After taking the ferry back to St Ignace, our car was waiting for us not too far from our luggage….so we gathered our belongings and off we drove in the Upper Peninsula and over the top of Lake Michigan and down along the western shore of the lake.  

Very rural and rustic up in these parts of the state and come winter you would not see me there.  In fact you don’t see many there.  They talk of at least one-hundred inches of snow, some really cold temperatures…..only suitable for very hardy souls.  In the lower part of the state they call those in the Upper Peninsula “Youpers”.   This was the longest ride for a day’s journey…about two-hundred and fifty miles and about five hours.  During the ride we entered the Central Time zone so we gained an hour.

The west coast of Michigan is in the Eastern Time zone and it does not get dark until well after 9:00pm.    In Wisconsin, darkness arrived earlier as we are in the beginning of the Central Time zone.  As we drove toward the time zone change, I kept checking my cell phone to note exact location of the change…not the same as the map location as it depends where you pick up the cell phone signal.  

We arrived in Green Bay did a drive past Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.   They had a family day exhibition game and the whole city was there.  There is no question that the city of Green Bay and the Green Bay Packers are one.  They are a football team strongly supported by the locals and they make the fans an integral part of the franchise…well, the city owns the team.     

We stayed at the James Street Inn in De Pere, WI (just outside of Green Bay) especially nice because they have wine and lots of goodies for happy hour.   It is particularly nice as it gives you an opportunity to meet and talk with other guests.    A family from Madison who were staying at the inn offered us tickets to a musical show being performed at the newly renovated Meyer theatre that they were also attending.   There is certain wholesome warmth of the mid western people that is there with every contact that you have with them.     Midwesterners are instantly at ease with you and very comfortable to talk with.

The James Street Inn sits on the banks of the Fox River, which feeds into Green Bay and then into Lake Michigan.   There is a lock on the river just behind the inn that was once a major thoroughfare for boats hauling materials to and from paper mills on the river, but that time has passed.   Today it services only pleasure craft heading to the bay and the great lake.  

While in Green Bay we visited the National Train Museum, which has a connection to the Smithsonian but receives no federal money.   They had excellent exhibits of old steam engines and many different types of rail cars.

Door County, Wisconsin Beach

General Eisenhower's World War II Train at the

National Train Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Gills Rock in Door County, Wisconsin

They have seventy locomotives on display but some that they have not yet reconditioned and will work on them as they raise money for the museum.    They did have a train ride, pulled by a diesel locomotive and a movie about the large steam locomotives ….called the Big Boy…..that were used in the United States up through the 1950s.   They also had the British Rail train that was used by Dwight Eisenhower’s during his time in England during World War II.

We stayed an extra day in Green Bay just to visit Door County, WI.   Door County is a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan from Green Bay city.   Many people familiar with the area told us that Door County is very unlike the rest of Michigan and actually very similar to New England.   

It is a narrow stretch of land that extends about eighty miles in to Lake Michigan forming Green Bay on one side and there is the small Washington Island at the end of the peninsula.    Because of ferry schedules from Gills Rock, we never were able to get to the island, but locals said it would have been nice to visit.

The road from the city of Green Bay took us to Sturgeon Bay, the last “big” city on the peninsula and then along the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula as we went through numerous little villages each more quaint than the last one. 

Along the way we passed little inns, B&B’s and small hotels that regularly book up for the summer weeks.   There are also wineries, gift shops, fruit stands selling cherries and jams and many interesting little restaurants…..had lunch in a very eclectic restaurant on our way.   The little villages are busy with families and seniors…but it is not a wild and crazy scene.  

After we checked out Gills Rock, (the very end of the peninsula) we returned to the city of Green Bay riding near the Green Bay shores through many more interesting villages…each busy and bustling.  Door County is a very popular vacation resort for the people of Wisconsin and Northern Michigan.   


