10th Annual Dog Paddle

>This morning I went to the 10th annual Dog Paddle at Woodland Park’s swimming pool. They have the event on the last day the pool is open for the season. It is sponsored by many companies around Lexington, but is put together by Friends of the Dog Parks. It is a great event, and so much fun to watch!

It poured on us for a while, but thankfully cleared up! It was funny, even though the dogs were swimming, most of them seeked shelter when it started raining!

Heidi going like a flash

We made Greenlee get in too

Help me! I can’t get out!

Wisconsin Tour: Apostle Islands

>Day 1:
Ate Lunch at Rocky Roccoco’s Pizzeria
Drove to Bayfield, WI from Madison (~6 hours)
Set up our tent at the Bayfield Area Campground
Ate dinner at the Northern Edge

I should have known that, as much of our other travels, the first day would not go well, especially anything planned for Friday the 13th. So we started on our journey for the Apostle Islands at the National Lakeshore in Bayfield,WI, but decided to stop at Rocky Roccoco’s Pizza to eat some lunch. The pizza was delicious, but as we got up to leave I noticed we had been sitting at Table 13. And we ended up leaving Madison a bit behind schedule around 1:00 pm or 1300 hours. Finally, we drove the last 100 miles on Highway 13. It was sort of spooky with all those 13’s in one day, I guess we survived. Well, at the last minute, we did get drenched setting up the tent in the rain, but we enjoyed a nice dinner on the lake to make up for it.

The trip up the Apostle Islands was really fun. If you ever go, then definitely take Highway 13 for part of it, it’s gorgeous and looks different than Southern Wisconsin. Boo says it all when he says the first day of getting to someplace always has a twist to it. As we drove closer to Bayfield we saw some extra large dark clouds. And then it poured! Travel guides aren’t lying when they say weather changes quickly around the lake. Needless to say, we got soaked when setting up the tent and then froze to death while eating dinner. At least we learned what we could do next time (if it ever happens again!)

Highway 13 is looking up to its name
A Storm Lurking
Day 2:
Grand Tour of Apostle Islands with Island Cruises on the ‘Island Princess’
Toured Rittenhouse Street in Bayfield by foot
Ate lunch at Wild by Nature
Dessert at Big Water Cafe
Toured National Lakeshore Visitor’s Center in Bayfield
Concert at the Big Top Chautauqua – ‘Wild Woods & Waters’

Our soaked campsite

The next morning after sorting through our soaked gear we ate breakfast and made our way to downtown Bayfield to take a tour around the Apostle Islands by cruise ship with the Apostle Islands Cruises. We got to see plenty of the islands and a few light houses along the way. The trip was narrated, so that made it even better. We found out the rich history that this place has and checked out some of the amazing scenery.

Touring a few of the Islands on the Grand Tour
The Big Water Cafe
While walking down the main drag in Bayfield we discovered this great cafe and eatery, The Big Water Cafe. It was a great place to grab some dessert and lunch, too. Their coffee, cakes, soups and grilled cheeses go highly recommended by me! I think that I would love to own/operate a place like this some day, but in a different location…
A concert at the Big Top
Another must see of the Bayfield Area is the Big Top Chautauqua. They had a local show performing a show which celebrated Wisconsin called “Wild Woods and Waters”. It was great folk/country music with great singing and some performance acts throughout. This place often draws famed national acts, so if you are ever in the area be sure to stop in and see what they have to offer.
Day 3:
Sea kayaking on Lake Superior with Living Adventures’ Shipwreck Tour
Ate lunch at Maggie’s Cafe
Toured Historic Fishing Village at Little Sand Bay
Drove Highway 13 to Meyer Beach and hiked Lakeshore Trail

Kayaking on some shipwrecks

The next big adventure on our list was a sea kayaking tour… This was probably one of the most exciting experiences of the whole trip and most grueling, too! We decided to go with a tour group called Living Adventure. The place was super professional and I had lots of fun. All the staff was friendly and the scenery was just amazing. I definitely want to go back someday and go island hopping with this group.

I really enjoyed the kayaking trip! I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I think it’s something I would like to do eventually. The tour company was really great, I felt they really knew what they were doing and were concerned about everyone having fun and being safe. We even stopped for a while, held onto each others canoes in a big group and ate some bakery chocolate chip cookies our tour guide brought.

