"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
you will see a sign for a low power radio station describing what is going on there.
We tuned in, you can listen here. The drive up the Avenue of the Chiefs built our anticipation for a great visit!
Here is a short film giving an overview of this monumental project.
The project was began in 1948 by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and the legacy continues today by his children.
Admission is $28 for per vehicle with more than 2 people. That fee is waived during special events where food donations are accepted instead.
The grounds are beautiful with a great view of the carving-in-progress. There is a museum and the Laughing Water Restaurant where you can enjoy Indian Taco and other traditional Native American foods. We enjoyed a great dinner there! Pictured is the taco, Tatanka (Bison) Stew, and fry bread with wojapi (warm berry sauce) for a yummy dessert!
Begin your self-guided tour of the extensive museum at the information desk, the people there are happy to answer your questions!
There are a great many rooms to explore, you can make a day of it here! The main deck is a great viewpoint of Crazy Horse, you can see all the action when work is being done. There is also a scale model of what it will look like when complete on the deck. This model is in the display room behind me.
This room is the first one you see after coming off the main deck near the restaurant.
In this room is a bin of rocks from the monument that you can take for free!
The scale model showing what it will look like when finished. Al and I may not live long enough though to see that day unless they get a LARGE influx of money. This is being built entirely on donations.
Here are some other highlights in the rest of the building.
Inside of the teepee.
This was a surprise, a signed Packer football there 🙂
Korczak display room with artifacts from the family and early carvings.
A painting of Korczak at age 73.
This display room has a great many Native American artifacts from many tribes.
More to see downstairs.
It was thrilling seeing a real one on the way there!
We were reaching the conclusion of our tour. As we prepared to go, we saw a bus taking people out to the base of the mountain. We were a little too tired to do that today, but planning on it next time.
After an unsuccessful attempt to see the monument the day before, we returned the next morning and were happy to see sunny skies! We took the fast route there from Hot Springs on the return trip. Enjoy the views on our drive from Hot Springs to Mt. Rushmore, it was one hour from there. It is located in Keystone. We arrived at 6:40 AM.
The Iron Mountain Road we took the day before led us to this historical marker about the designer of the monument.
The route up the other side from Custer was beautiful the next morning. We saw a mountain lake reflecting the blue sky, the trees flocked in snow.
We made it to the top, the view just before pulling into the parking ramp.
We were among the first people here, arriving before the museum opened. Outside is a sign posting events going on there daily.
The Avenue of Flags paves the way to the Grand Terrace to view the monument close-up. in a niche on the left is a bust of Borglum.
We made it! Seeing this work of art up close is amazing. The blue sky really made it stand out.
We had the pleasure of chatting with other visitors from around the world and we helped take selfies of them with Mt. Rushmore in the background. There also are two viewing scopes, it costs 50 cents to use it.
We enjoyed exploring the museum inside too. There is so much to see there, here is a general overview. There are a series of displays in the entryway.
This is the largest main display room, the Exhibit Hall.
There is a scale model of Mt. Rushmore. Also videos and artifacts such as tools used in the building of the monument.
A large mural depicting the Presidents.
It was almost time to go, we took the elevator back up to the Grand Terrace and noticed more people arriving.
Walking back through the Avenue of Flags, we saw a beautiful white Mountain Goat on our right regarding the crowd!
It was now 9:15, we planning on leaving by 9:30 so we made a stop at the gift shop first. Enter under the first awning on the right, you can also just see the statue of Borglum on the right. We stayed three hours.
We give Mt. Rushmore a thumbs up! We were so happy to be here today!
We spent the day exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota riding along in our friend’s truck. He and his wife have lived here for 20 years so they know it well! Here is a map showing the area that we covered today.
We headed north from where they live in Hot Springs. They gave us the grand tour of the Hot Springs area the day before.
First, we drove through Wind Cave National Park. If we come back in the summer, we can see the cave itself, April is still in the off-season.we went into the hills, there was quite a bit of snow since we were at higher elevation, we were also brushing the bottom of the rather low cloud deck.
Enjoy a drive through the park, plenty of bison too!
Next, we drove through Custer State Park, at least partially. Our goal was to connect with Highway 16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road. It is 17 miles of amazing views, bridges and forest. Also tunnels carved right in the mountain! It is the scenic route to Mt. Rushmore. Unfortunately, the low cloud deck prevented us from seeing Mt. Rushmore from the third tunnel. I superimposed the view in the video to show you what it would have looked like.
Enjoy the ride!
The wildlife was abundant and were close enough to the road for easy viewing. It is recommended that you stay in your vehicle so not to scare them or in the case of bison, starting a stampede! We also saw Antelope, Elk, Bull Deer, and Prairie Dogs. Even Mountain Goats at Mt. Rushmore! So wonderful to see them in their natural environment.
After our drive through 16A, We went to Mt. Rushmore. Admission is free, parking is not however. It was $5 for our friends’ vehicle since he is a senior, $10 normally. Unfortunately, the cloud covering the monument didn’t lift. The elevation is at 4528 ft. and we had a low cloud deck all day. This is what we saw. disappointed, we left.
We then went to the Crazyhorse Memorial. It is about 1/2 hour away from Rushmore. This is a carving of Chief Crazy Horse that was begun by Korczak Ziolkowski after 1947 and continued until his death on Oct. 20, 1982. The weather was very different there, the cloud was clearing and we had sunshine!
A close up of the memorial.
You can make a day of it here. It costs $28 for a carload. The have a large museum that we explored. Also the Laughing Waters Restaurant, we enjoyed dinner here, the windows give you a great view of the monument while you are eating. The food was delicious and we hope to be back in 2018.
