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Oct '10

Fall Color Lake Superior

Tahquamenon Falls near Paradise, Michigan

Wisconsin-Upper Peninsula Lake Superior Circle Tour

During the last week in September we were up north along Lake Superior catching fall color from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to Duluth, Minnesota.

Along Lake Superior the area that generally turns full color first is in the Michigan Western Upper Peninsula around the Porcupine Mountains and the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula on the way to Copper Harbor. We hadn’t been in the central and eastern UP during fall foliage time so this trip we spent most of our time in that area. We saw very pretty color around Tahquamenon Falls and the State Park forest. Due to lots of recent rains the river was high and the falls were roaring. Outstanding scenery. While we in the area I visited the Village Fabrics & Craft Shop in Paradise, Michigan. It is a great shop offering everything a quilter would need, plus it has a fine offering of yarn for the knitter.

We also spent some time in the Marquette area. My sister and her husband Dan climbed to the top of SugarLoaf Mountain were they had a great view of Marquette Bay and Presque Isle. Ross and I were doing something else that morning – I think catching up  on our Internet work or just being lazy 🙂 The last evening we were there in Marquette we dined at the Portside Restaurant where they had excellent sandwiches, very good wait service, and served a number of Michigan Craft Brews on tap. After we left we were driving down the street and I saw a quilt shop on Marquette’s Washington Street that I didn’t know existed. I’ll have to do some research and find out about it . . . and for sure the next time I am in town have to stop in and see the place.

Ashland Area Fabrics & Quilts

Inside Ashland Fabrics & Quilts

By the time we left the UP heading towards Bayfield and Ashland, we were seeing good fall color from the Central to Western UP. On the way to Ashland from the UP color was also good, but across the bay from Ashland in Washburn and Bayfield the color was just starting to change. When I was in Ashland I had a chance to stop in the Ashland Area Fabric & Quilt Company  www.ashlandquilt.com which used to be located in Bayfield and known as the Bayfield Quilt Company. I had a nice talk with Barb the owner about why she moved and how business was doing.  The shop has a nice variety of fabric for the quilter to chose from and as you can see from the picture the lighting is superb.  So if your visiting Ashland or just passing through stop in – it is easy to find on Hwy.2.

We spent some time up in the Bayfield Orchards, including a stop at Hausers to get some apples and apple butter. Originally we had planned to stay around for the Bayfield AppleFest but cold and rainy weather in the forecast plus some pressing business at home caused us to change our plans.

Covered Bridge at Aminicon Falls near Superior, Wisconsin

One of several falls on the Amnicon River

We decided to head towards Duluth where the weather was supposed clear and maybe we could get one more sunny day before we had to go home. We took US 2 from Ashland to Superior, Wisconsin rather than the usually more scenic lakeshore drive (Hwy 13) around the Bayfield Peninsula and west along the lake. In the fall in late September US 2 is generally much more colorful than Hwy 13 and we found this was the case this year. The best time to take the lakeshore route is the first or second week in October. In addition to the colorful fall foliage we were surprised to find Amnicon Falls (in Amnicon Falls State Park) not only in good color but the rapids and falls roaring. A rare treat because the Amnicon River usually turns to a trickle of its springtime self in August and September.

Ross was going to golf at Nemadji Golf Club in Superior but a sore back changed those plans so we headed on home with a nice sunny day for a drive.

Get more Lake Superior region fall color tour info on our ScenicPathways blog: Upper Peninsula Fall Color Scenic Drives and Fall Color Minnesota Scenic Highway 61.

Til next time,


Sep '10

Dubuque Dragon Boat Festival

The weekend of Sept 9th to Sept 12th I traveled back to Dubuque to catch the Dubuque Dragon Boat Festival and their annual Riverfest festival. On this trip I left Ross at home in favor of a girls getaway with three girl friends from back in my high school days.

Lobby of the Hotel Julien Dubuque

We stayed at the Hotel Julian Dubuque, a refurbished historic hotel whose roots go back to 1839 at this location. In 1839 it was known as the Waples House. After a renovation In 1854 it became the Hotel Julian. That structure was destroyed by a fire in 1913 and then rebuilt in 1915. As you can see from the picture the current Hotel Julian retains much of the elegance from that era . . . but of course now with modern conveniences.  Instead of dining at the hotels restaurants we decided to explore. We had pizza at the Shot Tower Inn and caught breakfast at Dotties Café, a popular hang out of locals only two blocks from our hotel.