Maggie’ Cafe

An old fishing village

A view of Lake Superior
The famous Red Cliffs 
Meyer Beach with the red cliffs in the distance
Another highlight of the trip was hiking the Lakeshore Trail at the northwestern edge of the peninsula. This tour featured some striking terrain and gorgeous views of the red cliffs which dot the area. The hike was not all that long, about 4 miles round trip, but the trail was extremely wet. We also got the chance to visit a historical fishing settlement and walk on the piers and check out Little Sand Bay.

The hike was a nice time to get more into the wilderness, even though it begins at a convenient parking lot next to the shore. It was super windy once the trail went next to the cliffs, but I was amazed how much the trees blocked the wind. I was hot, then cold, then hot! It was pretty neat to see the red cliffs and the waves crashing against them.

Day 4:
Picked blueberries at North Wind Farm
Drove Star Route Road
Ate lunch at Big Water Cafe
Mailed postcards and shopped along Rittenhouse and Manypenny Streets
Drove Highway 13 back to Madison stopping at Concrete Park and Pittsville along the way

Picking Blueberries at North Wind
North Wind Farm House
We heard about the North Wind Farm while we were kayaking and decided to give it a try. Apparently, Tom, the owner, is a well renowned organic farmer and I have to say that his organic produce was pretty amazing. We picked about 3 pounds of blueberries and got a cucumber to take home. Even more impressive is the fact that this guy lives completely off the grid using firewood and solar to heat and power his home and wind to power a water pump. Even his car and farming equipment is solar powered.

Picking blueberries was awesome. It made me appreciate the food that the plant produced and made me not to even waste one berry once it got back home. I was glad we went back to the Big Water Cafe, they’re amazing! And we had a wild rice mushroom soup that was fantastic, which I’ll have to replicate sometime. And they even had homemade pickles!
Lunch and Postcards at Big Water
After picking some berries and adventuring through the wilderness, we decided to take a break and write home about our travels. We also took the opportunity to get some lunch at the Big Water. I think this was my favorite place to eat on the whole trip. I was even inspired to cook some of their Mushroom and Wild Rice soup for a dinner and a movie date which will take place later…
…and this is all they had!
To wrap up the trip we took the scenic Highway 13 back to Madison. It was a bit longer, but we were able to see a few local tourist attractions. The first was a concrete park with a lot of statues and such hand sculpted and formed out of concrete with some glass as ornamentation. I have seen a few of them around WI since I have been here and do wonder what started this trend. Also we got to see the exact center of the state

Wisconsin Tour: Milwaukee

I had been planning a tour of Wisconsin for the better part of the past six months. Recently, I was able to undertake this extensive tour which goes to Milwaukee, the Apostle Islands, and areas around Madison. I tried to incorporate every part of the state in this tour in a timely and budget conscious fashion. I started the tour with a trip to downtown Milwaukee…

Day 1:
Drove to Milwaukee
Flat tire while attempting to tour the Lakefront Brewery
Checked into Days Inn Hotel of the Arts
Spare tire flat on the way to Harley Davidson Museum & a tow to Firestone by the Better World Car Club
Dinner at Moe’s Irish Pub & Riverwalk along the Milwaukee River

The trip to Milwaukee began early afternoon with a small commute from Madison. I made the long trek from Kentucky a couple days before (9 hours!), but was glad to be in Wisconsin and ready for a jam packed vacation.

Our first stop in Milwaukee was to be Lakefront Brewery which is on the Milwaukee River. We made it to the brewery just in time for the tour…except they were sold out of tickets… So we figured we would go ahead and check into the hotel and go from there. Except….we had a flat. So while the tire was changed, I made sure traffic was slowing down, since we were parallel parked. We made it to the Days Inn Hotel of the Arts, which was really nice (I recommend). We took a mini siesta and planned to go on to the Harley Davidson Museum, since they were still open. So we set the GPS and made our way. However, the GPS took is a really weird way to the museum, including a backroad by some warehouses. The road was filled with potholes…and as soon as I said “We’re going to have to get the spare patched…” it happened…another flat! I would say that the Hotel of the Arts is highly recommended for anyone staying in the Milwaukee area.

