Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton



The Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton is a beautiful park, formerly a farm owned by Art Pope.    Here is a map of the grounds.

Pope Conservancy map

There are other small garden plots within the park. The crops of Wisconsin are represented here.

Crops of Wisconsin sign

Wisconsin crops


The path leading to the large sunflower field.

Path at Pope Conservancy

 We were not here long since a storm was coming.  The sunflowers were beautiful!

Sunflower sign

Sunflowers at Pope Conservancy

Sunflower field at Pope Farm

The sunflower season is short so be sure to stop in when they are blooming! The last week of July is their Sunflower Days event. They love visitors any time of the year though and donations gratefully accepted!

Sunflower closeup at Pope Conservancy

Mackinac Island in Michigan

6-21 and 22-2016  (May 1971)

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Facts

Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac, between Lakes Michigan and Huron. The size is small, only 3.8 square miles.  Don’t let the size fool you, it played an important part in the War of 1812 and Americans lost their lives defending it.  In present times it is a great vacation spot that remembers its past. The name in Ojibwe means “Big Turtle”.  About 500 residents live here year-round, almost everyone you see during the busy summer season is a visitor from somewhere else.  Many workers here at the many businesses are also just there for the summer.

It was not my first time here, it was Al’s though.  My family took a trip here with my grandparents in 1971.  Since we could not all go, I recreated the picture later. It was great to be back 45 years later!

Tauchens in front of Arnold Building 1971 and 2016

Two things Mackinac are best known for are fudge and it’s abundant lilacs.  Island visitors are in fact nicknamed “fudgies” by the locals.  The island has a 10 day Lilac Festival every June to celebrate the abundant flower. We were lucky to see some left even in late June.

Lilacs on Mackinac Island

No motor vehicles are allowed here(except a few emergency).  Horse-drawn wagons, bicycle and walking are how you get around here.  Be prepared for many hills, some steep. The flattest route is around the perimeter of the island.  If you have your own bicycle, bring it. It will save you money if it will be your prime mode of transportation. No worries if you don’t have a bike, there is a great selection at Mackinac Cycle across from the Arnold ferry dock.

Mackinac Cycle

If your time on the island is short or you just want to take it slow,  take the  Mackinac Island Carriage Tour.  It takes almost 2 hours, and is narrated. The kiosk is across  the street from here. Here is the route. The stops are short, you get about 7 minutes at Arch Rock so have your camera ready!

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours

Carriage Tour route

You can even ride a Taxi, but you have to arrange the ride in advance here through the dispatch. You can’t “hail” a taxi like you can on the mainland. Cash only.

Horse Taxi on Mackinac

Here I am in Marquette Park, then and now.  It was fun!  Never thought I would get this chance to re-create this silly picture.

Laurie 1971 and 2016 Marquette Park

Let’s explore Marquette Park, as long as we are here.  Pick up island info at the visitors center across the street.

Visitors Center

In the park there is a statue of Father Jacques Marquette. On it are 3 plaques. The statue was erected in 1909.  Before this was a park, it was a large vegetable garden.  See about most historical island features here.

Father Jacques Marquette

Marquette Statue plaques

Behind and above the park is Fort Mackinac, we hope to visit it next time.

Fort Mackinac on island

A beautiful day to soak up the sun amidst the lilacs!

Harbor view on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island Rock Most Historic spot


Be a part of the action! Take a cruise on Sail Mackinac!  If you have sailing knowledge, they encourage you to assist the crew if you desire to.

Also in the park is a Missionary Bark Chapel replica, an early small church on the island.  You can go inside and see this diorama.

Missionary Bark Chapel on Mackinac Island

Missionary Bark Chapel inside at Mackinac Island

From here you can see the McGulpin House, one the oldest house on the island, built around 1780.   The house is on the corner of Market  and Fort Street.

McGulpin House

Market Street on Mackinac Island

Across the street from the park is Mackinac Island State Harbor.  Quite the view! You can see the Arnold Transit Co. dock and Round Island in the background.

Mackinac Island State Harbor

On the left of this view is a Statue of Liberty replica.  It was recently restored.

Statue of Liberty on Mackinac Island

Statue of Liberty plaque on Mackinac Island

The harbor looks especially beautiful at night, view is from Arnold ferry boat dock.

Mackinac Island Harbor Lights 6-22-16

Above Marquette Park is the East Bluff, with a great view of the harbor below. We went up there early Wednesday morning.  The early ferries were bring supplies to the island before the first passengers.

West Bluff view of harbor on Mackinac

You could also find a couple historical markers up here on the other end of the road by the bluff.  The first one is for Lewis Cass who distinguished himself with great service to this country. He also was Governor of Michigan Territory.  Cassville, Wisconsin was named after him.