Front Row Seats at the Dragon Boat Races

One of two teams of Girl Scouts entered in the race

On Saturday we watched the Dragon Boat Races. It was a beautiful day to spend by the water enjoying food, fun, and the races. Of the 39 teams in the race one came from Germany and another from far away Chatham-Kent Ontario. The Taiwan style dragon boats look a little different than the ones we’ve seen in the Lake Superior Dragon Boat races. The Lake Superior boats are more streamlined which seem to match the competitiveness and athleticism of the Superior racers. The Dubuque boats are more festive, perhaps more closely resembling the classic asian boats. Likewise the racers themselves were as much into the festival spirit as they were into winning a race, although there were some teams who could give the Superior racers a good run for the money. The Dubuque boats also had an additional team member. Normally a team is 20 members: 18 paddlers, a drummer,and helmsman or steerperson. The Dubuque teams added an additional person in the bow whose job was to capture the finish line flag which triggered the race timer.

In the afternoon instead of watching the second heats we visited the RiverFest celebration held in the Clock Tower Plaza and Washington Park. Music, food, crafts, and a flea market. Quilt Shops. As long as I was in town I had to stop in some quilt shops. Checked out the new digs of the Cotton Cabin Quilt Shop and then traveled out on Highway 20 West to see a shop I only recently discovered: The Quilt Shack. I like how they organize their fabrics. The bolts were laid out on horizontal shelves rather than stacked on the end like you see in most shops.  You could “see” more of the fabric and pattern making shopping for a particular color and pattern much easier. Reasonable prices too. Have to add them to our River Road Quilt Shop Directory.

Nancy, Jo, Joy & Jane enjoying the tastes of the Stone Cliff Winery

Oh almost forgot one of favorite trips of the weekend. 🙂

After having lunch at the Potosi Brewery on Friday that evening we decided to try another beverage when we visited the Stone Cliff Winery’s Tasting Room (located in the Star Brewery complex at the north end of the Dubuque Riverwalk). After sampling several different varieties our favorites  were their Red Dog (semi-sweet red) and their Sweet Cranberry Wine (a sweet fruit wine that we found more tart than sweet).

A great time and lots of fun with the girl friends.

Later, Jo

Aug '10

Traveling to Dubuque Iowa

In mid-August Jo and I decided to take a trip to the Dubuque Iowa area to see a few sights and visit a quilt shop in nearby Bellevue. I also had a few golf courses I wanted to play 🙂

National Farm Toy MuseumWe arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and decided to drive west of Dubuque, about 20 miles, to Dyersville, Iowa whose major attraction is the National Farm Toy Museum. And for baseball and movie fans Dyersville is home to the Field of Dreams movie set – which time didn’t permit us to visit. We also discovered that they have an annual fall quilt show – another reason to return.

The Farm Toy Museum is an interesting piece. The exhibits serve as an educational tour of the progression of  two centuries of US agriculture and its implements. If you weren’t aware of this factoid, in the US the Industrial Revolution was most evident in its agricultural machinery and inventions. So anyone interested in US industrial history or the history of farming in the US will find the Toy Museum’s exhibits fascinating. A number of the exhibits were antique toys, the kind you’d see brought onto the PBS TV show Antiques Roadshow. So collectors or appreciators of antique toys will find lots to satisfy this interest. I discovered there is a lively group of hobbyists and collectors who specialize in farm toys. They even have a magazine called Toy Farmers. Of course farmers or former farmers will have lots of fun walking down memory lane looking at models of tractors and implements. While I was there a group of three retired farmers where wandering through the exhibits seeing models of tractors and implements from their earlier days. Every once in a while one would say “Hey do you remember . . . ”

Breitbach Country Tavern

Breitbach's Country Tavern, Iowa's oldest, has been run by the Breitbach family since 1852

