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Hometown Visit (Part 4)


Monday, 9/2/2013

Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park

Lena, Illinois

On Sunday, 8/18, Terri and I went to the demo derby at the Winnebago County Fair in Pecatonica, IL.  We’ve been to this derby several times, most recently two years ago in 2011.
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Of course there was a lot of crashing and smashing.  Something the promoter didn’t count on was this damage to the wall from a very hard hit from one of the cars.

Their solution was to place one of the cars that had dropped out of competition next to that part of the wall and instruct the remaining drivers to stay away from that area.  Luckily the derby was almost over, and there was no additional damage to the wall.  As usual, we had a lot of fun and will try to get back again some time.

On Tuesday, 8/27, we drove up to the quaint little village of New Glarus, WI.  It has a population of almost 2,200 people and is located about thirty minutes north of Monroe.  Nicknamed “America’s Little Switzerland,” New Glarus is known for its Swiss heritage and is a wonderful place to visit!  We went to the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant for dinner.

We’ve been here several times before, so we knew that the entrance is actually located on the side of the building.  The Balcony Dining Room on the second floor, where we were seated, overlooks the street.

This is the dining room located next to the Balcony Dining Room.

There’s also a dance floor where live bands play weekly.

Even though we arrived later in the afternoon, they allowed us to order off the lunch menu.  For an appetizer we had a real Wisconsin treat of fried cheese curds.  Terri ordered the Reuben Sandwich, and I enjoyed the Bratwurst Platter.
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With our bellies full, we headed outside for a stroll around the downtown area.

New Glarus celebrates dairy products with beautifully decorated cows!

Many of the buildings display Swiss-style architecture.
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New Glarus has several shops downtown including a bakery, a meat shop, and a chocolate/cheese shop.  We both really love this area of Wisconsin.  I highly recommend a visit to both New Glarus and Monroe if you’re ever in or near Green County, Wisconsin.

On Friday, 8/30, we went back to downtown Freeport to the Union Dairy for sundaes!  Because, as Terri says, “You CAN’T go to Freeport without going to Union Dairy!”  Terri had the Turtle Sundae, and I had a Hot Fudge Sundae.
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And, YES, they were as tasty as they looked!

We thought of our friend Sherry when we spied this sundae on the menu.

We know how much she LOVES COCONUT!!!

We returned to the Union Dairy the very next evening for the 1st Annual “Cruisin To The Dairy” car show.

Many of the same cars were at Freeport Cruise Night two weeks earlier.  They had a photographer taking pictures of cars in front of Union Dairy.  I took a couple pics myself.
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Here’s a few more from the parking lot.

This 1948 International is “For Sale.”

If you look closely in the picture below, you can see the window crank on top of the dash that is used to open the windshield for ventilation!  (You may want to click on the picture to enlarge.)

He’s only asking $32,500 for it.

We’ve really enjoyed our time here the last 25 days.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, 9/3, it’s time to start heading toward Richmond, VA, with a few stops along the way.

Hometown Visit (Part 3)


Wednesday, 8/28/2013

Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park

Lena, Illinois

Our main reason for our stay here in northwest Illinois was to visit with some friends and family.

As I mentioned previously, we spent some time with Terri’s brother Tracy.  We usually only get to see him once a year now when we’re in the area.  The three of us were able to go to breakfast together three times this year!  It was great to be able to spend some time with him.

We also went out for lunch a couple of times with our friends Dick and Emily and a third time just with Emily before she went to volunteer at a local used book store.

Terri and Emily became friends years ago when they both worked at a local bank and have remained friends throughout the years.

After seeing my “second parents,” Bob and Ginny, at Freeport Cruise Night I gave my longtime friend Frank (Bob and Ginny’s son) a call.  He came out one evening, and we we had a great time reminiscing and catching up on each other’s lives.  As I mentioned previously, we were best buddies growing up, and he was the Best Man in our wedding.
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I think it had been at least twenty years since we’ve seen each other.  We really enjoyed our evening together and look forward to seeing him again next year.

