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No Clever Title, Just a Chicago, Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Trip Report


Jun 1st, 2013, 02:00 PM
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No Clever Title, Just a Chicago, Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Trip Report

I've given up on coming up with a clever and/or humorous title, so I'll just get started on our trip report.

We usually visit a national park or two sometime during the year, but we decided to visit a couple of cities combined with scenic drives this time around. Mr. Pickle was born outside Chicago and spent several years living in Milwaukee when he was growing up, and he's always wanted to take me there.

Monday, May 20th

We left Albuquerque in the late afternoon and flew to Houston on Southwest. Our flight from Houston to Midway was delayed, and we didn't land until after midnight. We had checked one bag with jackets and picnic supplies; once that finally arrived at baggage claim and our hotel shuttle arrived, we didn't get to bed until 2:00 a.m.

We stayed at the Clarion by Midway, which was fine for our needs.

Tuesday, May 21st

We had originally planned to take the Orange line into town fairly early so we could drop our bags off at the HI hostel and take a boat tour. Since we got into town so late, we decided to leave the tour for another day of the trip. As things turned out, we should have gone ahead and done it Tuesday.

The HI hostel is in the south Loop area, just two blocks off Michigan Avenue and very close to several El lines. We had a family room on the sixth floor, which was comfortable and very reasonably priced at $99/night (we aren't HI members, otherwise it would have been $89). There are two private bedrooms in the family room, with a living room area, a kitchen, and private bathroom. Another couple was in the other bedroom, but we rarely saw them. With free wi-fi and a decent continental breakfast every morning, this was a great deal for us. www.hichicago.org

We checked our bags and headed off to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my must-sees for this trip. It wasn't apparent from our map, but there is an entrance right off Michigan. Instead, we walked into the park next door and eventually found the museum.

A good cup or two of coffee is vital in the morning to ward off zombieness, so I stopped in the cafe for a latte while the Pickle guys looked in a couple of rooms. Next we found the Impressionist rooms and really enjoyed those. I didn't realize that Seurat painting was so huge! There are some lovely Monets and Renoirs as well.

We skimmed some of the European art rooms and found the modern American art. Seeing American Gothic up close was fun, but Nighthawks is currently in Washington, DC, if I recall correctly.

We were getting hungry, so after a stop to enjoy Marc Chagall's lovely America Windows, we headed up MIchigan to The Goddess and Grocer on Delaware to use the Groupon I'd bought a couple of months ago. Their sandwiches (we enjoyed an egg salad, a corned beef Reuben, and the vegetarian Wicker Park) are delicious and reasonably priced even without a Groupon. http://www.goddessandgrocer.com

The John Hancock building is only two-three blocks east on Michigan. Thanks to helpful Fodorites, we decided not to buy one of the "tower experience" deals and went to the Signature Lounge for our high-up view of the city. There were other families there; kids are welcome as long as they are with someone 21 or older. We ordered a couple of drinks and enjoyed the view. http://www.signatureroom.com/TheSignatureLounge

The women's room startled me - when you head to the stalls, boom! There is a big floor-to-ceiling glass wall between you and the potties. That made me just a bit nervous, but the view was worth it.

One nice thing about Michigan Avenue is the number of buses that regularly run up and down the street. If we missed the particular bus we wanted, we never had to wait long to get another one.

We bought three three-day CTA passes via Groupon for $9 each, which was a great deal; we definitely got our money's worth of travel!

On our way back to the Art Institute, we stopped at Millennium Park for the obligatory photos with the Bean, then walked through the park a bit before re-entering the museum. Your ticket is good for the whole day, and it worked well for us so we didn't get tired of being there.

There were some interesting items in the photography section, as well as the Greek/Roman/Etruscan section. We spent some time in the Chicago architecture section, which surrounds the Grand Staircase. This was pretty neat since you don't get to see all the building details that well from the ground. After we visited the rebuilt Chicago Stock Exchange trading room, museum fatigue was setting in, so we walked back to the hostel so the guys could snooze while I checked my email.

