The ground was wet from the morning’s April showers. My shoes were slipping in the muddy cornfield. Looking around I didn’t see much – the drive here put me further north than I had been in a while. I took another glance at the GPS – We were getting close.
One early spring day as I gazed at a map of my fair state in the comfort of my apartment I noticed two lines crossing at a point west and north of Wausau near a town called Poniatowski. It was the 45º north line and the 90° west line. “I wonder if there is anything there?” I thought to myself.
A quick Google search planted the seeds for the adventure to come. Not only was there something there but going there entitled you to become a part of the 45×90 Club. This was going to happen.
A visit to my girlfriend’s in Stevens Point was the perfect jumping off point and also provided a fellow adventurer. (Adventures are generally more fun with company). We left on an overcast morning. We hit a few patches of rain on the drive north but it stopped by the time we pulled into the small lot with the information board and ceremonial marker.
The informational Marker at the 45×90 point in Poniatowski, WI
“26th best small town in America”
Just off of Highway 30 in Iowa is the small town of Nevada. I had to read what they put on their sign twice. It says “26th best small town in America”. I can see if you were in the top 10 or something it might make sense but at what point do you say to yourself “We should probably find something else to put on our sign”.
I filled up in town and my Dad and I had lunch at Quirks. It was filling and good. The service was friendly and prompt. The bar level seemed really high, but the stools didn’t match the height. That was the only negative for me.
It seemed like they have a historic downtown. It was daytime but I didn’t see the neon lights usually associated with the other Nevada. According to the Wikipedia page the name is pronounced differently than the state.
Have you ever been to Nevada, IA? What is the strangest thing you have seen a town put on their welcome sign?
Highway rest stops are unique places.
Highway rest stops are not a destination. Nobody sets out to go picnic at a rest stop.
Highway rest stops are a stopping point. A harbor, a wayside on the road.They are a place to rest.
You are not required to buy anything to use the bathroom. You can stay as long as you like. Take a nap, walk the dog, stretch your legs.
The cars on the highway are whizzing by just a hundred feet away. But here it is calm. Things are slow. You move at a more natural pace.
Yes, you still have a ways to go, but, for now, you rest.
Wisconsin Rest Stop
Early in April I stopped off at Devil’s Lake State Park near Baraboo, WI on the way to my family cabin. Usually when I go to Devil’s Lake it is extremely crowded. But that isn’t the case when the lake is still frozen, apparently.
Nobody on the beach at Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake is a jewel in the state park system. It has very unique geography. The hiking is amazing and the views are superb. I have fond memories of visiting when I was a kid. It is just such a different geography. The fallen rocks are wonderful and very fun to scramble over.
Fallen Rocks at Devil’s Lake State Park
The lake is the focal point of the park. No motor boats are allowed. It is very calm, peaceful and serene. There are about 4 or 5 private houses on the lake but the rest of the shoreline is the part of the state park. I have never seen it frozen before.
View from the west bluff of Devil’s Lake in Early April, 2014
I hiked up the west hill. The weather was sunny and a little on the cool side. I huffed and puffed to the top, first taking off my jacket and then my sweatshirt. I had to take a few water breaks and catch my breath. The view was worth it, though.
Even though it was rather cool the park was teeming with life. I passed many people hiking and I saw a few groups rock climbing (with some pretty serious gear, too).
I bought a Wisconsin State Park pass. It was $25 and a day pass is $7. I have to stop at state parks 3 more times for this to pay off. I don’t see this being a problem; I am looking forward to getting outdoors more after a long, cold winter.
You can learn more about the park at the DNR site and on Wikipedia.
When I was in Delafield I saw this house and I had to take a picture.
The decoration above the doorway looks like a sun to me. It probably didn’t cost a ton of money to put it on there but it stands out and is memorable. It also sets the tone when you are walking up to the house.
The sun thing also reminded me of Szeged, Hungary aka the City of Sunshine. I visited Szeged on my semester abroad in 2011. A random connection but sometimes it is the little things that trigger memories.
I had the chance to walk around Delafield for an hour last weekend. I learned a little bit about it and thought I would share.
Delafield was home to a state fish hatchery which is a pretty cool looking building. The building itself is actually a community center and the old grounds are a nature area and park.
Another point of interest was Hawks Inn which is now a historical museum. It was closed but I walked around the grounds a bit. It isn’t in it’s original location but it used to be an inn, post office and a center of life for early Delafield.
Delafield was founded in 1837, well before Wisconsin became a state in 1848. It was a stop on the Milwaukee to Madison stage coach line. The downtown buildings are built to look old and there are a lot of stop signs to keep people from speeding through town. It seemed like a pretty lively place when I was there. I thought it was a pretty interesting place and it is situated fairly close to the greater Milwaukee area. Not a place I would personally want to live but I can see that Delafield has it’s charms.
South Dakota Fatality Marker
I recently had the opportunity to take a road trip to South Dakota. It was different from Wisconsin, and I am glad I went. One of the things that has stuck with me was the roadside fatality markers. These are locations where people died. The state has been marking them since 1979. More info from the state can be found here: Why Die Sign Info
It is kind of eerie. Someone died here while driving. A life (or sometimes multiple lives) ended here. This could happen to you. It is an interesting idea; I like it. It helped me keep perspective. It could all end in an instant.
Some other observations from a transportation perspective were the higher speed limits and the use of double trailers on semi trucks. The interstate speed limit in South Dakota was 75, in Wisconsin it is 65. The state highways were generally 65 in South Dakota; here they are 55. When I drove across the border from South Dakota into Minnesota all I could think about was how slow 55 felt. The semi trucks almost all had 2 trailers, with the second one many times being smaller than the first. I think this is a good use of resources. They have a lot of product to move (hay bales EVERYWHERE) and a small labor force. The roads are also not very crowded.
I like traveling because it never fails to give me something new to think about.