Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: Green Bay, WI

This very proud, very blue collar town is happy just the way it is.  At 104,000 people (city only), it is by far the smallest NFL team town.  Public transportation options are limited so to really take advantage of all the great attractions a CTer will want access to a private auto.  Nearby is the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Door County.  Downtown is a bit quiet.  A former mall is slowly being torn down.  On the main street there are a handful of bars, restaurants, and shops.  Winters can be very difficult so plan for a warmer weather outing, but for the ultimate Green Bay experience, make an attempt to visit the city during a fall home football game (as long as you are not wearing a competing team's jersey!).


Link:
http://www.greenbay.com/


Attractions Visited:
-National Railroad Museum (http://www.nationalrrmuseum.org/en-us/default.aspx): If an alien touched down and visited this museum it would come to the conclusion that railroad technology has not advanced since the 1960s.  While the displays are professionally designed and very well maintained (with the exception of some cars stored in the yard), there is almost no mention of recent advancements in either freight or passenger rail (HSR, etc.).  The highlight of the campus is the car buildings (one indoors, one covered) where a visitor can get up close to these prairie monsters, including the famous Big Boy.  After touring the Pullman passenger cars I am now very happy with the current accommodations offered by Amtrak.  For an additional fee there is a 30 minute train ride that circles the campus.  The Big Boy informational video is a delightfully dated (think early 1960s) film produced by Union Pacific.  













-Neville Public Museum (http://www.nevillepublicmuseum.org/): Never complain when a city the size of Green Bay has a 'modern' public museum.  The first floor is dedicated to the gift shop, rotating exhibits (currently Badger Boys: Northeast Wisconsin and the Civil War), and a play area.  The second floor also has a sizable rotating exhibit hall (currently Alive in Wood: Bird Carvings by Gary Eigenberger-GREAT WORK), and permanent exhibits.  The tour is typical of most public museums, starting with the formation of the planet and walking the visitor through until the 1960s or so.  While not eye popping, the museum offers a nice break and an easy stroll.







-Captain's Walk Winery (http://www.captainswalkwinery.com): Who says wineries must be located in rolling hills surrounded by vineyards?  This winery makes its home in the southern section of downtown (easily walkable from most downtown hotels) in a well maintained historic home.  Free, limited-time, parking is usually available on surroundings streets.  The front lawn has a small sitting area.  Inside, the winery is cozy with the check out area at the entrance and tasting room in what would be a living room.  I have no doubt that on home football weekends the place would fill up quickly.  The winery does have a small charge for tastings (understandable!), but in my case the person waived the fee since I only tried two wines and purchased a bottle for home.  




-Oneida Casino (http://www.oneidabingoandcasino.net/): With one flagship casino and five satellite locations (plus two more next two gas stations), there is no shortage of options.  The main casino offers a Radisson hotel, a buffet, two small grills, a parking garage, and a smoke shop.  A free shuttle service provides transportation between the main casino, IMAC Casino/bingo hall, and Mason Street Casino.  


For those wanting to learn more about the Oneida Nation, their main web site (http://oneida-nsn.gov/) is informative.  The nation also has a small museum open on weekdays (http://www.oneidanation.org/museum/).


Mason Street Casino





-Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field (http://www.packers.com/, http://www.lambeaufield.com/home/): While not toured in this visit, in 2007 I made my way to this holy land of football.  Unlike most football stadiums, Lambeau is open to the public almost year-around.  The stadium includes restaurants, gift shop, and a don't miss Hall of Fame.  The walking tour includes walks of the massive atrium, private boxes, and walking though the players tunnel.  




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Destination of the Day: Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, MI

Destination 5 in the series "Get Wright back to you"


-Built: 
1908-9
-Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_May_House
-YouTube Video (extended segment from a local TV station.  Very well done):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU-s8PB42GU


Note: Home was purchased, restored, and currently owned by Steelcase.  


Address:
Meyer May House
http://meyermayhouse.steelcase.com/
450 Madison Avenue Southeast
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-5312
(616) 246-4821






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Destination of the Day: Westcott House Museum, Springfield, OH

Destination 4 in the series "Get Wright back to you"


-Built: 
1908
-Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westcott_House_(Springfield,_Ohio)


Address:
Westcott House Museum
http://www.westcotthouse.org/
1340 East High Street
Springfield, OH 45505
(937) 327-9291



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Destination of the Day: Frankfort, Ziegler House, KY

Destination 3 in the series "Get Wright back to you"


-Built: 
1910
-Wikipedia entry (convention authority video):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_R._Zeigler_House


Note: Private home and not open to the public.  The only FLW home built in Kentucky during his lifetime.  