A couple of you talked me into trying XOCO, Rick Bayless's casual restaurant, for dinner. Living in New Mexico, we can get great Mexican food at a variety of places, but we like his TV show, and after I looked at the menu, I decided it was worth visiting. http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html

Wow, was it ever good! We enjoyed some very good chips and guacamole while we waited for our entrees; XOCO's is just the right balance of smooth and chunky, and the salsas that came on the side were delicious - very flavorful and not so spicy that you can't feel your tongue after a bite.

Mr. Pickle had one of their seasonal tortas - I can't remember what all was in it except pork. PickleDude had the ahogada torta, and I had the pork belly fideos. We swapped bites; everyone's food was excellent. PickleDude got himself a churro and dipping chocolate for dessert, which was also really tasty. This was probably the best meal of the trip.

We took the Red line back to the hostel. I read while the Pickle guys played pool and ping-pong in the lounge, but we were all ready for bed before long.

More to follow!

Lee Ann
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Jun 1st, 2013, 02:12 PM
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We've been waiting for this!
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Jun 1st, 2013, 02:55 PM
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Having just been there, this is a fun read!
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Nice report! 3 day CTA pass for $9//amazing!
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 01:42 PM
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I'm glad you like it, DebitNM, seeing as we did some of the same activities!

Wednesday, May 22nd

Up, out the door with a quick stop at Cafecito for a latte (it shares part of the lobby with the hostel), the ATM, and a short walk brought us to the Van Buren Metra station. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the Metra station entrance on the east side of the street, as it is a lovely Art Nouveau style. The one on the west side is fairly plain.

It took just a few minutes to arrive at the 55th-56th-57th Street station, and about five minutes to walk to the Museum of Science and Industry, where we planned to spend the day. Mr. Pickle found $5 discount coupons on their website, so we printed three of them and we each paid individually. We all opted for the $8 U-505 submarine tour as well. Mr. Pickle and I had enjoyed reading Shadow Divers, about some men who found an previously unknown U-505 wreck off the coast of New Jersey. One of them spent a good deal of time exploring the submarine at MSI, so it was definitely on our list.

We spent the whole day at the museum and were never bored. It is really well done, and was actually sort of quiet once the hordes of school kids left. We ran into similar hordes at the Art Institute as well; it's a given at the end of the school year!

The submarine tour is definitely worth paying the extra $8 for. The guides were very informative, and you get an idea of what it would have been like to serve during WWII.

We ended up having lunch at the museum, which I can't really recommend. I forgot someone mentioned the hot dog carts outside on my food thread. Mr. Pickle and I tried the noodle stand. You know something is weird when you order the Thai chicken red curry noodles, and they ask if you want marinara or alfredo sauce on top. At any rate, it was filling.

The museum closes at 4:00, which, thankfully, gave us plenty of time to get to US Cellular Field for that evening's Red Sox/White Sox game. PickleDude's first Little League team was the Red Sox, and he's been a fan ever since. When I saw they were playing in Chicago, I knew he would be thrilled to see them in person, and it turned out to be his favorite part of the trip.

It took us a couple of minutes to find the correct bus stop, and we had to wait a while for it to arrive. Originally we had planned to get off at a Red line stop and take the El to the park, but CTA is working on the Red line in the area where we would have gotten on, so we had to take the bus all the way there.

It worked out well, though, as we arrived at the park around 6:00. PickleDude and I had to toss our empty water bottles at the gate, but they missed Mr. Pickle's. I always have difficulty staying hydrated when we travel, so I picked up another one as soon as I could.

Our seats were in the upper deck right behind home plate, which gave us a super view of the field. Once we figured that out, we asked a helpful employee if the park served deep dish pizza. Sorry, Chicagoans, but it's just wrong that the only pizza you can get at US Cellular Field is DiGiorno!

I said that several people recommended Italian beef sandwiches, so we opted for those for dinner. The server asked if we wanted hot peppers, which we didn't, so she brought us plain sandwiches. Another server took a look and said, "Don't you guys want some grilled onions, or cheese, or anything on these?" I said, "Well, we're not from around here. What do people usually put on Italian beef?" So they loaded us up with cheese, grilled onions, a little marinara, and some hot peppers on the side.

Yum. Yum yum yum. And, for good measure, yum. This really hit the spot!

