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Exploring Machu Picchu


When pelting rain wakes me at 4 a.m. on a Monday, about all I can do is listen and wonder. The closest weather forecast online is for a city 70 miles away and 3,300 feet higher in elevation.

This is the day. There is no rain date. Our train leaves in mid afternoon.

What sounds like a deluge softens to a shower by the time I start walking three hours later. A bumpy bus ride of hairpin turns on narrow dirt and cobblestone pavement lasts 30 minutes, long enough for the downpour to thin to a drizzle, then a mist.

Tips for a good trip


I sometimes welcome the unexpected in travel because that’s the foundation for fond and lasting memories, even though you might not think so at the time.

An overnight at a Buddhist temple north of Busan, South Korea, had us fumbling with chopsticks, in fear of an order to swig a slosh of wasted food, then sleeping on (heated) floors and waking to 3 a.m. gongs for worship.

Questions and critiques from readers


Time to lighten the reader mailbag — thanks for taking the time to write with your questions, ideas, critiques and praise about destinations close to home and abroad.

I certainly am not the only one whose Danube River cruise was interrupted by flooding. Kathy Thomas of Pleasant Prairie says her trip was rescheduled from summer to autumn because of high water. “I had a very similar experience to yours,” she writes. “I expected a more scenic cruise but still totally enjoyed the trip.”

Our birds of prey


Up to 2,500 bald eagles winter near the Mississippi River’s locks and dams because open water makes it easier to fish for dinner. That’s why we consider this the time of year to seek out the once-endangered raptor.

The population estimate comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and most bald eagles head north to nest as weather warms toward the beginning of spring.

A pro’s advice for travelers


So many travel stories concentrate on exotic and extravagant destinations that have huge budgets for marketing and promotion. We all know they are off-limits to average people because of the excess and expense.

Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel columns, magazines and books are a longstanding exception. His guidebook “Europe on $5 a Day,” published in 1956, was the first title of almost 180 that bear his name. (“Europe on $95 a Day was published in 2007.)

Beer on the menu


Cooking with alcohol used to mean little beyond a splash of beer in a crock of cheese soup or tub of simmering brats. Now ales, stouts and spirits show up in almost all courses, if you know where to look.

The Brown Bottle, a tasting room and tavern for Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewing Co. since 1938, recently reopened after four years of closure.

Big city, farm food


Downtown Chicago might seem about as far away as you can get from rural America, but think again.

At Farmhouse Chicago restaurant, an antique tractor grill covers the hostess stand, steel pipes are stairway handrails and simple cotton kitchen towels are napkins. On display are collectible toy tractors, walls are whitewashed and accoutrements include a salvaged Toledo scale.

Winter romance


What cracks the deepest freeze of winter? A warm heart, and February is just the time to stoke up a little romance. Here are some ways to woo your Valentine.

— Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, opens its Cathedral Room and more to couples from 5-7 p.m. Feb 14. This by-reservation opportunity is only for people at least 21 years old.

Rosemont tempts O’Hare travelers


I am a fickle consumer when it comes to airline transportation and spend way too much time weighing fares and gateways. I favor no airline but repeatedly head to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport because of often-remarkable price differences compared with Wisconsin options.

When a deep discount means spending a night in the area because of odd flight times, I typically book cheap lodging, hold my breath and get in and out fast. Now the rejuvenated village of Rosemont, Ill., tempts travelers to consider doing more and staying longer.

Paralympic skiers to race in Cable


If you look at winter as a season of limitations, head to Cable and the Chequamegon National Forest in southern Bayfield County for a profoundly different perspective.

I’m not talking about the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski races in February, held since 1973, although the demonstration of athleticism, endurance and grit is bold.

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    TWIN LAKES — The village Ethics Board Thursday dismissed an ethics complaint filed against Police Chief Dale Racer by Kevin Mathewson, regarding actions Racer allegedly took during Mathewson’s bid for hire with the police department.

    Soup kitchen celebrates 32 years of free meals


    Thirty-two years ago, the Shalom Center served its first soup kitchen meal.

    Somers residents seek answers about village referendum

    SOMERS — Town Chairman Ben Harbach with assistance from attorney Rogers Clark and an army of town and county officials welcomed Somers residents to their last public meeting on incorporation. Residents will decide if 12 square miles, including most of the popualtion of the current town, will be split off into a village on April 7.

    Residents object to proposed health care changes


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    Unemployment here lowest since 2008

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    Bowls and Books reports fundraising totals, winners


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    News briefs: City yard waste site opens Monday

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    Kenosha couple charged with fraud, identity theft

    A Kenosha couple whose business and home were raided by the Secret Service have been charged in federal court with conspiring to commit wire fraud and identity theft.

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    Fix It: The case of the leaning utility box


    Today's Problem: Reader KP contacted Fix It with a concern about a utility box near the harbor walkway in HarborPark. KP said, “As your fix-it mobile probably is not allowed on the bicycle path by the sculpture walk, I wanted to alert you to the most unusually and precariously situated sculpture about even with the western side of the Civil War Museum. It would appear that an electrical junction box (I think) is broken off of its concrete slab and leaning over."

    Today’s event briefs: Have breakfast with an alderman

    KENOSHA — Eighth District Ald. Kurt Wicklund will host a monthly breakfast meeting 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Andy’s Drive-In, 2929 Roosevelt Road.