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Travel

Take Ten: On the Water

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With the arrival of summer comes our urge to take to the water, if not on the beach or with a fishing pole, then on a boat that traverses urban or remote shorelines. Instead of maneuvering your own watercraft, let someone else do the navigating and narrating.

Public tours are plentiful and include these excellent options. Reservations are advised and sometimes required. Group charters are possible, in addition to the public cruises.

A land-water ride in World War II amphibious vehicles is perhaps the most unusual way to experience the Dells; wilderness tours of the scenic area began in 1946. Each duck long ago carried troops and supplies between ship and shore; today one vehicle seats 21 people. One-hour tours and narration explain local history, nature and the vehicle.


Times change at county fairs

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If you think county fairs are stuck in time and all pretty much the same, think again. Many go way beyond corn dogs, cotton candy, thrill rides and midway games of chance.

All but one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties hosts at least one fair (Menominee County is the exception), and about 85 percent of these events get up to $10,000 in state aid per year. The best fairs have at least one distinguishing feature and celebrate our rural roots.

Sustainable sanctuary: Wisconsin’s oldest nature preserve gets new visitor center

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A longtime but quiet force on the quiet side of Door County gains wider visibility this month.

The opening of a unique visitor center at The Ridges Sanctuary moves the work of researchers and naturalists from obscure quarters to busy Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor. The Ridges is the oldest nature preserve in Wisconsin and deemed of international importance.

Take Ten: Algoma

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In the shadow of beautiful Door County, the 70-mile-long peninsula that attracts two million visitors per year, is Algoma on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beguiling little city of 3,200 is less than 20 miles south of Sturgeon Bay, and Highway 42 cuts through the core of downtown.

Often-overlooked Algoma is worth a quick detour or overnight all on its own. This is why:

Taking in dinner on a farm

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Farmers used to pitch in as a neighborhood to rebuild a barn or harvest grain, one humid acre after another. Their end-of-day reward was a hearty spread of homemade pickles to pies, enough to feed a threshing crew, as my father used to say.

That obsolete reference to the communal meals of threshing crews, whose work separated grain from straw from one farm to the next, was on my mind while heading to Dave and Leslie Meuer’s 150-acre farm in Calumet County, N2564 U.S. 151, near Brothertown. On their hilltop mix of forest and pasture is a glorious view of Lake Winnebago’s eastern shoreline. Dozens see this after heading up the gravel driveway for a from-scratch farm dinner.

For your amusement: Wisconsin family enjoys a long ride on the carnival circuit

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During the Great Depression, Scott Lake made a living one penny at a time, and his business has grown to modestly sustain a fourth generation of the family today.

Penny arcade games — pinball, hands-on table hockey and other challenges of quickness or deftness — were affordable entertainment for beleaguered families in the 1930s. Soon the Wisconsin entrepreneur had a multi-state work circuit, hauling six semi-trailers of these games from Georgia to North Dakota.

Take ten: Favorite farmers markets

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When trees bud and bulbs blossom, the arrival of fresh asparagus and morels can’t be far behind. Hoop houses and greenhouses hike the likelihood that locally grown spinach, tomatoes and more will ripen all year, but now is the time for farmers markets to move outdoors, rain or shine. Count these among my favorites.

— Dane County Farmers’ Market, Madison: Up to 150 vendors (300-plus players per year) fill the Capitol Square on Saturdays, and there is no better place to get a taste of what is in season. That includes a whiff of hot-button issues (expect protest signs, petition pushing and colorful characters on street corners). All products are ag-based and the work of people who staff the booths; no other such producer-operated market in the U.S. is bigger than this one, and newbies need patience because of a five-year waiting list to participate.

Quilts ease every fiber of our being

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Lots of people say a picture is worth 1,000 words; fewer acknowledge the value of 1,000 stitches.