We all had a great day exploring the Black Hills. We hope to see more on our return visit and go back to Crazy Horse for one of their special events in the summer. As for Mt. Rushmore, we returned early the next morning and were blessed with sunny skies!
One town we HAD to stop in was Mitchell, South Dakota. See their visitor guide here. Stop by the Visitor’s Center across from the Corn Palace. It’s the same building the gift shop is in.
Out front is a sculpture and a plaque. Photos by Al.
Corn is the theme of this community. It is even on the bottom of the lampposts downtown.
The World’s OnlyCorn Palace is a must-see for any visitor to this state. Of course we did! It has been a centerpiece of Mitchell since 1892, still looking brand new with recent renovations.
We arrived at 12:40 after leaving Madison at 5:30 AM. You could see it on your right as you approached downtown, the turrets reaching toward the sky.
The Corn Palace is an entertainment venue, inside is a large auditorium for shows. They were setting it up for a circus performance that was going to take place that evening.
When you come inside the lobby, friendly volunteers welcome you and have some information available about the Corn Palace and other South Dakota attractions. The columns inside even look like corn cobs.
On the main floor and the 2nd floor and displays and pictures of the Corn palace years ago. A plaque dedication the “new” Corn Palace upstairs.
The LED lights add an elegant accent above the entrance.
The pictures outside are new every year and are made of corn and other agriculture of South Dakota. These pictures are on the front of the building.
These are on the right side of the building. Here is this year’s pictures, beginning with Elvis, the largest picture. Then the 5 smaller ones just right of Elvis (click on image to enlarge).
Across the street is the corn palace gift shop and mall and a chance to get a great selfie like we did.
Stop at the Corn Palace, you will have a great time!
Willy Street as it is known by the locals, is one of Madison’s most unique and fun neighborhoods.
This street has special meaning to me, since it is where my husband Al was living when we met in 1997. He lived here with his older brother, who is no longer with us, he passed in Sept. 2005. We sure miss him and he embodied the spirit of Willy St.
Joe and Al in May 2005, photo taken here.
They host a variety of festivals throughout the summer that we have enjoyed many times.
Central Park Sessions – August and September. Check for dates. It benefits 7 non-profits doing great work throughout the city of Madison.
Our favorite way to end the summer! Here is their parade from 2016.
We will start our tour at the top of the street, art is also a major fixture of this street and close by. The large metal tree in the median across from this sign called the Communitree. Created by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard, this tree fits right in this unique neighborhood.
A new smaller tree is now in the Willy Street Park, installed in 2016 called “Enlightened Self-Interest.
There is is a lot to cover about this fascinating street, the culture here is quite diverse and people welcoming and friendly. In many yards and windows I saw this sign, proving this. Also this sign on a fence.
They also care for our four-footed friends.
Willy Street supports a large array of small business and strongly objects to major chains there. The ironic thing, many of these businesses I profiled here now have multiple locations because they have been highly successful!
An example is the story of the Willy Street Park is legendary. A fast food chain wanted to put a restaurant there, but the residents of Willy St. protested this and as a result, the Willy Street Park was born. It is maintained by a group of volunteers, it is a beautiful place to rest and reflect year-round.
Artwork adorns the street on the sides of many buildings, neatly encapsulating the character of this neighborhood.
This isn’t on Willy but nearby on Paterson, still considered part of the street culture. Also imagined by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard. They are called, “Dream Keepers”.
Found on a sidewalk.
Also visit the Williamson Street Art Center. They offer art classes to the public. They have done murals all over southern Wisconsin for over 20 years.
This establishment was a favorite place for Al’s brother Joe to visit. Not just a bar, they also have great music groups come in to play as well. At night, the neon comes on in the glass-block windows is a beacon on the street.
The view is just as pretty inside.
We were there on Feb. 16 to play Jeopardy! with the crowd and this nice man told us about the first owner and it was his idea for all the neon lights. His name was Richard “Dick” Storey and he was a big UW supporter. He passed away 12-29-12.
Across the street from Mickey’s. Get hydroponic growing supplies here and home brewing equipment here. They closed in Madison in February of 2018. There are still four locations in Chicago, Bolingbrook, and Roselle, IL. Also Waukesha, WI.
If you would rather buy your alcohol, Star Liquor has a great selection. It closed 4-4-18.
This concludes our visit to this charming and friendly street in Madison. We hope you had as much fun as we have!
The snow is melting and thoughts are turning toward spring at Olbrich Botanical Gardens! The theme for the show is different every year, this year it was a kitchen theme. Many commented it was their best spring flower show ever!
The display window looked festive with a menu of treats.
A major contributor to the displays at this show was Deconstruction, Inc. A great use of reclaimed materials!
And now the main room where the show is. During your visit they have a card showing all the flowers featured in the show. Quite a variety!
The whole room view.
Now let’s see each display individually, all are creative! In the last couple of years Al has caught the photography bug too and his work is also featured here also.
To the left of the table…
Window to the Garden
Relax by the Fire
The “flame” inside the fire display is made up of neon flickering flame bulbs. Good effect, take a look!
Dinner is Served!
The table is made of wood cross sections instead of long boards. The chandelier is made of sticks and has a “vintage” light bulb inside.
Another table setting inside a pond, good for a hot summer day.
Relax at the Spring Flower show, soon it will look like this outdoors too!
It may be winter outside but inside it’s spring at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The turnout was high at this popular event. There even was musical accompaniment by the Collage saxophone Quartet. You can hire them to play at your venue!
The Conservatory was inviting with 80ºF temps inside.
Let’s go into the exhibition room, so beautiful!
Large display, so many varieties!
After enjoying these orchids, there was another room with vendors selling them too.
Not only orchids were for sale, also orchid themed mementos. Pictures by Charlotte Fung Miller, Chinese Brush Art.