Our adjustment to the new Hurley Life Situation -- without a home on wheels -- is going well. We've managed to squeeze in a couple of short excursions in the past couple of months, during breaks from the new house projects. Our newest transport, Vinny the CRV, is proving to be a comfortable ride to wherever. In keeping with the history here at Hurley Travels blog, here's an update:
Celebrating a Special Birthday with Friends -- We enjoyed very much being a part of Tim Payne's 50th birthday celebration in early September at Summit Lake State Park, east of Pendleton, Indiana. Becky's parents provided a fabulous meal of bbq ribs, chicken, fantastic potato salad and more goodies; friends and family shared libations, games and just plain old hanging out.
This was our first occasion spending any time in a campground in the past ten years minus a home on wheels. We couldn't have had a nicer group to break that tradition with. The park and the people were both enjoyable. Here are a few of those birthday memories (above): The birthday sign created by Becky's brother gave the perfect atmosphere at the camp site. Tim loved Stella's help opening his birthday cards. And Jamie and Becky accommodated my photo-taking while enjoying some girlfriend time.
Our First Hotel Trip in Vinny -- Wisconsin is one state where we've spent very little time during our RVing life. So, when it was time to take a break from our home projects in late September, we loaded Vinny and headed for cheese and beer country. Besides, there would surely be some great spot along the way where we could celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary on September 30. The only plans we had were to find some sharp cheddar, cheese curds, Wisconsin beer and see a few new places - new to us, that is. After taking a route through small towns and countryside for two days, we paused in Fond du Lac, at the south end of Lake Winnebago -- because it seemed like the right place to stop. We found a pleasant hotel room at Country Suites; then asked the desk clerk about a good local spot to have a beer. She recommended Fat Joe's, downtown. The place was just what we wanted, like Cheers. The chatter at the bar was fun with locals and others passing through like us. On the bartender's suggestion, we tried a beer brewed and sold only in Wisconsin called Spotted Cow. It has a crisp lager-like taste - brewed by New Glarus Brewing Company. Well, we had to have a second one. And before we left the state we purchased some to bring home.
More local recommendations led to interesting places over our next few days in the area. For instance, the unexpected sitings in a small town south of Fond du Lac named Waupun. We were surprised to learn that this town of 11,000 people has a beautiful collection of outdoor sculptures. In fact, it is called the City of Sculpture. The benefactor of these art pieces was a local successful industrialist, Clarence Shaler, who wanted to give back to his hometown. He commissioned a bronze replica of the famous "The End Of The Trail" sculpture by James Earl Fraser that is a National Historic Landmark in Waupun. (above) Shaler was a sculptor himself, donating his work. The two photos below are among the sculptures by Clarence Shaler on display in and around the town. "Who Sows Believes In God" is a young peasant woman and "Dawn of Day" is an American Indian woman casting off her garments, Shaler's first piece. This photo I took from the back because I thought it showed the textures in her hair and the clothing she's holding, against the beautiful autumn tree. Mr. Shaler didn't begin his sculpting until he was 70 years old, after a productive, inventive career. He, obviously, had many talents.
A short drive east of Waupun is the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, where we spent a few pleasant hours relaxing and enjoying nature. The drive around the loop is peaceful and scenic. And there's a one mile walking trail that includes a wooden path winding over a part of the marsh. The leaves were just beginning to turn, enhancing the views at the refuge.
And, of course, during our travels in Wisconsin, we also visited two cheese factories. We found some interesting, squeaky cheese curds and a fantastic sharp cheddar. And since we had a cooler in the back of Vinny, we could make some cheese purchases for snacking in the evening and taking home to share.
When we left Indiana we were thinking we would probably end up in Door County, Wisconsin. There's so much said about the beauty of that peninsula into Lake Michigan. But…..we were on our way further north when we took a look at the weather forecast. It was looking pretty gloomy, rainy and cold. We stopped briefly on our way out of Fond du Lac to consider if there might be a better direction to go. I can't remember exactly how it happened but we decided we would make a left turn and go southwest toward Iowa. We could miss some of the rainy stuff. And, there was one place that was still on our bucket list in that state - "Field of Dreams."
Baseball & Museum & Sushi Make For A Great Anniversary: We had less than 200 miles to the new destination, Dyersville, Iowa. But the obvious place to find a resting place was about 26 miles east in Dubuque. I'm sure most everyone remembers that the Field of Dreams is in the cornfields, not an area where you'd find a hotel. So anyway, using our new hotels app, we located another Country Suites in Dubuque, since we had a good experience the few days before in Wisconsin. The next morning we set the GPS and found our way to the Field of Dreams site. Our first impression approaching the site, was that the ambiance was preserved by the noticeable lack of commercial advertising. How nice! This site couldn't be more authentic to the actual family home and baseball field used in the movie. The minimizing of the commercialization carries forward all around the grounds. So far, the setting is preserved as it was when it was the site of the movie in 1985. There is a small gift shop and a display that gives the history of the property, the farmers who owned the property and the making of the movie. It seemed so peaceful there. We walked around for a while, standing on each base and the pitchers mound, listening at the cornfield and sitting on the team benches. A few other people arrived while we were there and did similarly. But mostly, it felt like we were alone. You could have your own time to think about tradition, family, dreams...or whatever the movie represents to you. We were happy that we finally took this road to this place.
As we were finding our way earlier through the city of Dubuque, Iowa, taking yet another look at the Mississippi River that we crossed often in other travels, we noticed a large structure alongside the river. It turned out to be the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. This was another pleasant surprise full of interesting exhibits on the river, the people involved with it, the industry, the animals, and more. Of course, Mark Twain was thoroughly embedded in the stories and there is a paddle wheel boat ride available. There are also at least a dozen different aquariums with all sorts of wildlife - otters, frogs, turtles, beavers and many huge fish found in these waterways.
To complete this little trip, we tried to come up with an appropriate restaurant to have dinner on our 14th wedding anniversary. Nothing exotic or formal, just a nice meal and, if possible, some place a little different. Yelp and Urban Spoon didn't seem to bring up any good prospects. Then, I remembered that we had passed an Ichiban sushi restaurant in our driving around the area. Since we had recently learned that sushi is much more than raw fish, we decided to give the place a try. We enjoyed sharing three dishes that we chose pretty much blindly, from the ingredients in the menu descriptions. Two of them were very creatively displayed, with avocados and other food forming various shapes. Everything was delicious! And we now know that we are fans of pickled ginger.
That's the story on our new life situation at this point. There are plans for more episodes on-the-road. But…..who knows where or when.
Thanks for visiting with us at Hurley Travels.
Copyright © Nancy Hurley 2014