On the road in Wisconsin
Happy discoveries: art pottery, burgers, bike trails and lighthouses.
© Beth Gauper
The Brew City Queen II leaves the Lakefront Brewery and heads for the next stop on its weekend brewery tour.
On a trip to Milwaukee this month, I found that nothing stays the same — except the things people can’t do without.
In Lake Mills, just off I-94 east of Madison, I was surprised to see Ephraim Faience Pottery in a newly restored 1890s cream-brick building on Water Street. I’d been coveting its graceful, handmade Arts and Crafts pieces for many years but was resigned to simply admiring the shelves of vases and pitchers until I saw that I could buy one at half price.
So, thanks to a barely discernible bottom crease, I got my very own Heartland vase for $144. Seconds and irregulars are
available only at the Lake Mills gallery.
“I buy bottom cracks all the time,’’ said manager Barbara Voss. “That way, I don’t have to feel so bad if the cat does cream it.’’
The studio makes only 500 of each piece, then retires it. A collectors society formed in 2007 and has an office across the street.
“Ever since my 401K went south, I’m putting the same amount into this, because I know I can recoup it,’’ Voss said.
I got another bargain around the corner, where the local American Legion post has been grilling sliders every Friday since 1950. A crowd had gathered in front of the narrow storefront, so I stood in line to order a $2 cheeseburger “with,’’ and when my paper bag appeared on the counter, I took it to a park bench across the street.
It was a juicy piece of beef on a plump bun, covered with grilled onions. “Mmm, it’s not that greasy,’’ said the woman on the next bench. No, just greasy enough.
Another new business shares the block with Ephraim Pottery — 2shores Classic Cars, founded in Germany in 2006. Every other Sunday
between April and October, it opens its showroom, which is full of classic Alfa Romeos, Triumphs and Porsches, between 8 and
10 a.m. for Cars and Coffee. Pastries are supplied by the gallery/shop Sweet Lips.
Lake Mills also has a new wine-tasting bar and a bakery, which make nice complements to the Tyranena beers that are brewed in
Lake Mills. And of course, the 52-mile Glacial Drumlin State Trail goes through town. For more, see Riding the Glacial Drumlin.
On to Milwaukee
© Beth Gauper
A customer waits for a slider at the American Legion post in Lake Mills.
For a town that puts on massive festivals all summer, Milwaukee is amazingly low-key and easy to navigate. Once again, I stayed at Marquette University’s Straz Tower on the edge of downtown and used my bike to cruise around.
Across from Maier Festival Park, where Festa Italiana will be held this weekend, I rode through the new Lakeshore State Park, where you can camp if you've got your own
boat. The white 1926 Breakwater Light sits at the harbor entrance, and it was a short ride to the 1907 cylindrical red
Pierhead Lighthouse on what technically is the Hank
Aaron State Trail.
Riding the Oak Leaf Trail on the bluff over newly spiffed-up Bradford Beach, I passed the recently restored 1887 North Point Lighthouse; it’s now open Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Who
knew Milwaukee had so many classic lighthouses?
The Oak Leaf Trail, which has 48 miles of paved off-road paths, 31 miles of parkway drives and 27 miles of connecting streets, circles the city on parkways, following Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Root rivers.On the west bluff of the Milwaukee River north of downtown, I rode through the new Kilbourn Reservoir Park, created after the removal of a 135-year-old underground reservoir. It has a great view of downtown.
I crossed the Milwaukee River on the Marsupial Bridge, a pedestrian/biking bridge that hangs from the Holton Street Viaduct like a baby kangaroo. It connects the Lakefront Brewery and Beerline B neighborhood to Brady Street and the Riverwalk.
On the Riverwalk downtown, I paid a visit to the newly installed Bronze Fonz, a tribute to the beloved greaser of the 1970s TV series “Happy Days,’’ set in Milwaukee.
© Beth Gauper
Riding along Lake Michigan from the Pierhead Light to the new Lakeshore State Park.
Many beer fans were combining the tour with the weekend
pontoon-boat brewery tours on the Brew City Queen and Milwaukee Maiden, which also stop at the Milwaukee Ale House and
Rock Bottom Brewery on four-hour tours.
I'm guessing eating frozen custard is a close second to drinking beer in Milwaukee. On July 9, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel asked readers to weigh in on Wisconsin's best frozen custard and drew many passionate responses. The favorites appear to be Leon's Drive-In, at 3131 S. 27th St. near Jackson Park, and Kopp's, which has several locations.
Saving some bucks
As usual, the Straz Tower was virtually deserted. Apparently, not many people are interested in paying only $45 ($62 for two)
for a clean, modern dorm room with private bath, a panoramic view of the city and big elevators to transport bikes. It sure
works for me, though.
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