
We thoroughly enjoyed the beer as well as the company of the customers and staff and the atmosphere of the bar.
We took a seat in the dining room and ordered our meals. I went with Sauerbraten and the beef burgandy soup, StfRon ordered Rahmschnitzel and chicken dumpling soup. Our meals also included a soft white bread and salad bar. I was pleased to find fresh spinach on the salad bar along with a crock of hot bacon dressing.
My soup was wonderfully rich and flavorful. The chicken dumpling soup tasted like my mom's homemade chicken and noodles.
The tender Sauerbraten had a distinct ginger gravy and the accompanying spatzle had a nutmeg flavor. Both meals featured appropriate portions, and at $15.95 each, seemed like a steal.
We also split a chocolate mousse cake, which was surprisingly good.

Leaving pleasantly full, we decided to stop by the third staple in Roxbury, the Roxbury Tavern.
The place had an eclectic flair, and was hosting Cajun night. We each ordered a beer from the busy but friendly lady tending bar and I wandered over to read some newspaper clippings posted on the wall, taking in the colorful history of Sam the former tavern dog and the burning of pianos. Back at the bar I checked out the breakfast menu and thought it sounded scrumptious, but alas we headed in another direction when we left the next morning.

Sunday morning we drove through Mount Horeb, former home of the mustard museum, took in the wooden troll collection and checked out the scrap iron menagerie (a fun collection of iron creatures made by Wally Keller) where a dog stood sentry, barking at us to protect his home. We detoured into Monticello and saw a great Blatz beer sign, amidst the intense construction in the downtown area.
We drove through Monroe and discovered that the Joseph Huber brewing company is now Minhas, and noted with interest their annual cheese festival.
And soon we were home, with memories of another great road trip.

Mickey's Tavern
1524 Williamson Street
Madison, WI, 53703

Wollersheim Winery
7876 Wisconsin 188
Sauk City, WI 53583-9529

Ganser's Motel
 7433 Wisconsin 188
Sauk City, WI 53583

Dorf Haus Supper Club
8931 Hwy Y
Sauk City WI 53583

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Leon's Frozen Custard

Leon's Frozen Custard, family owned and operated since 1942, is considered a Milwaukee, Wisconsin landmark. Open year round with carry-out service, they feature what they claim to be the "World's Finest Frozen Custard" in a handful of flavors as well as hot sandwiches and hot and cold drinks.
Leon's Frozen Custard opened on May 1, 1942.
The building was remodeled in the early 50s, leaving it with the eye-catching archi-
tecture it features today. The business is still owned and operated by the original family.
Leon's is also rumored to be one of the inspirations behind Arnold's from TV's Happy Days. Currently there is no longer carside service, and there has not been any for many years.
We made the trek out to Leon's to see what all the hype is about. Being from Illinois, the only frozen custard we've had is from Culver's.
My husband ordered a chocolate cone while I went for a chocolate malt.
The chocolate custard on the cone was delectable, rich and creamy with a hearty chocolate flavor. The malt paled in comparison and made me wonder if they had forgotten to add any chocolate. Next time it's a chocolate custard cone for me!

Leon's Frozen Custard
3131 South 27th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53215

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Jersey

While mapping out our vacation this year, when I suggested starting in Savannah, GA and then driving up the coast, my husband said he wanted to make it to New Jersey to visit a hamburger joint.
"Why not?" I thought, so I added it to the list of possible attractions.

We had a full day of driving from Wildwood, NJ where we stayed at the wonderfully renovated yet vintage Caribbean Motel.
Upon checking in, which was done by hand not computer, we were given a real key on a vintage style key ring.

This 1957 motel's vibe was great from the mod rounded platform jutting out of the building, which doubled as a ramp to access the funky cabana room; authentic shuffleboard painted on the concrete; a swanky pool that made me feel like I needed to don some big round sunglasses and a 1950's-era swimsuit; and our room, complete with mod table lamps, palm tree cutouts over the colorful seersucker striped bedspreads and vintage green bathroom fixtures.
We really enjoyed the motel as well as Wildwood and already have vowed to return.

After breakfast in at Jimbo's in Wildwood, where I had a great breakfast wrap, we had a short gambling stint in Atlantic City stopped at several lighthouses, then rolled in to Hackensack in the evening and parked behind the tiny White Manna diner, a Paramount Diner manufactured in the late 1930s.
There were a handful of occupied seats inside the diner, which has been there since 1946, but we were able to close the door behind us after we got in line.
There appeared to be just three or four people ahead of us who needed to order.
As one of the patrons got his turn, he placed his order for 40, yes, 40, cheeseburgers. I wondered if all hope was lost for us on our burger quest, but peering around the people to the grill, it looked like things were well under control.

