Tag Archive | fall

Upper Dells Boat Tour – Wisconsin Dells


Dells Boat Tour – Tickets and Pricing

The last time we took this tour was June 30, 2002 and it was time we did it again. This time we were armed with a better camera (mine) which also shot HD video. Al also had his own camera and he sat in the lower deck, giving another point a view. We arrived at the Lower Dells Dock parking area, the first Upper Dells ride was at 10:00, a shuttle bus took us to the dock stairs to catch it. These are the boat rides available in summer this year.

Dells  Boat Tour ticket Office

Dells Boat Tour Schedule 2015

The view from the top of the stairs of the boats. Our boat is the Red Cloud, on the left back.

Upper Dells Dock watermark

Before you board, you have the chance to get a souvenir picture taken, available upon return. It is $20, includes a 8 x 6″, 2 – 4 x 6″ and three wallet-sized prints, plus a photo key chain for the wallet picture. What a good deal, here is our picture. You can get the same done at the Lower Dells. Just like what H.H. Bennett used to do over 100 years ago.

Upper Dells Al and Laurie Kutil  6-17-15

Now we are on board and on our way!  We were lucky to have such a beautiful day. We are visible from the bridge to passersby as we go around the bend to the left, heading to the Gateway up ahead.

Bridge View 2852 WM

Upper Dells Boat Tour leaving WM

We approach the “Gateway of the Dells”, Romance Rock and High Cliff.

Romance Cliff and High Rock - Upper Dells Watermark

The dignified Chief Black Hawk’s Profile.

Chief Black Hawk's Profile watermark

The Giant’s Shield

Giant's Shield watermark  in Upper Dells

This majestic rock is called “Signal Point”, the entrance to Witches Gulch.

Upper Dells Rock formation WM

It is time for our first stop at Witches Gulch. We disembark and walk the path between tall rock formations, you can see the forest above you. Very beautiful!

Red Cloud boat at Upper Dells

Witch's Gluch Path WM at Dells

On our left is Witches Bathtub.

Witch's bathtub in Witch's Gulch in Dells WM

Spooky Lane,  and then…

Witch's Gulch Narrow Passage WM

It opens up to a wide area and concessions/restrooms are available.  We had 20 minutes before we had to get back on the boat.

Concession Stand at Witch's Gulch at Dells WM

There was also this plaque attached to the side of the rock on our right.

Witche's Gulch Plaque

Back on board, we crossed the river to our next attraction, the dog jumping across Stand Rock to re-create Ashley Bennett’s jump that made the Dells famous.  We assembled in the small amphitheater with this great view.

Stand Rock in Dells WM

The picture on the sign showing the jump.

Stand Rock Jump in Upper Dells

The dog jumping is a German Shepherd named Radar. Let’s watch!

How exciting that was!  Radar is perfectly safe, there is a net below to catch him if he fell.

We continue along the trail, seeing other beautiful rock structures and scenic views of the river.

Toadstool Rock Upper Dells WM

There is another concession building at the end of the trail.  There is another sign explaining how this area came to be.

Concession Building collage at Stand Rock in Dells WM

Sign at Stand Rock in Dells

Scenic View of the river, on our way back to the boat, now docked on the other side opposite of where we dis-embarked.

Scenic View  3187 WM

Pointed ledge at Stand Rock WM

Path to boat in Upper Dells from Stand Rock WM

Stand Rock area  - Upper Dells WM

Tall Rock formation 3204 WM

It was regretfully time to go, so beautiful here.

Back on the boat after Stand Rock 3210 WM

On our way back to port, what a wonderful ride! A last look at The Palisades rock formation.

The Palisades at Stand Rock 3212 WM

As we headed back to our home port, Brendan offered us copies of the Dells Boat Tour Official Guidebook for sale for $5, a great memento of our tour.

Official Guidebook of Dells Boat Tours

Saw a PT-109 shark boat on the way back, cool!

PT-109 3251 WM at Dells

Also saw a Jet Boat.

Jetboat Upper Dells Coming Back Al Kutil WM

Almost back, view from the bridge.

Upper Dells Boat Tour  Returning WM

Returning to dock Upper Dells WM

The crew secures the boat to the dock at the building.  On the dock is the stand where we pick up our picture.

Upper Dells Boat Tour Station Building WM

Photo Pickup at Upper Dells Dock 3292

Captain Bob and Brendan wish everyone a great day and hope you enjoyed your tour!