Each year Terri and I get together with some of her former coworkers from the bank for breakfast.  Unfortunately this year our friend Betty couldn’t make it due to an unexpected hospital stay, but on the plus side Roberta’s husband, Ron, was able to join us.  It had been many years since we had seen Ron, so it was nice to see him again.
From left to right is Dottie, Terri, Roberta, and Ron.

It’s always a joy to get together with them and find out what they’re up to. 

Recently I saw on Facebook that some friends of ours were passing through the area, so I contacted them and we were able to set up a time to visit.  Howard and Linda were staying a couple of nights over near Rockford, IL, at Blackhawk Valley Campground.  The last time we saw them was right after Terri had broken her arm last year at Buckhorn Lake Resort, near Kerrville, TX.  It was their website, and all of its wonderful information, that helped us to discover this lifestyle and realize we could do it.

We drove over to their campsite and visited for a couple of hours.  We certainly enjoyed seeing them and look forward to seeing them again sometime down the road.

Another reunion for us was a short trip up to Fort Atkinson, WI, to see some family.  Terri and I met some of my cousins on my Father’s side of the family for the Friday Fish Fry dinner at The Fireside restaurant.

I hadn’t seen my cousins Jo and Jan for 9 years and my cousin Jerry for over 30 years! 
Jo, Jerry and wife Sandy, Mike, Jan and husband Chris.

We had a wonderful dinner and certainly enjoyed seeing all of them again.

We sure have had a great time with friends and family during our stay here in northwest Illinois!

Hometown Visit (Part 2)


Tuesday, 8/13/2013

Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park

Lena, Illinois

Today we decided to take a short drive, about 25-30 minutes, up to Monroe, WI, for lunch.  We’ve been to Monroe many times through the years.  The county seat of Green County is a quaint little town with a population of just under 11,000.  It has a beautiful courthouse on the square downtown.

Our destination for lunch was also downtown on the square.  Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern opened in 1931 and is Wisconsin’s oldest cheese store.

It’s like stepping into the past.  We went here with Terri’s parents many, many years ago and it’s very much like I remembered.  There are funny little signs everywhere. 
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The place is just great… nothin’ fancy and very relaxed.
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They have a great menu, especially if you like cheese sandwiches.

Since the menu states that they have the “2nd Best Chili,” I asked our waitress who makes the best chili, and she replied “MOM.”  Our waitress was great, love the shirt!

We both ordered Swiss cheese sandwiches, Mrs. Mike’s Potato Chips (of course!) made in our hometown of Freeport, and a beer.  My beer was a Huber brewed right in Monroe by the Joseph Huber Brewing Company, the second oldest brewery in the country.  Terri had Spotted Cow, a beer brewed in nearby New Glarus.  Here it is… THE Swiss Cheese Sandwich!

Just look at that delicious Swiss!

If you’re ever in the vicinity of Monroe, WI, I highly recommend a trip to Baumgartner’s!!!

After lunch we walked around the square.

There are several fiberglass animals painted by local artists on display around the square to celebrate local agriculture history called “Farmin’ on the Square.”

A sheep called “Lady BaBa.”
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“Animal 7 (The Colt)”
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“Tree of Life”
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“The Battle of the Spirits Continues”
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“Tiger Lilly”
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“The Cat’s Pajamas”
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“Owl be on the Farm”
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“Piggin’ Out” and “Hank”
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“Billy the Goat, A.K.A. Billy the Kid”
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Last but not least,
“Moo-rilyn Monroe:  Tour Guide”
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She’s covered with many witty “bovine” slogans that are “udderly” hilarious!  Eye rolling smile

She even has hot air balloons down below!

We really enjoyed our time in Monroe.  We hope to get back there someday for “Green County Cheese Days” which occurs the third weekend of September in even numbered years.