Tag Archives: Wisconsin

What We Like About Wisconsin

As we say farewell to Wisconsin, here are some of the things we liked, in no particular order:

    Nice People
    Lots of lakes
    Miles of tranquil trails
    Sharp cheddar cheese
    Folks who give us rides
    Farmers who let their cows graze outdoors
    Fields of corn
    Culvers frozen custard
    Welcoming church folk
    Wall Dog murals
    Folks who give us water
    The Circus World Museum
    Brats with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes
    Trail Angels
    Walking along Lake Michigan
    Curious Townfolk
    Cool summer weather
    98% DEET
    Volunteers who maintain the trails
    Litter-free roadways
    Devil’s Lake Park

    Thanks Wisconsin! We had a great time!

Back in Portage

8/12 – just a quick note to let you know that it was 56 degrees here this morning, with a wind-chill factor! We left the hotel for our morning walk, turned around and went back for our long pants and fleece jackets. Brrr!

Even so, it was a lovely day for exploring the Leeve Trail. The clouds were phenomenal!image





8/13 – saw the news of flash floods on Long Island, New Jersey and along the coast. Hope everyone is safe and dry…

Boiling corn meditation


We have arrived in Westfield, WI, the end of our Ice Age Trail hike. After walking by so many corn fields, we celebrate by eating some. Next, we will return by bus to Portage, and then take a train to St. Paul, MN, and will fly to Lisbon, Portugal and then start walking toward the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

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Portage to Oxford to Westfield

8/7 – we left Portage to hike to our next stop north. Our plan was to do a full day’s road walk, spend one night on the ground, and then continue our road walk on to Westfield. At this point of the Ice Age Trail, there is no ‘trail’, only road walk.

It was another beautiful, sunny day. We distracted ourselves by playing Cloud Animals as we walked – what does this one look like to you?image

By late afternoon, we were starting to look for a stealth camping place, when a friendly couple working out in their yard called us over to chat. We explained about the Ice Age Trail, and how we were planning on sleeping on the ground that night, as we were too far from Westfield. They asked why didn’t we stay at the motel in Oxford just down the road? Our map didn’t show a motel anywhere close by, but Jean looked up the number for us and gave us directions. Thanks again, Nice People of Wisconsin!image

I know Jim was looking forward to putting up our little tent one more time, but I was very happy to rest on comfy pillows after a hot shower. Our days in Wisconsin are drawing to a close, and Westfield will be our last stop.

Next morning we walked into Westfield, a tiny town with a Pioneer motif.image

Here’s a sign you don’t see on Main Street every day – I just know this will be a classy place!image

Belleville to Verona

7/21 – Cameo Rose B and B continued to delight us with fresh cut flowers and a four course breakfast garnished with mint and lemon balm from the garden. I meant to take a picture, but it slipped my mind when I saw the stuffed French toast… Oh my!

We got back on the Badger Trail, and had a lovely two hour trek on the straight Rails to Trails path before we found ourselves back on the highway at noon. Today was very warm by Wisconsin standards, in the upper 80s. Once again, a Nice Person of Wisconsin stopped for us almost immediately, saying that it was much too hot to walk. When we said we were on our way to Verona, this lovely lady changed direction and took us all the way to our hotel, even though she wasn’t originally going into town. Thank you, Nice Person!image

We’ve decided that the reason so many people stop for us is my floppy blue hat. What do you think?

We will be in Verona for several days, completing the Ice Age trail segments nearest to town in the mornings, and returning to the hotel in the afternoon. This is an especially nice way to hike, as we can leave our packs behind.

7/22 – today the weather warns of record-breaking heat (high of 90!!), so we set out early to be done by the hottest part of the afternoon. The trail starts behind the public library, which, of course, is on Silent Street. Love a town with a sense of humor!image
The trail took us through some wildflower-filled meadows and up a hill that let us look over the town below. We found ourselves humming “the hills are alive” and looking for Julie Andrews… What a lovely morning!image







We want to take a moment to thank the state of Wisconsin again for setting aside land, mowing and maintaining so many parks, bike paths and multi-use trails, and the Ice Age Trail volunteers for all they do!image



A Day in New Glarus

7/19 – today is our day to take in the sights of New Glarus. You may think it strange that on our day off from hiking, we walk around town. What else should we do?

