"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 :)
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
This was the building in 2016.
The building in 2017/18.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the entryway it was going to be a fun visit! Tours are conducted daily at 2 June through August.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present.
The clown giving the tour was talking about the clown’s roles in history and even had some artifacts from their performance days.
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got into that!
Our highly anticipated trip to Chicago turned out to be a really great day filled with memories. We did it in a different way than in the past, we took the train in for half of the journey. The closest Metra train station to Madison is in Harvard, IL so we went there. It is 1 1/2 hours away.
The depot opens about 1/2 hour before the train leaves, you can get coffee and pastries too. This is the map of all of the Metra lines going into Chicago.
I have not ridden Metra since the 1980’s and Al never had. In Harvard, you take the Yellow line.We took the 5:47 AM train, the first one on a weekday morning. If you don’t get your tickets online, be prepared to pay cash for your fare on the train, the Conductor can make change. It costs $2 to park for the day in their lot, there is a kiosk to pay for that across from the depot.
We waited for the train, the setting moon lighting the scene.
On the train by 5:35 AM. The inside of the train car, clean and comfortable.
We were entering the city around 7 AM and the Willis Tower came into view through the train car window. We were getting excited!
We arrived at the Ogilvie Transportation Center on time, what a big station! It was visible from the Willis Tower, the large black building on the left.
This was the first time we had ever seen a bustling weekday morning in Chicago. People burst out of the trains, hurrying to their jobs. One thing I noticed, the most common color of people’s coats was black. We lingered in the station a few minutes to buy our return tickets, we had to be back on the train by 3:30 which departs at 3:45.
This building is mostly glass and beautiful for a train station. It was built in 1984, designed by Helmut Jahn. There is also shopping and restaurants here, especially great if you are on a layover to catch a connecting train or bus. Almost blending in high in the glass atrium is an Elgin Clock keeping the passengers on time.
A side view of the clock on the left side.
It was time to make our way toward the exit, we were on a tight schedule! Here is a view of the crowd heading to the ground level on Madison St.
And here we are outside!
This building is HUGE, but not as big as where we were headed next, the Willis Tower a couple of blocks away. Across the street is Union Station. It was funny seeing 5 cabs scurrying like mice after the light turned green.
We crossed the bridge and turned right, walking alongside the Chicago River. This plaque was on the bridge.
Sunrise was glinting off the building on the right, thousands of commuters hurrying to their towers for a day of work.
Much to our surprise, we saw a combination barge-tugboat Spartan, Spartan II from Ludington, Michigan traveling alongside us on the Chicago River. What a surprise! It was delivering a medium to keep dust to a minimum during construction projects. It turns out there are currently 47 new skyscrapers being built at this time!
We continued toward the Willis Tower, it looked majestic in the morning sun, had to stop and look a minute.
See those projections on the outside of the building facing east? These are the Ledge™ boxes on the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. A closer view.
We saw two food trucks across the street from the tower. BBQ Boss and Beavers Doughnuts. See all Chicago food trucks here.
It was now 8:13 AM. The entrance Skydeck Chicago opens the doors to get in line at 9:30, we went in to wait and rest a bit. The entryway is designed to protect people from ice falling off the building.
Photography is prohibited beyond the entrance (except the Skydeck) due to the many private businesses within the building. here is what little we could get. That’s Al on the left getting the businesses.
We waited from 8:30 to 9:30 on the lower level, several shops and small restaurants there. Sure we could have looked around town a bit in that hour but we didn’t want to get back late and then have a long like to contend with. We were right in front of the line. Promptly at 10:00 they opened. You have to put your belongings through a security scanner and walk through one first, then you can get your tickets. We did that, then into the elevator line. We were on the first elevator up! Since the express elevator was down for maintenance (knew that since watching Tripadvisor posts) we actually got out partway up and got into another elevator. We made it up to the Skydeck by 10:12 AM. We stayed up there until 12:30. Quite a few changes in the skyline since 2003 when we were last here. The Ledge™ was a lot of fun too! This was the picture they took with their camera installed in the ledge. You can get your pictures for $30 in the gift shop after you conclude your visit. A great memento for sure!
