Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sweet Day

A trip to Winona's Minnesota Marine Art Museum is always inspiring. Amongst the Van Gogh's, Monet's and Hudson River Artists are the rotating exhibits by artists inspired by water, especially the Mississippi River.

A gallery walk with artist Mary Catherine Solberg was a real treat. Former La Crosse based artist, she now resides in Minneapolis giving all her time to her creations. The messmerizing water portraits are larger than life. In person you really appreciate the textures and colors she gets with oil pastels and plaster. Gold leaf and glitter give them a unique richness.  (#solbergwaterportraits)

There will be an official art opening on Thursday, January 25 along with artist duo Leo and Marilyn Smith. Mary will be unveiling a museum commissioned portrait during the evening. Can't wait to hear who the subject is.


Trempealeau Mountain in Perrot State Park is always a great subject matter for artists.

We ended  a delightful day, enjoying a sweet treat from the popular Winona's Bloedow's Bakery. Shown here at Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Blank canvases await
Sometimes we pick a battle sometimes it chooses us.

Setting down the rules

My battle, fortunately, was one I choose, "Battle of the Brushes" a painters challenge and fun event held in Winona, Minnesota for the benefit of the area Womens Center.

Beer Drinking and Food by Green Heron popup restaurant

The venue hosted by Island City Brewery was perfect with lots of room for the 12 contestants and audience fans.

Round one over

Paint and canvas were supplied by the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, all we had to was bring our own brushes. No theme challenge so lots of different results.

Round 1 painting

Preparation and practice were key to completing a painting in 20 minutes. This is a very short time as the acrylic paint isn't quite dry enough for some techniques.

Round 2 painting

Bold impressionistic and nature inspired paintings were popular and worked well with the time restraint. Since I usually spend an average of 40 hours on paintings this was a push for quick brush strokes and bold moves.

All in all it made me a better painter, as I could brush up on some different techniques.

Winner Painting by Ron P.

....and the winner is Ron, he showed a lot of restraint and control with his winning painting. The photo didn't do the subtle shading justice. He had to have steady hands for some fine brush stokes and shadows. Congrats.

We continued the weekend warrior theme with a two hour pottery class at Generous Earth Pottery in La Crosse. Along with 7 other brave souls we were given instruction and then our chance. It's not as easy as it looks. Especially centering the clay, the most critical part to a successful outcome. The instructors were very attentive and assisted when needed.

Here we got down and kinda dirty throwing clay on an electric wheel and trying to form a bowl. Out of 5lbs of clay each we got 5 bowls total.

The business will then fire and glaze our masterpieces with our selected glaze. Will let you know how they turn out in about 4-6 weeks.

Fun weekend with lots of new challenges.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Caledonia Excursion

Our leisurely day journey to Caledonia, Minnesota began with watching the Hot Air Balloon Rally.

Held in December of each year, they launch from behind the High School.


No need to bring chairs, the five balloons were up and off in 30 minutes. You don't want to be late for this event.

You can get up close and personal with crews and lucky guests in the gondolas.

 Up, up and away in their beautiful balloons

Our 45 minute drive to south western Minnesota, needed to be filled with more adventures.

We stopped at the Brownsville overlook to view the Tundra Swans. Yes they are still feeding in the Mississippi bottoms, even in December.

We also decided to check out one of their State Parks.

Beaver Creek Valley State Park, here rocky walls border a spring-fed creek. The park provides a walking tour which you can download or a transcript for a four mile hike in the park.

We just meandered along the stream,  enjoying the sounds of trickling water. It was crystal clear allowing us to admire the abundant watercress.

A very refreshing walk.

A little known fact about Caledonia, Minnesota

Local legends the Kunst Brothers began their excursion in 1970 to walk around the world's continents on foot. No small feat since it took over four years. They documented the journey and lots of details can be found at

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Bavarian Bierhaus
Breweries abound in Wisconsin. Besides the older big brew boys like Pabst and Miller, there's seems to be a new brew around every corner and lots of Sippin to do.

