NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kohler Design Center

Whether you have a bathroom to design or not, if you're in the Sheboygan area, make sure to visit the Kohler Design Center in the village of Kohler.

Couches made out of bathtubs in the reception area, how cool is that?
Pick a color, any color

It's not just commodes though.  The basement houses a museum about the history of the Kohler Company, which began with the making of farm implements in the 1870's when John Michael purchased the company from his father-in-law. In the 1880's they enameled a hog trough and marketed it as a bathtub. They also produced decorative ironwork.

By the early 1900's they marketed the first one piece bathtub and were making faucets and other brass items.  They also made engines for ships and other electrical items.

In support of World War II, Kohler converted much of its production line to making torpedo tubes and other military components.  Plumbing fixtures and generators were manufactured only for war housing, war industries, hospitals and other military uses.

Also in the museum is a section of art, not all of it related to the business of plumbing, but I liked the lady in the bathtub.

When you're done checking out the downstairs and the first floor, head upstairs where there are quite a few bath & kitchen suites completely finished out to get your imagination working on planning your dream room.  Click on them to see them bigger!

Beautiful tub, but does not look very comfy
Selfie alert!
Water from the ceiling? Why?
A cleaning nightmare

I don't think this is the kind of pedestal most works of art aspire to, but it's not like he was sculpted by Michaelangelo.  There's other stuff in Kohler, too.  When you're done at the Design Center you can get a mocha or some treats at Le Craverie or stop into The American Club.  I'll tell you about that soon!

Friday, June 28, 2013

To Sheboygan...and Beyond

This post is about all the new restaurants we tried in the Sheboygan area, so if you're not interested, climb on your lion and make like Buzz Lightyear.  To Sheboygan...and beyond!

Weather Center Cafe
On the Lakefront we visited The Brisco County Wood Grill which wasn't as good on this visit as when Wayne and I ate there.  Great view of where the river and Lake Michigan meet, but we found their salads and pasta better than their sandwiches and fries.  The Weather Center Cafe is also along the riverfront boardwalk and their food looks delicious, but all I sampled was one of their mini muffins.  Got to save something new for our next visit!

Highland House

For lunch one day we ate at the Highland House which is near Lake Michigan but has a view of the river.  Katrina had a giant brat, which is what Sheboygan is known for and they even have a Brat Fest on Memorial  Day. She said they make a great strawberry daiquiri as well!

In Kohler we stopped into Le Craverie Chocolate Cafe which is in the The Shops at Woodlake.  The chocolate cake was too big for even the two of us since we also each got a scoop of ice cream to try.  They have a weird system where you don't pay as you order at the counter and they didn't bring a bill with the food either so I had to go inside when we were done to figure out how we pay.  Each server had an electronic card with their patrons bills on it and they couldn't find our order.  Very confusing.  Everything is delicious though, but be aware that chocolate this good isn't cheap!

Oostburg Bakery

We ate breakfast and dinner one day at Judi's Place in Oostburg.  Hands down your best option for breakfast in the area, I'll only be going there whenever I'm in the area again.  Very good service, and as an interesting side note the owner's father used to operate the Miss Rockford Diner in Rockford, Illinois.  I saw a picture of it on the menu and sparked up a conversation about old diners with the owner when she came by our table.

The staff at Judi's recommended we try the baked goods at Oostburg Bakery around the corner and we bought some cookies to take home.  They were very busy for a weekday morning and sold cookies, donuts, muffins and a nice variety of breads. Yum!

I'm not ashamed to admit I try every bakery that I can, and the Johnston Bakery in Sheboygan gets a big thumbs up from me.  Not only were the cupcakes delicious and the variety amazing, but they had a nice seating area including a fireplace and the walls are decorated with art made by local high school students.  Every year they sponsor Pastry Delight where the advanced drawing/painting students make acrylic paintings that are put on display from Memorial Day to Labor Day in the bakery. What a great idea, more local businesses should try something like this to promote interest in both their establishment and fostering the arts in youth!

Now I want a cupcake....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sheboygan County Court House, Art Deco Divine

I didn't intend to stop in to see the Sheboygan County Court House while I was looking for public art and historic architecture, but the geometrical carving on the limestone of the building caught my eye.  I took a chance and climbed the steps.  I've been disappointed when I've opened doors a lot lately, but not this time.

Art Deco is probably my favorite type of architectural style.  I don't know why exactly, something in the bold lines appeals to me.  I dig a cherub and and a fluted column as much as the next gal, but how can you not be drawn to these light fixtures and those eagles? The pink granite and the fluted edges on the light fixtures softens what might otherwise look a little too cold.

I couldn't find much information on the architecture of the courthouse online, but it was built in 1933. I love the use of metal like the aluminum shown here in Art Deco, but apparently in some areas the style takes on a bold use of color instead of the cool mechanical look I usually see in the Chicago and Milwaukee area.