Another picture of the view looking northwest. It was a beautiful clear morning!
Video of our time there. You can also see it in the video on top of the page showing our entire day. Read the blog post just on the tower here.
We were out just after 12:30, three hours left of our day. We headed toward State Street. On the way, we came across the Flamingo sculpture. It has been in Federal Plaza since 1974. We also saw it from the tower. I am glad we saw this since it may be in danger of being removed.
We see The Berghoff restaurant on 17 West Adams St. Serving authentic German cuisine since 1898, it is a Chicago favorite! Founder Herman Berghoff sold beer at the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893 and it led to the restaurant 5 years later.
We made it to State Street by 1:41 PM. We had not eaten yet and had little time so we stopped at Subway on State for a quick lunch.
We ate in 1/2 hour, by 2:10 we were back out. I could hear music just up ahead. We headed north and found out the source. A group of street musicians called Chicago Traffic Jam Band was jamming at the street corner. What a bonus to capture some authentic Chicago sound! They can also be hired to play at your venue!
See and hear them for yourself!
We stayed about 5 minutes but had to keep moving.
We reach the famous Marshall Fields building, now Macy’s though to Chicagoans it will always be Marshall Fields. At least the famous green corner clock is still there and the time is accurate. We didn’t have time to look inside, perhaps next time. I used to go to the soda fountain there when I was a kid, great memories!
And of course, the Chicago Theatre. I went to a great show there in 1993 with my Dad called, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by Tom Stoppard. Here is what a similar view looked like then, Dad is on the left. Thanks for taking me to the show!
There were three plaques on the building, denoting it to be a landmark.
Across from the theatre is a Channel 7 webcam, here is the view it has.
Near here on 24 West Randolph St. is the Oriental Theater. You could call this section of Chicago their Broadway. And you see Broadway shows here as well.
Just past the Chicago Theatre is the “L” train on a track elevated above street level. It is part of the CTA, or Chicago Transit Authority. Our train actually went under their track (see video).
We got as far as Wabash and East Washington. The train went overhead there! This is the historic Jeweler’s Row District. Much fine bling to be had here!
It was getting late and we had to get back to our train! We turned east while on West Washington and went by one of the sites of the Blues Brothers movie film, the Richard J. Daley Center.
See the scene below.
We go under the tracks we soon will be riding on. You can enter the Ogilvie Transportation Center under here.
We are back! We got on the Union Pacific Northwest Metra back to Harvard with 15 minutes to spare! We left at 3:45 PM sharp. I got video with my phone pressed against the window to capture the views.
It was an enjoyable ride of almost two hours, passing through Woodstock. We crossed on the historic stone bridge as seen on the walking tour for the movie Groundhog Day. I was shooting video with my phone and caught the crossing on the way back. The first picture was taken last year.
Back in Harvard by 5:24. We had a wonderful day and hope to do it again!
To sum it all up, this was our walking route, courtesy of Google maps.
My visits to the former Sear’s Tower began the year the skydeck was open for viewing in 1974 when I was 7. It opened on June 22 and we went that fall. It is on the 103rd floor. I don’t remember a lot, but my grandparents Norm and Barb Braton came along and grandpa filmed some of the view out of the North-facing windows. This is the Lake Point Tower Condominiums building on the right side of the photo. This photo is composed of two frames of the Super 8 film. It was color but it was inconsistent so I changed it to monochrome. The reason why this view is significant is because it was where Al’s Mom would be living in the late 70’s-early 80’s. As you see, there are no buildings around it YET.
See the video in its entirety.
Photographer Jack Bradley took this photo from the tower in 1975.
Here is another view of the city from the 1970’s from a postcard taken from that era-Phil Valzez.
