"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 :)
We had just recently heard the news that Yerkes Observatory will be closing on October 1st of this year and knew we had to hurry back to take another tour before they ended. The news had just been announced a week or two earlier.
My first visit was actually in 6th grade in February 1977. Here is a picture I took then.
We went together for the first time in 2012. Richard Dreiser has been giving almost all of the tours since 1980, 38 years! Six years later, he said he remembered us and was happy to see us again. He is really nice and we will miss him. He is writing a book though about Yerkes so we look forward to getting that when it’s published.
It wasn’t really crowded since the news only just came out about the closure a week or so earlier. We heard that the tour groups in September were quite large. We could look around the hallway shortly before the tour started.
The back of the hallway was cordoned off, it wasn’t in 2012. Let’s see what is back there.
Richard began by showing some beautiful photos taken by the Yerkes telescope and others in the hallway adjacent to the lobby.
After discussing these photos, we then moved out to the lobby. It is quite beautiful, decorated with terracotta accents, marble floor and a skylight in the ceiling. The light fixtures are original too. The building was officially opened in 1897.
Under the skylight.
Richard pointed out the many features in the decorative artwork of the building in the lobby area. Faces, angels, and owls abound!
We then moved outside, where Richard pointed out the many distinguishing features in the artwork on the columns and above the door. Art is everywhere at this building, something you don’t see anymore.
Then, we went back in and concluded the tour at the big telescope. We could not go up on the platform on this visit.
Yerkes had been visited by many scientists, including Albert Einstein in this group photo taken in the 20’s.
We all got a special treat that most people don’t get to see, the dome rotating (see video at 48:33). He went to the console on the right side of the dome and made the adjustments.
Laurie Kutil 2012
Our tour came to a conclusion 10 minutes later, Richard spent the remaining time answering questions. Went back down the stairs.
Saw the library and stopped in the gift shop.
Our visit concluded here. We are sad this valuable resource is no longer a part of the University in Chicago. However, it may reopen again at later date under new ownership. I will update this post if this happens. We hope Richard will be hired to continue his excellent tours. Meanwhile, enjoy the video of the original tour.
We realized how much of Milwaukee we still have not seen, and decided that taking the free tour of the MillerCoors Brewery was just the thing on a snowy winter day. In this picture you can see the large silver tankards where the beer is aged for three weeks.
The tour is for one hour, be prepared to take stairs and walk to several buildings. Register at the front desk when you arrive. Good info to know before beginning the tour.
A photographer was there to take our picture and had some props to make the picture even more memorable. We would be offered a 5×7 and 2-4×6 print, a bottle opener and a can cozy at the end of the tour for $20. We got it, such a fun memento of our visit.
We were on the first tour at 10:30, and it turned out to only be the two of us. Leah was our guide, she gave us the VIP treatment!
The tour began with a 10-minute film in the theater describing the history of the brewery. After that we went to the first building where the beer is made.
Here we could also see the conveyor belt rolling with filled cases of beer.
We went down to the lower floor of this building and saw it is also a vast warehouse for all the beer. Would you believe all of this will be gone by the next day? Most goes to Chicago with the rest points elsewhere. It is the size of 5 football fields placed side-by-side. Here are some stats.
We went back out and crossed the street, going under the bridge where you could see beer going across on the conveyor.
It was time to see where the Fermenting Room. Copper tankards were on the upper level and the silver-colored ones were below.
After this we walked further up the street to our last stop, the Historic Caves building where the beer was chilled before refrigeration.
There was also a historic marker on the building.
We went into the hushed darkness of the cave, gently lit on either side but still allowing for night vision. It was beautiful, and there was a mural painted in the back.
In here were were also paid a visit by Frederick Miller himself, via a projection on the back of the cave.
Very cool! The tour was now finished, we then went to the tasting room. Al did the tasting since I don’t drink beer. Thanks Leah, we really had fun!
While we were there we got our photo that we had taken at the start of the tour. Our first silly selfie of the year.
We really had a good time here today. Since there is not a restaurant on site, we went .7 miles away to Saz’s State House for a great lunch.
The Groundhog Day Walking Tour is the highlight of any visit to Woodstock. Following the map, any visitor can take this tour year ’round. One week out of a year, the tour is guided during Groundhog Days. This time we got it on video, especially important since Bob Hudgins (Location Manager) was retiring from conducting the tours. The tour lasted almost 2 hours (bundle up!) and he had many back stories to tell about each scene. He has done this since 2005 gratis, just because he enjoyed doing it. Thanks Bob! Join us on the tour below! It’s edited length is 1 hr-6 min.