It was a good game - the Red Sox won 6-2, and we got to see former Albuquerque Duke Paul Konerko play for the White Sox. The funnel cake we split later in the game (it was getting cold, and we were all glad we had our jackets) was tasty too.

When we left the park, we saw the Red line was running north, so we hopped on and were back at the hostel in just a few minutes.

Lee Ann
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Jun 4th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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Thursday, May 23rd

We got moving a little earlier today, as we still needed to use the Groupons we bought for Shoreline Sightseeing's architecture boat tour, and we were catching a train to Milwaukee in the early afternoon. We checked out of the hostel, stored our luggage, and headed for Shoreline's Michigan Avenue location. http://shorelinesightseeing.com/

Unfortunately, this was the day the Midwest decided to cancel summer. It was chilly, drizzly, and windy. I had packed cropped pants, but no jeans, since usually colder weather doesn't bother me much.

Even though we should have gone ahead and done the tour a couple of days before, we really enjoyed it. Our guide was very informative, and going out on the river is a neat way to see the buildings.

After the tour, we hustled over to Giordano's http://giordanos.com/ for some deep dish pizza. It was farther off Michigan Ave. than we thought it would be, and then we ended up waiting 35-40 minutes for the pizza to be ready. I didn't notice they offered individual sized pizzas until it was too late to change our order.

We hurried through lunch (too bad, because it was very good), rushed back to the hostel, got our bags and went to the bus stop. The bus took a while to arrive, and by this time I realized we were probably going to miss our 1:05 train to Milwaukee. Sure enough, they close the gates five minutes before departure, and we missed it by just a minute or two.

Providentially, we were able to use our tickets for the next train. We spent the next couple of hours checking email and reading.

The train is a really nice way to travel between cities - thanks for the recommendation, tomfuller. It stops at the Milwaukee airport, where we planned to rent a car for the rest of our trip.

We got off the train and it was sunny - and *cold*, with temps in the 50s and wind chill off Lake Michigan. I realized I was going to need to buy some jeans for the rest of the trip.

We used an Entertainment book coupon for a free upgrade to a standard-size car. When you have a 6'4" PickleDude in your back seat, he appreciates a little leg and head room. Our Dodge Charger was roomy and comfortable for everyone, and we appreciated having a way to plug in my mp3 player.

Originally, we'd planned to stop at the Mitchell Park Conservatory, but we arrived too late in the day to allow time for a visit, so we headed out to Wauwatosa, where Mr. Pickle spent several years as a child. We saw his old house, where his friends used to live, and the park and pond across the street where they skated and sledded during the winter. The apple orchard and home for wayward girls that used to be behind his house is now Wisconsin Lutheran College.

By now, it was dinner time. The freeway was kind of backed up, so we took surface streets down to the Old German Beer Hall on 3rd St. http://www.oldgermanbeerhall.com/ The main dining area was being used by some group, so we sat in the bar area. They get their sausages from Usinger's, right across the street, and our brats were very tasty.

After dinner, we drove back to Wauwatosa for a stop at Gilles Frozen Custard. Mr. Pickle has fond memories of eating there, and the turtle custard lived up to his recollection. It was delicious! http://www.gillesfrozencustard.com/

We had just enough Choice Hotels points to get two free nights at the Econo Lodge near the airport. This location worked really well for us.

Lee Ann
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Jun 4th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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Friday, May 24th

We stopped at the Burlington Coat Factory right next door to our motel so I could buy some jeans. I don't shop, I hunt and I was out of there with my purchase in 10 minutes.

We drove downtown to the Milwaukee Public Museum, where we spent a chunk of the day. www.mpm.edu The Old Milwaukee and European village areas were pretty interesting; I enjoyed getting a look at some of the various groups who came from Europe and settled in the area. They have a nice butterfly garden, too, though we had trouble getting anything to land on us.

Some of the exhibits could use better labeling; it's a little frustrating when you want to know what an object is and it's just sitting there with no clue as to where it's from, etc. But it's still a very nice museum, worth a visit if you're in Milwaukee.

We drove to the lakefront, stopped at the veterans' memorial, and got a look at Lake Michigan, the art museum, and some of the other things in that area. The sun was shining, but it was still chilly, so I was happy to have my new jeans on!

