Why Wisconsin? Besides the proximity to Minneapolis, Bruce and I both have family ties to the Diary State. Bruce’s maternal grandparents lived on a farm in Hortonville (near Appleton), and he lived in town with his mom and sister for eight years as a child, after his father died. My grandparents all lived in Milwaukee, where my parents grew up and met in the school orchestra where they both were violinists. After graduating from medical school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (my mom from occupational therapy school), they headed west to California, after my dad did a residency in Salt Lake City. My parents and grandparents all settled in Long Beach, and Bruce’s mom took the kids back to California to settle in San Diego, my college town. Go Aztecs! (We’re both Aztecs, so Bruce would agree!)
Since we both wanted to concentrate our time in seeing beautiful Door County (with stops in Appleton and Green Bay) and the Apostle Islands, we decided to save Milwaukee and Madison for another trip when we go to Chicago.
We rented a car at Enterprise (I’ve always been very pleased with their customer service!), and our friendly agent picked us up at our downtown hotel for the short trip back to their office. Before long, we were on our way to seeing a new state—at least for me!
First stop: BEER! Well, we did make sure to get some nutrition in us first, stopping at the Bass Lake Cheese Factory in Somerset for lunch of not-so-nutritious grilled cheese sandwiches made from their own cheese. We then made our way to Chippewa Falls where we toured the brewery at Jacob Leinenkugal Brewing Co., the seventh-oldest brewery in the United States. The Leinenkugal family has had many years to get it right, and right they have. The tour was excellent, the beer was tasty, and the creek side setting was beautiful. Their large tasting room and gift shop looked like a mountain ski chalet with a huge stone fireplace, and they offered an enormous variety of branded merchandise to wear head-to-toe or decorate your man (or woman) cave. Kicking back next to the fire and sampling Leinenkugal beer while rain showers passed was an enjoyable way to spend the end of our day.
The rain clouds had cleared when we returned to town for dinner at Mahli Thai (excellent!), so I took advantage of our only evening in Chippewa Falls to capture some of the quaintness of their picturesque little town:
In the morning, before we set out for Appleton, we stopped at Irvine Park & Zoo, open free to the public. Established in 1906, it is supported by donations and enjoyed by local families and many of the tourists that pass through the small town to visit the brewery just up the road.
Appleton was just a three-hour drive east, so we spent the afternoon in Bruce’s childhood stompin’ grounds near Lawrence University. After moving from the farm, his Mom rented a house across the street from the University where the YMCA is now located. Former Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren grew up around the corner in this house. (Evidently, it looked as bad then as it does now.):
This is where Bruce used to lace up his skates to skate on the frozen pond that formed on the lawn nearby:
Amazingly, Bruce was still alive to show me where he and his friends used to ride their toboggans. Of course, nothing was built on the bottom back then, but still, that hill is STEEP!
The last house they rented before relocating to San Diego was here on this lovely, tree-lined street:
I so enjoyed seeing the places Bruce reminisced about from time-to-time over our 31 years together. For Bruce, it was a trip down Memory Lane.
Next up: TOURING LAMBEAU FIELD, HOME OF THE CHEESEHEADS