The two men hard at work behind the counter had their tasks. One took orders for drinks and fries, the other took the burger orders and seemed to be able to keep them straight (cheese, no cheese, onions, no onions, how many and who) with ease, while lining every available inch of grill space with burgers.

After a five or ten minutes we were able to get a couple of stools at the counter where we had a better view. We placed our order for fries and drinks and waited to order our burgers, which are smaller than a typical hamburger, sliders almost.
After ordering our burgers it didn't take very long for them to arrive. While we enjoyed our meal, the two restaurant workers swapped jobs, so the previous fries and drink guy was then slapping burgers on the grill with honed skill.
White Manna was a great stop to add to our itinerary, as much for the atmosphere and history as for the burgers.

Caribbean Motel
5600 Ocean Avenue
Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260

White Manna
358 River Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Friday, June 18, 2010

Loveless Café

During our big spring road trip this year, our first stop was Nashville, Tennessee.I looked for historic restaurants we could visit and had to look no further than the Loveless Café.
The restaurant was first known as the Harpeth Valley Tea Room and was purchased by the Loveless family in 1951. The husband, Lon, ran the motel on site while his wife, Annie, whipped up homemade preserves and biscuits, catering to travelers along US Highway 100.
The Loveless Café has changed hands a few times over the years, but luckily their famous biscuit recipe has remained.
The motel ceased operations in 1985 and the site now features quaint shops and a Loveless Café Hams & Jams business.
In 2004 the restaurant closed for five months for renovations, bringing a new kitchen, new restrooms and additional seating.
The 1900s house you step into to enter the restaurant has a vintage screen door, which welcomes you in with style.
We were seated in a room off to the right of the hostess area, and were greeted right away by an efficient waitress with a southern accent. She brought our breakfast beverage order quickly and we asked for a couple more minutes to check over the menu.
Knowing the place was famous for biscuits, we made sure to order meals that included them, and they were the star of our dining experience. The surprisingly small, fluffy biscuits were perfectly warmed and accompanied by strawberry, blackberry and peach preserves. I went back and forth between the strawberry and blackberry while my husband raved about the peach.
Our bellies full, we headed outside for pictures and to visit the market store. We noticed a banner on the neon sign in memory of Carol Fay, "the biscuit lady", who we then realized we had seen on Throwdown with Bobby Flay several years ago.
We picked up some bacon as a souvenir of our stop in the market store and then set out for our next destination.

Loveless Café
8400 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thunderbird Inn

When planning our latest vacation, I wanted to try to support smaller, independent lodging establishments vs. the big hotel chains.
One of the first places I found was the restored Thunderbird Inn near the historic district in Savannah, GA. The web site made the place look great!
In doing my homework, I also found several good reviews of the place online, so I booked a room for a night with the intention of staying another night if we liked it.
We spotted the retro motel, built in 1964, and parked next to the office and went to check in.
The office seemed to be scented with bubblegum, which complimented the kitschy decor nicely.
There were some old postcards of the inn framed on the walls.
We soon had our key card and headed to our room.
The room was clean and surprisingly boutique-like, complete with a white down comforter, which was fine by me.
There was some very nice art (I'm assuming local) displayed on the walls.
I loved the funky toiletry products provided in the bathroom, fitting to the theme of the motel.
There was a mini fridge, ironing board and coffee maker in the room.
Right after loading our things in we headed back to the office to secure a second night in our room.
Each time we went outside there seemed to be guests sitting in patio chairs in front of their rooms which lent even more to the vintage feel.
Once when my husband went out to the car to get some items and clicked the remote to lock the doors, I heard a lady exclaim "Oh, hon, you don't need to lock your car here!"
The next morning we went to the office to partake in one of the offerings we had seen on the web site, Krispy Kreme donuts. We sat in the brightly-colored molded plastic chairs and enjoyed coffee and OJ with our donuts.
Even though our vacation officially began a day before we arrived in Savannah, staying at the Thunderbird felt like the true start of our holiday.
If I were visiting Savannah again, I would definitely stay at the Thunderbird. I can't imagine anyone else could be "the hippest hotel in Savannah."

Thunderbird Inn
611 West Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, GA 31401

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Castleman's River Bridge

On our way home from vacation we decided to take a more scenic route, traveling US Route 40 through several states.
This gave us the opportunity to view several historic sites and road markers.
We noticed a beautiful stone arch bridge in Maryland and stopped to stretch our legs and have a look.
According to the historic marker posted at the site, the Castleman's River Bridge "formerly 'Little Youghiogeny' was erected in 1813 by David Shriver Jr., the superintendent of the 'Cumberland Road' (National Road). This 80 foot span was the largest stone arch in America at the time. It was continuously used from 1813 to 1933."
The bridge was built to aid in the westward movement through the wilderness west of Cumberland and was declared a registered national historic landmark in 1963.
It is no longer used for traffic, but due to preservation efforts remains in good condition.

