MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Random Sites and Interesting Places in WI and IA

There is lots more to write about regarding my trip in the Lands of Corn and Cheese.  Surprisingly, I have been a bit busy since I returned.  Now I am headed off on my next great adventure... and guess what??? It is supposed to rain on me again.  Sad, I know.

Before I head off the airport, I wanted to jot down a few thoughts on my June trip:
  • Aquariums - I went to 3 places that were to have aquarium-like features.  Sadly, only one was truly awesome. 
    • I give 5 stars to the Mississippi River Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa.    It might have stolen my heart with a special turtle exhibit, but its true majesty was how it embraced the whole river:  it walked visitors through the entire river journey from headwaters to delta.  Sure you met sturgeon, but you also see otters, turtles, alligators and a whole tank on the Gulf of Mexico.  They have videos that fly you over the whole river.  AND it touches on the communities and cultures influenced by the Great Mississippi.  I loved it. 
    • Sadly, I did not love my time at the Discovery Center in Milwaukee.  The Science Center/Aquarium was in a great place and filled with kids - at the science exhibits.  The aquarium was in the basement.  And there it had a few tanks of fish with no names.  They had a walk through laboratory that focused on tropical fish (not there are any in Lake Michigan).  I got the feeling it was  there to say they had one.  But, if you need an aquarium fix in the area, head to Chicago and visit the Shedd.  However, I must say that the facilities diorama of the Great Lakes System was fascinating; you could play with the weather and the lock system in the model and see how it impacts the lakes.  You can clearly see how they interconnect.  This was the must see!
    • Lastly, (or firstly if you are going by the order I visited them in) - there was the Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.  At the southern point of Lake Superior, this facility was all about the displays, no live fish here.  BUT it had a wonderful boardwalk  trail to explain the local ecology... and this is what I really wanted.

  • Art Mueums - I visited 2: 
    • Milwaukee Art Museum is a sight to behold.  So beloved is the building design, it is actually the symbol of the city.  IT MOVES!!!  Not kidding.  The museum has wings (or sails). Inside, the museum has a great collection that is well laid out so it is not overwhelming.  The Pop Art section was well represented (for a smaller museum) with pieces from the masters like Warhol and Lichenstein, and lesser known figures with their colorful pieces.  Their Kids section had art of Disney and showed you how masterpieces impacted the classic films of yesterday and today.
    • Dubuque Art Museum was a small facility in Iowa.  What surprised me the most was that here, in this small place, 2 pieces by Grant Wood were on display.  Grant Wood, made infamous from American Gothic (the pic of the farmer and his weathered daughter in front of their home), came from the area.  And like Gothic, these also showed his tempered view on the image of the region - seriousness in the face of encroaching change.

  •  Mustard Museum -  Not art, but if you love mustard, it could be.  This place is packed to the gills with history and tangy flavor.  After watching mustard clips, learning how you can put it in your bath to help with achy joints, and looking at a startling collection of mustard from around the globe, you can head to the tasting center.   There buy a hot dog or a pretzel and taste test away... Yummy!
  • Summerfest - I have to admit I had not heard of Summerfest until this trip.  I think I insulted some locals when I asked if it was like Jazzfest.  They said similar but bigger.  I say not really.  Summerfest is more rock music.   The festival grounds are downtown and paved (and that is awesome for the inevitable rain).  Lots of food options but no where near as much art, jewelry, and general chotskis that you can pick up at Jazzfest.  I came, I saw, I listened... and now I can say I went!
  • Random Strangeness - Dubuque Iowa is a small city on the border on Wisconsin and Iowa.  It has 3 Statutes of Liberty.  And no, that is not a typo.  They have three!!!  I actually stopped locals to ask why.  No one knew.  But one person did tell me that I could not leave the city until I rode on the 4th Street Cogway:
    • 4th Street Elevator  - 4th Street Elevator (Fenelon Place Elevator) is the world's shortest, steepest, scenic railway reaching a mere 296 feet in length & is accompanied with a unique history located in Dubuque, Iowa.  It offers a view and very unique riding experience.

I will post pictures with more later!!!

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