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Token Creek – Home of the Biggest Little July 4th Parade!


 10-13-17 and other visits

Token Creek is an unincorporated community that is part of the village of Windsor. The town of Burke also has some sections here as well. We are going explore Token Creek, past and present.

We had the pleasure of celebrating July 4th here in 2017, so much fun! They distill July 4th to the basics, honoring all veterans , joining family and community together for a day of fun. A favorite tradition is holding hands and singing along to Lee Greenwood’s famous song, God Bless the USA. They call it the “Circle of Freedom”. See it here.

Token Creek also has many businesses on Portage Road and Highway 19. A popular restaurant is on the corner of Hwy 19 and Portage Rd is the Paddle Inn.  We need to eat there sometime.

Turn right at the corner and you find several more.

Gentle Breezes Hot Air Balloons  has been giving you a ride to remember since 1990. Before that there was a different balloon company here called Token Creek Balloons, different ownership. At one time, the water tower near our home was painted with their logo. It now is blue and says “DeForest”.

Juke Box Bandstand provided great music at the Token Creek July 4th celebration. DJ Marc Lovicott did a great job keeping the crowd dancing as well as staging the entertainment and parade. If we needed a DJ service, I would choose them!

Store your stuff at Token Storage.

Take care of your pet at Token Creek Veterinary Clinic.

Back on Portage Rd, visit The Keg.

Next is the parks, Token Creek cares about the wildlife in the are and makes sure they have a place here too.  Token Creek itself is still a work in progress. Across 19 from Portage road is a sign about that.

Continue down the road and you will get to the Token Creek Conservancy, where the old grist mill used to be. 

At this pond behind the sign, only the disabled are allowed to fish here. Just beyond this sign is the Token Creek marker you see at the top of the page.

 

A little past here is more of the park and the cemetery where the Veteran’s Remembrance Ceremony was held on July 4th. First the bridge over the creek.

The mill used to be in this area, now a beautiful park. To the left of the parking lot is the cemetery.

Keep walking streight ahead through the parking lot and you will soon come upon a bridge over the creek. Also a plaque on a rock to the right of the bridge.

A man was fly fishing on this beautiful fall day.

A view of the cemetery.

Our last stop today will be Token Creek County Park.

Here you will find the other marker in Token Creek, near the park entrance.

 

You can camp here too.

Enjoy the pine forest with many mature trees.

I enjoyed my visits to Token Creek. To learn more about the community in the 19th and 20th centuries, I have a copy of this book, Token Creek by Mae Bork. The book is now out of print, but I found a copy here if you are interested.

Supper Clubs – Smoky’s Club


9-30-17

 

 

I have lived in Madison for 33 years, Al about 23, and we had never been to Smoky’s Club before.  We figured it was about time!  For those who don’t know, this is a supper club, only open for dinner.  Wisconsin is famous for them all over the state, and we hope to spend more time exploring them. Find a supper club in your area here.

Smoky’s opened back in 1953 before there were many businesses on University Avenue. I hope they are there for their 100th anniversary in 2053. My Grandparents Norman and Barb Braton brought many people here during the 60’s-80’s. Leonard and Janet Schmock are the current owners and are grooming the next generation to continue the great service here.

When you enter, you forget it is 2017. It is the 60’s again and big band music plays softly in the background. No bright lights here, subdued lighting and a tension-free background leads to a relaxing dinner here.

Yes, that lamp above is a puffer fish.

We ate in the back dining room, inside was a picture of John F. Kennedy and candlelit tables with cloth napkins. The long table was soon filled with Badger football fans enjoying dinner after the game.

Our meal began with relishes, veggie while we wait for the meal.

And dinner itself! We ordered the sirloin steak with hash browns, another item Smoky’s is famous for. The steaks come a 500°F heated metal platter, you are warned not to touch it by your server. You also get a bread basket with your meal.

Dinner was delicious and we had no leftovers. Enjoy some pictures of the bar area, many twinkly lights and neat decor.

Get out of the water, SHARK!

We really enjoyed our dinner here and the relaxing ambiance. We recommend coming here for a great dinner, especially steak, as they are famous for them. Don’t pass up the hash browns either, Smoky’s is also famous for them as well.

