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29th Annual Holiday Fantasy in Lights – 2017 – Hayride


November 19, 2018

 

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Another great display this year for everyone to enjoy.  This year I took a look at the displays from a new viewpoint, from a hayride! Info here.

Reserve your own haywagon ride (limited availability) for just $100 plus tax, more information: http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/reserve/hayrides.cfm

The line was long, but it was a warm night and there was a fire to keep us warm while waiting.

Each year, there is a soundtrack you can listen to as you drive through the park transmitted by a LP (low power) radio station. There are actually two stations now. Tune in to 95.3 FM for the main audio, 95.1 for the Dancing Trees.

There were two wagons continuously going around after getting loaded.  The atmosphere was filled with excitement for the upcoming holidays and the kids in the group were so excited!

 It’s our turn!  Soon, we were on our way, watch the video of the hayride.

I returned on the 25th and drove through on my own. If you want to see the displays without other people around, come early in the morning before dawn.  Enjoy the Dancing trees, synchronized to Nutcracker music.

2018 will be the 30th Anniversary of Holiday Fantasy in Lights, I look forward to that!  I will do the hayride again, it was so much fun!

 

8 Hours in Chicago


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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.

Al Kutil

 

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.

Al Kutil

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!

Al Kutil

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.

2:25 PM

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!

3:06 PM

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.

3:30 PM

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.

2017 Adventures – Happy New Year 2018!


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!

 

 

 

The Heidel House Resort and Spa in Green Lake


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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!

 

 

 

 

Sundance, Wyoming-Gateway to Devil’s Tower


Days 4 & 5

4-27 and 28-2017

After our visit to Devils Tower, we arrived in Sundance at 4:45 PM. There was quite a bit of snow here, the elevation is 4,750 and population is 1,182 and located in Crook County. Another snowstorm hit overnight, blowing out of Montana, where they had a winter storm warning. It was Winter Storm Ursa.

We were tired after being on the road for 12 hours and checked into our home for the night, Bear Lodge Motel. We had a pleasant night here, notice no vacancy. It’s a popular place!

After checking in we had dinner at the Long Horn Saloon + Grill, great food in a relaxing atmosphere. They show the front of the steer in the front of the building…

and the back end behind the restaurant. Cute! He was repainted black and white in July.

Inside the restaurant and our dinner, yum!

On the left of Longhorn is Deluxe Harley Davidson and Vilas Pharmacy.

Right of Longhorn is Mae Mae’s Gifts and Jewelery.

On the corner right of here is Dillon Sundance Hardware, across from the bank.

The people we met in Aladdin in the afternoon are members of the Wyoming State Historical Society.

They have museums all over Wyoming, including Sundance. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see it inside.

Sundance is famous for being the namesake of the Sundance Kid. Just outside on the left is a bronze statue of the Sundance Kid on a bench that you can get a selfie with. He was covered with snow on April 28 😦

Learn more about the Sundance Kid here.

The historic Sundance State Bank that he robbed is still here too and still in business. They are now operating out of newer, larger building a couple blocks away.

To the right of the museum is the Crook County Courthouse.

Other businesses downtown. Next door to the Bear Lodge is the Arrowhead Motel, affiliated with Budget Host.

These businesses are right of the bank. L-R, the far left and far right buildings are unoccupied.

Security Insurance Agency

Wyoming Pioneer and Sundance Times Newspapers.

STEVENS, EDWARDS, HALLOCK & CARPENTER, P.C

 

The Crook County Museum will be expanding into a larger building at some point.

This poor tree is trying to tell us spring is here.

Bearlodge Engineering and Surveying

A Veterans’ Memorial

The Dime Horseshoe Bar

This bar is a major gathering place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

On the left is 1875 Gallery, Wild West Espresso, Sundance Realty LLC and Higbee’s Cafe.

A few remaining places downtown.

Country Cottage Flowers and Gifts

 NAPA Auto & Truck Parts

Both of these gas stations are on Cleveland Street downtown too.

Rolling Metal Sinclair

Fresh Start

A beautiful mural on a wall.

After filling up at Fresh Start, it was time to depart from Wyoming. Maybe we can stay longer next time.  Not long out of town we saw Bear Butte Mountain which was soon lost to sight.

It is now the 5th day of our trip and we turn eastward toward home again.

 

Olbrich Botanical Garden’s Orchid Quest


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Olbrich Gardens sign

Orchid Quest crowd at Olbrich

orchid-quest program side 1

orchid-quest program side 2

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!

Collage Saxaphone Quartet card

collage-saxaphone-quartet-at-olbrich

The Conservatory was inviting with 80ºF temps inside.

Boltz Conservatory at Olbrich in winter

Olbrich Conservatory inside

Let’s go into the exhibition room, so beautiful!

Orchid Displays at Olbrich

Orchid Displays 2 at Olbrich

Large display, so many varieties!

Large oorchid display

Medium Orchid display at Olbrich

After enjoying these orchids, there was another room with vendors selling them too.

vendors-sign-a-orchid-quest

Orchid Vendor Room at Olbrich

Not only orchids were for sale, also orchid themed mementos. Pictures by Charlotte Fung Miller, Chinese Brush Art.

Charlotte Fung Miller Art at Olbrich

Orchids by Hausermann

Orchids by Hausermann INC

Some of the many varieties for sale.

orchids-at-olbrich

We had a lot of fun at this event, think spring!

 

Winterfest in Lake Geneva


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winterfest-banner-crop

Rivera in Lake Geneva

It has been 5 years since our last visit to Lake Geneva, and Winterfest looked like a lot of fun! Events centered around The Rivera and the road going by the lakefront building.  It was a cold, windy and sunny day and there was a large crowd.  Winterfest crowd at Lake Geneva

View from the balcony.

View from Rivera balcony of Winterfest

Adding to the festive mood was music by Lake 96.1, a local radio station. We could hear it throughout the festival because of the speakers placed throughout the snow carving display area.

96-1-logo

The snow sculptors were not just locals, they came from all points around the country and even other countries.  Lake Geneva is home to the  U.S. NATIONAL SNOW SCULPTING COMPETITION.  Read more about this event in the official Guide. We were quite impressed with the quality of work.

Enjoy a slide show of the many sculptures that we saw, as well as the other activities.

They were all wonderful, but these were the winners.

First Place

Team Wisconsin 2

1st-place at Winterfest

2nd Place – Team Wisconsin 1

2nd-place at Winterfest

3rd Place – Team Maine

3rd-place at Winterfest

Two activities were enjoyed by people on the lake as well. Snowmobile rides were given.

Snowmobile rides at Winterfest

Also helicopter rides by MF Helicopters, LLC.

mf-helicopters-llc-banner-at-winterfest

helicopter-ride-at-winterfest

Lake Geneva is a great place to visit in any season. Celebrate winter at Winterfest!