Since the Pet Evaporated Milk plant closed in the 60’s, New Glarus has been all about tourism. Originally settled in 1845, 193 courageous souls left the poverty of Glarus, Switzerland, and formed a new community here. We started the day touring a Swiss village attraction maintained by the historical society, with old buildings, tools and furnishings, including a really big pot used to make cheese.

For lunch, we finally visited Culvers, a Wisconsin food chain that specializes in Butterburgers and frozen custard. We’ve seen them in every town. They have an app so you can keep track of the frozen custard flavor of the day!image

And then there were the painted cows… some commercial, some inspirational, all done by different artists. We walked the whole town to make sure we saw them all! Which one is your favorite?image


Albany to New Glarus – Back on the Trail

7/17 – today we start a nice, flat 18 mike walk on a Rails to Trails multi-use path along the Sugar River, that the Ice Age Trail shares with the Sugar River Trail. We will break this walk into two days, camping out overnight, as the only town enroute (Monticello) does not have any lodgings. The young and strong would do this walk in one day, but I am the old and not-so-strong, and I want to test out the healing of my foot.
We encountered a retiree bicycling group from Madison, and the riders walked with us a while and took our picture. They hadn’t encountered hikers on their bike trail before!

We have food for the journey, but the map doesn’t indicate a place to refill our drinking water today. A challenge! Jim has been carrying his water filter, and today will be his first chance to use it. By mid afternoon, we were hot and thirsty, so at the next bridge, Jim scooped up some Sugar River and squeezed it through the filter to refill our canteens. The Sugar River is not sweet, but the water was very welcome. We each carry two quarts of water (adding 5 lbs. to our packs) plus Jim fills a collapsible water container with another two quarts for supper and breakfast during our last water stop of the day.image
As you can see by Jim’s fashionable outfit, the mosquitoes were out in full force today. Not only did we need our net suits plus Deet, we had to zip the suits all the way up to our necks. Walking along like this makes me feel like an astronaut in a space suit, viewing the world from a distance. Eating reminds me of watching the females in Muslim countries eat wearing their veils. You can do it, but it’s no fun… Joggers and walkers stopped to ask where they could get suits like ours. Answer: Amazon!

7/18 – in the morning we broke camp and walked the last 5 miles to New Glarus.



20140718-205404-75244722.jpgThis town was settled by a group of Swiss immigrants in 1845, and they turned their town into a little Switzerland. Chalet architecture and painted cows everywhere!




Even businesses not trying to attract tourists express the Swiss theme:



After checking into the Swiss Aire motel, we ate an authentic Swiss pub lunch of Brats and local beer at Puempel’s Olde Tavern.image Tomorrow, we will check out the tourist attractions!

Janesville to Albany

7/16 – last night we shared dinner at the home of our new friends Todd and Susan, who we met at church on Sunday. Todd drove across town to pick us up from the motel, and Susan prepared a delicious meal – the first home made meal we’ve had in over a month. We shared conversation about kids and grand kids (they have 14!), and a good time was had by all.

This morning, Susan graciously volunteered to drive us the 29 miles to Albany, so that my foot can continue to heal. This saved us a horrendous road walk. She brought along some fresh and dried comfrey, known to herbalists as ‘bone-knit’, and home-made salve to further help my recovery. What a wonderful and thoughtful person! Thank you, Susan and Todd – it was so nice to get to know you!

Here in Albany we are staying at the Albany House B and B, the only inn in town. At the beginning of our hike, I thought there’d be many B and Bs along the way, but it turns out that these posh stays are usually out in the countryside, making them impractical for travelers on foot who need access to groceries and restaurants close by. We were happy that Albany House was right in town, although the Main Street of the little town is torn up for the summer, which made finding supper a challenge.

Also staying at Albany House were a group of artists who meet here each month at the studio behind the house for art workshops. They were great conversationalists and lovely company.image
So, what did we have for breakfast? Fruit parfait, homemade coffee cake, spinach pie and bacon baked with black pepper and brown sugar. We waddled back onto the trail not needing to eat for the rest of the day!

Hartford to Delafield

7/1 – we really missed a storm last night! This morning there were branches and trees down everywhere we looked, and some folks lost electricity. We are looking forward to completing the 30 mile stretch to Delafield with one or two nights out, and no more storms.

