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.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Seeing is Believing

Every trip we sightsee in a town nearby. Necedah not to be confused with Neenah was our destination.

First stop was the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to see the migrating birds. We couldn't believe our eyes. We had a chance to see two Whooping Cranes and a family of Trumpeter Swans while hiking the trails.

We toured through town and saw a sign for a Polish Deli. It was like stepping into another country. The cashier had a thick polish accent, labeling of items was a bit off like beacon (bacon) and they offered an array of groceries that needed translation. It was a feast for the eyes as we looked around and gathered soups and candies we'd never heard of. I hope their ethnicity doesn't get diluted, and is cherished by all that visits.

Our last stop was by far the most unusual, a shrine. Queen of the Holy Rosary. A lot of effort went into displays and an unfinished chapel remains to be seeing it's completion. A local women is said to have been visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary back in the 1950's. A 100,000 people came out to witness a reappearance. It still has followers but lacks the Catholic's churches blessing.

I suggest you go see these unusual sites for yourself.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Buckhorn O' Plenty

Sunset at fishing pier
The last of the season trip for HaRVey, a fall outing to central Wisconsins' Buckhorn State Park. At the bottom of an ancient glacial lake, the modern facilities were greatly appreciated.  Sand and water surrounds the park, a unique landscape of oak barrens and sandblows. The Wisconsin and Yellow Rivers converge forming the reservoir Castle Rock Lake so we hoped for some fishing fun.  Shallow waters and sandy bottoms were ideal for swimmers but fishing was less than ideal at least for us novice casters.

Sunrise at campsite

We were able to launch our boat on the canoe trail but the open lakes were a bit too windy for our little boat. Many great campsites for tents on the waters edge. The park provided sunrise and sunset views. What more could you ask for.

Sandblow vista

Big Bloody-32 oz, all you need is one
Nearby our site we found a service road to walk a half mile to a local bar aptly named Buckhorn Grill & Bar. On our last day we opted for an sunny afternoon with some Bloody's and Beer enjoying all their outside fun and games. We enjoyed the last of their season pig roast dinner and had a bloody good time visiting with the team of staff members.

Every Sunday Pig Roast

Outdoor bar and playground

Thursday, August 17, 2017

America the Beautiful

With just less than three weeks left my husband turned 62, in time to purchase his lifetime pass to National Parks for only $10.

This is what we've been waiting for, a retirement with lots of time to finish visiting all the National Parks with HaRVey. Maybe even work in one.

The pass will increase in price to $80 on August 28th. Still worth it, but I sure like $10 more. I won't qualify for mine until December. They are also now offering annual senior passes for $20.

The pass gets a vehicle into a National Park and even some discounts on camping fees.

This will also include US Army Corp of Engineer, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and Reclamations properties.

Locally you can get your pass at the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge office on Brice Prairie.

Sure hope America can stay Beautiful!

What's in your wallet?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


We made a quick stop on our way back from Door County to another State Park.

Located smack dab in the middle of Wisconsin is Roche-a-Cri, once an island in Glacial Lake Wisconsin. The 300 foot rocky outcrop stands out in the surrounding countryside.

You can climb to the top or just stop and admire the early Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.