Lewis Cass marker on MackinacCass Cliff monument on Mackinac

Also up here is Anne’s Tablet, a local author who loved the island. The view is wonderful, especially in the morning when the island is waking up.

Anne's tablet site

Anne's Tablet on Mackinac

Annes Tablet monuments

Annes Tablet history

And this is the former Indian Dormitory building, now the Mackinac Art Museum.

Indian Dormitory now Mackinac Art MuseumIndian Dormitory Marker


Beautiful Main Street, where many hotels and great shopping (and fudge) can be found.

Main Street Flower basket

Speaking of fudge, let’s stop by May’s Candy Shop and see how the experts make it. They were the only shop open during the sugar-rationing days of WWII that made fudge. They made only one batch a day and sold only one pound per customer. They even have a trademarked quote, “Famous Mackinac Fudge”®  Let’s watch them make a half-batch of peanut butter fudge!

May's Candy Shop on Mackinac Island

There are MANY places to stay overnight on Mackinac Island, not just the Grand Hotel (staying there would be lots of fun too!   🙂

Grand Hotel view from Arnold Ferry 6-21-16

  Many people say they can’t afford to spend the night on Mackinac Island, but that may be they are not keeping alert for price specials that happen often.  The hotel Facebook pages are often where specials are posted.  We chose to spend our night at the Murray Hotel, right across from the Arnold Ferry docks on Main Street.   Their service is impeccable and hotel beautiful and in the heart of downtown. We were in room 318, a quiet interior room we would choose again.  Check-in is officially at 3,  but this room was available at 1:15 when we arrived!  A porter was at our door with our luggage when we got there.  We highly recommend the Murray!  We also enjoyed their pizza buffet for dinner.

Murray Hotel and logo

Murray Hotel room logo

Murray Hotel Pizza Buffet

Next to the Arnold dock is the Chippewa Hotel and Pink Pony Bar and Grill.  It’s lights reflected  on the water were real pretty that night.

Pink Pony Bar and Grill at Chippewa Hotel on Mac Island Collage

Their sister hotel is the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa.  A beautiful hotel by day, the purple lights outside really set it off at night.

Lilac Tree Suites and Spa on Mackinac Island

On the ground floor is the Little Luxuries gift shop. I found the perfect souvenier, this cute necklace created at  it captured my love for Mackinac Island so perfectly!

Little Luxuries Mackinac Island necklace

The island has many interesting rock formations, we saw the best known ones. Arch Rock is a favorite! You can see another lookout above right see the lake.

Arch Rock lookout

Arch Rock view

View from Arch Rock

On the same side of the island is Dwightwood Springs.  Don’t drink the water.


Dwightwood Springs Sign

Sugar Loaf Rock has a commanding presence above the landscape.

Sugar Loaf Rock and location

Devil’s Kitchen is off the perimeter road on the island (I-85).

Devil's Kitchen and location

Over 80% of Mackinac Island is a State Park , boundaries are clearly marked by signs. Neighboring Round Island Lighthouse lights the way for freighters and other boats to pass safely in the Straits.

Round Island Light House marker

 Once day a year, tours are given of the light house.  A great view of the lighthouse is at Windmere Point,  owned by the Windmere Hotel.

Windmere Hotel on Mackinac Island

View of water from Windmere Point on Mackinac Island

The red object on the waterfront is a retired buoy from the Race to Mackinac from Chicago.  This year is the 108th year of the race, beginning on July 23. See details here about the race, sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club.  It is the longest freshwater sailboat race in the country.

Rack to Mackinac retired buoy

 We went to the waterfront at sunset to see the lighthouse, and a rainbow!

Round Island Light and rainbow

And the whole scene, with Round Island in the middle of both light stations.

Round Island and rainbow at sunset

The Mackinac Bridge gleamed like gold, what a beautiful evening that was.

Gold Mackinac Bridge

To learn more about the history on Mackinac Island, the Public Library is a great place to visit.

Mackinac Island Public Library

We did some more important historic sites on the island.   On Codette Ave. on the way to the Grand Hotel is the beautiful Little Stone Church.

Little Stone Church marker

Stone Church on Mackinac

British Landing is where the British came ashore in 1812 to take possession of the island.  A cannon is there facing the water and a historical marker.  At this juncture is also a sign telling how far other landmarks are.

British Landing on Mackinac Island

British Landing MarkerBritish Landing sign

You can grab a bite to eat at the Cannonball while you are here.

Cannonball food on Mackinac Island

From here we took a right to see the Battlefield, airport and cemeteries.