On the way back to Dubuque we stopped in Balltown Iowa to dine at Breitbach’s Country Tavern. We hadn’t been there since the second of two devastating fires destroyed this Iowa landmark. We missed the original because it had been there for ages and was filled with a gazzilion antiques (see here for a few shots of the “old” Breitbach’s). While the building is new looking local craftsmen have done a decent job in finishing off the interior with fine dark hardwoods giving it the atmosphere of an old time German or Swiss pub. Although the fire destroyed almost all of the Breitbach family’s several generations of antique collections, they have a few newly acquired antiques to lend character to the atmosphere. But the most pleasant experience of all has not changed. Breitbach’s food and service is terrific. We stuffed ourselves with the all-you-can-eat buffet. The service kept our tables clean and water glasses refreshed. The Breitbach family has been at this spot offering hospitality since 1852 and they have done a great job of it.

The next day, Wednesday, I had a chance to play the Blue Course at Lacoma Golf Club, which is across the river from Dubuque in East Dubuque, IL. It is a mature, scenic tree lined course with some degree of elevation change. The rough under the trees was mowed so balls hit outside of the fairway were fairly easy to find. Only a few holes had woods so thick and tight to fairway that an errant ball was “goodbye.” The greens were in good condition and easy to read. Overall the course was quite playable and a decent value for your golfing dollar. Reminded me of the Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, Michigan.

JoQuilter FabricsAfter golfing we traveled south of Dubuque, about 20 miles, along the Iowa side of the Great River Road to the town of Bellevue along the Mississippi River. There  is a quilt shop there Jo wanted to visit and we wanted to see the town as we had previously always traveled the Illinois side of the Great River Road along this stretch. Unfortunately the shop, JoQuilter Fabrics, was closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays so all we could do was look in the window. Jo says she is planning a Great River Road Quilt Shop tour to this part of the Great River next summer so she’ll make sure to be in Bellevue when the shop is open. The town itself is aligned along the river with an attractive river walk on the river side of the street and small gift shops, antique stores, craft shops, and restaurants on the other side of the street. A person could spend an hour or two wandering through the shops. There is also a lock and dam adjacent to downtown so one can get a good look at the river boat traffic as it comes through the locks. Another disappointment in our visit to Bellevue was the fact that the paved road to nearby Bellevue State Park was closed and we weren’t up for traveling a few miles down the alternate gravel road entrance.

The Meadows Golf Course

The Meadows Golf Course Dubuque Iowa

On Thursday I got in another golfing fix this time golfing The Meadows a course in the Dubuque western suburb of Asbury. Not very many trees in this course since not too many years ago it was a field of corn and grains. But the rolling hills and course landscaping presented an attractive picture. Every hole on the course had a unique visual character to it. The fairways were close cut bent grass giving you the feeling of playing on a carpet. Every time I took a divot I felt I was committing a misdemeanor. While the fairways always had elevation changes, a few water and sand trap hazards, and many with doglegs left or right or left and right, the challenge at The Meadows is the greens. All of them are elevated so a ball rolling off the edge of the frog hair would end up rolling several feet downhill into the longer grass. The greens themselves were often domed and had undulations with pin placements to challenge your ability to read the terrain. Combined with fast greens the challenge to your putting skills was enthusiastic! Result. I had many more 3 putts than I can recall having in recent outings. Despite the 3 putts and fairly good shots rolling off the green into the steep long grass I enjoyed the outing. A very good quality course with a reasonable green and cart fee structure. Thus an excellent golfing value. Oh and the club house was decent – had one of our favorite beers – Michelob Amber Bock – on tap.

After golfing we visited the Stone Cliff Winery’s Wine Bar and Pub located in the old Star Brewery building along the Dubuque Mississippi River Walk. Jo and I did their 5 wine sampler and our unanimous favorite was their Red Dawg variety. We bought a bottle to take home. In the same building down the hall is the winery’s production facility where they bottle the wine. Tours are available. I should also mention that the Wine Bar also has a number of excellent craft beers on tap. On the way home we stopped in Platteville, Wisconsin to sample the pizza at Steve’s Pizzeria a popular bar and pizza joint near the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus. Nice atmosphere and a decent sampling of beers on tap. The pizza was OK but I think our pizza taste buds have been spoiled by the pizza places in Superior, Wisconsin – Shamrock, Thirsty Pagan, and Gronks.

