Thursday, October 9, 2014

Heading Home

We arrived in Ontonagon on a beautiful, sunny day to explore the Porcupine Mountains.  Still on the Keweenaw Peninsula and right below Lake Superior, there are many trails to walk and views to see.   Heading to the area we had a difficult time trying to decide how to pronounce the name of the town Ontonagon.  Finally, a helpful soul gave us a clue.  He said, ' How 'bout I slap you on ta noggin,' and that is the way the town's name is pronounced.

The Porcupine Mountains are home to the largest tract of old-growth hardwood trees west of the Adirondacks.  

The park covers almost 60,000 acres and has activities year-round for the adventuresome.  The leaves were just beginning to change color but we were still a few weeks too early.

The trails are primitive and difficult to climb but you get to see this splendid view of Lake in the Clouds. 

There are also primitive camping areas you can only hike to and from and we came across one.  The Captain is standing below a bear pole which is used to keep foods and other necessary items away from the local black bears.  On the ground is a pole used to lift your valuables up to the bear pole. 

We spent two days hiking in the Porcupine Mountains and some of the areas were low and boggy.

We came across this wetland area with a well constructed beaver dam.

Many small waterfalls were found along the trails.  It is a beautiful hiking area. 

And then the rains came and we spent several days in the rig hoping the weather would improve.

The Captain outside entertaining the bored pups who can't understand why we won't take them for a hike in the mountains. 

The Captain drying the pups off before they climb back into the rig.

It's 43 degrees for the high, 3 inches of rain falling, and 45 mph winds.  The Captain arriving home after he took the pups for a walk in this mess.  Finally, after two days of  this he announced, "We are heading home, okay?"

We had planned to stop at the Apostle Islands in upper Wisconsin but the weather forecast for that area was just as bad so we packed up the rig and starting driving south.

First stop on our way home was Stevens Point, WI,  and we took a walk along some trails that are in the city.

A very nice area and it was sunny but still a bit cool.

We stopped for ice cream shakes and the pups got to share some.  Did I mention we had the car heater running while we enjoyed our treats.

Max really got into it.  

We drove on to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spent a few days there.  I was raised in the Milwaukee area and remember, as a young adult (yes, I know that was eons ago....I hear you snickering) that the Milwaukee lakefront (Lake Michigan) was extremely polluted.  The beaches were closed due to pollution and dead fish were washing up on the shore.  After having spent several months in the state of Michigan, and admiring their beautiful and pristine beaches on Lake Michigan, I was curious to see how Milwaukee had changed.  We were not disappointed!

The Milwaukee Art Museum is just one of the many beautiful buildings along the waterfront of Lake Michigan.  

From every angle the Art Museum looks like a ship.
The city from the lakefront.

Beautiful landscaping and parks were along the shores of the lake.

The waterfront was clean and beautiful.

There were parks everywhere and the pups could run and play with abandon. 

Beautiful artwork was also on display.

From the lakefront it is easy to walk into downtown Milwaukee.

The city still has many old buildings reflecting its architecture.

They have put real effort into preserving these buildings as the city expands with new growth.  This Federal Building-U.S. Courthouse was built in  1892.

Restaurants of every type were available.  Lynn, do you remember our 'interesting' meal at the Ethopian restaurant in DC?

Several blocks from Lake Michigan, cutting north to south through downtown Milwaukee, is the Milwaukee River.  Having worked in the city in a building next to the Milwaukee River, I remember how ugly and polluted the river was and the buildings alongside it had water problems besides having to smell the dirty river.

Today, Milwaukee has a riverwalk along both sides of the Milwaukee River.  The water is clear, many of the old warehouse buildings have been renovated into luxury apartments, and there are even places to park your boat alongside your property.

Tour boats take visitors on the river to see the sights of Milwaukee. 
We stopped at a waterfront restaurant and were able to sit outside with the pups and enjoy a few beers and a snack.  The views were excellent and the atmosphere great. 
A boater on the river with his black Lab.  How cool is that!

We spent two days in Milwaukee and had a great time.  While there we decided to dine at a German restaurant for which the city is well known.

Kegel's Inn was established in 1924 by Austrian immigrants John and Anna Kegel.  Originally opened as a 'soft drink parlor', they served 20 cent whiskey and 15 cent home-brewed beer accompanied with a free meal.  After seven years this  building was constructed and still stands today as their restaurant.  The restaurant is still a family business run by Rob and Jim Kegel.

The place is dark so pictures were difficult to take but the decor is much the same as it was when built.  Lots of stained glass and dark woods.

One of the Kegel owners was bartending while we were there.  He was a very gracious host.

After Milwaukee we headed down to Chicago to check in with some friends.

If I look a little loopy it's because it takes 45 minutes to make this Chicago deep dish pizza but it is well worth the wait.  We always make sure we stop at Buddyz in Algonquin for this pizza when we are in the area.

It is so big we were only able to eat half of it.  But don't worry, we finished the rest a day later.

We met up with Pat and Rhett Mitchell and had a wonderful dinner with them at Biaggi's Italian Restaurant. Rhett works for Sonoco so he and the Captain go back a few years.  The wine was flowing, conversation non-stop, and the food was absolutely wonderful (best fish I every had).  We had a great time and also learned a lot about scuba diving from Pat and Rhett .  They both enjoy it and it may be something the Captain and I try, too.

The next day the Captain and I met up with his old Air Force buddy, Randy Arndorfer and his wife Valerie.  What can I say......the beer was flowing.....and flowing.

Valerie with the two boys.  Do you think they looked a little glassy-eyed yet? I mean the boys, not Valerie.

Finally, it was time to head the rest of the way home and get back to the real heat.  It seems everywhere we went on this trip everyone talked about how cool the summer had been and no one was looking forward to another winter.  The Captain and I can vouch for the summer being cold, expect for a few days that hit 80 degrees we spent most of our time in slacks and jackets.

Crossing the Ohio River into West Virginia.

The capitol dome in Charleston, West Virginia

Beautiful mountain ranges.  Especially when we know we are heading home.

Cool tunnels through the mountain ranges.

Yippee! Virginia, one of my favorite states.

And that's about it.  We made it home safely and to beautiful sunny, warm weather.  We had a great time on our trip but it is also good to be home.  Oh yes, did I tell you while we were on our trip we added another member to our family.......

This is Corky.  He's a year old, neutered male who is fun to be with.  He doesn't eat much, just an occasional cork or two (which you feed through his mouth), he never wines, and rarely needs to go out.  What better companion could one ask for.  Peace! 

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