Visiting Local

Why is it that we don’t visit the sites that are almost in our own backyard?  I wonder how many Parisians have not made the time to tour Versailles?  Have lots of Berliners walked through the Brandenburg Gate?  How many New Yorkers have never been out to the Statue of Liberty?  Have people in Los Angeles gone up the hill to enjoy the view from the Griffith Observatory?  Do San Antonians know how to find their way to the Alamo?

I’m just as guilty as the next person, to be honest.  But when we visit others, we discover it’s not an unusual phenomenon to wait until someone comes from a distance to show them around–and get the benefit of seeing something for the first time themselves.  That’s how we got to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, where we walked across the river, barefoot.  Flowing out of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it was a mere stream, probably 8 to 10 feet across, and only shin-deep.  Without a visit to friends close to the lake, we probably would not have traveled the nine hours to get there.  A rare treat.

So, when a friend came recently for a week’s visit, we took special care to show her some of the attractions close by.  Yes, we could have done Chicago, or even Milwaukee, but she’s seen those places pretty thoroughly already.  When I really put my mind to it, I discovered plenty of interesting places within an hour or so of home.  I roped a local friend into exploring a few with me beforehand.  She frequently says to me, “So, when’s the next Adventure?”  Always a willing companion, when my spouse is busy or prefers other activities.

We did Olbrich Gardens ( in Madison, a gem of 7 acres maintained by a horde of volunteers and gardeners.  Very walkable, plus, a tram to give a comfortable overview.  Milton House, in Milton, was a confirmed stop on the Underground Railroad, and we got to walk through the tunnel (excavated taller so we didn’t have to crawl), and tour the hotel above it.  The art show and the 4-H deep fried cheese curds outside were an added bonus!  We traipsed around Old World Wisconsin in Eagle (, a collection of ethnic farmsteads and tiny villages collected and moved to a lovely locale.  It even boasted a female blacksmith while we were there.  Another tram made getting around easy.

I found out that California, which considers itself heavy on the dairy industry, can’t hold a candle to us, because we have cheese curds–both fresh & squeaky, and deep-fried–and they don’t.  But the real jewel in our crown, according to our guest, is Culver’s.  She perused the month’s offerings and found, for the week she was here, three–yes, count ‘em–three frozen custards to try!  In addition to those, we went for lunch, to make sure she could try the Butterburgers.  Pronounced delish!  Also, we have yellow beans, which she’d not had.  Well, okay, she is from Los Angeles…which I really don’t consider California at all.  It’s an entity unto itself.

Though we didn’t get to cruise on Geneva Lake while she was here, four of us went down recently and rode the mail boat (  A “jumper” leaps to the dock as the mailboat slows, not stops, runs to the mailbox and stuffs the plastic-wrapped mail in, dashes back in time to catch the aft of the boat in a grand vault.  Only, she didn’t.  Catch the boat, that is.  She slipped on the dock, and sailed gracefully into the drink!  We circled back and picked her up, her feeling a bit chagrined.  We gave her an ovation anyway.  The best delivery, however, found a golden retriever waiting at the end of the dock.  The jumper gave the rolled mail to him and he trotted back up to the lawn, tail wagging madly, where his owner waited.  The last stop found us meeting…Santa!  Shhh!  He doesn’t want people knowing he reverts to shorts and spends the summer in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  We promised not to tell anyone…so, please don’t pass this on.  😊

The more I look for places to explore, the more I find.  If we don’t get visitors for a while, I guess I’ll just have to grab my local friend and ask, “Are you ready for another Adventure?”

You go ahead too.  No matter where you live, get to those places you’ve told yourself you’d visit…someday.  You don’t have to wait until someone visits from out of town!