–Till next time  — Roscoe

Aug '10

Minnesota NorthShore Quilt Shops

Kunnert Creations Quilt and Gift Shop

Kunnert Creations Quilt and Gift Shop

In July, 2010 my girlfriend Sue and I took a quilting-travel trip up to Lake Superior’s Minnesota North Shore. On the way up, near the town of Gordon on US Highway 53, we stopped at a shop that I’ve noticed on previous trips to Duluth but never had a chance to stop. It is called Kunnert Creations and features fabric, quilt supply’s, yarn, some great womens clothing and other gifts.

Later we stopped for a lunch break at Two Harbors lakefront across the bay from the Two Harbors Lighthouse. Two Harbors has a nice lakeside campground that we’ve stayed at before – Burlington Bay -and also a decent rock picking beach popular with agate hunters. Another reason Ross likes the campground is that it is just across the street the Lakeview National Golf Course. Our next stop was at the Beaver Bay quilt shop (Quilt Corner). I wanted to show Sue this shop because it features a number of northwoods and wildlife patterns and fabrics that she likes.

Between the Seams Quilt Shop

Between the Seams Quilt Shop - Minnesota North Shore

Just a few miles more down the road near Tettegouche State Park we discovered a new quilt shop that I hadn’t had on my list of Lake Superior quilt shops- “Behind the Scenes Quilt Shop.” It is set back from Highway 61 quite a distance so it is easy to miss it. Large variety of fabrics types. I was particularly drawn to the selection of batiks and the variety of light tones.

crystals log cabin quilts

Crystal's Log Cabin Quilts - Grand Marais, Minnesota

Our destination was Grand Marais, Minnesota, a picturesque harbor town with lots of neat places and things to see and do – including a nice quilt shop, Crystal’s Log Cabin Quilts.  She has more northwoods themed fabrics and Sue found a quilt rack made from logs that she had to take home.  This shop also has quilts that they sell – just incase your not a quilter.

grand marais harbor from the Angry Trout Cafe

Sue and I enjoyed a gentle breeze from the lake and great whitefish and lake trout sandwiches from the deck of the Angry Trout Cafe

In Grand Marais we dined on the deck of our favorite café – the Angry Trout with the harbor lighthouse and the harbor beach as our overlook.

We had planned to spend some time in Duluth, Minnesota and Canal Park on our way home but road construction and traffic changed our plans and we headed east to Ashland and stayed at the Kreher RV Park. During the last year the Bayfield Quilt Company moved their shop to Ashland but it was closed for the day when we arrived so we couldn’t see their new diggings.

Fabric Works Quilt Shop

Fabric Works Quilt and Yarn Shop - Superior, Wisconsin

While Sue and I also spent some time in Superior, Wisconsin (twin city to Duluth) we missed the fact that there was a quilt shop on Tower Avenue. I discovered this shop on a later trip with my husband Ross. He was golfing at Nemadji Golf Club and I went out of coffee and scones to the Red Mug Expresso CafĂ© and that’s when I noticed “The Fabric Works” shop. It has been there for 20 years and somehow I missed it during previous trips to Superior.  This shop has a nice variety of fabric plus lots of yarn.  Barb the shop owner was finishing a really great looking sweater with a zipper down the front – made me want to take up knitting.

While our original plan was to stop at a quilt shop in Siren, Wisconsin on our way home, we were getting weary of all the miles in so few days so we took the more direct route back to our homes in South Central Wisconsin.

Jul '10

Dubuque Golf

Dubuque Iowa

View from Diamond Jo Casino looking towards entrance to the river walk

Our plans were to check out a few golf courses in the Dubuque area, visit JoQuilter’s Fabric Shop in Bellevue, Iowa, and enjoy the fourth of July fireworks along the river at Dubuque’s Lock & Dam. We arrived early on Thursday morning at the Grant River Recreation Area by Potosi figuring we’d be able to get one of the 26 non-reserveable campsites. That’s when our plans first started going south! All 26 non-reserveable campsites were occupied and all of the rest of the sites reserved for the upcoming holiday weekend. So plan B was to boondock somewhere or perhaps camp at the Mississippi Palisades park near Savannah. Having postponed lodging decisions we proceeded to our next item on our itinerary – golfing.

