Custer State Park in South Dakota

Custer State Park in South Dakota
We saw a LOT of these guys at Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baxters Coffee in Somerset

I love any business named after the family dog!

I kind of found Baxter's in Somerset by accident on a road trip recently.

The coffee shop is in an old house, and it feels very homey.  It is very comfortable, and it is definitely a relaxing place to stop for some coffee.

The shop is nice and organized, and a bit more colorful than some other coffee shops.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Green Bay Packers, Green Bay Wisconsin

Easily one of the most exciting stops we made on our trip through Wisconsin and Michigan was stopping at at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin to see the home field of the Packers!

Let me take a moment to say that this is a CLASSY organization!  Our entire experience was tops.

We drove here early on a weekday in April- a very off day for NFL football.  Still, there was a good continuous crowd taking tours, going through the museum, and just hanging out.

AND the Packers organization STILL had the place looking perfect, even on this very day they still brought their A game.

When we got to Lambeau, we went to the ticket counter to purchase our tickets.  The very nice lady selling tickets had on a Super Bowl ring!  We said something about it, and she let my wife try her ring on!  VERY COOL!

She told us about how the organization actual took employees that had been there for a while to the Super Bowl!  She was also among the many employees who were given rings!

AND, everyone we talked to at Lambeau had a similar attitude.  Our tour guides, the people in the gift shop, the staff at Curly's....  everyone was great!

We ended up pretty much spending the entire day at Lambeau Field, which I hear is common.  We looked around the museum before our tour started, then we took our, tour.  After that, we had lunch at Curly's (GREAT FOOD by the way), next we finished up touring the museum, and lastly we spent some time in the gift shop. 

The tour of Lambeau was fun and casual.  It was easy to get from one point of the stadium to the other.  Our tour guides were a lot of fun.

The thing that impressed me the most was how the team is owned by the community- and the community takes great pride in this!

One of our tour guides mentioned that he is an owner, which, it seems provides a payout of only bragging rights, but those are some impressive rights!

For reasons relating to geography, I have always cheered for the Colts and the Steelers.  I love Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, and I have spent a lot of time in each town.  After hanging out there for so long, the local sports teams have grown on me (the same way of thinking does not apply to my former home city of Cleveland).

But, after touring Lambeau, and seeing how the team started and is ran today, I love this team! 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Children of the Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado & Sheila Cohn Dekel

After visiting Eva Kor at her CANDLES Museum I have been doing a lot of reading on the Holocaust.

I won't go back over the Holocaust.  If you aren't familiar with what happened, please take a moment to look it up.  I am still amazed by the eye witness accounts I hear and read.  I am also amazed that this event happened at all, and so recently.

Children of the Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel is a very easy to read and understand volume covering the the evil actions of Mengele and the experiments he performed on twins at Auschwitz.

The authors do a great job of interviewing survivors of Auschwitz.  In fact, a large part of the book contains quotes from the twins.

This would actually be a good book for anyone interested in the subject, but unsure of where to start.  A vivid picture of what life was like in the concentration camp is painted.  Also, how the twins lived after liberation is covered thoroughly.  Quotes about the survivors going back to their homes and finding that they were looted by neighbors give an idea about the continuing struggles that were faced.

Also covered is the story of Josef Mengele.  The reader gets an idea of what his life was like.  Most troubling is the fact that he was able to escape any sort of prosecution for his crimes.

This book gets my highest recommendation.  It is thorough but easy to understand.  Our friend Eva Kor makes an appearance, and there are many first hand witness quotes.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Top Secret- Wisconsin Dells

Here are a few photos from "Top Secret" in the Wisconsin Dells.

This is a tough one to explain.  In fact, I am not exactly sure of its story even after taking the tour.

Think of a standard haunted house, but with more of a sci-fi kind of theme than a haunted theme.

We DID love this place though.  It is odd, strange, and it is the kind of place that can only exist in a place like the Dells!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Carr Valley Cheese- La Valle, Wisconsin

We wanted to visit a nice, rural cheese place while we were in Wisconsin.  We found Carr Valley Cheese just 30 minutes outside of the Wisconsin Dells area.

First off, we got up early and drove to their factory from the Dells.  The drive alone justified the trip.  Beautiful!

Once there, we weren't exactly sure of what to expect.  We didn't know if we would be seeing cheese making and packaging going on in a huge warehouse or what.