A couple of days before, we reserved spots on the 5:30 tour at Lakefront Brewery. http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/ You get a 6 oz. sampling cup and four tokens to trade in (one per sample). The cashier told us PickleDude could drink under our supervision, but he doesn't care for alcohol, so he used his tokens for their bottled root beer. It's flavored with maple syrup and is very good.

I tried their Fuel Cafe stout, a smoky-tasting limited release called Luther, their Eastside dark lager, and the Wheat Monkey wheat ale. They were all good, though the stout and Eastside were my favorites. The tour was entertaining; we've been to the Coors brewery in Colorado, and I enjoyed getting to see the process on a more personal, smaller scale.

By the end, we were more than ready for some food, and decided to stay for the Friday night fish fry (why Friday nights instead of another night?) upstairs at the Palm Garden.

It's communal seating, and we had a nice chat with two other couples at our table while waiting for our food. We all enjoyed delicious fresh fried cod, potato pancakes, and coleslaw - well, Mr. Pickle enjoyed the coleslaw. I'm not a fan. We resisted the urge to polka and headed back to the hotel so we could do laundry.

Lee Ann
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Jun 6th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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Saturday, May 25th

We left Milwaukee and drove west to Madison through lovely rolling countryside. Mr. Pickle commented how the farms in Wisconsin looked so much neater and cleaner than New Mexico farms. After that, I felt sort of obliged to point the more ramshackle properties we passed.

We arrived in Madison around 11 and were able to snag some free parking near the Capitol. We walked up through the farmer's market and joined a tour in progress. It's a very nice building and the docent was interesting.

Our next stop was State Street. We looked in some of the market booths while searching for a good inexpensive restaurant for lunch. The pasty place was mostly sold out, so we went across the street to Ian's Pizza. http://www.ianspizza.com/ Their specialty slices are $3.50, which seemed reasonable - we had sausage and pepperoni (made with locally produced sausage), chicken penne alfredo, and one with spinach, feta, and tomato. They were all delicious, as was the Caesar salad - a small salad was plenty to split between the three of us.

From what we'd read, UW's ice cream was worth trying, so our last Madison stop was at Babcock Hall on campus. If you're in the area, this stuff is worth the calories! Mr. Pickle and I both had a single with mocha macchiato and orange custard chocolate chip; PickleDude had mocha macchiato and chocolate turtle. The singles are generous servings, and we enjoyed every bite.

Back on the road, we drove to the small town of Mineral Point to visit Pendarvis. http://babcockhalldairystore.wisc.edu/ The area was populated by Cornish lead miners in the 1800s, but many of the houses had been abandoned. In the 1930s two men started buying and restoring the old buildings, and the Wisconsin Historical Society bought it all in the 1970s.

We joined a guided tour through some of the houses. The docent talked about their history and what the two men had done with the houses. It was really a lovely setting and pretty interesting; not a huge tourist attraction but worth a stop for an hour or so. Mineral Point looked like a pretty little town, but by the time we finished up at Pendarvis, most of the shops were closed, so we drove up through Dodgeville (waving at the Lands End headquarters as we passed) and headed north on Hwy. 23 to Spring Green.

This is another really pretty small town. We spent the night at the Spring Green Motel http://www.springgreenmotel.net/ in a nice-sized room. This family-owned property is very well-run, with nice landscaping, a playground and basketball court out back, picnic tables, grills, and a continental breakfast that included hard-cooked eggs and homemade strawberry rhubarb jam.

We enjoyed dinner at The Shed downtown. http://www.shedspringgreen.com/ Everything tasted fresh and was reasonably priced, with lots of locals dining there. They had a band playing out back, and apparently they have a wide variety of family-oriented activities in the summer - concerts, movies, etc.

After dinner, we drove around downtown to locate the supermarket and the Spring Green General Store. It was really nice to see a thriving locally owned bookstore, Arcadia Books, though sadly I didn't have time to stop in.

Lee Ann
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Jun 6th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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Sunday, May 26th

Mr. Pickle got up early and headed to the supermarket for picnic supplies, then over to the Spring Green General Store for my wake-up juice, aka coffee. http://springgreengeneralstore.com/

It took him a long time to return. Turns out the general store was having their annual Bobfest, a celebration of all things Dylan, and they were really busy. The people at the store tried to talk Mr. Pickle into sticking around, but he told them we were going to Taliesin and House on the Rock. As he was leaving, someone exclaimed, "Bobfest is way cooler than House on the Rock!" Ummmmm....no.