We found the Bunker Hill Golf Course off Grandview Avenue up on the hill. It is a municipal golf course with good maintenance and quite reasonable prices, including a senior rate. It cost me $27.25 to play 18 holes with a cart (weekday rate). It’s a scenic course, largely open except for a few more heavily wooded holes, and quite playable. Low handicap golfers will find the course too short and thus not challenging enough, but I enjoyed the opportunity to reach the greens in regulation more often!

After golfing we had an opportunity to sample the Dubuque Star Restaurant and its outdoor cafe on the second floor of the restored Star Brewery building along Dubuque’s riverfront. It was a beautiful early evening and the view from the cafe idyllic. A bonus was the food was quite tasty and the wait service excellent. Jo overheard another couple commenting that this was the fifth time they’ve eaten at the Star and that every time they come to Dubuque they always include a visit to the restaurant.

Lacoma Golf Course Red Nine

The next day, Friday July 2nd, we traveled across the river to East Dubuque to play the Lacoma Golf Course. A huge golfing facility. One 18 hole course, two 9 holes courses, and a 9 hole Par 3 course. We played the 9 hole Red Course and the 9 hole Gold Course. The Red was Lacoma’s first course. It is similar to Bunker Hill’s layout. Open fairways, semi-wooded, and shorter than average length even from the back tees. However the greens were a little trickier; I had a few three putts. The Gold Course was a quite different experience. It was longer by 250 yards, but the more significant differences are narrower fairways, more heavily wooded, and dramatic terrain changes. Several scenic vistas. Some of the holes reminded me of Marquette’s Greywalls Course – teeing off a hundred feet above the fairway with woods below and on both sides, then once in the fairway the green is a hundred feet above you. No flat greens either and the pin placement wasn’t kind to a putt that went wide. But for all the challenges I’d say the Gold Course was fair and playable (if you don’t mind losing a few golf balls :-)). The only downside of my Lacoma experience was I strained or pulled something in my pelvis. I popped 4 Ibuprofen’s and another pain pill I had with me so I was able to finish the round. Later it was evident the pain and discomfort were getting worse and we decided better pack up and head for home.

So we missed the fireworks and the air show on Saturday and were unable to take that side trip to Bellevue. I hope to return to Lacoma to play their other courses and work in that visit to Bellevue and its quilt shop.

May '10

Potosi Brewery – River Road

On the way back from the Paducah Quilt Show Jo and decided to swing by the Mississippi River Road through Fulton, Illinois and stay at one of our favorite Corps of Engineering RV parks Thomson Causeway. The next day we traveled to Dubuque, Iowa and were impressed with continued renewal going on in their downtown and river front area. Then we crossed the Mississippi into Wisconsin to have lunch at the recently refurbished and restored Potosi Brewery in Potosi, Wisconsin.

Potosi Brewery and Brew Pub

Inside the Brew Pub and Restaurant of the historic Potosi Brewery

Being Friday in Wisconsin, we had to have the fish fry. Jo ordered the Cod plate; I ordered the Catfish plate since Potosi bills itself as the Catfish Capital of Wisconsin – figured I ought to try its signature fish. Both were delicious, lightly  breaded and served at just the right temperature. The plates came with frys and homemade coleslaw. I had sweet potatoe frys, Jo the regular ones. The regular ones were as good as MickeyDees. The slaw included finely sliced carrots with the cabbage and was crisp with just the right amount of dressing. Our beverages were drafts from Potosi’s stock. Jo had the American Porter which advertises itself as medium to full bodied, moderately malty, and bit more roasty than European Porters. Whatever Jo liked it and felt it compared well to her favorite Leiney Creamy Dark and Leiney 1888 Bock. I had the Czech Style Pilsner which is billed as a clear, golden brew with a hoppy taste, smooth and crisp. Whatever its description I liked it very much. I’m not a fan of Ales and IPAs that seem so popular among the brewpub crowd. When I can’t get a lager or pilsner,I’ll go dark Porters or Brown Ale. Meal prices were decent as well as the beer. The non-happy hour price for a pint of Potosi is $3.25.