Captain Bob and Brendan Upper Dells Red Cloud crew frame WMDells Boats Come Back in Fall

Hot Website Links

Chamber of Commerce

Dells Boat Tours

Wisconsin Dells Information

Dells.com Deals

Explore Downtown Dells

City of Wisconsin Dells

Travel Wisconsin

Sun Prairie – Groundhog Capital of the World!

Sun Prairie Sign

Sun Prairie is a growing city of over 30,000 just northeast of Madison.  The history of how it got its name is quite interesting. In 1837, President Martin Van Buren commissioned a party of 45 men to build a capitol building for the territory of Wisconsin. They left from Milwaukee on May 26, 1837.  They traveled many days in the rain to scout out the area near Madison. On June 9,  they  emerged at the end of a prairie and the sun came out for the first time at that moment. They carved the words “Sun Prairie” into a tree and the name stuck.  We were able to find the site of where that famous tree was. Take Highway 19 out-of-town about two miles, heading toward Marshall. On Skala Road to the left, the tree was located between the railroad tracks and 19. A farm is here.

Skala Road in Sun Prairie Tree site

Charles Bird was the first settler.  Bird Street in the city was named after him.The town of Sun Prairie was created on Feb 2, 1846 (Groundhog Day!). The city, which grew out of the town, was incorporated in 1858.

Some of the city’s historical buildings remain and their downtown is quite active with many festivals throughout the year. Let’s explore the local history.  A good place to begin is the Sun Prairie Historical Museum. They have displays that change yearly and seasonally, and with an appointment you can make use of the research room with a docent who can help you find historical information. The museum was built on the site of the home of the first settler, Charles Bird. A street is named after him.

Sun Prairie Historical Museum

 The museum also has received historical records from the Town of Burke, a town that being dissolved by 2026.  We live in Burke.  The first Burke Town Hall strangely enough, is in Sun Prairie, still in use. It is behind McGovern’s Club and Restaurant.

Former Burke Town Hall in Sun Prairie

 McGovern’s itself has been a mainstay of Sun Prairie since 1935.  Visitors can stay at the hotel for a night or an extended stay.

McGovern's in Sun Prairie

The  Adam and Mary Smith House was built between 1856-1860. It is located at Smith’s Crossing homes community on the outskirts of Sun Prairie.

Adam and Mary Smith House in Sun PrairieSmith House plaque

 Sun Prairie also has the distinction of being the first city in Wisconsin to implement free rural mail delivery, you will find the marker at the Post Office.

Rural Mail marker in Sun Prairie


 Downtown you will find the former City Hall building.

City Hall 1895 in Sun Prairie


Across on the left you will find Ski’s Saloon, open from  2011 to 2016.  In the fall of 2016 it has new owners Cory and Abby Barr reopening it as The Barr House.  The building was a tobacco shed originally.

July 10, 2018-The Barr House building exploded, possible natural gas. The building is now gone.

Ski's Saloon in Sun Prairie

 Across the street is a row of buildings, including the former hardware store on the left.  There now is Atlantis Taverna, a great Greek restaurant. Also Sun City Cyclery and Skates. Al bought a pair of ice skates here too. Emery Art is on the right.

Downtown Historic Sun Prairie Buildings


We now come upon Cannery Square, the heart of downtown and the current site of Jimmy the Groundhog’s annual prognostication on Feb 2nd.  We have attended many of these since 2002. This used to be where the factories in Sun Prairie were in the 19th and early 20th centuries were.  Renovation was complete in 2004 and it’s now a mixed living and retail center. In the square proudly stands a wood carving of Jimmy. You can see it on the right side of this picture of the square. Many festivals now take place here, this is the annual Fall Festival in October.

Jimmy Sculpture in Sun PrairieCannery Square in Sun Prairie


Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie


Famous artist Georgia O’Keeffe was also born in Sun Prairie and a marker can be found on Main St. across Cannery Square. The city has a festival every year to celebrate her contributions to the world of art.

Georgia O'Keeffe marker in Sun Prairie


The performing arts also have a strong foothold here.  The Sun Prairie Civic Theater puts on four performances each year. This is “The Barn”, where the stage parts and props are stored. They always need more people to come join the fun!

The Barn for Community Theater in Sun Prairie

 We have enjoyed many great meals at the Market Street Diner on the square. Carl’s Cakes is another business inside of this one, a fine partnership!

Market Street Diner and Carl's Cakes in Sun Prairie

Just opened Fall 2013 is The Nitty Gritty, located in the nearby historic Fuhremann Canning Factory, built in 1900. it was a place for farmers to sell their produce.  Now it is mixed retail. The Nitty Gritty is on the right.