During my Halloween visit to the eastern part of Wisconsin we had a couple breweries to visit.

Sprecher alternative Brew

Our first stop not only does Beer but a Hard Root Beer too! Located in my old stomping grounds, Sprechter, bottles (not cans) beer, soda and a few hard varieties of your favorite pop. (For those not from Wisconsin that's local slang for soda).

A quick tour for a nominal fee and you got a generous tasting of 4 choices.

Brewmaster at the Bierhaus

Had to leave with some Hard Root Beer for an adult ice cream float.

Next stop, still in the city of Glendale, was the old Bavarian Inn turned into the Bavarian Bierhaus.  A free tour of the scene behind the bar. These huge containers are just for Sippin at the Bierhaus, besides some growlers they sell to go. Now that's a lot of brew.

The big hall was filled with Friday night Fishfry diners and the live polka music kept the waitstaff hopping.

We finished off the evening with tickets to Twisted Realm, their onsite haunted house. not so scary for those of us who've seen it all, but the two young ladies we were paired with decided they needed to hold my hand on our venture.

Lots of things brewing at the Bavarian Bierhaus

Cheesy Times

Swag courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese

Saxon Creamery in Cleveland, WI
You can't experience Wisconsin without some cheese.

We had the ultimate experience of cheese tours, with out host Wendi from Wisconsin Foodie,  going to Saxon Cremery, Sartori and Widmers Cheese Cellars.

FYI Wisconsin Foodie is an award winning show, celebrating the states cuisine culture. Check them out at

Sartori Cheese, manufacturing in Plymouth, WI
Widmer's in Theresa, WI
We felt like VIP's, with special presentations, gift bags and tour experiences.

I especially liked going into the caves of Sartori and applying the ground pepper to big cheese wheels.

Each stop was tasting time and a chance to meet the cheese makers. 

Widmer's cheese production

Horse & Plow restaurant

Craverie at Kohler for chocolate
To add to the day we refreshed out palates at the Horse & Plow Restaurant at the American Club in Kohler. Chocolate treats of their signature Terrapins (like a turtle) and tasting their recently released chocolate brandy (only in Wisconsin).

The fun wasn't over, when we returned to Larry's Market in Brown Deer, Pattie did some Wisconsippin.

We were treated to a presentation by Island Orchard Ciders from Door County's, Washington Island, with hard ciders and perry plus a cheese paring.

I found my new favorite, Dunbarton Blue from Roelli Cheese Company in Shullsburg, Wisconsin. I guess I need to plan another road trip.

A Walk on the Wild Side

A trip to the east side of the state during Halloween always offers more than I expected. Just north of West Bend, Wisconsin is the Shalom Wildlife Zoo.

The zoo remained open for the evenings, just in time for a moonlight walk. This gave us the opportunity to enjoy and see nocturnal animal being more active.

To compliment the experience they had several campfires along the way to get toasty or toast marshmallows. The path was lite just enough to see our way through.

You can get close up and feed elk and unusual deer as well as see the Grey Wolves and Cougar wide awake.

 Check them out next time you're in the area, the experience doesn't disappoint.

We also had an afternoon to view the migrating Sand Hill Cranes at Horicon Marsh. Just love watching them take flight.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grit Your Teeth Fellow Phobics

Brady's Bluff Shelter
I'll let you know right away this blog contains photos of snakes. For those of you with Ophidiophobia, I understand the shock factor of photos popping up on your phone. It can be very disturbing, mine is spiders.

This photo was from a fellow phobic. How she manage to stay composed for a shot at this unusual event is beyond me. At the top of Brady's Bluff sits the shelter built by the CCC. A lovely comforting resting stop when you reach the summit. While seated and taking in the views, she felt safe retreating to the shelter only to find a family of snakes, slithering through the logs.

I'm  sure glad it wasn't me. But I was curious to see the photo and so are you if you're still reading this blog.