Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Charlie's - Top Ten things I Have Learned About Full Time RV'ing

July 26, 2017

Hello to all of our regular readers and welcome if this is your first time reading Wandering Toes. 

 I wanted to note that Martha and I have changed the our blog somewhat by adding a page with our personal campground ratings (look in the right margin at the top). These may or may not be helpful to you but eventually we will have entries in every state except Hawaii.  To see our ratings just click the campground listing.  

We have changed the theme of our blog to a brighter more user friendly background. As always, your input is important to us. Be sure to let us know if you like or dislike the changes by using the comment box. I answer all comments (the comment box is located at the bottom of this and all pages) so don't be afraid to tell us what approve or disapprove of. 


1. You can RV full time with only a few tools to repair things.

2. If you travel full time without the proper tools you will need to buy the right ones.

3. Giant sized packs of toilet paper and paper towels would cause storage issues.

4. We use a lot of internet data. Martha works on line and I surf a lot. But, who doesn't ?

5. I get bored when there is nothing to fix on the RV (not griping about it, just bored).

6. Walking more has been good for me and very good for my diabetes.

7. Living with your best friend on a full time basis isn't as hard as I thought it would be BUT it helps that I am still madly in love with her after all this time.

8. I really need to be a better roommate and give Martha some space, She says I take up a lot of room go figure?

9. Our dog Jake is a pain in the ass (I already knew that) but, he is also loving the lifestyle as he gets to go outdoors for a walk more often. I am glad to have him with us. He's 14 and could be gone soon.

10. Motorhomes are very complex with dozens of separate systems that can act up, so it's a plus that I can fix things.

I will likely revise this list as I go on but for now this is what I have learned

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Door County - Wisconsin - Cana Island Lighthouse - Beautiful Scenery - Lots Of Photos

Wandering Toes - 7/25/2017

Door County - Wisconsin

We heard about Door County years ago, and before we left Hancock and our KOA temporary home we decided that while we were in Wisconsin we would go see why everyone raves about Door County.

Trying to figure out why people say this place is beautiful is really a no brainer

We arrived in Door County and Bailey's Harbor on the 18th of this month and departed on the 23rd. It was pretty much everything I had ever heard about it. It is just awesomely beautiful with vistas that rival any of those you might see on an ocean coast. The difference? "We were on Lake Superior where the water was less salty and there aren't any 
sharks " (got that quote from a Tee Shirt).

The water here is almost crystal clear. People were out in droves to swim and be with their families. It was really great.

We were on the road and exploring a lot. One of our trips took us to the Cana Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built on 8.7 Cana Island.

It was built in 1869 and at that time of construction was built of bricks and mortar. Due to weathering from harsh winters the lighthouse was was given a metal skin in 1902.

The lamp was originally fueled by lard, later it was fueled by kerosene, then by acetylene, and now by electricity. The lens that provides the light is a "Third Order Fresnel Lense" made in France"

The wages of the Light Keepers were rather low by today's standards

Rations were sorta meager too!

The oil house. When we poked our head into the building it still smelled faintly of kerosene. Kerosene hadn't been used at the lighthouse since 1945.

To get onto Cana Island you either have to wade through calf deep water

Or, you can opt to take a ride behind a tractor in a wagon

Told ya the water was clear      

This is a picturesque place 

The waves coming in were very calming. I enjoyed our short trek across the little bay to the Island

The hike up the 97 steps to the top of the lighthouse was a chore. But the crowds are limited to about 10 people up to the top at a time. So, being too crowded wasn't an issue.

There are a series of portholes in the lighthouse structure so that natural light is admitted into the tower. I took advantage of these by taking some portrait shots as we climbed up.

Once we got to the top and onto the catwalk we were able to see the original Fresnel Lens

The views from the top were awesome

The lighthouse grounds below

The lighthouse keepers office

The kitchen

Looking up at the iron clad lighthouse

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alex Jordans "House On The Rock - Spring Green Wisconsin - Photos and video

Martha and I have visited Alex Jordan's "The House on the Rock" three times in the last 22 years. There are few words that can described this place but delightful, stimulating, weird, macabre and muddled are a few that fit.

Boston Globe reporter Christopher Mudder described it thusly "I'm not sure which was more frightening - the endless yards of asthma-inducing blood red shag carper, the 200 foot whale like sea monster fighting a giant squid, or the endless rooms of dolls attired in Victorian garb with blank, soul sucking stares.  One of these toy tableaus depicted a doll funeral, with Lucifer himself ominously hovering. You see, I told you these dolls were evil."

My take on the "house" is that it is delightfully different. I can only assume that Alex Jordan had night mares and lucid dreams so vivid he attempted to recreate them into tangible displays. In any case if you're within one hundred miles of the House on the Rock you should make it your business to visit.

Jordan collected things that were ancient, interesting, weird and macabre. When his vision of an object wasn't satisfied by what he was able to find, he had objects created to go into the tableaus he was creating. The House is literally built on a pinnacle of rock that overlooks the valley above Spring Green. It utilizes the terrain as well as the views all around.

                                                    As always, click on any photo to enlarge it.