Address:
Zeigler House
509 Shelby Street
Frankfort, KY 40601



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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Lakes & Upper South in the News: "Oprah Brought Chicago Jobs, Development And Pride" from NPR

"After 25 years on the air, Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, brings her show to an end Wednesday. It's a bittersweet moment for Chicago, the city where Winfrey brought plenty of attention — and money."


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Destination of the Day: Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, WI

Destination 2 in the series "Get Wright back to you"


-Built: 
1997
-YouTube Segment (convention authority video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjHvrG8jqvc
-Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monona_Terrace


Note: Monona Terrace is also the home of the NPR program 'Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?' (http://www.notmuch.com/).  


Address:
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
http://www.mononaterrace.com/
One John Nolen Drive
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 261-4000







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Monday, May 23, 2011

Destination of the Day: R. W. Lindholm Service Station, Cloquet, MN

Destination 1 in the series "Get Wright back to you"


-Built: 
1958
-MPR Segment: 
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/08/06/wright_gasstation/
-MPR Slideshow:
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/08/06/gasstationslideshow/
-YouTube Segment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwJKmmWSSjo&feature=related
-Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._W._Lindholm_Service_Station


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Address:
R. W. Lindholm Service Station
202 Cloquet Avenue
Cloquet, MN




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Series of the Week: "Get Wright back to you"

On 21 May was the annual Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust's Wright Plus housewalk (http://gowright.org/wright-plus.html).  For one day an attendee could tour eight private homes in Oak Park, plus three landmark buildings in Oak Park and Chicago.  Along with other early 20th Century talents like Albert Kahn (Detroit), Alden B. Dow (Midland), and Adler & Sullivan (Chicago), Frank Lloyd Wright challenged and redefined people's relationship with buildings.  With the help of dedicated owners and committed local and national preservations groups much of his work has been protected, restored, and, in some cases, open to the public.   This week: FLW masterpieces! 


If you would like to contribute to this series contact me at rmaihoferii@gmail.com. Include your name, the establishment, a short description, and a photo if you have one.


Robert Maihofer
Moderator 
Great Lakes Casual Traveler (GLCT)






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Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Detroit

This is a hard city to love. One of the few large cities in the region the GLCT does not recommend to the beginning casual traveler, Detroit can pose a few challenges even to the most experienced. While the major tourism areas (Downtown, Midtown, Belle Isle, Eastern Market, South Corktown) are at least passable, stray too far away and you might find yourself in the ruins of a once proud neighborhood. Detroit Department of Transportation's trip planner (www.RideDetroitTransit.com) is helpful, IF you know exactly where you are wanting to go. Google's version seemed much easier to use. No system map is available and some attractions do not offer public transit information. Two of the largest and most popular museums, Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum (both are nearly all day visits on their own), are located in the western suburb of Dearborn and very difficult to access by public transit. The best time to visit is during the summer when the Detroit Tigers are playing a weekend series. The crowds will offer some comfort of foot traffic on often-deserted sidewalks. 


Detroit-Eastern Market:
-Eastern Market (http://www.detroiteasternmarket.com/): Part street fair, part market, part performance space, Eastern Market is one of the largest farmers markets in the region. At the center of the district are six sheds open during the Saturday's public market day. Even on a chilly, rainy May morning the market was packed with eager shoppers visiting the baked goods, food, and flower stalls. The first stop should be the Welcome Center to pick up a map. At the periphery of the main complex are antique shops, restaurants, bars, and meat shops, nearly all open the the public. Eastern Market is a decent walk from downtown hotels or using DDOT 34-Gratiot from downtown. Bring a canvas bag to carry any finds.






Detroit-Downtown:
-Greektown Casino-Hotel (http://www.GreektownCasino.com/): Of the three casinos, Greektown is the only one that feels as if it is part of the city. Large picture windows allow passersby to look into the huge hotel lobby and first floor sports bar. The casino is kitty-corner to the hotel and is built into the same area as the former Trapper's Alley space. The complex is also directly connected to the Detroit People Mover. FYI-smoking is still allowed in Michigan casinos. The casino does offer a completely separate non-smoking section. 