Castleman's (Casselman's) River Bridge
146-198 Casselman Road
Grantsville, MD 21536

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Roadside America Inc.

On our recent vacation we realized we were driving right by Roadside America, Inc. in Pennsylvania, so we had to stop and visit. Dubbed the "World's Greatest Indoor Miniature Village", I wasn't sure quite what to expect.
After a visit to the restroom, outside of which stands a working player piano, we paid our admission of $6.75 and headed into the display room.
I was instantly taken by the tiny, intricate village complete with churches, homes, trains, a zoo and so much more. Perfect trees dot the lush landscape. Several of the displays incorporate motion, which you can activate by pressing a button in front of the glass half wall.
We were treated to a night pageant where the room lights are dimmed and patriotic music plays, allowing us to further appreciate the lights throughout the village, some even shining through tiny stained glass windows.
Established in 1935, Roadside America was later moved to it's current site.
This wonderful display is the result of years of work by two brothers who had an idea to make little models of houses as they appeared from the top of Mt. Penn so future generations could appreciate how they had looked. Larry Gieringer, the oldest, continued this work long after his brother Paul entered the priesthood.
Today these efforts are available for visitors to appreciate, maintained by the family of the original designer.

Roadside America, Inc.
Roadside Drive
Bernville, PA 19506

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Moonshine Store

In 2003, near the start of our roadside attraction interest, we happened to catch a CBS Sunday Morning feature on the Moonshine Store in Martinsville, Illinois and were intrigued. This old store slings tons of hamburgers each day, has no traditional restaurant seating and the grill shuts down at 12:30 p.m. on the dot. We tried visiting the store shortly after seeing the TV segment, but it didn't work out then.
Heading out for a trip this spring we realized we would not be terribly far from the store (nothing is really "close"), so we added it to our itinerary.
The store was originally founded in 1889, but was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1912.
When we arrived, despite the rain we found a line of people hanging out on the front porch, which does provide some shelter.
The Moonshine Store, which their brochure says was named not for the booze but for the reflection of the moon in a puddle of water outside the store, serves as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
I overheard a lady on the porch say they have even had visitors from Hawaii.
In April 2009, a record was set for serving 1,119 sandwiches in one day. We noticed a hand written sign in the store displaying the new record for this year, some 1,900 sandwiches in a day.
It's really amazing when you see how small the area is, and how small the store is, but what they have going works.
Once inside the rustic store, complete with tin ceiling, we made our way through the grill smoke to the back counter to order and both placed orders for cheeseburgers.
The sandwiches were ready in almost record time. We stopped by the condiment table and loaded up our juicy burgers, made a pass by the soda cooler for drinks (I was glad to see Boylan's sodas and selected their ginger ale), then headed to the counter to pay.
They use between 480-720 pounds of hamburger and more than 100 packages of buns per week. We saw racks of buns lining the aisles of the store.
Benches can be found throughout the store where you can sit and enjoy your meal, however these were full during our visit. There are picnic tables outside, but with the steady rain we decided to eat our lunch in the car.
A black lab, who we were not sure whether belonged to the store or maybe just wandered onto the site every day around lunch time, stopped by our car to give us the puppy dog eyes as we enjoyed our burgers. My husband tossed him some chips, but he turned his nose up to that and went off in search of another sucker.
The Moonshine turned out to be the perfect kick off to our roadside adventures.

Moonshine Store
6017 East 300th Road
Martinsville, IL 62442

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fort Madison, IA

After a lunch at a small food counter/soda shop tucked away in Ford Hopkins Drug Store in Macomb, Illinois and a nice visit with family, we decided to see what Fort Madison, Iowa had to offer.
Ford Hopkins opened in 1937. Their food counter has a simple menu and makes a mean chocolate malt.

Coming across the bridge into Fort Madison, we soon came past the historic fort, which was the first permanent U.S. military fortification on the Upper Mississippi.
We also admired the architecture of the Iowa State Penitentiary, established in 1839, before Iowa had even become a state.

