Category Archives: Travel

Elk Horn, Iowa & the Danish Windmill

On my trip to Omaha this last summer we had a chance to swing through Elk Horn, IA. There is a Danish Windmill there. While we were too early to tour it I got some good pictures. My Grandma is Danish and proud of it so it was nice to be able to tell her that we visited.

Elk Horn Windmill 2

Elk Horn Windmill 1

There is also a Danish sister village called Kimballton. They have a copy of the Mermaid that is in Copenhagen. I got a picture with that as well.

Mermaid Fountain Kimballton Iowa

After we looked around Elk Horn and Kimballton we took the state highway versus the interstate. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon drive. We ended up eating in Grinnell, IA – it seemed like a nice college town. Some people give Iowa a hard time but I found it to be a beautiful drive with a lot of interesting things to look at.


Zesto Pierre, SD

In 2013 on my trip to South Dakota with my girlfriend we were walking around Pierre, SD we stopped to eat at what I thought was a local little ice cream place called Zesto. (“Zesto is the Besto!”)

But when I was in Omaha this year I was surprised to see another Zesto. After some research on Wikipedia it looks like there are a few of them around but they are independently owned.

Zesto in Omaha

The word Zesto sounds bit like a medication or a 50’s cleaning product that you would hear on old time radio. Keep your eyes open – you never know what you will see when you are out and about.

Zesto Wikipedia page

The small town of Beaver, IA

Beaver Iowa is a small town off of Highway 30 in Iowa. It is pretty unremarkable to most but it holds some interest to me as my Grandma’s Uncle Morris used to own a tavern there. My grandma remembers piling in the car in the early morning in Menominee MI as a young girl. They would drive all day and get to Beaver. Her uncle let her have all the soda and candy she wanted. She has fond memories of these times. From what I gather he is buried in Ames, IA.

So when I was headed to Omaha this last summer I detoured through to see what was there. And besides the post office and grain elevator there wasn’t a whole lot going on. But the buildings my uncle used to own are still standing (kind of). He also owned the old bank building and I am told he used the vault as a closet. I took some pictures of them. The roofs have collapsed but I took some pictures from the sidewalk.

A few pictures

Beaver IA 1

Downtown Beaver

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Bumper Pool table at Buddha's Still in De Pere

Bumper Pool table at Buddha’s Still in De Pere

When my brother graduated from De Pere this past May my family was up the night before to save a drive in the morning. Naturally we headed out to see the nightlife when we stumbled upon this blast from the past in Buddha’s Still. It was my first time playing bumper pool and if I remember correctly I lost every single game I played.

Have you ever played bumper pool? Do any bars that you have been to offer unusual games?

45×90 Club

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 45x90 point in Poniatowski, WI

The informational Marker at the 45×90 point in Poniatowski, WI

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Nevada, IA

“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

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

Wisconsin Rest Stop

Devil’s Lake State Park

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.

Devil's Lake in Early April

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.

A Simple yet Memorable Decoration

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.

100_3636Delafield 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.

100_3639 100_3640

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.