America’s Dairyland

If you’ve followed my travel blog since our journeys began on September 1, 2017, you problaby know about our basic travel plan.  We want to stay in moderate temperatures year round which means we go south in the winter and north in the summer.  Some times the best plans get waylaid by Mother Nature.

We were in Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri, for about a month (beginning of May through mid-June) checking on our parents and visiting with other family.  Mother Nature saw fit to bless us with some pretty warm temperatures during part of that time.  St. Louis had one of the warmest Mays/beginning of Junes on record.  By the time we pulled out of there on June 13th, highs had been in the upper 90s with the usual high humidity for which Missouri is famous.  Needless to say, 95+ degree weather with high humidity is pretty hard on the air conditioning unit of any RV!

On June 13th we headed north on I 55 towards “America’s Dairyland.” Some people call it the Cheese Capital of the World:  Wisconsin.  We made an overnight stop at the small town of Secor, Illinois.  We stayed at Hickory Hill Campground about 4 miles west of I 55 and El Paso, Illinois.  The campground was quite nice and the people very friendly.

While traveling to north on 55 and using the GPS on my smartphone, I discovered that Secor wasn’t too far from Peoria, Illinois.  Jack has some family in that area, so I sent them a private message through Facebook to see how far away they were from our campground.  They live in Washington, Illinois, which was only about 25 miles west of where we were staying! We traveled over to see them that evening and had a truly wonderful visit!

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Jack and his cousin, Juanita.

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Jack’s cousin, Alma (left), and second cousin, Carolyn Ann (right).

The next day we got up early to head to Madison, Wisconsin, where we had a scheduled maintenance appointment at Camping World of Madison.  We had some  general maintenance done along with a few minor repairs which took most of the afternoon, but that was okay because our next destination was only a few miles north in DeForest, Wisconsin.

We stayed a week at the KOA in DeForest (it goes by the name “Madison KOA” though, so don’t let that confuse you).  This KOA campground is one of the nicest ones in which we’ve stayed (they are all pretty nice, but this one was unique and the people were exceptionally friendly). It was a good thing we didn’t have a full “agenda” of activities planned during this week because it rained A LOT!  You may have seen on the news about all the flooding that was going on up here.  That was fine, though, because the temperatures were 15-20 degrees cooler than it had been in St. Louis (with the exception of a couple of days).

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The Madison KOA office and store building (not a very good picture, though).

When traveling in Wisconsin, you will frequently see these big signs along the highway that just say “CHEESE.”  There was this wonderful cheese store just outside the entrance to the KOA campground called Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet.  I love cheese.  Jack, however, doesn’t care for it, although he eats it on some things like pizza, nachos, and grilled cheese sandwiches (go figure!).  One day Jack took a nap in the lawn chair outside, and I went to the cheese store.

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This place had SO many kinds of cheese (along with some typical tourist-y items), and they will give you a small taste of anything you want to try.  I tasted several.  I even tried chocolate cheese fudge. It is real cheese with coco and some kind of sugar and it tastes JUST LIKE fudge!  I kid you not.  I didn’t believe it either, but it’s true.  I asked how you would serve it, and they suggested melting it and dipping graham crackers pieces in it or using it in a fondu.  Those both sounded delicious.  I ended up buying some smoked Gouda cheese and some brick cheese.  I wish I had bought some more – especially some of the chocolate fudge one.  I’m sure I’ll be passing MANY more cheese stores while we are up here in Wisconsin.

We did finally get some fairly nice weather one day, so we headed to Wisconsin Dells which was about a 45 minute drive.  We’ve heard a lot about this area over the years and wanted to visit.  It’s a lot like Branson, MO, but on a smaller scale.  One thing that is NOT on a smaller scale is the water slide parks.  Oh.Em.Gee!!!  There are more water slide parks here than anywhere!  Since we didn’t have any “kids” with us, we didn’t go to any of the water parks, but we did drive around and look at them.

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These last three pictures of water parks were taken later in the afternoon when it was beginning to rain.  You can see the raindrops on the window of our car.

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The city of Wisconsin Dells is on the Wisconsin River about an hour northwest of Madison.  The Main Street of the town is your typical tourist shops, live shows, arcades, and many “boat tour” businesses.  Here are a few pictures of the main street of downtown Wisconsin Dells.

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A little construction on Main Street.

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We wanted to take one of the boat tours, but since we had our dog, Zoey, with us, we weren’t sure if they would allow her on the boat.  The first place we stopped at said they allowed small dogs on leashes, so we paid for our boat cruise to the upper dells on the Wisconsin river.

This upper dells cruise is two hours and makes two shorelandings at points of interest where you can get off the boat and explore the natural sandstone rock formations.  Our boat was the General Bailey piloted by Captain Bob, and our tour guide was Erin.   Erin was a very good guide and gave a lot of information about the history of the river and area.  She pointed out many of the sandstone formations and what they were name (too many to remember all of them).  It was a very beautiful, relaxing cruise along the river, and the sandstone formations were incredible!

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This one was named after an important, local Native American. I wish I could remember what it’s called.

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The first stop was an awesome journey through the hidden passages of Witches Gulch.  We had no idea what to expect, but the sandstone gulch did not disappoint us.  It was gorgeous!

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The second stop was at Stand Rock where we watched the famous jump by a beautiful German Shepard.  The original jump was made by photographer H. H. Bennett’s son, Ashley.  Bennett had created a new shutter that was able to take clear pictures of moving subjects.  He wanted to prove that this new shutter worked, so he  climbed one rock formation and had his son climb Stand Rock.  His son leaped across Stand Rock not once, but seventeen times, so his dad could get the photo of him in the exact center between the two rock formations.  The views of the Wisconsin River were beautiful from this stop also.

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When we left Witches Gulch, we crossed one of the widest parts of the Wisconsin River to get to Stand Rock. This part of the river is very close to one mile wide!

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Original jump by H. H. Bennett’s son, Ashley, in 1886. The distance between the two rock formations looks greater in this photo, but I’m sure it’s not. Perhaps all the forest growth now around Stand Rock makes the distance seem closer.

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After Stand Rock we headed back down river to try to beat the next rain storm back to the dock. We barely made it in time! The Upper Wisconsin Dells boat tour was really an informative, beautiful cruise where we learned a lot about the history of the river and area. It was well worth the money.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peggy Hines
    Jun 26, 2018 @ 02:09:35

    Such beautiful pictures, Betty! It sounds and looks like the boat tour truly showed the awesomeness of God’s creative sculpting. Much love to you, Jack & Zoey. 💕

    Reply

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