Day 01: Going Up North

And so it began, our foray into the Great White North of Canada.  But before we can get there, we are dipping our toe into a mysterious place called “Up North.”

You see, since we’ve adopted Wisconsin as our home state, we’ve come to find that whenever Wisconsinites go away for the weekend they say they are going Up North.  It sounds ever so mysterious, this vast land known as Up North.  From what we can determine, if you are going anywhere south between Madison and Milwaukee you aren’t there.  Everywhere else, however, is… Up North.

So today was the day that we were officially going Up North.  As such, we were on the road by 8:45am, right after sitting in the driveway to take a moment to play O, Canada, the Canadian national anthem, at high volume.  We had to start the trip off right.

World's Largest Flamingo

World’s Largest Flamingo… for now

A couple hours later we found ourselves in the Wisconsin Dells for a breakfast stop as well as a stop to see… wait for it… the World’s Largest Flamingo.  The flamingo seemed large, of course, but as far as World’s Largest go it seemed like it might not take much of an effort to supplant it.

After fueling up with food and flamingoes, we rolled on up the road to Black River Falls to document a large orange moose.  As a bonus, there was a large leaping stag nearby, along with a smaller orange moose and a mouse.  None were billed as the World’s Largest (although we aren’t sure how many other large orange moose are out there), but it was quite a thrill, nonetheless.

Jim, the Large Orange Moose, and the White Stag in the distance where the moose's unmentionables would hang

Jim, the Large Orange Moose, and the White Stag in the distance where the moose’s unmentionables would hang

Our next target destination was to the town of Warrens, the undisputed cranberry capital of Wisconsin.  Warrens is home to the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center, and we were aiming to learn more about this soggy little red fruit.  We ended up taking an accidental round-about, circuitous, backdoor way to get to Warrens (but were able to assist a Western Painted Turtle across the road along the way, so the unintended detour worked out*), only to find traffic increased as we got closer due to it being… the annual Wisconsin Cranberry Festival.  And it seemed well-attended.  How did this little fact elude my research?  Needless to say, we took a quick vote and decided we’d save the Discovery Center for another trip Up North and avoid the masses that were streaming in.

Warning:  severe juvenile behavior alert

Warning: severe juvenile behavior alert

Not far up the road in Lake Hallie was a quick stop to the intersection of County Rd P and County Rd OO.  You can see for yourselves how that works out.

Moving along, we kept heading deeper into Up North to the town of Chippewa Falls, home of the Leinenkugel Brewing Company.  Leinenkugel has been a revered Wisconsin beer since 1867 and we felt we needed to learn a bit more about their process (tour $5/each, includes 5 – 5oz beer samples plus a souvenir glass).  As luck would have it, we were the only two people on the 2:30pm tour and were assigned not one, but two tour guides.  At first I figured it was because Jimmy looks like (and is) a handful, but it turns out one of the guides was training.  They both did a tremendous job and we learned a great deal about the humble beginnings of Jacob and Josephine Leinenkugel and how they created their boozy empire.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but if you are ever in the area we’d highly recommend stopping by.

Not bad-lookin' for being almost 150 years old

Not bad-lookin’ for being almost 150 years old

As it was getting to be later afternoon by this point and we wanted to get to our overnight accommodations, we decided to forego taking a detour to Jim Falls (yes, the picture possibilities by the town sign would have been endless) and made a beeline for Mallards Landing in Hayward, WI, instead.  Our accommodation for the night was a cabin next to Lake Hayward, and an added perk was access to a canoe to take out onto the lake.  It was rustic, charming, and the closest to camping we will ever get.

Check-in was easy, and we soon found ourselves walking into a lakeside cabin, canoe paddles and life vests in hand.  A quick change into canoe gear and we were off.  Jimmy is an accomplished canoeist and got my technique sorted quickly before we were smoothly gliding across the lake.  Rain clouds were in the distance but we persevered, canoeing what we deemed “just enough” before coming in just as the rain started.

Canoeing with Barry at the helm

Canoeing with Barry at the helm

After such rigorous work, we had worked up an appetite so headed off to Old Southern BBQ for a bite to eat before returning to our campsite to enjoy a beer on the porch before heading to bed.  It was a Leinenkugel, naturally.

*In case you did not know, whenever helping a turtle across a road please move them in the direction they were pointed.  They are headstrong little buggers and want to go where they want to go.  Who are we to argue?

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  1. David W

     /  September 27, 2016

    Looks like fun and most of my childhood family pictures


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