Fuhremann Cannery Building in Sun Prairie

Fuhremann Canning Factory plaque

The Dr. Charles D. Crosse House is another museum in town. They also are a part of many of the city’s festivals throughout the year. He was the city’s doctor early in the city’s history and helped establish the first high school. He later served as a state legislator also.

Dr. Crosse House in Sun PrairieCrosse House plaque

 No longer in use is the Chase Grain Elevator, an interesting structure.

Chase Grain Elevator 1922

At Angell Park is a mural with all the important landmarks in Sun Prairie.  Angell Park is also home to Angell Park Speedway, for Midget Car Racing. The annual Sweet Corn Festival is also here.

Angell Park Mural in Sun Prairie

Freshly steamed corn

On the left side of the mural is the historic water tower on Columbus St., built in 1899.

Sun Prairie Water Tower

 On Windsor Street  is the beautiful Birkinbine House.

Birkinbine House on 305 Windsor in Sun Prairie

 This concludes our visit to the historic downtown Sun Prairie. It is expanding way beyond this area, with many businesses on the edges of the city in all directions. It’s called Prairie Lakes and is still growing.  Sun Prairie is your destination for fun events and shopping. To learn more, stop at the Chamber of Commerce downtown on Main, next to the Historical Museum.


Cambridge Fall Festival




Cambridge Fall Festival Collage


Cambridge Fall Fest Schedule

We are back in Cambridge for their Fall Festival since it has been about 14 years since we went.  Lots of fun activities for all. There were craft vendors, this one was a favorite, GET Carving. Artist Glenn Thompson even made a carving during the festival.

GET Carving - Glenn Thompson at Cambridge  Fall Festival


Balloon artists making cute balloons for the kids.

Balloon artists at Cambridge Fall Festival

A petting zoo by the Cambridge FFA.

Petting Zoo by Cambridge FFA at Fall Festival

Scarecrow making contest, very impressive! The pink cowgirl at the top of the page was one of the big winners.

Scarecrows at Cambridge Fall festival

And what is a fall festival without a hayride? We had one, provided by Schuster’s Playtime Farm from nearby Deerfield. Come ride with us!

Schuster's Play Farm hayride at Cambridge Fall festival


We even live entertainment.  Jeff Onsrud of Jeff’s Guitar Clinic in Fort Atkinson played familiar tunes adding a great ambiance to the festival fun! Let’s listen in..

Jeff' Onsrud at Cambridge Fall festival

This great event was sponsored by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. We hope to come back next year!

Cambridge downtown


Schuster’s Playtime Farm in Deerfield


Shuster's signs

It was opening day at Schuster’s, and it was busy! It is open between September 20-Nov. 1 in 2014. for the fall season. In Wisconsin, the farm IS a big attraction and fun for all ages. This place opened to the public in 1990 and is is a lot of fun.  The round barn can be seen from the road and draws you in. There happened to be a wedding here today too.

Schuster's Round Barn

The first thing we saw upon arrival was lots of pumpkins and the hayride just coming back.

Schuster's store and pumpkins


They have a corn maze too, very popular in the Midwest.

Schuster's Corn maze


A big play area for the kids, even little playhouses.

Schuster's playhouses

Schuster's playground

In this area was also a BIG rocking chair.  We couldn’t resist getting a selfie here.

Ppumpkins on white background with fall leaves frame


This is a great place to visit in the fall, be sure to get here for a great time!

Pardeeville Watermelon Festival

First Saturday in September

Pardeeville Watermelon Festival signBig watermelon sign

It was my first time attending the Pardeeville Watermelon festival and it sure was fun!  The local people are friendly and I sure felt like one that day.  Photographer Mark D. Taylor and I hit it off right away. He assisted in many of the events at the festival.   This festival is full of great kid-activities. There is a hay dive, kids search a big pile of hay for prize tokens.

Hay Dive at Pardeeville Watermelon Festival 2013

Wayne the Wizard entertained also, mixing fun tricks with science. There were many more games too.

Wayne the Wizard

There was lots of free watermelon (donations accepted!) provided by Alsum Farms and Produce. Yum!

Alsum Watermelon

There was a watermelon carving contest too.  This Viking ship and shark were quite cute!

Watermelon Viking shipWatermelon shark

There was also a watermelon seed spitting contest, as well as speed eating by all age groups.  Both are officially sanctioned contests.