We made sandwiches and drove to the Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center, which is just a couple of miles south of town. www.taliesinpreservation.org The house tour is pretty expensive, so we bought tickets for the Hillside Studio and Theater tour. If we were bigger FLW fans, we might have sprung for the house tour.

We were a little early, which gave us time to admire the pricey items in the gift shop.

The tour was really interesting. The studio tour includes parts of the school Wright built for his aunts and the large studio where architecture students still study today.

The theater was quite nice as well. It used to be the school's gym, but was converted to a theater so the architecture students and the people in Spring Green could attend plays, concerts, etc. The stage curtain was a fascinating, sort of abstract depiction of the local scenery.

I could subtitle this part of the report "From the Sublime to the Ridiculous," because our next stop was the kitsch-o-mania palace known as The House on the Rock. http://www.thehouseontherock.com/

Mr. Pickle had fond memories of visiting the house and seeing some of the displays as a child. We considered just touring the house and one of the other buildings, but decided to do all three since it was only $3 more for the whole thing.

The house itself is pretty cool. Alex Jordan built most of it himself, and opened it to the public in the early 1960s. It really is perched up on a huge rock, with massive fireplaces and some neat furniture. The Infinity Room is cantilevered out over the forest and gives quite a lovely view. There are a couple of gardens included in this portion of the tour as well.

Section 2 was massive - a "streets of yesterday" area, a couple of massive calliopes, airplanes, antique cars, and something called "The Heritage of the Sea," apparently the last thing Jordan was putting together before he died. Basically, it's a gigantic sea monster being attacked by a kraken, with sailors, etc. Surrounding it are all kinds of nautical displays from museums that Jordan bought. Basically, the dude collected a *lot* of stuff!

At the end of this, you meet the world's largest carousel, which is, indeed, large.

By the time we were close to the end of section 3 (circuses! oragns! doll houses! more guns! a doll carousel!) we were getting overwhelmed. There was just more and more and more stuff... When you buy a ticket, you can use it for up to a year, so if you were going to spend more than a day in the area, it would probably be more enjoyable to use part of your ticket on another day.

We drove back through Spring Green and took the scenic drive along Highway 60 to Prairie du Chien, where we spent the night at the Microtel. We'd never stayed at one, and we were really pleased with the room and the amenities - indoor pool, snacks, a full hot breakfast, etc.

Lee Ann
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Jun 6th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Lee Ann,
What a terrific report!! I have been so enjoying this. This is my stamping grounds--Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison. You went to some great places. And then you had to end it with The House On The Rock. Just kidding. It is interesting and the house is way cool. It's a very pricey attraction though. You are so right, it is kitsch-o-mainia at it's most kitschiest. I was waiting for the FLW part of this once you started talking about Spring Green. I plan to get there this year, it has been years.

You did make it to one of my favorite events of summer- the farmer's market in Madison around the capital. And you didn't dance the polka in Milwaukee??? Not enough brewskis. obviously. Loved your Chicago part of the trip too even if you did go to US Cellular Field and not Wrigley. (I joke, both are great!).
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Jun 7th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Lee Ann, you are not going to believe this but my youngest son was at Bobfest. He was talking about it, and I said you mean in Spring Green??

Shows what a small world it really is. 6 Degrees of Separation and all that. By the way, he thought Bobfest was way cool too. Guess you missed out!!
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Jun 7th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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We were close to having enough beer to polka after consuming four 6-ounce samples on the tour!

That's too funny about your son being at Bobfest! We really aren't Dylan fans, though admittedly most of his songs are better when someone else sings them.

Next up - the Great River Road.

Lee Ann
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Jun 8th, 2013, 01:25 PM
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Monday, May 27th

We planned to take a couple of days for a leisurely drive up the Great River Road to Pepin, stopping when we felt like it and doing some hiking and canoeing. http://wigrr.com/ Before we left home, I downloaded most of the free audio tour on my mp3 player so we could learn a little as we drove.