 

Iconic Madison Restaurants – Ella’s Deli


Closed January 2018

3-31-17, 5-17-17

 

I admit it, it had been years since we have been here.  You get into habits of going to the same places and sometimes forget to go to the truly unique destinations.

We heard that Ella’s Deli is for sale.  It started a ripple of panic through the city in May.  Since the early 1960’s the restaurant has only had one owner, Ella Hirschfeld. She wants to retire and looking for someone to continue the legacy, not close the restaurant. Ella’s was originally on 425 State Street, I remember it in 1984 when I was attending college downtown. This location opened in 1976 and has provided generations of fun for thousands of children, now their grandchildren.

A family-friendly restaurant, there is a carousel ride that opens as soon as the snow stops flying. In 2017 it was March 31. I stopped by there to see it, it’s spring when the carousel is open for rides!

The carousel is made by C.W. Parker, made in Leavensworth, Kansas in 1927. A real beauty! The control booth is pretty too.  Ella’s was awarded by the National Carousel Association  in 2001 for their work in restoring this beautiful piece of history.

 

Get a token inside to take a ride at the cashier station. The carousel is $1.50 per rider. If an adult is standing next to a child for safety, the adult rides for free.

The inside has so many things to look at, it’s easy to spend hours there.  Learn more about the attractions here. A panorama of the dining room from the entrance.

We took a thorough tour after having lunch and this is the result, see video. A real visual treat!

The food was delicious too, we sat by the window with a carousel view.

Some of the displays, so unique! The rest of them can be seen in the video.

There is a refrigerated case of meats and cheese that you can take home too.

Ella’s is a friendly place we are glad we were here. Even if you are just visiting here for a day, Stopping here should be on your list. You don’t have to be a kid to have fun here!

The Heidel House Resort and Spa in Green Lake


9-20-17

The journey to escape stress and tension begins in the friendly community of Green Lake, home of the Heidel House Resort and Spa. This place has a long and rich history, first known as the Kelly Estate in 1890. I took the picture above at Horners Landing in Ripon. This is the deepest natural lake in Wisconsin,  measured at 237 feet deep, 2 miles across and 7 miles long.  We did one scuba dive from this site on 7-22-98, almost 20 years ago. It was time to go back and see more of Green Lake than the bottom.

The reputation of this resort as THE PLACE to be in Wisconsin for a great get-away has spread far and wide and we wanted to see it for ourselves.  The beauty of the resort in early fall with the leaves beginning to change color made us feel welcome immediately.

Photos by Laurie Kutil

After a busy morning exploring the Green Lake area, we were hungry for lunch! We went into the Main Lodge building and enjoyed a great view of the lake in their Sunroom restaurant. See the menus here, this restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, you can get breakfast for lunch if you want!

Photo by Laurie Kutil

There is a self-service cart outside of the restaurant for coffee on-the-go.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

The sunny dining room with a view of the beach and dock. It was a good day to be out on a boat, though a little bit windy.

Photos by Laurie Kutil

Lunch is served!  Our wait staff lady Amber was great answering our questions about the resort and was very attentive, as were all the staff there.  I ordered the Heidel Burger and Al the Fire and Ice Salad. Delicious!

Photos by Laurie Kutil

The resort has three other restaurants, the Boathouse Pub   located below the Sunroom. It is open at 2 PM M-F,  11 AM on the weekend.  There is plenty of seating to enjoy the fresh air off the lake on their large patio.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Lastly, the Pump House Parlor, open limited hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday, cash only.

Also the Grey Rock for fine dining and live music Wednesday through Saturday.

The lodge has many comfortable seating areas.

Photo by Al Kutil

Get a souvenir of your visit at the gift shop.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Did you know you can also have timeshare ownership also?  This is the Hilltop building where you can own a piece of the Heidel House resort for an extended stay. Check for availability.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

There are many options for accommodations for your stay of any length. Enjoy the Lac Verde Lodge with both and indoor and outdoor pool.

Photo by Al Kutil

You can also stay in the main lodge.  Also the Stable House near the lodge.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

The Heidel House is also a great place for weddings, from rehearsal dinner to reception.  The Carriage Tent to protect your party from the elements is available from May-October.

See map of the grounds to see all accommodations available. We didn’t have a chance to see all of them but we plan on returning next year.