Thankfully we had an auto service. So nearly two hours of sitting in a hot car, a tow truck came to pick us up and take us to Firestone to drop it off. I also recommend the Better World Car Club to those who like having an auto service which is more environmentally sound than its other AAA counterpart. This service offers competitive pricing on its plans and even has a bicycle package. The service also supports environmental initiatives which is included in its yearly dues.
We decided all we would just be grateful to eat some dinner and get back to the hotel. We found Mo’s Irish Pub, then afterwards walked down the Riverwalk toward our hotel. The Riverwalk was really nice and boosted our spirits again. It was nice to walk along the river and see all the buildings lit up and people out eating dinner and having drinks. Thankfully though, the hotel had a free shuttle within 2 miles, so we called for help as soon as we could since we had been walking for miles!
Milwaukee has some neat lighting around the city and the river walk is a great feature, especially those who want to relax or be social.

Day 2:
Mitchell Domes Conservatory
Lunch at Potbelly’s Subs
Tour of Growing Power
Tour of Pabst Mansion
Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Game
Late dinner at Rockbottom Brewery

We opened our eyes that morning with better hopes for the day. We stuck to the schedule we had set for that day, which began with a visit to the Mitchell Domes and Conservatory. They’re three domes, which exhibit tropical, desert, and a featured exhibit in the 3rd dome. This season’s was the river and steamboats. The domes were neat, but they are in need of some maintenance, especially on the grounds around the domes.

The Exhibit Dome with a Steamboat Theme
Next we went to Growing Power, which was Boo’s suggestion. It was quite far from downtown Milwaukee, so we decided to head that way and find some lunch. It wasn’t in the best part of town, so once we found where it was, we drove a ways to a small urban town center to find lunch. It was pretty neat, and an example of what is being done in new urbanism.
It was really hot outside as we made our way back to Growing Power. We started the tour with a little history about the program. Then we entered the extremely hot greenhouses! I was close to passing out… We also learned that it is using new technologies in agriculture and is located on a few acres within a surrounding neighborhood. It was really neat to learn how it started and how much it’s doing on such a small scale. The neatest thing to see was the aquaponics, which grew vegetables using a constant flow of nutrient filled water. The circulation of the water was non-stop and was given nutrients by the fish in the water basin.
Growing Power grows everything in pots. They don’t trust the city soil, and it’s an easier method for them
After growing power we made our way back downtown to the Pabst Mansion. We learned a lot about the Pabst family (who brewed Pabst beer), and their household. They had a lot of the latest technologies of the time. It is also one of the few left standing mansions along the street because they have all been torn down, for various buildings and parking lots. The mansion was really nice, but a lot of it is still being restored. It was shocking to hear about all their renovations and its cost. I’m glad they saved this mansion!
The Pabst Mansion
Being tired from so much standing and walking, we went back to the hotel for a nap before making our way to see a Milwaukee Brewer’s game. We took the shuttle again, and met some New Yorker’s who were also going to the game. We found out later they had used the shuttle for some bar hopping trips all around Milwaukee! The game was fun to go to and a nice time to relax.
Milwaukee Brewer’s Game against Arizona
After the game we took the shuttle down to Rock Bottom Brewery for some dinner. We saw this place while walking along the Riverfront Walk the previous night and thought it looked like a good place, and it was! We found out it was happy hour, so we made a dinner out of some appetizers. If you ever go to Milwaukee, you have to make it to this place, they have great food and even better beer (and this is coming from me, who doesn’t drink too much beer!)
Day 3:
Milwaukee Art Museum and lunch at their cafe
Discovery World
Milwaukee Boat Line tour of Milwaukee
Ice Cream, Oysters, and Beer at the Public Market in the 3rd Ward
Opera at the Park in the Historic 3rd Ward
Dinner at Rip Tide Seafood Restaurant
Riverwalk to Rockbottom Brewery for a sampler of their beer
Our spirits were still in good shape the third day as day two went really well. Our first stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum. We were amazed by the building and it’s gardens, which were designed by Dan Kiley, a famous landscape architect. There were some neat exhibits inside, including a temporary exhibit on quilts, and many more permanent exhibits from oil paintings to modern furniture to orange acrylic boxes. Afterwards, we ate lunch in the museum’s cafe overlooking Lake Michigan.
The Lobby of the Art Museum
Fog Hovering Over the Museum
We decided we should also make it over next door to Discovery World, since we heard it was a neat place. Discovery World was awesome, and it was probably my favorite thing in Milwaukee. We saw an aquarium, and exhibits about Les Paul, fresh water systems, and other scientific wonders. This place was so neat and was really into getting people involved to see how science works. It was a blast!
The Aquarium
An Exhibit on Freshwater
The Les Paul Exhibit
An Exhibit On How Machines Work
It was time to relax for a nice cruise around Lake Michigan with the Milwaukee Boat Line for a tour. We made our way down to the Riverfront Walk again and onto the cruise ship. They began by going down the river and to Lake Michigan. However, it was extremely foggy! Cold air had made its way down from the north and made fog when it hit the warm lake. So, instead they guided us down the rivers, which was just as fun and we saw a lot more of Milwaukee.
Many boats line the river next to apartments and restaurants
After the cruise, we walked down to the Historic 3rd Ward, where there are some galleries, shops, and restaurants. We went to the Public Market, where Boo made me try oysters for the first time. They’re okay, they didn’t really taste like much to me! The market was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, but still offered a place to get a snack and sit down for a while. Then we headed towards a seafood place we saw on the river while on the cruise. After a short walk, we stumbled upon a small outdoor concert of some opera, so we sat for a while and enjoyed ourselves a bit.
An Operatic Concert
Part of the Riverfront Walk, and a Foggy Lake Michigan Next To the Seafood Place
Day 4:
Harley Davidson Museum
Lunch at Casablanca Mediterranean Cuisine on Brady Street
Lakefront Brewery Tour
Shopping along Brady Street Historic District
Dive to Madison
Sushi and Ice Cream at Home
Theater: “Hamlet”
We decided to spend day four mostly in Milwaukee, instead of going to Old World Wisconsin that day like we had planned. The first day set us back badly, and we were really enjoying Milwaukee. First we went to the Harley Davidson Museum, which just opened last year. It was quite impressive! I enjoyed the landscape and architecture of the place almost as much as the motorcycles.
The Entrance to the Museum
Some Vintage Motorcycles
Our last stop in Milwaukee was going to the Lakefront Brewery, which was supposed to be our first! We headed there early to try to get tickets, but we weren’t allowed to purchase them yet…So we walked over to nearby Brady Street, another place to eat, drink, and shop. It was more laid back than the 3rd Ward, and has also been a recent project for Milwaukee. It seemed to be geared towards a younger crowd. We stopped in at Casablanca for an amazing Indian vegetarian buffet and then stopped in at a few shops. We then walked back down to Lakefront Brewery for the tour. It was fun, but it was so crowded and small, we missed a good part of the tour! It was okay though and it was fun. It was interesting to see how small the brewery was and how it began. They also had a restaurant there, and gave tokens for free refreshments to be drunk while on the tour.
A View of the Brewery from a Pedestrian Bridge
After the tour we went back down to Brady Street for a while longer, kind of wishing we could enjoy Milwaukee for even longer. But it was back to Madison. We were exhausted from all we did in Milwaukee, but were in good spirits from all the neat stuff we did do. And after all, we still had many more good times ahead of us!