Sadly, it was cold and either drizzling or raining all day. We did spend some time at the first river lock we came to. I've read about locks, but never seen one, and living in New Mexico they aren't exactly a common feature. We didn't get to see any of the big barges in a lock (though we saw one on the river later), but they did open the one we were at to adjust the water levels for a good-sized passenger boat.

It was actually a pretty nice day for a drive. The misty views across the Mississippi were lovely, though we would have liked a clearer view.

We stopped in Trempeleau to do a little hiking at Perrot State Park. This was where we had thought of canoeing (well, the Pickle guys were going to canoe) but it was cold, windy, and rainy enough that they decided against the idea. Instead, we hiked most of a trail up a ridge, which had some great views of the surrounding countryside. The drizzle stopped long enough for us to have a good walk. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/perrot/

We also stopped at a few other scenic overlooks along the way to our evening stop at Pepin.

I hadn't made hotel reservations for this night since we wanted to play it by ear. The AAA book mentioned the Great River Amish Inn in Pepin, so I called and made a reservation.
http://www.greatriveramishinn.com After we checked in, another woman did as well, and the clerk promptly closed the office - at about 6:00 p.m. It wasn't open in the morning, either, when we wanted to check out. Mr. Pickle had wanted to ask the clerk a couple of questions that morning, but no one answered the office door.

I didn't see much of any Amish connection here aside from the quilts on the beds, but it was clean, the beds were comfortable, and it was in our price range. The free wi-fi didn't work at all. The clerk told us it was an open connection, but all we could find were secure connections, and there was no one to ask for a password. It's in a good location, though, right on the main street and within easy walking distance of several restaurants and a grocery store.

We had dinner at the Pickle Factory - seemed like a good fit given my screen name - and enjoyed a pretty tasty pizza. It's down by the lake, so we had a very nice view as we ate.

Lee Ann
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Jun 10th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Tuesday, May 28th

Our original plan was to make our way back toward Milwaukee, stopping somewhere midway. However, I found a Groupon for the Atlantis Hotel and Waterpark in the Dells, which included free passes to the Chula Vista waterpark, so we decided to make that our stop for the night.

Mr. Pickle and I walked to Paul and Fran's Grocery to look for some breakfast. http://paulandfransgrocery.com/ We didn't find anything except regular groceries, and we didn't want to haul an open container of milk around all day, so we didn't purchase anything. Fortunately, they have freshly ground and brewed coffee, which was great. We ended up getting breakfast sandwiches at the convenience store just down the block from our motel. There is a restaurant right next door, but they were closed.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is across the street from the motel. http://lauraingallspepin.com/ I'm a big fan of her books, so Pepin was a must-stop on this trip. The museum doesn't contain all that much that was actually connected to Laura, but some of the displays were interesting, and I was glad to have spent a few minutes there.

As we were driving out of town, we stopped at Villa Bellezza Winery. We were surprised to see a number of wineries along our route - guess you need something to go with all that cheese! http://www.villabellezza.com/

Apparently one of the universities in Minnesota has come up with grapes that can handle the cold, and that is what they use for their wines. We tasted five or six different wines - a couple of reds, a couple of whites, and a rose. I'm not a big fan of semi-sweet wines, but their Banco was very good. We also liked the Terra, the Musetta and the Cotes du Pepin.

Our next stop was the Little House Wayside about seven miles out of town. There is a replica cabin built where the Ingalls family owned property. Obviously, the "Big Woods" are gone, but it was still fun to see what the cabin would have looked like when Laura was a little girl.

I'd read about the Stockholm Pie Company somewhere online before we left, so we made that our last stop on the Great River Road. http://www.stockholmpiecompany.com/ Mr. Pickle and I had triple chocolate pecan, and PickleDude had chocolate cream. I considered the double lemon, but it had been a few days since I'd had any chocolate.

We enjoyed some of the best pie we've ever eaten - buttery, flaky crusts and delicious fillings. Do stop here if you're driving this route. It's worth the calories!