Part of the house features a room called the infinity room. It is a needle shaped horizontal spire that juts out over a 75' cliff and gives the illusion that it goes on forever. It actually is one hundred feet in length and is self supporting. However, it bounces and moves under the weight of people walking to the end which is a bit unnerving. 

A video snippet of our visit

Oddities abound in this place

Window by Tiffany

Steam trains and working steam engines in the Mens room

An unequaled gun collection

Faberge Eggs worth millions

A real working Phelps Car

The Giant Calliope named "Gladiator"

Hundreds of ship models but with a twist. Each of them had been sunk

The Rube Goldberg room

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of the House on the Rock. It is really worth going to see. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wisconsin wine and spirits

So, being a wino at heart, one of my goals is to visit local wineries and other related businesses while we travel.   Our first adventure in Wisconsin took us to Burr Oaks Winery in New Lisbon.  There, the wine tasting was $5 per person, but it included a complimentary wine glass.  The coolest thing about the wine glasses is they have a line to fill to.  If you use that line, you get exactly 5 glasses of wine per bottle.  For whatever reason,  that makes me happy.  The wines themselves were not too great.   I did like the Sabrevois enough to buy a bottle for $11. Most of their wines are made from grapes they grow here in Wisconsin.   The short growing season limits their selection, and the grapes that grow well here may not make the best wine, IMO.

A few miles south of there in Mauston, we found Carr Cheese Factory, which actually has goat cheese in a lot of different forms, rather than the cream cheese-type we had found in Arkansas.  My favorite was the Mobay, which was a sheep/goat combo.

Our next adventure was to Sunset Point Winery in Stevens Point.  The owners there started the business at the behest of a local distillery that was in need of a local source for wine to use to make brandy.  They import grapes from other areas of the country to make their wines.  They also have some local wines made with fruits that are locally sourced.   To be honest, I think their best wines were made from non-local grapes.  I didn't buy a bottle,  but enjoyed a  $5 glass of their Cabernet in their tasting room.  As an aside, the winery is just a hop skip and a jump from a beautiful waterfront park, which is definitely worth a few minutes detour.  In addition, it is just around the corner from the city square where there is a farmers' market, a fountain, and a couple of local bars.  Steven's Point has a pretty and kind of hip downtown that is worth spending a bit of time exploring.  There are murals painted all over, some of which are incredibly detailed.

From Stevens Point, we went to Great Northern Distilling in nearby Plover to sample some of their locally made whiskey and gin.  They have a cute little bar where you can buy fancy drinks made with their own spirits.  I had a Sazerac and Chuck had a Gin and Tonic.  It was a nice stop and we met some nice people there.

A couple of days ago, we spent an afternoon exploring the central Wisconsin area and its wine tasting opportunities.  We started in Wautoma.  Although not a winery, Candle Freak Gallery and Gifts offers wine tasting of the wine it sells.  You can taste what's open for free, or for $10 a person, you can get a flight of 4 wines that are selected for your preferences.  Each wine is brought to you separately, and the owner discusses each wine's origin, flavors and why she chose it for you.  This was perfect for us, since Chuck and I have different tastes in wine (he prefers sweet whites, I prefer dry reds).  We sat out in the garden (until the mosquitoes got too bad) and it was lovely.  We ended up buying two of the wines we tasted and chances are good we'll go back next week and try another.

From Wautoma, we headed to the Lunch Creek Vineyards & Winery near Neshkoro.  The place was rocking -- a good sized crowd in the fairly small main tasting room and a second tasting going on in the production room.  Lunch Creek has 13 wines on their list, and we got a taste of most of them. Their tasting was free, but sad to say, we weren't overly impressed with any of their products, but the woman serving us was awfully nice and informative.  They had a band that was playing in their courtyard, but they were on a break when we were there.  I would have liked to stay and listen, but neither of us wanted to buy a glass of their wine.   So, onward we went.

Typical scenery along the way

Our next stop on our day of wine tasting was Vines & Rushes Winery near Ripon.  It felt like we drove miles and miles in the middle of nowhere, but again, there was a large crowd of people and a live band.  Again, the tasting was free, and we got to each try 8 of their wines.  Chuck paid the extra $3 for a taste of their port.  They also made hard ciders.  Chuck tried the strawberry cider, but it was too sweet.  We weren't too impressed with the ciders or the reds, but we did take home a bottle of their St. Pepin wine, which went well with our salmon dinner the other night.

Our final stop was at Rushford Meadery & Winery near Omro.  We almost missed the building, even though we had Google mapping us there.  The business is in an old school building, and they only have a banner on the side of the building for a sign.  We were greeted by two dogs as we walked in.  There was a guy working on building a tasting room, and the tasting we did was in the production room, surrounded by boxes of product.  They had only one wine to taste, but they had several meads, which are made by fermenting honey, rather than fruit.  They also had hard ciders.  We had never tried it, but we actually ended up loving the mead.  Our favorites were the Heather Blossom Metheglin and the Winneconne Wild Mead Bourbon Barrel Aged.  We couldn't decide between them.  The Heather Blossom was just a light delight on the tongue, while the Bourbon Barrel Aged mead had all sorts of interesting bourbon-like flavors along with the honey taste.  We ended up taking home a small bottle of each, and they are waiting for a good occasion to drink them (like happy hour or something).  

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