Beer Enthusiasts will not only enjoy the brew and the nicely restored pub, the Brewery is also home to the National Brewery Museum – Go Here for more info on the Brewery & the Museum Tour


May '10

Paducah Quilt Show 2010

I had one day to see the entire quilt show and visit various vendors.  It can be done – but was I tired at the end to the day.

Art & Landscape Quilts at the Paducah Quilt Show

Traditional Quilt Blocks with Creative Twists

What amazes me every year is the number of quilts from other countries and the variety of quilts from traditional to art quilts.  According  to the Quilt Show book they had quilts from 47 states and 12 countries totaling 588 quilts.  With the most quilts was Japan with 94.

New this year was the Pavilion (dome) constructed to replace space no long available due to the Executive Inn closure.

Here is what the inside looked like at a vendor booth. Notice all the space.

Vendor Booths in new Pavilion

Spacious new Pavilion

Fancy New Porta Potties

I was also interested enough in the deluxe port-a-pottys to take some pictures.  Sure not like ones I have used in the past.

Larry, Darrell & Darrell's Famous BBQ Stand

A trip to the Paducah AQS Quilt Show isn’t complete until I have my delicious BBQ sandwich from Larry, Darrell & Darrell’s

Free Bike Cart Transportation at Quilt Show

Free Bike Cart Transportation at Quilt Show

Every year Paducah offers every type of transportation for the Quilters to get around town.  This year the guy taking riders on his bike cart anywhere in town they wanted to go for free was the the one that amazed me.  I did notice he had a tip jar on this bike – but that had to be work and no amount of tips would cover this tired legs at the end of the day.

Well gotta run, things to do. Did you attend the 2010 Show? What did you think? Let us know here.


Apr '10

Arriving at Paducah

Whenever Jo goes to the Paducah AQS Quilt Show, we like to arrive a few days earlier to have some extra time to enjoy the area and get a better choice of an RV campsite. Touring the Dogwood Trail and golfing are among these pre-show pursuits.

dogwood trail paducah, kentucky

Dogwood Trail Festival Paducah Kentucky

Last year (2009) there wasn’t an official Dogwood Trail Celebration because a winter ice storm had damaged so many trees. We followed the route outlined for the 2008 trail and although storm damage was evident, we still found a number of attractive displays of dogwoods and azaleas. In 2010 we followed the trail markers and did our own tour in our RV motor home. The photo shows the trees in the lawn of one of Paducah’s oldest historical landmarks: Grace Episcopal Church (1874) on Broadway Avenue. Most trees were in full bloom, but here and there some trees still show evidence of having lost their tops or major branches. On Saturday evening we attended the official festival celebration Saturday night which included a narrated evening tour of the trail.

Murray State Golf Course

When Jo goes to the Quilt Show, golf usually occupies my time and is a favorite of other spouses of quilters who accompany their wives to the annual event. The Paxton Park course in Paducah is a popular course and the green fees are reasonable. Another popular area golf  course is the Kentucky Dam Resort course near Grand Rivers, KY. On the way to our campsite to attend the 2010 show I discovered a new course: the Murray State University Golf Course (Miller Memorial) near Murray, Kentucky. About 40 miles from Paducah, I think the extra travel is well worth the effort. The course is 18 holes with excellent maintenance, nicely detailed signage at each hole, and easy-to-read greens and fair hole locations. These factors help golfers new to the course enjoy the play. On Tuesday I hope to play the Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, KY (about 10 miles from downtown Paducah). They have a senior special on Tuesdays – $20 for green fees and cart. I’ll report on that later.

Despite a warm spring, the fairway grass on several of the courses I’ve played this spring (in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky) has been somewhat marginal. Apparently the variety of turf grass they use tolerates heat well but doesn’t green up nicely until May. One of my favorite Lake Superior golf courses – Nemadji Golf Course in Superior Wisconsin – opened this spring on March 30th, 10 days earlier than they had ever opened in the last 50 years. I wonder if their fairways are in as good a shape as what I am finding in the mid-south?