-Detroit People Mover (DPM) (http://www.thepeoplemover.com/): At $0.50 per ride, the People Move is a fantastic way to see Downtown Detroit. Before boarding, pick-up a People Move guide for information on nearby retailers and detailed information on station artwork. Now, getting anyplace is another story. Stations are located near or connected to a few downtown hotels, the Greektown Casino, Rose Parks Transit Center, the isolated Joe Lewis Arena, stadiums, and Cobo Center. Use the Michigan or Times Square stations for a short walk to the MGM Casino or a longer walk to MotorCity Casino. 





-Detroit Beer Company (http://www.detroitbeerco.com/): Located near the DPM Broadway Station, across the street from the Detroit Opera House, and within walking distance of the baseball and football stadiums, the Detroit Beer Company makes for a good resting spot. A street-side outdoor area is welcoming, but uncovered. On the second floor the front section overlooks Broadway and the PeDPM track. Food is mostly bar fare and the brewed beer tasty. 




Detroit-English Village:
-Pewabic Pottery (http://www.pewabic.org/): Founded by Mary Chase Perry in 1903, this National Historic Landmark pottery design and fabrication center continues to produce world-famous practical artwork. Installations include the entrance of the Guardian Building, Northwest Terminal, the Detroit Public Library, Comerica Ballpark, and Shedd Aquarium (Chicago). The gift shop is located on the the first floor and the very small museum is located on the the second, non-wheelchair assessable, floor. Self-guided tours are permitted on WEEKDAYS. Use DDOT 25-Jefferson from downtown and recommended to combine with a Belle Isle trip.







Detroit-Belle Isle: Use DDOT 25-Jefferson from downtown. No transit onto or around island. Restrooms are at best somewhat useable, but for extended visits take some tp just in case. Museum and nature center do have on-site maintained restrooms. In addition to the museums, the 982-acre park offers golf, nature trails, biking trails, fishing areas, and other recreation. 


-Dossin Great Lakes Museum (http://www.detroithistorical.org/main/dossin/index.aspx): Located on the shore across the river from Windsor is this nice little museum dedicated to Great Lakes ships. Now operated by the Detroit Historical Society (which also runs the Detroit History Museum), it also has a faded feel as the main museum in Detroit-Midtown. The model ship gallery will be inspiring to any model builders in the group. Overlooking the river is the pilot house of the SS William Clay Ford. Museum is free. 






-Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (http://www.bibsociety.org/): Built in 1904, the conservatory offers a bit of an indoor resting spot for a traveler needing a break. The south wing contains tropical plants. The north wing hosts the extensive collection of desert plants. The show house has an ongoing display of blooming plants. Admission is free.






-Belle Isle Nature Zoo (http://www.detroitzoo.org/Visitors/Nature_Center/Belle_Isle_Nature_Zoo): Now run by the Detroit Zoological Society, the Nature Zoo feels like more of a placeholder than a real zoo. The real attraction of the center are now caged fallow deer that once were free to roam the island. Deer feedings can be a big draw. Other animals on display include an open area bird feeding spot (with chairs to enjoy the view), and a collection of small animals such as snakes, spiders, and turtles. Free to tour. 






Detroit-North Corktown:
-MotorCity Casino-Hotel (http://www.motorcitycasino.com/): Located just northwest of downtown (and feeling a bit isolated) is the city's second largest casino by revenue, the MotorCity Casino. Built in the footprint of an old Wonder Bread factory the casino is easily accessible by expressway, with one exit leading right up to the complex. At night both the hotel and casino are lit-up with a series of horizontal lines that help the building really stand out on a darken skyline. The night this CTer visited a local band was playing in the lounge with the performance viewable from the many video screens on the two-level gaming area. Take DDOT 21-Grand River from downtown. Somewhat walkable from most downtown hotels from the DPM Times Square Station. 