Our next destination was Fond du Lac which was named by the French settlers as “Far End of the Lake”, referring to Lake Winnebago…the largest fresh water lake in the state.   All along the seventy mile ride was commercial and industrial companies that represent the economic base of this state.    Wisconsin is home to many well known corporations and many other lesser corporations as well.

This is a not just a state of dairy, cheese making and agriculture enterprises.    Wisconsin is a serious player in the world of industry and that represents a significant portion of the financial base of every Wisconsin citizen.    They have every store that I am familiar with back home and many others I do not know.    Now I can better understand why they consider Door County such a different image of Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac is an old town that once was the center of  Wisconsin’s industrial base.   We stayed in a hotel that was originally built in 1929 and recently restored .    Beautiful architecture and well appointed, but by standards of any big city it would be less than four stars.   Prices in restaurants are very inexpensive….we had two dinners and wine in a very nice restaurant and the bill was $61 including the tip.

Just down the block are many beautiful Victorian homes that were once the grand mansions of the industrial barons.   There was a very nice synagogue in that area as well.   The lakeshore park at Lake Winnebago with a lighthouse was spectacular.   I climbed to the top of the lighthouse and watched a most beautiful sunset on Lake Winnebago.…and once again a lake that appears to be an ocean…..you cannot see the other side.

Fond du Lac Lighthouse


Madison, WI is a great city to visit and I am sure to live in as well……who woulda thunk!!!    The Wisconsin state capitol is modeled after the capitol building in Washington, DC and is a very ornate and discriminating building.    We toured the capital building…..it is completely accessible….no security…. we visited the Supreme Court room, the Senate and the Assembly rooms.

 Visitors sat in the chairs that the legislatures sit in during their deliberations, while I sat in the Governors’ chair in his conference room.   Each room was more beautiful than the last one and the paintings throughout the building were each historically significant….cannot remember all the details…you will have to visit.  

After the tour we were able to walk up to the observation roof and were treated to the spectacular views of the city as well as Lake Mendota and Lake Monona…two large lakes that give a figure eight effect to the downtown of Madison.

State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin Menona Center on Lake Menona in Madison

The Menona Conference center is located on Lake Menona and was architecturally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1920s, but was not constructed until the 1990s.    It is a beautiful location on the lake with a stunning view of the capital. 

The University of Wisconsin is located on Lake Mendota with its campus just eight blocks from the capitol.    We had lunch at the student building, eating at the shore of Lake Mendota where there is sailing, swimming and boating as long as the weather lasts…..it is really a great city, but then I was not there in winter……

Also downtown on capitol square is a Veterans museum…not big, but does a fantastic job of telling the stories about each of our wars from the civil war to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

We stayed at the Madison Concourse and Governor’s Club hotel one block from the capitol which we can see from our room.   Madison has many fine restaurants and we had dinner at a few of these and they were among the best meals of the trip.

University of Wisconsin on Lake Mendota University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin


Milwaukee, Wisconsin Art Museum Milwaukee River in the Third Ward

The downtown area of Milwaukee, WI is located directly on the shores of Lake Michigan, where there is an extensive lake shore drive with a large war memorial, a beautiful art museum building and Discovery World, which is a science museum.  

The lake shore all through Milwaukee is protected so there is no commercial development and is open to the public in the form of parks and recreational facilities.  Apartment buildings are set back from the lake shore and as one would expect they command expensive prices for those especially great views.

The Third Ward section of the city is the oldest area where huge warehouses have been re-gentrified and are now home to upscale restaurants, markets and stores.   The Milwaukee River runs through the city and the Third Ward and ultimately into Lake Michigan.   There is a seven mile long river walk that has eating places which attract locals and the tourists as well.

We visited the Harley Davidson Museum which contains a full and comprehensive history of motorcycles in this country.   The company was created in 1903 and has continued to make the most sought after “bikes” in the world.   The museum displays at least one of every motorcycle the company produced as well as other motorcycles that have been customized by the motorcycle community. 

Alan on his Harley Davidson
Lila on her Harley Davidson