Bob and Phyllis ‘get away from it all’

Bob and Phyllis 'get away from it all' by Bob Karolevitz This is a travelogue!

It's a report of our journey to the Duluth area and Door County, WI, to see the fall colors � and "to get away from it all."

We saw the trees all right, but we also saw � and dodged � seemingly millions of automobiles. Why doesn't everybody stay at home?

No question about it; this is really the Dot.Car Age � and we were guilty of congesting the highways, too. But we went, and here are some highlights of our trip.

I'll probably get frowned upon for this statement, but in my humble opinion Door County is over-rated, even though Phyllis says it looks like New England. We visited the towns of Egg Harbor, Fish Creek and Institute, but so did thousands of others who wanted "to get away from it all."

It was festival time on the tiny peninsula, of course, so that had a lot to do with it. After a day, we escaped to a beach motel at Algoma � and woke up to a dense fog so we couldn't even see Lake Michigan.

At Green Bay (we'd been to Lambeau Field before, so we skipped it this time) we took in the National Railroad Museum instead. We saw the Eisenhower train and lots of old-time locomotives; but wouldn't you know, it was Kids' Day with lots of noisy youngsters. We were not dismayed, however, as we rode the Pumpkin Train with screaming tots and their parents.

(I didn't enter the coloring contest, by the way.)

Earlier, on the north shore drive from Duluth we saw more trees and a couple of light houses still standing guard over the rocks of Lake Superior. Near Two Harbors we watched the captain of the 800-foot iron ore vessel � the Edgar B. Speer � ease the long ship into a berth at the huge loading dock like he'd done it before. Shucks, I even have trouble putting the car into our garage.

I learned that the iron ore is processed Taconite, and later I was introduced to lead and zinc mining. As a result, I'm well on my way to a degree in metallurgy!

In our meandering across Wisconsin, we avoided the interstates, which were full of trucks and people "getting away from it all." We bought lots of cheese, of course, but no Cheesehead hats.

At the Swiss town of New Glarus � which is sort of like Leavenworth, WA, we ran into another festival, so we skedaddled out of there, eventually winding up in Platteville which, we discovered, was in the heart of the old lead-mining district.

There I was introduced to an ethnic dessert called figgy hobbin. Earlier I had a pasty (rhymes with nasty), which was the national dish of Cornish miners who toiled underground throughout the region.

(Phyllis, incidentally, is not gastronomically curious so she stuck with menu items she knew.)

We tried to cross the Mississippi at Cassville, but the ferry wasn't running that day. Instead, we went to Prairie du Chien for our entry into Iowa on a bridge. We ended up in Waverly where the motel features the Abe Downing Room.

(In case you didn't know, Abe Downing was a champion harness racing trotter and was buried nearby when he died in 1891.)

Other memorable highlights of our trip included getting "lost" at Fort Atkinson, WI, where there were detours all over the place. Besides that, we got there after dark, and it was raining. We stopped at wineries along the way; stayed at Fitgers a renovated brewery in Duluth; and to see more autumn foliage � we traveled for a ways in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Oh, lest I forget, we started out in Northfield, MN, where we drove through the campuses of St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, I told Phyllis that I once played basketball for the State College Jackrabbits at the latter institution � but she wasn't listening. She was more interested in the labyrinthian lunch spot under the Archer House in that two-college town.

Suffice to say, it was fun to go, but it was good to get home again.

© 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz

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