A closer look down by the lakefront. This is the walking path outside.

There are a great many mature trees here, providing shade on a hot summer day. This Indian Bean Tree has a large canopy and looks to be at least 100 years old.

Photo by Al Kutil

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Relax on the private beach outside of the main lodge. You can also take a cruise on the yacht Escapade during the summer and fall.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

 Lakeside view from dock.

The Heidel House is a great place to visit any time of the year. Next summer we plan on a cruise on their Escapade boat. Get away from it all at the Heidel House Resort and Spa!

 

 

 

 

Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota


4-29-17

We finally made it to the Spam Museum, the last attraction at the conclusion of our Westward Ho! vacation. We arrived at 12:18 and left at 1:30. The people at the desk greet you with a friendly “Hello” and are ready to answer any questions you might have about Hormel’s popular canned meat.

There were many visitors today, enjoying the many interactive exhibits.  Here are some highlights I filmed there.

As you can see, Spam cans take a ride above you on a conveyor belt. Someone put a camera up there so you can see what they see 🙂

Spam™ has played an important part in American history, including feeding the troops during WWII as well as people in other countries. One of them is Hawai’i, our 49th state. Spam™ is still a part of many recipes there.  An exhibit also pays homage to the famous Spam™ skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  One of my favorites!

A Hormel delivery wagon.

Spam™ for every meal! Get your recipe ideas here at this console.

Plenty of signage teaching visitors the history of Spam and Hormel.

Stop at the gift shop before leaving, we got a Spam™ slicer. And yes, you can buy Spam here too, many flavors. We got a couple of these too.

This museum was great fun to visit and even though we were only here just over an hour, we could have spent even more time here.  Come if you can and enjoy Spam™!

 

 

South Dakota Badlands – A Geological Wonder!


4-28-17

After visiting Wall Drug, our next stop was the Badlands of South Dakota.  We arrived at 12:23.

Even though the sky was still overcast, the hills were still breathtaking! There are many areas where you can pull over for an up-close view. We did just that several times. It’s a 24 mile drive to the other side.

Enjoy some of our favorite views.

Everyone sure looks small from the top of the parking lot!

This is certainly the most scenic road we have ever been on, next to the Iron Mountain Road. This is 1:26 PM and the clouds are beginning to thin, letting in more sunshine.

We found a sign talking about the journey to Wounded Knee, where we stopped on April 24.

At 1:44 PM we see this sign. Getting close to the end. We get back on I-90.

By 2 PM we arrived at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center on the other side.

We stopped inside for a few minutes. Lots of gifts to choose from in the gift shop. You can even eat at the Cedar Pass Restaurant inside.  We enjoyed chatting with the staff there about our visit to South Dakota and that we look forward to returning next year.

Two more points of interest we saw after leaving the Badlands.  The Prairie Homestead Visitor Center was the first place. A historical marker was here also.

Our last stop in this area was the Badlands Ranch Store, also the site of a LARGE prairie dog town. We arrived here by  2:25 PM. Open since 1967, it has been a tourist destination for generations. We could not go in since it wasn’t open yet.  The store is open during the busy season, from mid-May through mid-September. They sell unsalted peanuts so you can feed them.

One of the little critters greeted me, I didn’t have any peanuts unfortunately.

And the BEST part, take a selfie with their big groundhog, we did! Same pose too!

A great way to cap off our visit to the Badlands. The views are incredible and there is so much to see and do here.

Wall Drug in South Dakota


April 28, 2017

Wall Drug Store is one place you must see if you visit South Dakota. My dad came here a log time ago and said we needed this unique place on our itinerary. We stopped here on our way to the Badlands to see what the buzz was about.

This place is big so allow yourself plenty of time. We spent about 90 minutes here, a whole day is really needed to see everything. It is not just one store but MANY stores. We explored the main store on the left. That alone was big enough. Another new store was going up.

We entered the main building, it looks like an old west scene, complete with characters to take selfies with.

Even Zoltar the fortune teller.

There is even a chapel inside the store, very beautiful! Quite an interesting story of its history too.

Just before leaving we stopped in the ice cream shop for a treat. As always, ice water is free.

Also the gift shop, what do you choose?

You could easily make a day of this place, we had a hard time leaving but the journey continues. Be sure to bring your camera!