Here is a map of most of the sites, print a pdf version here as well as more info about what is going on each day.
Bob is ready! Let’s examine the sites one by one.
1. Pennsylvania Hotel
The historic Woodstock Opera House. The place where the dance scene takes place in the movie and bar scene preceding the dance.
2 & 3. Gobbler’s Knob and Bandstand Dance – The large gazebo in Woodstock Square Park.
Phil always hears “Pennsylvania Polka” when he arrives at Gobblers Knob. In fact, there are speakers throughout the park and we heard this and other music from the movie soundtrack during the tour. It is performed by Frankie Yankovic. A classic!
The Gobbler’s Knob plaque is flat on the ground. Saw it for the first time in 2017 since there was no snow.
This was the bar as portrayed as being inside the Pennsylvania Hotel, just outside of the dance hall where the Groundhog dance was near the end of the movie. Also where Phil shared a Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks (with a twist) with Rita. We enjoyed a delicious lunch there and made a toast to world peace. The plaque is inside by the bar.
The jail scene was also filmed here, a former large cell is part of the dining area. Al pretending to be locked up.
5. Bill Murray’s Puddle
Six cobblestones were actually taken out of the street to create the hole for the puddle, as told by Bob Hudgins. He had to put them back in at the end of the day. Al stood in for Bill on our first visit to Woodstock in 2003.
6. Tip-Top Cafe
Where Phil and Rita had breakfast before trying to leave Puxatawney. Also where Phil learned everything about all the patrons in the restaurant. At the time of filming it was an empty storefront, now it is a real restaurant called Taqueria La Placita. We enjoyed a great dinner there in 2017. We sat in the area where Phil’s table was in the movie. They also had the original Tip Top Cafe lit sign in the window too.
Where Phil was drinking with two other guys who all then proceeded to leave and drove drunk with the police hot on their tail on a high-speed chase through town.
They did not actually actually drive on the train track here, just the view of them turning onto the track was here. The actual track driving was done at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Il. The bowling alley is across the street to the left of this view.
10. The Dance
In the movie it’s in the Pennsylvania Hotel, in reality it’s the inside of the Moose Lodge. This is where the tour began after the Groundhog Breakfast in 2017. The breakfast was here too. They made no changes inside, still the same interior as in the movie.
11. Old Man’s Alley
In front of the movie theater, where Phil finds a homeless man and tries to help him.
View from the other side.
12. Ned’s Corner
Phil’s high school classmate Ned Ryerson, now insurance agent meets Phil here while he is walking to Gobbler’s Knob.
13. The Chase and Crash
Takes place after the aforementioned Bowling Alley scene. Here you see the movie scene super-imposed over the photo I took.
After knocking over the groundhog…This once was a vacant lot, now there is a building on this site with a plaque on it.
The building there now in the former vacant lot.
We are now on our way to the Piano Teacher’s House and Cherry Street Inn (Royal Victorian Manor) and encounter another movie site not on the printed guide. The tunnel where Phil drove the red truck when he stole the groundhog. It actually is for the Metra train that stops in Woodstock. It was built in 1897.
Coordinates: N 42° 18.772 W 088° 26.625
14. Piano Teacher’s House
Phil learned how to expertly play the piano in one day here.
Continue past the house to find the tree that the boy fell out of that Phil caught.
By this point I had lived in Madison for 26 years, and I never took the formal tour of our state Capitol. I finally took it and really had fun! I arrived at the desk by rotunda and waited for our guide.
Our guide was Jim Schaff, the most experienced of the 12-member tour guide staff. He knows everything about the capitol and is very enthusiastic in his delivery. He pointed out many interesting things. Embedded in the marble are some fossils. One step even has a starfish, clearly visible.
He took us to all the important rooms where all the big decisions are made for our state. This is the State Assembly room.
Where the Governor makes addresses to the state, often on TV.
A badger overlooks the doorway to the Senate.
The Supreme Court
My favorite part is the Observation Deck, going around the outside of the dome. The view is incredible from up there! This is looking towards Lake Mendota.
I hope you enjoyed your tour of my beautiful Capitol. Hopefully Jim can be your guide too.
It was noon, with the tour over I had headed towards the Monona Terrace, where I was going on another tour.