Friday, September 10, 2021

A Taste of Wisconsin

Wisconsin, cows and cheese galore.

We had a week to kill after leaving Erie before we were scheduled to visit friends in Iowa. We tried to find somewhere interesting to stop in Ohio or Indiana but couldn't come up with anything and it was hot and humid, so Jim mentioned that he would like to visit Madison, Wisconsin. When we looked at the map we realized it was sort of on our way to Des Moines so I started searching for lodging and found an Airbnb in New Glarus, about 20 miles southeast of Madison. 

Nice 3 bedroom duplex on a very quiet residential street

Being over 600 miles from Erie we decided to take it easy and spend two nights along the way, driving on backroads and avoiding interstates as much as possible. Our first stop was in Defiance, Ohio, where we stayed at a pleasant Quality Inn, arriving early enough so that we could go for a walk and have a nice dinner out. We were not far from Independence Dam State Park and this trail.

Occasional views of the Maumee River

It was pretty warm and humid so we were happy to have some shade and only a few bugs.

After our walk, we stopped at Fired Stone Tavern, part of a restaurant/brewery complex at nearby Eagle Rock Golf Club. They had a great vegan pizza, okay beer, and a lovely open-air dining room.

The next day was almost a replay of the previous, driving a couple hundred miles and stopping early in Bourbonnaise, Illinois at a Comfort Inn. This time we walked at Kankakee River State Park on a pretty paved trail along the Kankakee River that looked much like the Maumee. It would have been nice to have bikes to ride on these trails but we knew bikes would have been too much trouble to deal with on this trip.

Kankakee River

The next couple hundred miles took us into Wisconsin, a state we never made it to in the RV. New Glarus is a cute little village settled by the Swiss and retaining much of its heritage. It's home to the popular New Glarus Brewing, which unfortunately remains closed to the public due to Covid, although they are still producing beer.

These and similar signs were plentiful, and a refreshing contrast to the F***Biden signs we saw driving the backroads of Indiana and Illinois.

We did walks around town and along the Sugar River Trail, on an abandoned rail line.

The trail started near the old train station.

One day we drove about 15 miles north to do a hike at Donald County Park near Mt. Horeb. Pretty scenery and the first time we've hiked on a mowed trail.

We picked Sunday to drive into Madison, since we wanted to avoid traffic and have an easier time with parking. Also it was the most pleasant day of our stay, with low humidity and in the low 80s. We really enjoyed walking around downtown.

The Capitol was open for self-guided tours so we went in to check it out. This was another capitol building where anyone can just walk in, no passing through security, although we did see one security guard sitting in the rotunda.

Badger, the Wisconsin state animal

There is a nice museum on the 6th floor with a spiral staircase leading to an observation deck 236' up from ground level. 

From there we walked down to the Capitol City Trail along Lake Monona. 

There was a bike shop along the trail where I lusted after this mountain bike. Maybe when they put it on sale!

Then we walked along State Street towards the university and had lunch at Mooyah Burgers, where they had a surprisingly delicious veggie burger and sweet potato fries. For dessert it was vegan ice cream at The Chocolate Shoppe. We really liked Madison and wished we could have spent more time there.

Glad we picked Sunday as it was very quiet downtown.

Next up, Iowa, another state we never made it to in the RV. 


  1. That's some beautiful country you are traveling through! Seems like you are traveling just fine without an RV, though I bet you sometimes wish you had your home on wheels.

    1. We sure missed having our own bathroom, bed, and kitchen but it was much easier driving the car.
      Hope you are adjusting to your new life in SD!

  2. Friends, longtime readers and visitors to Lovely Ouray every summer (Chris and Mindy), bring us beer from the New Glarus Brewery every year. Good stuff for a non IPA :)
    Photos are nice...too bad they can't show the heat and humidity. I'd die back east for sure.

    1. People were buying cases of New Glarus beer to take back home to friends but we didn't think it was all that good.

  3. How fun that you're exploring places that you didn't get to in your RV! We loved Madison—we spent a week there twice in a campground outside of town and biked everywhere. The trails you've discovered along the way are lovely.

    I was considering buying a new bike, too, but decided to have my 15 year-old Trek overhauled. I decided it's not worth it to get a new bike until we stop hauling our bikes everywhere on top of our truck. And living in Florida doesn't do our bikes any favors, lol.

    1. We would love to go back and spend more time in Madison, with bikes. Good idea hanging on to your old bike for now. Jim would love to get an e-bike but we have to store ours on our balcony at the apartment. Keeping bikes outside is not good for them at all and neither is living in Florida!

  4. I'm enjoying reading about your adventures even without your RV. I went to college in Wisconsin many years ago! And Charlie and I were married in Madison 34 years ago in the Capitol rotunda area! Great town and a beautiful state.

    1. Nice to hear from you! We were very impressed with Wisconsin. It is a beautiful state, at least in the summer.

  5. Those rivers are so pretty! Cute little towns. We're always so happy to see signs of tolerance instead of the ever present hate agenda. Looks like you're making the best of "killing time" before your visit :-)

    1. We enjoyed staying in smaller towns. It's always fun to see what is out there to discover.

  6. Lots of great hikes along the way with water on a hike. It is surprising to see that not all state capitols have security. Beautiful building. We really enjoyed Wisconsin. We parked in a Walmart and took off the car to tour Madison. We biked around the university campus. We were heading to Fond du Lac for our main stay. Next road trip you'll have to go further north.

    1. Yes, we need to see the rest of Wisconsin. The southern part of the state was lovely.