The shop/visitor center is not huge, but they sure do a lot with the space.  On display and for sale were many Wisconsin novelties, along with a huge selection of Carr Valley Cheese!

A VERY friendly lady working there greeted us and told us a bit about the company.  She then let us watch a short film about Carr Valley Cheese and how they make their products.

After the video, she directed us to look out the glass door windows from the shop in to the area where the cheese is actually made.

From the gift shop, you could observe the various steps in the cheese making process.

Even though the area was small, there was a lot to see!  I kind of liked the fact that we didn't physically go in to the area where the cheese was made because the employees looked busy!  AND, from our angle, we could take in a lot without moving around.  With our friendly hostess explaining so much to us, we easily enjoyed this just as much as any hands on tour.

Oh, and the company was generous with samples!  You could try cheese made there THAT DAY!  I thought that was cool!  5 and 10 year old cheese were there too, along with some other more exotic choices!

Of course we had to buy various cheeses on our way out.  I bought a bag of cheese that was less than a day old to snack on in the car.  We bought some goat cheese for my dad, and some other cheese for other friends.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brat House Grill, Wisconsin Dells

On this trip through Wisconsin and Michigan, we remembered a rule we had kind of forgotten recently- ASK THE LOCALS!

When we first got to the Dells area, we saw a flyer for a local place where your food is brought out to your table by a model train.  In fact, we saw several ads for this place in magazines.  This place looked like a lot of fun so we went.

BEFORE we went, we did ask some locals in the area about that restaurant.  Without being rude, the locals strongly suggested that we try the Brat House instead.

Well, we went to the other place and it was disappointing.  The food and service were not that good.  So, we went to the Brat House for dinner.  We had a VERY different experience there.

First off, the Brat House is in a very historic building.  I love that kind of thing.  It is in many ways a simple bar, but the site has witnessed a lot of history.

The feel at the Brat House is a family friendly bar.  It is a bar, but it isn't rowdy at all.

The food was GREAT!  We were all more than happy with our brats and I had a great bowl of soup too!

For what its worth, our bill at the Brat House was half the price of our bill at the other place.  Also, our server got twice the tip our server at the other place got.

Speaking of the server.....  The guy at the Brat House was GREAT!  We were talking at our table about going to Stand Rock.  He over heard us and went and got a map for us!  He made great suggestions about the menu, and he was on the ball.

The Brat House was simply very satisfying.  It reminded us that going to the smaller local places is a better all around experience than going to some of the flashier, closer to the Highway, type places.  Its a better value too!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stone Creek Coffee-Milwaukee Wisconsin

I mentioned a couple of days ago that we visited several very cool coffee shops on our trip circling Lake Michigan.  Seriously, we found some great ones.

And this was the first one we stumbled on that we fell in love with.  In fact, we ended up stopping by Stone Creek Coffee twice we loved it so much!

The location we went to is actually the Stone Creek Factory, which seems to be the brain center of the very small chain (they have less than 10 stores in the area).

Housed in a building that is over 100 years old, this shop feels like an extremely comfortable indy coffee shop, only much roomier than most.  You can spread out here over the site's first and second floor.  On the first evening we stopped by, we had the second floor to ourselves.

The second floor is also home to the Stone Creek Kitchen, where the crew at Stone Creek Coffee cooks up their treats (homemade using local products).

I can't say enough about how cool the atmosphere is here.  They design very artsy and attractive labels for their locally roasted coffees.  I have to admit, I actually bought a couple of bags of beans just because I liked the design so much!  I also bought a couple of bags of the coffee they brewed at the shop that day too- because I loved the flavor!

While I am talking about the actual store, while I was there they were playing Beatles and Johnny Cash albums on vinyl!  VINYL!  Even if Stone Creek's coffee wasn't as good, it would be worth stopping by just for the treat of listening to old vinyl!

We were there on Easter, and they had free peeps out!  I liked the peeps display however, with all of Stone Creek Coffee's great pastry items, I wasn't going to touch a peep!  I can have a peep anywhere- I wanted to indulge in Stone Creek's offerings while in Milwaukee!

If you are road tripping through Milwaukee, you have to stop at Stone Creek Coffee!  I feel very comfortable saying that this place is a perfect 10 coffee shop.  Great coffee, friendly and knowledgeable staff, great food items, cozy vibe, good music and good art.  I would love to see this small chain in Wisconsin expand!