Wisconsin’s first poet laureate was among the exceptions. Ellen Kort of Appleton, who died recently, noted this in her preface to the 2008 book “Wisconsin Quilts: History in the Stitches” (Krause Publications, $34.95):

Wright at the beginning: Architect’s portfolio on display in Racine

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Near Lake Michigan, at the Indiana-Illinois border, is 800-acre Wolf Lake and an unincorporated town best known for its August Onion Days Festival.

If Frank Lloyd Wright had his way, Wolf Lake would have gained a grand amusement park with “lagoons for boating, promenades for strolling and concessions for consuming” — but real estate developer Edward C. Waller wouldn’t bite on the idea.

Riding the Bourbon Trail

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During a much younger life, I was introduced to horse race wagering, earthy bluegrass music and long-simmering stews called burgoo while living in western Kentucky.

So when Wisconsin met Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four this spring, I could not resist the urge to place a bet on the outcome with former work colleagues Chuck and Donna Stinnett of The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky. “Name your poison, cheese breath,” he taunted. “Uh oh,” his wife observed. “The trash talk has begun.”

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    Brighton residents vote to scrap curbside garbage collection

    BRIGHTON — The majority of Brighton residents at a special meeting Tuesday said they want their town dump back.

    Finding nature in the city

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    Nestled behind a conference center and expansive parking lot is one of the most peaceful, yet educationally interesting areas on the Gateway Technical College Kenosha campus.

    News briefs: Fire believed to be accidental

    Authorities said an ashtray dumped into a garbage can is the likely cause of a Monday night structure fire at 7742 Ninth Court.

    Police department’s longest-serving member retires

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    Just how young was Oscar Villalobos when he began working for the Kenosha Police Department? Villalobos was so young, he needed his mom’s permission to buy bullets.

    Rare summer halo seen Sunday

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    If you happened to look up during Sunday’s Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade, you might have seen more than an escaped balloon.

    Head of county veterans services retiring

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    Derrell Greene is really retiring this time around.

    More expected to hit the road for holiday

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    About 42 million Americans nationwide will be hitting the road this Fourth of July weekend, the highest volume of holiday travelers since 2007, according to AAA.

    Law enforcement warns of dangers, cost of illegal fireworks

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    From the shimmering colors that dart across the night sky to a rumbling boom, fireworks are always a captivating show on Independence Day celebrations.

    Report lays out pros, cons of Salem incorporation

    SALEM — The town’s Incorporation Committee presented Monday the results of its yearlong study of the benefits, tax implications and steps required to incorporate the town of Salem into a village.



    Alert neighbors spot fire

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    Eagle-eyed neighbors are being credited for quickly alerting authorities to a house fire Monday evening.

    Unified moves to align with new Course Options law

    After rejecting the policy for last school year, the Kenosha Unified School Board has approved a district policy on the state’s Course Options program, allowing students to take courses at other schools and colleges at district expense.

    Erratic driving leads to heroin arrests

    Heroin and driving don’t mix.

    Antaramian will seek his old office

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    Seven years after completing his fourth consecutive term as Kenosha mayor, John Antaramian officially declared Monday he will again seek cty hall’s top spot.

    Kenall shining a light on hospital, transportation safety

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    Kenall Manufacturing, a Kenosha-based producer of commercial and industrial LED lighting systems, is on a special mission to make hospitals, parking garages and roadway tunnels safer places.

    Moped struck in hit-and-run crash

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    Kenosha Police are looking for the driver of a red Pontiac involved in a hit-and-run crash with a moped Monday afternoon.

    Warning issued about invasive lake algae

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    Kenosha County lake associations are being warned about a new threat — starry stonewort, an invasive algae that forms a dense mat of material on the lake bottom, preventing native plants from growing and fish from spawning.

    City lays out traffic restrictions for holiday

    Kenosha’s Independence Day celebration Saturday will result in some road closings and traffic adjustments.

    City lists holiday closings

    The Independence Day holiday on Saturday will affect some city hours and services.

    History Mystery: Simmons a cog in Pikes Peak railway

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    Question: Kenosha industrialist Zalmon G. Simmons bankrolled what small but mighty railway in 1889?