Cost of admission in 1977, probably the same in 1974. Found in this 1977 guide published by the Chicago Tribune.
The button was my souvenir from then.
10-17-03 29 years later…
Still the Sears Tower until 2009. This time, Al and I went alone. We got more photos this time. They also had a very nice brochure on cardstock. For some reason I don’t have a lot of memories from this visit.
Prices that year.
A couple displays on the walls.
The Northwest view.
Revisiting the Lakepoint Condo viewpoint, much more built up now around it. You can see another building going up nearby.
The clover leaf on the East-facing side.
1-30-18 15 Years later…
It took awhile but we finally made it back. This time we did a day trip. We took the Metra commuter train in from Harvard, IL at 5:47 AM. We learned in advance Tuesdays are often the slowest days and be there when they open the doors at 9:30 AM. I recommend monitoring the Skydeck Chicago-Willis Tower page on Tripadvisor. We knew the express elevators were not in use so waits might be longer.
They opened promptly at 10:00. We put our stuff through the security check then went to get our tickets, general admission. I have no photos on this area since they were prohibited. Prices have really risen in 15 years. Of course, different ownership too.
The brochure as it looks now, no longer on cardstock, just glossy paper.
On your way to the elevator, they take your picture in front of a green screen with the option to buy before your exit or online. This is what it looks like, we didn’t get this one.
We got in line quick, aware of the growing crowd behind us. You can also see an informational 9-minute movie about the tower called “Reaching the Sky” before going up.
We were in the first elevator(s) up! The views were just as incredible as we remembered, and there were more towers built or being built.
We revisit the Northwest view. That tall silver building in the middle is the Trump Tower. Construction began in 2005, completed in 2008.
And back to the Lake Point condo building. A new skyscraper is going up on the left!
The biggest change at the tower since 2003 is the installation of The Ledge™. It’s a reinforced glass “box” that extends outside beyond the other windows. The view was incredible in there, you either feel like a bird or queasy. Al and I did it and felt fine! This picture was taken by another visitor. You are facing East.
Looking at another ledge from inside.
And down. You can see where we entered the building.
View of the ledge boxes from the ground, how tiny they look!
This is the same side as the clover leaf we saw in 2003. Let’s take a new look.
One of the most interesting buildings we saw was the MCC Jailhouse Skyscraper. Even the jails are tall here and saw a volleyball game played by the inmates on the roof. It holds 681. This is on the West-facing side. Apparently it’s hard to see from the ground.
Other skyline views. This is the Chicago north side. That cone-shaped object in the upper left corner is the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. It is 16 miles north of here.
We have been up in the tower for about two hours now, it was nearly 12:30. It was time to go see more of Chicago since we had to be back on the train at 3:30. We could not resist getting a copy of the picture the staff took on the Ledge™.
Enjoy video of our visit!
Blackstone? Tower future
The tower had been sold to the Blackstone Group in March of 2015, though you could not tell that yet on the outside. In the near future it will be undergoing some renovations to make it a more welcoming place to visitors. Perhaps in 7 or 8 years, we will be back to see this 3rd incarnation of Chicago’s largest office building.
The latest trend in unique restaurants is ones with cats you can interact with. Madison didn’t waste any time clueing into this new idea and the Cat Café Mad was born!
In April 2016, it just had a small kiosk in the front to get your drink from a single cup brewing machine. They expanded in 2017 to have more room for the cats and provide a larger menu, also to survive. There is now an open kitchen and small dining area to eat your food. Only drinks are allowed into the “Cattery”. These are your drink choices.
Hot tea also.
A view of the open kitchen and dining room.
Today’s special was a Pulled Pork Crepe, crafted by Chef Dunn, Manager and Chef at the café. It was delicious! We had the large crepe, there are choices for every palate.
Just to let you know, the cats are not just sealed into a room with no stimulation. There are lots of toys and windows for them to peer through. In the wall separating the cattery from the restaurant, there are 5 bubble windows so they could see what is going on. As you see, one was doing just that.