Battlefield on mackinac Island

Battlefield marker

A historic golf course is up the road from here.

Wawashkamo Golf Course on Battleground

We also went by the cemeteries, airport and aforementioned Sugar Loaf Rock on this route.

Mackinac island Airport

All this exploring works up an appetite!  We enjoyed dinner at our hotel that first night. The next morning we had breakfast at the Pancake House, delicious pancakes and all the trimmings too!

Rubya's Pancake House

Lunch was at the Grand Hotel, quite an amazing meal with a great view!

Grand Hotel dining room looking eastGrand Hotel view from our dining room table

Grand Hotel Luncheon


With only about 27 hours available, we couldn’t see everything, but we did our best!  We hope to come back in 2017 to get to what we missed and see even more.   Thanks for helping us make some great memories! our parting shot was people talking and laughing at the Pink Pony.  It was time to board the Ottawa back to Mackinaw City at 5:00 to explore on Thursday.  It was difficult to leave, we plan to come back.

Pink Pony and Harbor on Mackinac

Oyyowa Ferry back to Mackinaw City

For a funny and informative video of Mackinac Island, enjoy this episode of Matt’s Rad Show on YouTube.  It helped me in my research and made me laugh too.


The Grand Hotel – America’s Summer Place!


Grand Hotel Two-sided marker

Grand Hotel view from Arnold Ferry 6-21-16

The Grand Hotel ™ has been the centerpiece of grace and elegance on Mackinac Island since 1887.  It is also known as “America’s Summer Place”  and it is easy to see why if you sit out on the world’s longest porch and overlook the whole island below.  This is the view of the hotel from the Arnold Ferry as you approach the island.  The view from the lawn is even more impressive.

Grand Hotel from lawn on Mackinac Island

Don’t forget to drop by at night.

Grand Hotel at Night

The entry to the hotel (under the small pointed roof in the center of the hotel).

Grand Hotel outside info desk

No visit to the island is complete without coming here.   You can also come dine in the main dining room or any of their other restaurants.  See list here of their many dining choices. If you wish only to take the self-guided tour, it is $10.  Every day, a schedule of events is posted for hotel guests.

Grand Hotel Schedule 6-22-16

No expense is spared in decor or any aspect of amenities to cater to the guests’ every need or desire.  Even transportation, the Grand Hotel has it’s own horse and carriage to take guests to ferry docks or pick them up from there.

Grand Hotel carriage

We looked forward to enjoying the hotel’s famous luncheon from 12-2 PM then taking the tour of the hotel and grounds.  We arrived at about 12:20 and were seated in the main dining room by the window with a view of their famous porch, thanks! The view was breathtaking, especially when the freighter Presque Isle from Duluth, MN chugged by.

Grand Hotel view from our dining room table

Presque Isle Freighter from Duluth, MN going by Grand Hotel

The views were just as impressive inside the dining room, and the food was almost too pretty to eat.  You could hear a guitar being played in the background during the meal. Let’s listen in!

A further look at the dining room, the decor even looks like summer.  This is the entry into the dining room, looking West.

Grand Hotel Main Dining Room Front

The view looking East.

Grand Hotel dining room looking east

This view is toward the back of the dining room. I noticed the ceiling is the same shade of blue as the porch roof.   There are many mirrors in the dining room, making it look even larger. The plates have a beautiful flower on them.

Grand Hotel Dining Room interior

Grand Hotel Luncheon

We began our tour after lunch, there is much to see here!  We began in the main lobby where we came in. You can also get a map of the hotel so you don’t get lost.


Grand brochure page 2

Maps Provided by the Grand Hotel


In the small display case on our left is an original dinner plate the Grand Hotel used in the 1880’s.

Original Grand Hotel Plate

A view looking toward the West Wing of the hotel from the lobby.

Grand Hotel Lobby

Just ahead of the center of the lobby is the Grand Ballroom that you can book for your own event.

Grand Hotel Ballroom

On the left is the relaxing Audubon Wine Bar.  The lighting inside is very creative.  Boot lamps and grapes, they look so perfect for this room!

Audubon Wine Bar at Grand Hotel

Inside Audubon Bar at Grand Hotel

Boot Lamp and Grape Light fixture at Grand Hotel

We continued our tour upstairs at the Cupola Bar.  The windows wrapping around 3/4 of the room offer a panoramic view of the island below, as well as the Straits, Round Island, and the swimming pool below.

View of Round Island from Grand Hotel Cupola Bar Collage

Grand Hotel swimming pool

View from Cupola Bar at Grand Hotel

It is quite possibly the highest and most interesting views of the island.  Dare I say it, “stairway to the stars” leading up to it.