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Friday, May 13, 2011

GLCT Travel Tip: Tulip Time Festival, Holland, MI, 7-14 May

This somewhat sleepy resort town (although also the headquarters for some major companies) springs to life this weekend for the Tulip Time Festival. The final parade is this Saturday, 14 May, at 2:00 pm ET, and is on 8th Street from Columbia Avenue to Van Raalte, then turns south to 24th Street. Attractions include: Holland Museum, New Holland Brewing Company, Cappon House Museum, Windmill Island Gardens, Nelis' Dutch Village, and Veldheer Tulip Gardens. All but the Veldheer Tulip Gardens are near downtown. While Amtrak does serve Holland, the 370/371-Pere Marquette Line has VERY limited service with only one round trip train per day. A limited number of hotels are located in downtown Holland for overnight guests. 


Link:
http://www.tuliptime.com/

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Destination of the Day: American Mountain Theater, Elkins, WV, AND American Heritage Music Hall, Ronceverte, WV

Destination 5 in the series "Don't Stop The Music"


The Monongahela National Forest Region is a national treasure. Located in the West Virginia interior, the four county region has so much to offer the CTer that a long weekend might not be enough. As the sun sets though you might need to search a little bit for evening entertainment. Enter two fine theatres. The first is the American Mountain Theatre which specializes in Branson, MO, style entertainment with a gospel Sunday program. The smaller and more casual American Heritage Music Hall offers a range of traditional mountain music. This CTer highly recommends investing the time and experiencing the music of the region to better understand the joys and hardships of the real people to make this area their only home. 


A word for newbies: Make it a point of locating the theatre of your choice during the day using the route you are planning to use. Nearly all the roads have tight curves and climb and decent rapidly, with some signage difficult to see. 


Address:
American Mountain Theater
www.americanmountaintheater.com
49 Martin Street
Elkins, WV 26241
(304) 630-3040


American Heritage Music Hall
No web site (check mountainmessenger.com for some events)
315 Monroe Avenue
Ronceverte, WV
(304) 645-2298






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Destination of the Day: Lula Lounge, Toronto, ON

Destination 4 in the series "Don't Stop The Music"


Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and salsa music is at the heart of Lula Lounge. Located not far from downtown Toronto (according to their web site it is on a streetcar route), the lounge includes a dance floor and full service restaurant. Beginning 12 May and running through 22 May is the LulaWorld Festival. Performers include Bomba Estereo, Patricia Cano, and SOCALLED. 


Address:
Lula Lounge
http://www.lulalounge.ca/
1585 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON M6K 1T9
(416) 588-0307







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Destination of the Day: Movement Electronic Music Festival, 28-30 May, Detroit-Downtown, MI


Destination 3 in the series "Don't Stop The Music"

Detroit has a secret-it is the birthplace of techno music! No, not New York, Chicago, or Los Angles-Detroit. The same city that brought you The Jackson 5 (from Gary, IN), The Supremes, The Four Tops, in the 1980s became home of a new genre of electronic dance music. The Movement Electronic Music Festival, begun in 2000, gives the CTer a chance to sample the best and up-and-coming artists. Headliners for the 2011 fest include Fatboy Slim, 69, and Felix da Housecat.

While celebrating the future, do not forget to check out Detroit's amazing musical past at the Motown Museum (http://motownmuseum.com/), located just west of Detroit-New Center.

For more information please see Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_techno

Address:
Movement Electronic Music Festival
http://www.movement.us/
Hart Plaza
2-48 Michigan 10 (East Jefferson Avenue)
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 877-8077









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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Destination of the Day: Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN

Destination 2 in the series "Don't Stop The Music"


Nashville is the country and gospel music lover's Mecca.  Music related attractions include: Music Row (home of the region's music industry), The Country Music Hall of Fame (http://countrymusichalloffame.org), Ryman Auditorium (http://www.ryman.com), Music City Walk of Fame (http://www.visitmusiccity.com/walkoffame), and the Grand Ole Opry (http://www.opry.com).  In the evening there are hundreds of small cafes, bars, and restaurants with country music nights dedicated to new music.  One of the better known venues is the Bluebird Cafe.  Opened in 1982, the cafe quickly became the spot for songwriters to try out new material.  The spot became so important and respected that in 2008 the Nashville Songwriters Association International purchased the venue from the original owners and continues to operate it for its members.  


Address:
Bluebird Cafe
http://www.bluebirdcafe.com
4104 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 383-1461







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