Three Days in Wisconsin
(Finding Some Unusual Things!!)
August 3-6, 2012
Day 1 - Beef, Cheese, Mustard and a Grumpy Troll
by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz
Aug 3, 2012: It was a rare occasion, an opportunity to take a vacation. My daughter Chelsea wanted a road trip...she wanted her daughter Autumn to experience a "Grampz Style" road trip. So, on this long weekend in August, the three of us hopped in the Town Car and embarked on a trip to Wisconsin. The goal of the trip was to hit some of south central Wisconsin, see some "roadside attractions" and then drive to Green Bay and up the Door County Peninsula and then back to Lexington. We drove on Friday evening to cut off some of the long drive to Wisconsin, with an overnight stay in Avon, Indiana. Following is the map of our trip. Following is a map of our trip from Lexington to Wisconsin and back.
General map of our 4 day trip - Lexington; Avon, IN; Covington, IN; Champaign, IL; Middleton, WI;
Marshfield, Medford, Tomahawk, Rhinelander, Seymour, Green Bay, Egg Harbor, Gibraltor and then to Hebron, IN
Aug 4, 2012: A quick night's rest in Avon and then on the road to Wisconsin. Along the way we made a few stops. For fun, I was wearing a "Wear's the Beef?" t-shirt that Chelsea had given me from Wendy's. I had planned to do this for a stop later in the day, but it worked out really well for our first stop, which we just so happened to see off of the freeway, near Covington, IN. There is a place called the Beef House Restaurant, which is apparently famous for its yeast rolls. We were way too early to eat there, but I could not resist getting a photo with the sign!!
I think I found the beef!!
After the quick photo-op stop in Covington, we headed west towards the first scheduled stop -- to see the large Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Noodle statue in Champaign, IL. Yes, this is a Wisconsin trip so we needed some cheesiness, and we got it first in Illinois!! Though a novelty roadside attraction for someone like me, this is actually part of a serious advertising campaign begun by Kraft Foods in 2010. These 20 foot long, 9 foot tall Noodle replicas have been placed in landmark areas such as Fisherman's Wharf and Wrigley Field. They also have one at their plant in Champaign, IL. Once we found the location, we noticed we could drive into the employee parking lot and walk right up to the noodle to get photos. Now that makes for a Beefy Mac and Cheese (with my where's the beef shirt!!). Here are a couple of pix:
Kraft's "You know you love it." giant noodle statue. Map to this location is below.
Kraft Factory in Champaign, IL
While in Champaign we decided to make a stop at the Curtis Orchard. My main reason was because of the huge Indian Statue (see below), but as we got there, we found a number of other treasures. The orchard has pretty much turned the place into a Wizard of Oz themed attraction, including a Flying Monkey Cafe!! We stopped for photos, some apple cider and other goodies and even followed the Yellow Brick Road!!
Chelsea and Autumn enjoy the Giant Rocking chair and find their way on the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchard in Champaign, IL
The Indian Archer, aka The Chief, was originally located in Danville, IL. The 17 foot tall copper statue was built
in 1949 for Herb Drew's Plumbing and Heating. When the business closed in 1994, the owner's grandson
moved the Indian to the Curtis Orchard. Apparently, the statue represents Kesis, a famous Kickapoo Indian from Illinois.
The photo on the right is a large silo with a representation of the tin man...appropriate.
This is painted on a barn door (notice the lock in the middle. I am in the picture to provide a size comparison.
Well, we have had the beef, the cheese and some fruit....time for some Mustard!! From Champaign, we headed north towards Wisconsin to get to the famous Mustard Museum. However, along the way, we ran into another unexpected treat...another of the many Wind Farms that I have come across in my travels. This one is called the Twin Groves Wind Farm. The Wind Farm features over 240 turbines across 22,000 acres of land. It generates over 396 megawatts, enough to meet the energy needs of about 120,000 homes. In my travels I have seen these in California, Kansas, Ontario, Montana, Illinois, North Dakota and more. They are always fascinating. I really love a couple of the shots I got of these because of the mingling with the corn fields of Illinois. Autumn and Chelsea were stunned by the size of these towering wind turbines.
A few of the over 240 Turbines in the Twin Groves Wind Farm
Onward north up Interstate 39 out of Normal, IL towards Madison, WI, we made our into Middleton, which is situated northwest of Madison on the Beltline. Originally built and housed in Mt. Horeb, WI (see my original writeup on a visit there here), the National Mustard Museum has moved to much bigger digs in Middleton. There they now have a nice two story facility with everything you ever wanted to learn about Mustard, but were afraid to ask...or taste. According to the official Mustard Museum website, the National Mustard Museum began as the “Mount Horeb Mustard Museum” when its founder & curator, Barry Levenson, started collecting mustards on October 27, 1986. The story of the Mustard Museum traces its roots to a late night visit to an all-night grocery when Barry heard a deep, resonant voice as he passed the mustards: “If you collect us, they will come.” Currently the National Mustard Museum houses over 5400 varieties of Mustard from around the world as well as hundreds of pieces of Mustard Memorabilia. Also, the place offers degrees from Poupon U. I now have three degrees from there (snicker). Ironically, we so happened to arrive on National Mustard Day!! What a kick!
National Mustard Museum -- Founder Barry Levenson on the left along with his fancy glitter headed employee.
Barry's mustard inspired art work "The First 27 Virtues of Mustard". Barry studied under Professor Elbert Culpepper at the new
museum of Crappy Art in Flushinghard, VA.
A couple of the 1000s of varieties available for sale.
I think this is the only Mustard Vending Machine anywhere...and, if you like bacon, you can also get your fix a the NMM.
Mustard displays aplenty...the one on the left is to show the variety of containers available.
On the right are varieties produced in every state in the US.
Welcome to Poupon U...you can actually get a diploma while there. The diploma above is the MBA degree.
There is an official "Poupon U dumping station" -- I made a donation!!
The restrooms feature "Plochman's Mustard Bottle" Soap Dispensers
After being mustarded away, we were back on the road meandering our way towards Mt. Horeb. Chelsea was excited about Mt. Horeb due to its famed troll statues. Indeed, the main attraction for the town are the trolls. The town has created a "Trollway" along Highway 151 with many large carved wooden trolls visible from the road. Many of these were created by local artist Michael Feeney. We found a few on our visit.... Click here for a nice map of the town, with all of the trolls and other attractions.
Welcome sign. This scrap metal dragon on the right was created by Wally Keller, a nearby resident.
I visited his menagerie a number of years ago near Vermont, WI. See my link at http://www.sumoflam.biz/WashJournal.htm
Open House Imports is full of troll goodies...Moonhill Mercantile has a cool looking sign
These three trolls reside at Open House Imports
Some of the trolls of Mt. Horeb - A small troll from the shop; a new one in town; "Sweet Swill"; another nameless one
Two views of the "Peddler Troll"
We finished off our visit and pretty much our day by grabbing some grub at the "Grumpy Troll", a local pub, brewery and dining establishment.
'Nuff said...and shown!!
Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 2: Jurustic Park, Chain Saw Totem Forest, Hodag and a giant badger
Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 3: Green Bay, Lambeau Field and Door County Peninsula
Some roadside guidance provided by......
See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals
Visit Sumoflam's "Less Beaten Paths" blog for more interesting places