We started with a road walk that took us around Pike Lake, then off into the woods. I’m not posting lots of pictures of the trail through the woods, as they all look the same, even to me. See previous posts for nice woods pix…

I asked Jim to stand by one of cornfields we passed on the road. When we arrived in June, the corn was just starting to come up, and although it is not quite as high as an elephant’s eye, it sure has made progress in three weeks!


We started on the next trail section, designated on our map as Holy Hill, but we couldn’t get past all the poison ivy, so we ended up road walking some more. I was kind of glad to miss that section, as I imagined it involved a heckuva hill climb, so steep that it made people exclaim, “Holy Hill!”

By lunchtime, we could see two giant spires in the distance, and signs for the Basilica of Holy Hill, which was, indeed, on a heckuva hill. If we were in Europe, this definitely would be on my “must see” list of attractions, so why not here? We left our packs by a picnic table, and trudged up to see Holy Hill, Shrine of Mary, which is maintained by Carmelite friars.
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Here is a chapel where prayers are answered. Outside the door were dozens of crutches and braces, left by those who no longer needed them. There was a prescription to follow, that a supplicant should walk up the 178 steps to the chapel before entering to voice their prayer to Mary. We’ve seen several of these chapels in our travels, and they always have a profound effect on me.

At the basilica, we got into a conversation with the Hample sisters, who recognized us as backpackers, even without our packs. Jim, seeing an opportunity, told them to be sure to pick us up if they saw us walking along the road. They laughed and said they were going to Milwaukee, in the opposite direction.

We got back on the trail and completed the Holy Hill section, which put us back on the road for more road walking. At the end of the afternoon, who should pull up, but the Hample sisters! Returning from their afternoon in Milwaukee, they asked if we still needed a ride, and took us about four miles to our next trail entrance. Coincidence, or answer to Karen’s prayer? You decide!

We walked until 5, climbing over, scooting under, or crashing through several newly downed trees that blocked our narrow trail. Just as we were looking for a stealth camping site for the night, we came upon two Ice Age Trail volunteers, out after work with handsaws to start clearing storm debris. Thank you, Trail volunteers, for all you do!image

7/2 – woke up snug in our bug-proof tent, to a grey, drizzly day. Before too long, our feet were wet, and I was feeling crabby. Our road walk took us into Hartfield, an upper crust enclave of manicured lawns and Mc Mansions. The trail here meandered along paved paths in and out of local parks, next to a golf course and along a river.image Even though it was 60 degrees and raining, there were kids splashing and playing in the water as if it was… Oh yeah, it IS July! The ritzier the neighborhood, the grubbier, wetter and smellier I felt. We arrived at Delafield, not a moment too soon, so we didn’t need a second night out. Yay! Time to do laundry!

West Bend to Hartford

We seem to have run out of Native American town names, now that we are 200 miles into our hike…

I checked the weather last night, and saw that today would bring afternoon thunderstorms. When I checked again this morning, the forecast included the word severe, as well as dangerous lightning, hail, and possible tornado. Uh oh! We have eleven miles to walk today, and have to get to the Post Office in Slinger.

We got up early, and were on the road by 6:45. The sun was shining, but the sky told us there would be change before too long. The West Bend segment took us on a meandering trail along Silver Creek and around Lucas Lake, and included a boardwalk to get us over some of the boggy parts.imageimage
The trail abruptly ended and dumped us out on another road walk – one with no shoulder or safe place to walk. About 8 miles along, one of the Nice People of Wisconsin pulled over and, exclaiming that we did not look like axe murderers, offered us a ride.image

Chris is an archeology professor at the University of Wisconsin, and he was lost, so he said he may as well take us where we wanted to go. I looked up the address he needed on Google Maps, and he drove us into Slinger, where we had mailed ourselves our next bunch of maps, before we left Chesapeake.

After picking up our envelope, we spent some time answering questions from Curious Townfolk, who we encounter everywhere we go. They want to know where we are from, where we are going, what’s in our packs, what we eat, where we sleep, and if we have a car parked nearby. Jim concluded this session by saying we were on our way to Hartford, if anyone was going that way. One of the ladies immediately offered to drive us there, saying, didn’t we know there was going to be dangerous lightning this afternoon?
So Deb, grandmother of 13 and owner of a family carpeting company, took us right up to the door of the Super 8 motel, and wished us well. Another Nice Person of Wisconsin!

So here we are, nice and dry, while the rain pours down, the thunder booms and the lightning flashes. We have new maps to read and tomorrow’s hike to plan. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is…