Watermelon Seep-spitting and Speed Eating records

Low flying seedsWatermelon Seed Spitting

Watermelon Speed Eating

There were also many vendors selling great watermelon crafts.  Wesleyan Bible church sold these cute watermelon necklaces. Picket Fence Boutique had these cute visors and fly swatters.

Watermelon crafts-Picketfenceboutiquewatermelon necklace

Local groups participate in making the festival a great success. Concessions were provided by the Pardeeville EMS.  Another group is the Pardeeville Cub Scouts. They participate in July 4 events as well.  They are always looking for new members. Call Adam Milkowski at 608-617-0580 or email ammilkowski@gmail.com if you are interested.

This was a great festival, I hope to go next year!

Watermelon Festival 2014

Hyde Mill for All Seasons

Hyde Mill 1-25-11

Hyde Mill in Spring

Hyde Mill Summer

Hyde Mill in Autumn

Hyde Mill is one of Wisconsin photographers favorite subjects.  Its located in Ridgeway in Iowa County in Southwest Wisconsin. It’s future is uncertain since the parcel of land its on has been up for sale since 2008.  The mill was built in 1850 and is no longer functioning.  Mill Creek still flows by, providing a relaxing sound. However, the area surrounding the mill is replete with artifacts left from when it was a functioning mill.

There is a row of millstones on display on the grounds. This was two years ago, now they are behind a fence.  There are other artifacts as well.


10-7 05110-7 070

Up on a hill nearby is the Old Mill House, built in 1876.

Old Mill House in Ridgeway

Other interesting places are in Hyde near the mill. The Hyde Chapel.

Hyde Chapel labeled

The Hyde Store.  A busy establishment, the store host many parties and live music performances.

10-7 12210-7 124

7-26-16, 2017, 2018

It was time to revisit the mill, AT NIGHT.  I had just bought a new camera, the Canon Rebel T6i after learning it was capable of astrophotography.  We also found out the mill is located in one of the darkest spots in Wisconsin.  This Light Pollution map was our guide and is updated yearly.  This was the result, wow!  My objective was to photograph the Milky Way as a backdrop behind the mill.

Best IMG_0398 No line WM

The darkness of mill location in 2016.

Light Pollution at Hyde Mill marked

The view behind the mill was just as impressive, both photos taken on the bridge.

Best IMG_0412 Behind Mill WM

In 2018 I did a time-lapse.

9-23-19 (hopefully)

We are at the tail end of the Milky Way season. I just got a new lens meant for astrophotography. Its aperture is 1.8, as opposed to the 3.5 lenses I have used at this point. Here is what it looks like.

I took a look at the light pollution map, it’s getting worse but it’s still good enough.

Light Levels in 2019


It is always enjoyable to visit here no matter the season.


Related Articles

Hyde’s Mill

Hyde, WI; Vanish at the Hyde Store, Hyde’s Mill

On Wisconsin: Hyde Store filled with stories

Locally Grown at the Dane County Farmers Market

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol

Nearly every Saturday, also Wednesdays in the summer

Wisconsin is becoming well known for it huge Farmers Market on Saturdays from April until November. After that it moves inside for the winter.  The variety is incredible in all seasons.  The rules for members is very strict, all produce must be grown by the vendors and and everything else must be made by them.  Enjoy some scenes from the market.   If you come, go COUNTERCLOCKWISE around the Capitol Square, an unwritten rule 🙂

One of my favorites vendors, Dale Marsden. He makes the most delicious honey and is known for his famous beehive hat. He will be happy to pose for a picture for you, do him a favor though and buy some honey 🙂

Dale Marsden labeled100_9342


Locally produced food is very popular in Madison, and there are many restaurants downtown that buy food at the market.  Here is a chef pulling a wagon to load up on local produce.   One of the flower beds around the square has been converted into a garden in recent years.

Capitol Garden  8-25-12

Capitol Garden 8-25-12

8-25-12 102100_6242



Morel Mushrooms 4-21-12

Morel Mushrooms

In the fall, it’s really pretty. I just showed you spring and summer. On 10-8-11 we went to the capitol Observation deck and got great views of the market from the below. Also a great view of Lake Mendota around fall color peak time.

10-8 441Lake mendota

10-8 093Pumpkins and Gourds

Another favorite vendor is Stella’s Bakery. They make the best spicy cheese bread around. In fact, they are able to bake it right there and sell it hot. Yum!


That about wraps it up. If you get to come to the market, come hungry!