Wisconsin

My Second Home

 

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For me, trees and water have always been a part of my soul.  The mountains, although glorious with their regal peaks and lush valleys, made me feel something completely different – almost as if being in the mountains sparked one side of my brain while old oak trees with outstretched branches and warm, running water tapped into another part of my brain.  Both places I consider home, but in different ways.

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I spent my first week back in the midwest rediscovering some of my favorite places.  The first, High Cliff State Park.  This park is the first place I camped, the first area where I scaled abandoned quarry walls, and the first place I can remember getting lost staring at sunsets over this lake. Two of my closest friends got married here and my (girl) soul mate and I swam under the stars here.  High Cliff and I go way back.

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Next, a few pals and I walked around downtown.  This is an area of town that is always changing, always buzzing.  There are many small gift shops, bakeries, restaurants, bars, and even a record store.  It’s an area that is the perfect size – it offers enough change so you don’t get bored but still host regular items so you know what to expect.

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And I of course had to walk around a park along the Fox River.  There is a magnificent dock at Lutz Park where families come to try their luck at catching Sunfish or Perch.  There were also many baby birds waddling about and trying to keep up with their parents as they swam from island to island.

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It’s a wonderful place to kick back and take in the sights and sounds of local wildlife.

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Even though I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything, sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here anymore – I simply just grew up here.  I’ll ask myself, “What am I doing?” and fear of the unknown sets in.  But then I remind myself that life always has a funny way of making everything make sense eventually.  No matter how dim things seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  At the end of the day, home is what I make it out to be.  Maybe I haven’t discovered where my physical home is yet, but Wisconsin will always be my “Second Home,” no matter where I end up.

The 90’s, Butter and Loved Ones

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I recently returned home to help my mom out with a few things around the house.  We went shopping, picked out paint colors and re-organized.  I couldn’t believe how much stuff I still had in her basement – items I hadn’t thought about in years.  It was time to do some extensive Spring cleaning.

As I sorted through old Lego sets, Nintendo video games and scuffed rollerblades, I found my extensive collection of Beanie Babies.  Do you remember that craze throughout the late 90’s?  My grandmother was the biggest culprit out of all of us.  She would research each toy and even had each store’s delivery schedule memorized.  We would hunt for these little guys every week.  It gave us something to do and I really enjoyed spending time with my grandma as a young girl.

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I made sure Cool Moses watched the flock while I attended to other things.

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…like delicious Wisconsin food.  There are many Wisconsin foods I crave the second I leave the state:  Perch and Walleye Fish Fry, Cheese Curds, Broasted Chicken and of course, Butterburgers.  Butterburgers are exactly as they sound, charbroiled burgers dripping with fresh, sweet Wisconsin butter.  Paula Deen might even blush at these babies.

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The way I figure, if you’re going to have a burger, you’d better have the best darn burger your tastebuds can handle.  And butterburgers do the trick for me!

Wisconsinites not only love their butter, sports and their cheese, but they love their beer too.  And these beers needed tending to as well.

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If you couldn’t tell already, New Glarus is one of my favorite Wisconsin breweries.  I made sure to sample a a handful of these during my stay.  My friend Meg also introduced me to Ciderboys’ Cinnamon Cider, also local to Wisconsin.  Dee-licious!

Of course, I shared in my wealth of beer with friends.

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These are two of my oldest friends, Meg and Amanda.  I’ve known them since my mom and I first moved to Wisconsin.  Meg and I used to play in a field outside and pretend we were part of Tarzan’s crew.  Amanda I met a bit later, during our boy band phase.  We’ve all been friends ever since.

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This is my mother.  Isn’t she beautiful?   She is starting down a new path in her life.  She is the bravest woman I have ever met.  I know that she will shine and grow more than she believes she will.

Wisconsin is filled with all sorts of wonderful food, beer and culture, but it’s my friends and family that I miss the most.  It’s always bittersweet leaving Wisconsin to go back to Colorado.  Although my life is in Colorado now, Wisconsin still has my heart.

If you’ve moved away from your hometown, what do you miss the most?

 

Beer, Cheese and The Pack

Greetings faithful friends,

Long time no chat!  I recently flew into Wisconsin to visit family and they haven’t let go of me since I landed.  This is the first chance I’ve had to get away and write to you all.  So, hello!  What’s new with you?

My hometown of 73,000 people was a great place to grow up and actually has a surprising amount of history.  A few fun facts about Appleton, WI:

  • This is where Harry Houdini (the magician) grew up
  • Actor Willem Dafoe graduated from my high school
  • Maury Laws is from Appleton and was music director for many Hollywood films, such as The Hobbit and Frosty the Snowman
  • Appleton’s Lawrence University is the second oldest co-ed college in the nation
  • Appleton had the first electric cable car and the first hotel with all electric lighting
  • Mark Stewart, lead guitarist and cellist for Paul Simon, grew up in Appleton

There, don’t you feel a little bit wiser now?  Most people connect Wisconsin with beer, cheese and the Packers, and those people are absolutely correct.  People really do bleed green and gold around these parts.  There is strong sense of community here too – neighbors looking out for one another, block parties, and nobody leaves anyone’s house hungry… ever.  I’d imagine these are typical characteristics of any upper midwestern area.  It’s something you definitely do not see as often in Colorado.

Outside of spending time with my family, I plan to gorge on fresh lake perch and walleye and cheese curds while I can.  You don’t see much of these things beyond state lines.  Don’t worry, I’ll eat extra for you too.  I’m willing to make that sacrifice.  Mmm…

I was surprised to drive by a food truck the other day.  A food truck, in Wisconsin?  Who wuddathunkit?  I can’t WAIT to try out their food – their menu looks spectacular.  This is their website:  http://kangaroostaurant.com/

Just a quick update for ya’all.  I hope to get back to posting recipes again very soon.

Take care!

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