Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nature shots

Usually it seems that the National Forests in any state are the best places to hike and camp. The Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky was no exception. We found this turtle on one of the trails. Isn't he adorable?
In case you were wondering, it did rain on our trip. A lot. Well, every day, but not all day. The usual procedure was thus: find a place to camp, set up the tent under clear skies, awaken to rain. The mountains were indeed smoky.
And, awesome mushrooms appeared everywhere. This one below popped up after a rain, shredding this leaf as it grew. My camera came home full of fungus, so to speak.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'd like it here if I could leave and see it from a long way away...

Have you been to the Art Bar on Burleigh?

It is amazing to me that any time I walk in there, it smells like Milwaukee to me. I can't quite define it. It just smells familiar, comfortable, like my own home town that I (usually) love. Do you know what I mean?

We spent ten days wandering generally south, all the way to North Carolina, and then back north again, and visited a lot of places. Louisville, Kentucky (pre-flooding) was probably the nicest and most hospitable. We met a lady there who mentioned a campaign of sorts called Keep Louisville Weird. That is, that the residents wanted to retain the local color and flavor of their city, and support the local businesses that help keep it feeling like a place- its own place- rather than the ubiquitious chains that can make every place feel and taste and seem the same. There is something similar in Austin, TX, she said. Actually, we do have a thing like that here in Milwaukee; it just has a less evocative title.

The whole trip really made me think, what are the things that I would want to do if I were a tourist here? What if I had 24 or 48 hours to visit and wanted to see and do the things, old and new, that make Milwaukee Milwaukee? What would I tell myself to experience?

Leon's, yes, definitely. A brewery tour. Which one? Coffee, where? Alterra? (It's a chain, but a local one.) The lakefront, definitely, and the Calatrava. Live music of a local nature, and a beer- where for that? What about art? Sparrow Collective, maybe? Riverwest? Those are the kind of things I try to do when I am somewhere else- experience the real place, not (anathema!) the McDonald's version.

I've talked to people who have lived here and are moving away. An oft-cited reason is "it's too small." I really don't think so. Trying to come up with a list like that above, I am conflicted: there is a lot of choice. What do you think?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Snakes, bats, and rodents

Super cute! The area we were traveling in is salamander central. This little guy posed nicely for me, don't you think?

Here's the sign on the ladies' restroom door at the first campground we stayed in at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We saw plenty of each. There were lots of bats at night, which were eating mosquitos and making the campground more pleasant. I love their evening flutters.

Above is a copperhead about to go into the water. Other people on the Abram's Falls trail were afraid of snakes. Some even turned back. Snakes are pretty cool, I think. We did run into a black bear on a different trail, though;I was unable to get a good shot of that even though it was close (150 feet or so), as my hands were shaking a bit. It was getting toward dusk more late afternoon hiking, I think.

Of course rodents abounded as well.

Dollar Pabst in a can

I thought that was a Milwaukee thing, that somehow Pabst became cool again here. (Cold, and cool, simultanously.)

Turns out it's not! It's a Pabst thing, not a Milwaukee thing.

Every city we visited between here and Asheville (which touts itself as Beer City USA, incidentally) had dollar PBR in a can. I thought we were special. It was great to see the hometown brew everywhere, though.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I hate it when people steal my stuff!

When we got back from our trip we found that someone stole our canoe while we were gone.

I doubt the "new owners" will enjoy it as much as we have. I imagine it was scrapped for the aluminum, which makes it even sadder to me.

But, since we really can't canoe on the river like we used to, maybe it doesn't matter anyway.

(Next up: more vacation shots.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mts are beautiful

There is an amazing but treacherous road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park- a one-way gravel road that winds from north to south, winding, winding; it's crazy amazing. We did have some idea of what we were getting into from the book we brought with, a map we got in the park, and also a warning sign at the start of the road, explaining- so that the intrepid traveler could consent in an informed fashion- that it was an eight-mile gravel road that would likely take an hour to drive.

Hair was raised on our arms. But it was gorgeous.

There were few others who were taking this same road with us. One of the other vehicles was a little sedan that kind of raced up behind us, not downshifting (as would be advisable). We pulled over on one of the pulloffs that occured every mile or so. The little sedan pulled up beside us, and the couple inside rolled down to ask us, as if we were in a Grey Poupon commercial, "Did you get your directions off of Google Maps or Mapquest?" We laughed pretty hard about that as they raced off.

We also saw three elk, chillaxing in the afternoon. I had really hoped to see elk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beverly Shores, Indiana

The first night we were gone on our road trip, we stayed near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.Parts of it are beautiful, even amazing (giant sand dunes!) but this part (above), maybe not so much. Busloads of school kids came to splash around in the shadow of the power plant's cooling tower. It looks like a nuclear plant, but it's not.

Nearby Beverly Shores, IN was our next stop. Some of its homes were transported there via barge across Lake Michigan after their exhibition at the 1933-34 "A Century of Progress" Chicago's World's Fair; some of the beachfront homes are abandoned. There are three existing Lustrons in the town. We found two of them. This yellow one at 729 Lake Front Drive, which overlooks Lake Michigan.

This blue (or blue-green, I find it difficult to discern the difference) Lustron below had no house number on it. It was on Montana just off Lake Front Drive.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back home!

We're back home safe and sound after a trip to the Smoky Mountains and visiting several cities besides. It's great to travel and great to be back home with fresh perspective. What a great country we live in! I have a camera full of photos and a notebook full of ideas...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pretty much bored?

I heart the Westown Farmer's Market, totally. It's always a good time. The kettle corn cowboy guy- gotta love him. Somehow it's always festive. The produce is amazing.Anyway, it's every Wednesday from 10am to 3pm in Zeidler Square park --on Michigan between Third & Fourth Streets --until October 28th.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Satellite Crepes

Satellite Crepes is at the Westown Farmer's Market every time I go, and other places too. What a fun thing. So innovative, so Milwaukee.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Path diversion

I don't know why this threw me for a tizzy today.

I use the bike path for transportation rather than recreation, so oft I am in a hurry to actually get somewhere on it. The detour was not well marked and there was a dude sort of half sleeping in a car right on the other side of the orange block-my-way thing, who gave me a weird look when I let out a very unladylike utterance. I figured out how to get back onto Wilson Drive and then back onto the bike path from the Culver's lot. This is until September 20-something or so. Bleah. The awesomest part of the bike path is, of course, being able to sail over Capitol Drive traffic.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World Hoop Day

Today, 09/09/09, was designated by some awesome person as World Hoop Day.

In Milwaukee, that meant hooping by the Sunburst downtown. Perfect! I have always loved that public sculpture. Familiar, happy, a beacon. I never realized before that it is on a kind of round dais, a perfect place for a random fun thing like hoop dance at lunchtime. A lot of downtown-working folk were around, walking, obtaining lunch, staring-- some even joined in. It was fantastic.

Normally, I work at noon on Wednesdays, but I was late on purpose today. I am supposed to be promoting wellness and "convincing" people to exercise more. You know, saying things like "find physical activity that you enjoy so that you are motivated to stick with it."

And what could be more motivating than learning new hoop tricks from these beautiful people?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Down by the lake, aina?

For whatever reason, I rarely go down by the lake. Why? It's just always there. I could go anytime, and so I NEVER do. Well, we went on Labor Day. It was amazing.

Look! It's like vacation!

I call these Gilligan's Island bikes.
You can even rent a Segway, if you are so inclined. Or even if you are on a flat surface.
Giant windsocks festoon the kite store.

Fun was had by all.