Some cats were looking inside and it was so cute! Five cats are permanent residents, the others are up for adoption so the number of cats varies. The current list.
We finished our crepes and were ready to play with the cats. In between the room and dining area is an “airlock” to ensure an extra barrier between the people and cat area. Only children 5 and up are allowed, and a waiver must be signed by all patrons. A $5 cover charge is required to enter the cattery, it help cover the cost of care. Photos are permitted, don’t use flash as it will startle the cats. There are rules all must follow to protect the cats and yourself.
Also tips on how read cat body language. For someone who never has owned a cat (yet!), this was very helpful to me.
The cattery also has webcam you can watch anywhere on your device or computer. Click on this icon from the website. The camera is on the wall in the center of the room in the back.
Enjoy this video of our visit!
Such a wonderful place to de-stress if you love cats but can’t have one at home. The crepes are delicious too! Many fun events happen here on the weekends. High Tea is quite popular. See it here on time lapse.
Happy New Year to all of our friends and family who enjoy reading about our adventures. It was a great year and plans are already in the works for the new year. We will celebrate our 5th year of Adventures in Travel in February, yaay!
We apologize for not publishing much over the last couple of months, life has kept us quite busy over the fall months and Christmas season. A highlight of the Christmas season was the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train coming through Columbus. Al got a great video over 1000 people have already viewed. See it here!
Another highlight of the season was a house with a 40 minute synchronized music and light show. See it here!
We will be spending the winter catching up on trips that took place after Labor Day. Also updating older posts that need it. Our “Westward Ho! South Dakota and Wyoming” trip was amazing! Go back to begin reading about our trip here. Made some new friends along the way, as well as with enjoying time with long-time friends.
We hope you had a great year too, see you on the road! Happy New Year from Al and Laurie!
Harrisville is home of the ”LARGEST One Day Brat Fest in the State” and after seeing it for ourselves, we believe it! It is the 57th Bratfest. Harrisville is an unincorporated community located in the town of Harris, Marquette County, Wisconsin. The population is 729. First some of the history, the Harris Town Hall. It was built in 1899, Greek Revival in design.
Near the town hall is a flag pole with a plaque on a rock. It is the Harris Veterans Memorial.
On the side of the Sportman Club building on the fest grounds is a beautiful mural depicting Harris history. Click on picture to enlarge. It was completed 7-9-12. Learn more about other murals in Marquette County here.
Now back to Bratfest! Here is the schedule, plenty of fun to be had for people of all ages!
The community is small but hundreds of people come here from all over for this annual fundraiser for the Harris Volunteer Fire Department. There is a lot of entertainment to be had, pedal pulls for the kids, tractor pulls for the adults, volleyball, baseball, rides, music and more! After many years of Madison’s Brat Fest, it was fun going to one in a different community. The volleyball competition.
There was a pedal pull competion for the kids, we saw that too in Wonewoc during their Old Fashioned Day festival.
This is training for the Tractor Pull, also happening at this festival. Admission was $15 per person. We looked over the fence. The Harrisville Tractor Pullers Association has many competitions through the summer and fall. See their Facebook page for updates. Below is their BIG sled. The schedule for the day.
K & M Rides and Amusements LLC from Phillip, WI provided the carnival and even pony rides.
See the carnival and more in the video below.
Souvenir T-Shirts for sale too, I got one!
We heard music from two groups, the first one was Southbound. They are from Milwaukee. They played at the tent in the main fair grounds by the town hall and fire station.
The 2nd group was the Star Fire Family band from Readfield, WI. They were also wonderful! See a little of both groups on the video.
We had a great time at this Bratfest, different than the Johnsonville’s World’s Largest Brat Fest. The emphasis here is supporting one entity, the Harris Volunteer Fire Department. We’re glad we went. “Barney Brat” hopes you come back next year!
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”.
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.
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.