We got to the Dells mid-afternoon and found our hotel. http://www.theatlantishotel.com/ Our Groupon was good for the Mermaid whirlpool suite, complete with a large whirlpool tub. This property is geared to families, but the starry mirrored ceilings over the tub and bed make you think it could be put to other uses as well. ;-)

We were more interested in seeing the natural beauty of the area than the over-the-top amusement park rides, so we drove along both sides of the river looking for somewhere to hike. We found one lone parking area and hiking trail on the east side of the river. The parking lot has a sign by the trail, but no signs by the road. I just happened to see it as we drove past, and we had to find a place to turn around and go back.

The trail is easy to navigate and takes you to a bluff on the river's edge. It was quiet and peaceful, and we even saw a deer on the way back to the car.

We enjoyed dinner at Famous Dave's, with enough leftovers to have for lunch the next day, and finally found some fresh cheese curds at Carr Valley Cheese across the street. We hadn't wanted to buy a large amount, and the clerk was happy to repackage them for us.

Lee Ann
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Jun 28th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Wednesday, May 29th

I just realized I hadn't finished this report. On to the last day's adventures!

We had breakfast at the hotel and picked up our admission wristbands for the Chula Vista Water Park, which were included in our Groupon deal. The water park is about five miles from Atlantis, on the other side of the river, but it's a pretty quick drive.

Chula Vista is a resort which looks like it would be a nice getaway - golf course, etc. plus the indoor and outdoor water parks. The outdoor park wasn't open when we arrived, so we just spent a couple of hours at the indoor park. I couldn't get up the nerve to try the two biggest slides, but the others were fun - especially the roller coaster slide.

The outdoor park was open by the time we were ready to leave; we decided to skip it since we'd showered and dressed. We enjoyed our Famous Dave's leftovers for lunch and left for Milwaukee.

We got back to Milwaukee in time to visit the Mitchell Park Conservatory, aks the Domes. We'd planned to see them when we originally arrived in Milwaukee earlier in the trip, but missing the train in Chicago meant we got there too late.

The desert and tropical domes were open; unfortunately, the show dome was between exhibits. The displays in both domes were quite nice, though I didn't spend a lot of time in the desert dome since we were heading back to New Mexico that evening.

When we finished, we still had over an hour before we had to return our rental car. PickleDude wanted to go back to Gilles for more frozen custard, but we didn't think we really had time to get to Wauwautosa during rush hour. Instead, we drove south on Layton, figuring we would find somewhere to have dinner on the way to the airport.

Providentially, we discovered Leon's Frozen Custard on the corner of 27th and Layton. http://leonsfrozencustard.us It looked pretty busy, but we persuaded Mr. Pickle to stop there anyway.

We discovered people don't go to Leon's for the food - entrees were a hot dog, a chili dog, or a "spanish hamburger" aks sloppy joe. They were all adequate, and since we had had some protein we felt justified in eating more custard.

I think Leon's is a little better than Gilles, though they were both superb. Mr. Pickle had vanilla and raspberry, while PickleDude and I had chocolate and raspberry.

Leon's doesn't have tables or restrooms, so order a cup of water and some extra napkins in case your custard drips.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The Pickle guys played a game of pool while I took a quick peek at the Mitchell Gallery of Flight and grabbed a little caffeine.

The flight to Denver left late, and was longer than we thought it would be due to stormy weather; apparently this is a regular occurrence, so they build extra time into the flight so people usually don't miss connections at DIA.

Once we arrived in Denver, our flight to Albuquerque was delayed too. We got home after midnight and collapsed.

We had a really lovely, relaxing trip. I would love to do this again in the fall when the leaves are changing. It would also be great to spend a little more time in Chicago.

Lee Ann
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Jun 28th, 2013, 01:34 PM
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I just finished uploading pictures from the trip. Here's a link if you're interested!

Lee Ann
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Jul 30th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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Excellent! Thank you for such detail!
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Jul 31st, 2013, 09:56 AM
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You're welcome. I hope it's useful for you.

Lee Ann
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Sep 1st, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Wow, this will be really helpful for me - we are planning a trip to Door County, and wanted to do some other stuff in Wisconsin. I hadn't even though of the FLW house. I just printed off your trip report for a very careful reading Thanks!
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Sep 1st, 2013, 01:46 PM
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I hope it's helpful, buffylou.

Lee Ann
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