We drove around to get a feel for the town and saw many beautiful brick homes and buildings.
One of the unique sites in the area, the Daniel McConn barn, a double-decker, Pennsylvania Dutch barn built in 1857, had a large colorful geometric symbol on the side of it. We soon noticed a couple more buildings in the area with similar symbols, so when we saw a gentleman out for a country afternoon stroll, my husband pulled up next to him and asked him about the symbols.
He informed us that the signs are barn quilts, colorful signs displaying quilt blocks, and have just started showing up in the Fort Madison area recently.

The timing of our visit was not perfect, as we found the majority of the downtown area closed at 2 p.m. on a Saturday, and the supper club we were thinking of trying out, The Palms, circa 1962, did not open until 5 p.m.
There were a few neat old signs remaining in the downtown area, including the Fox Theater.

We saw enough dining possibilities for us to make a mental note to come back to Fort Madison some time. We want to check out the interesting looking Parthenon Pizza & Steak House, which seemed to be quite popular during the off lunch hours, and The Fort Diner, a neat little building offering up "Wallyburgers".
The Palms also beckoned to me since we could not see inside, and I'll bet it could be an interesting spot for dinner.

Ford Hopkins Drug Store
118 North Lafayette Street
Macomb, IL 61455

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Everyday adventures

This weekend we will again embark on another trip, taking in new sights and revisiting old ones.
The thing that motivated me to plan the trip, an excuse, perhaps, was Valentine's Day.
Which led me to reflect upon my husband. My partner in crime. My travel companion of the last decade.
I look forward to all of the adventures yet to come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Springdale Cemetery Gatehouse

My first trip into Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, Illinois was some time in early 2000.
A friend of mine who was familiar with the layout showed me and a couple of other people around.
Since then, I've been on group hikes and hikes with my dad, enjoying all the beauty that can be found in the cemetery.
I have also followed the news stories about the impending fate of the gatehouse in the cemetery.
The gatehouse was built in 1900 in the craftsman bungalow style. Initially an office and residence, the building is located at the lower entrance to the cemetery.
In July 2008, the cemetery's management authority voted 4-3 to demolish the gatehouse as the cost to repair, $800,000 or more, is too great.
In March 2009, the Historic Preservation Commission voted 5-1 to endorse a controlled demolition of the building with the stones and roof tiles removed and stored. Plans would be to rebuild as originally constructed.
The gatehouse sits on the Rock Island Trail and could make a nice pit stop for travelers of the trail.
As of December 29, 2009, a sign posted on the fence reads: Please contribute to the restoration of this gate house. Please send your check to Carolyn Kraft, 9919 N. Jamaica Dr., Peoria IL 61615. Phone: (309) 691-5537.
I hope it will indeed be preserved and/or rebuilt using the salvaged materials so it can be enjoyed for another hundred years.

Springdale Cemetery
3014 N. Prospect Rd.
Peoria, IL 61603

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brown's Fine Food

Last weekend we set out for points west in Illinois to visit a restaurant my husband has been wanting to try for about a year.
Alas, our food choices were not to be had when we got there, so we hit the road again and kept our eyes peeled for another option.
We drove into Canton and soon a retro sign complete with arrow caught the attention of both of us at almost the same instant: Brown's Snappy Service.
I love spotting old signs, and it's even better when the business still exists and lives up to the legacy.
A lucky break! Brown's Fine Food was open so we walked in and found the place comfortably worn around the edges, with about a dozen stools mounted in front of the white, gold-flecked countertop.
Tables lined the wall behind, stretching back into a narrow back room.
We took seats at the counter to better check out the old equipment and decor, and looked over the menu while our server went to get us some iced teas.
Entrées were reasonable: chicken fried steak for $5.75, two smoked pork chops for $6.75, fried chicken for $6, all served with two sides plus bread a butter. Sandwiches started at $1.70 for the sandwich alone and $3.20 for a platter.
StfRon asked the gent serving us if the hamburgers were frozen, and he said no. Then he asked if they were thin patties, and found out they were. Our server added that they are very good, so that was enough for us.
I ordered a cheeseburger platter and StfRon ordered a bacon cheeseburger platter. Both came with fries and cole slaw.
Our food came out quickly, the burgers tasty as promised, complete with crispy edges, creamy cheese and soft buns.
The fries were a similar cut to McDonald's fries, but I enjoyed their crispness and taste much more than any Mickey D's fries I've had in the last decade.
The slaw was a creamy style, and the portion was pretty generous.
Brown's has been providing snappy service since 1937, and the original building is still intact. There have been some additions over the years, but I had taken notice of the ceiling over the grill area while waiting for my food before I knew about the add ons and you can still
imagine what the little place must have been like in its heyday.
Mounted to a post next to the old host stand area there is a neat photo of the original building.
I'm glad the sign caught our attention.

Brown's Fine Food
124 N Main Street
Canton, IL 61520