Stairs to Cupola Bar at Grand Hotel

Cupola Bar at Grrand Hotel

The chandelier is beautiful too.

Cupola Bar Chandelier at Grand Hotel

After admiring the view,  we continued downstairs on the ground floor.   The hotel check-in desk is to the right of the stairs.   On the left are the boutique shops.

Stairs leading to shopping level of Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel Check in

Grand Hotel lower level shops

 The Grand Hotel is also well known for being the main filming site of the movie, “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The hotel pays tribute to this  each year by having a Somewhere in Time weekend,  in 2016 it is October 28 to 30.  For those who can’t make it, there are some artifacts from the movie on display on the ground floor.

The Bowler hat Christopher Reeve wore.

Somewhere in Time Bowler Hat

A collage of pictures taken during filming.

Somewhere in Time Collage at Grand Hotel

A portrait of Elise as seen in the movie.

Portrait of Elise at Grand Hotel

Our tour concluded outside, where we read the historical marker outside and took our picture by a red English phone booth near the golf course. Great photo-op!

British Phone booth at Grand Hotel

Horse and buggy topiary adorn the Great Lawn.

Grand Hotel Topiary

We hope you enjoyed seeing our visit to the Grand Hotel.  Catch a summer breeze on the longest porch in the world and enjoy the view!

Grand Hotel Sand Art

Grand Hotel Porch View

Olbrich Botanical Gardens Spring Flower Show


Olbrich Flower Show programSpring Flower Show sign

Spring has sprung at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, it was time to see what was going on in the plant world!

We had some warm weather recently that begun to make some flowers begin to come up outside.  Inside though were flowers one would see from May to August, all at one time!  Here  is a guide to the many flowers present that you could look at while you were there.

Spring Flower Show 1

Spring Flower Show 2

The event was in the same room where the Holiday Express was, now outfitted for spring.


Flower Show room

The theme of the show this year paired specialty artisan-designed furniture surrounded by the many flowers featured. These were the manufacturers represented.

Flower Show Artisan Furniture

Let’s see how creative these two mediums could be blended together. Here is a beautiful pond display. Here is a close up of the light fixture.

Flower Show Pond display

Decorative Light at Flower Show

Here is a gardener constructed of chicken wire in his potting shed potting some plants, very creative!

Gardner in Shed at Flower Show

This view is looking towards to gardens outside.

View toward garden at Flower Show

A pretty table with tall mirrors and translucent cabinet back-lit by the sun.

Side table display at flower show

Creative use for a large wine bottle, make a table out of it  🙂

Wine bottle table at flower show

A simple desk with a great view.

Desk and bookcase at flower show

Next to the room entrance is an array of potted plants and oval mirror with a small lamp on the table below.

Mirror and potted plants at flower show

Next to the desk near the entrance is an attractive array of potted plants and an oval mirror.

We finish our visit by venturing outside, rumor has it snowdrops and crocus have been spotted here as early as Feb 29 (Facebook post).  It was true! Such brave flowers to grow even though it could snow again at any time.

Olbrich Spring Flower Show Collage


Leafless grove at Olbrich

Quite and beautiful flower show, including outdoors.  Stop by Olbrich during these hours. The gift shop is amazing too! Members receive a 10% discount.

Olbrich Gardens Gift Shop in Spring

Olbrich Hours

Olbrich Botanical Gardens Holiday Express 2015

 Olbrich Gardens Sign 12-2015

IMG_8535 crop


The last time I attended this event was in 2013, so it was time to see it again. This time Al joined me. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.00 for kids 3-12.  Since we joined during Olbrich Botanical Garden’s GLEAM event in the fall, we had free entry! The inside of the building was so festive, with many poinsettia plants, some of which are for sale. Memberships are also 50% off during this special event.

Poinsettias IMG_8551

Poinsettias at Olbrich IMG_8544

Memberships and concession IMG_8552

We headed down the walkway to the Christmas display, showing our membership card for admittance and hand-stamped.

IMG_8802 crop Holiday Express entry

Greeting us with a train whistle and an “All Aboard!”,  Olbrich volunteer Judy warmly greeted us and had information about upcoming events.

Volunteer IMG_8554

Models trains are by the Wisconsin Garden Railway Society.  The LEGO® displays by the Wisconsin LEGO® Users Group.  The room is beautiful,  this is the right side of the room with one train display, a modern diesel train.

Right side IMG_8641

Diesel Train at Olbrich

A different train is on the left side, and “Iron Horse” steam engine.

Steam Train IMG_8616 Best

Let’s see them in action!