Appalachian Voices: A Concert with Yim Yames, Ben Sollee, Daniel Martin Moore

This past Thursday on July 22nd 2010, an unexpected concert brought people from the bluegrass region to the Lexington Opera House for a benefit concert. The concert “Appalachian Voices” raised funds and awareness to people on the issue of mountain top removal which is an economic, cultural, and social problem in the coal mining states.

The tour kicked off this evening in Lexington, and will continue to other venues:

Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. (July 23), Mountain Stage Radio in Charleston, W.Va. (July 25), Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville, Va. (July 27), Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, N.Y. (July 29) and Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, N.Y. (July 30)

On stage, were quilts made of plastic bags. Ben Sollee, a cellist (who I played in orchestra with in high school!), explained they were made by a local artist who helps people with disabilities make art.

The concert began at 8:20pm; everyone clapped as they strutted onto stage and the lights dimmed. The night was filled with an eclectic mix of songs, some from their just released album, “Dear Companion“, to songs by My Morning Jacket (Jim James, lead Singer), solo songs by Sollee (Cellist & Singer) and Moore (Guitarist & Singer), and even seemingly random songs such as “Save the Last Dance For Me” done in a Latino beat. The drummer, Dan Dorff, joined the trio. Dorff showed off his beats in one song by performing as the drum kit himself, dancing on a plywood board, kicking and clapping the beat.

The untraditional group had an amazingly full sound and could have even played in a larger venue to unleash their full sound. Ben Sollee sounds himself a full band on his cello, using his technique to fill in bass, melody, and everything in between.

The crowd cheered for the the quartet as the night went on, even throughout two encores. The concert ended near 10:30 as I anticipated the group was ready for a night out around Lexington.

Our seats were on the 3rd level, very nosebleed…