Two members of the Railway Society were there, Dick Jellings and his wife Elaine.  For over 20 years he wore the Colonel Corn costume at the Sun Prairie Corn Fest. Now retired, he enjoys model trains and showing them to the public.  They will be part of the upcoming Mad City Model Railroad Show and Sale on Feb 20-21, 2016.  We plan on going to this fun event!

The LEGO™ displays were quite impressive.  Star Wars fever was rampant even here, with a rebel base display called “Home One”.

Home One Star Wars Display

Katina Cottage Lego

Winter Street Scene

Winter Street Scene IMG_8613

Winter Street Scene IMG_8614

Winter Castle Display

Miller Park Display

Elvenhorse display

In the Bolz Conservatory, the CHOCOLATE: THE BITTER AND THE SWEET exhibit had Cacao trees on display and signs describing the history of chocolate and uses over the millennia.

Chocolate Display sign IMG_8797

A small Cacao tree and pod.

Cacao Tree and pod

Purity of chocolate, white “chocolate” is not chocolate at all!

Chocolate types IMG_8743

Some of the displays.

American Chocolate Pots IMG_8706

Cacao used in Food and Health IMG_8701

Cacao and Chocolate display IMG_8677

We had a great visit to Olbrich and we look forward to returning to their other events in the next year.  We highly recommend  becoming a member. They get many special benefits, including a discount in their gift shop.

Olbrich gift shop IMG_8800

“You Just Gotta See Greendale!”


Greendale signGreendale sign

Greendale Village Hall and Norman Rockwell

And see it we did in the spring of the year.  Greendale is a special community, one of only three “Greenbelt Towns” in the country. It was founded in 1936. Greendale itself is a National Landmark. This community was built under the FDR Administration to provide affordable housing near the city of Milwaukee during the Depression.  It also is only 15 minutes west of General Mitchell International Airport.  Greendale has also been dubbed  a “Norman Rockwell town” and also has the largest Norman Rockwell collection in the Midwest!

One of the first places one should see there is the Greendale Visitor Center, where you can get visitor information and is the outlet home for Reiman Publications.

Greendale Visitor Center

Greendale also played an important part in the limestone industry. We learned more about that at Trimborn Farm. the boyhood home of Jeremiah Curtain.

Trimborn Farm Collage in Greendale

Here is the Limestone Kiln building.

Limestone Kilns at Trimborn Farm in Greendale

Jeremy Curtain House in Greendale

Greendale even has it’s own style of houses, logical too!  Many of them are made of simple cinder blocks, but painted in many different colors.

Backward Houses of Greendale plaque

Backward Houses in GreendaleBackward Houses 2 in Greendale

Rockwell Plaza and Other Historic Buildings

Rockwell Plaza is the heart of Greendale, with many businesses and historic features. We enjoyed lunch there at Ferch’s Malt Shoppe, great food and 1950’s soda shop atmosphere!

Rockwell Plaza Plaque in GreendaleNorman Rockwell Painting Rockwell Plaza in Greendale

Ferch's Malt Shoppe in Greendale

Also in Rockwell Plaza..

Historic Post Office and Doctor Office Building in Greendale

Take a selfie by the clock 🙂 And see the former movie theater building to the left of the clock.

Picture with Clock in Greendale

Greendale Movie Theater building

Stop in the Greendale Public Library and see the Rockwell Self-Portrait display.

Greendale Public Library and Rockwell

See the historic Hose Tower, undergoing restoration to become the new village Community Center.

Greendale Hose Tower

Enjoy a stroll in Daffodil Park to see the Daffodil Garden while the children play in the playground. At the end of the path is the Gazebo.

Daffodil Park and sign in Greendale

Greendale Gazebo and sign

We sure had a fantastic and restful day in Greendale. You gotta see it!  See more on “Around the Corner with John McGivern”

Greendale Garden Community Arch

West of the Lake Gardens in Manitowoc


West of the Lake Collage in Manitowoc

West of the Lake Gardens is a jewel in Manitowoc, accessible from the Mariner’s Trail also.  A beautiful garden for all to enjoy, many volunteers keep it looking that way.  The have many kinds of flowers, artfully arranged.

The Formal Garden

Succulents at West of the Lake Garden

Formal Garden at West of the Lake in Manitowoc

Mae West Garden with Proud Bird Sculpture

Mae West Garden at West of the Lake Gardens in Manitowoc

The Red and White Garden

Red and White Garden at West of the Lake Gardens in Manitowoc

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden at West of the Lake Garden in Manitowoc

The Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden at West of the Lake Garden in Manitowoc

Trellis at West of the Lake Garden in Manitowoc

We are done with our tour, a great place to visit in the heart of the city.