As we travel it's on my list to try to seek out Art Deco in the places we go, but finding it in Sheboygan wasn't on my itinerary.  Sometimes you just have to climb the steps and open the door not knowing what you might find.  We stopped in Milwaukee on our way home from Sheboygan.  No Art Deco, but I tried a lot of doors and found a lot of other great'll have to wait a few posts to find out.  I don't want to become an architecture blog instead of a travel blog, after all!

Apparently some of the style grew out of a fascination with ancient Egyptian symbolism and design.  I can see that.  Maybe it's the suggestion of something ancient and far away yet modern and cutting edge that appeals to me. These same design principles influenced more than buildings and interior design.  All you have to do is look at a car from the 1930's to see the similarity.  Check out this pic I grabbed from the internet showing the interior of the Fargo Theatre in Fargo, North Dakota.

 "Despicable Me" is playing there now, wish I could hop in my car and go, but a 9 hour drive each way is a little much to catch a movie.

In 2006 I took Cory and a friend of his on an architecture tour in Chicago and that's when I fell in love with Art Deco.  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Field Building were my introduction to this style.  If you're ever in Chicago they are definitely worth a look!

Any suggestions of Art Deco treasures hidden across America that you've stumbled across?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why I Love Kohler Andrae State Park

When I decided I wanted a last minute camping trip to drag Katrina along on, I chose Kohler-Andrae right away.  We were only gone 3 days, but I got so many great photos that I have enough for 24 blog posts! Yikes!  Where to begin?  I guess I'll start with why Kohler-Andrae has become one of my favorite state parks.

Reason #1 - Sand dunes! Walking on the beach is fun, but sand dunes are even better.  The park has a "cordwalk" system that floats on top of the sand and will move with the shifting forms.  Cool, right?

Reason #2 - cryptobiotic soil can be found on the dunes, and it always reminds me of our time in Utah. Don't walk on the sand, People, new plant communities struggling to grow and thrive!

Reason #3 - the variety of plant life is amazing as the park goes from beach to dunes to woods to marsh.


Reason #4 - The mid-sized town of Sheboygan is just minutes away with lots of interesting architecture, shops, restaurants and other sights.  If you're into fishing you can take a charter and bring in the catch of the day!

Reason #5 - Lots of birds and small mammals around, and of course deer.  Every night when I'm camping I'll wake up at some point to listen to the owls and coyotes too.


Reason #6 - Great campground, of course!  The set up of the loops is a little confusing, numbers seem to mean nothing at all as you jump from 44 to 201 and back again.  Our site was 53 and it came after 52 and 54.  But, most sites are large and well shaded with an easy to back into paved pad and comfortable distance from your neighbors. The staff is helpful (Thanks again, Tyler, for letting me recharge my camera battery at the visitor center every night!) and the mosquito population easy to subdue.

I bought a $30 Walmart tent to keep my tent cot company

Oh, and it's easy to make friends.  Some you want to hang around with...and some you don't.  Happy camping!

Bold raccoons come looking for leftover marshmallows after dark

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mosaic School Mural and Architecture

While in Sheboygan this weekend camping at Kohler-Andrae State Park I stumbled upon a building that currently houses the Mosaic School, a charter middle school.  I searched the internet high and low for information on the building, which I assume was probably industrial due to the big clock, but no luck.  What I did learn was that Sheboygan at the beginning of the last century was producing shoes, gloves, Jung Carriages and Garton toys.

I think the kids at the middle school would've liked some of Garton Toys' offerings. Sleds, bikes and scooters are timeless items, though Garton's versions are not as high tech as what they offer today.

   Nevertheless, the school had a great mural highlighting the importance of diversity, equality and acceptance.  Our personal experiences indicate that schools often don't follow through on these ideals in day-to-day situations.  Public, charter, private, we've tried them all, and all wanted nothing to do with the uncomfortable task of doling out consequences for bullying, unfortunately.  Hopefully someday that will change and the ideals portrayed in this mural will be reality.

More murals at Oakland Daily Photo's Monday Murals!

I loved the quote above the front door. They abbreviated it a bit, here's the original:

Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, "See! this our fathers did for us."   John Ruskin, 1907

They built, I noticed, but someone along the line forgot to keep a record of what the building was and when it was built!  Maybe if I get to Sheboygan again I'll find someone to ask.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Civil War Museum's Salute to Freedom

Katrina and I got a lot more than we bargained for with our little outing in Kenosha awhile back.  While we were checking out the lighthouses we noticed a new Civil War Museum and headed on over.  As usual, we had amazing luck in stumbling upon it during their Salute to Freedom event which featured costumed interpreters.  There was a woman in soldier's garb, but as my daughter was quick to point out women were not allowed to enlist during the Civil War.

Also on hand was a special exhibit of women's clothing from the period.  Of course, Katrina's first question was where was the corsets? A discussion then ensued about the poor women who had to endure such torture.  I found out the shoes didn't come in left and right in those days.  Talk about torture!

Another guest exhibitor brought rifles, and an interesting tidbit about rifles used during the war was that quite a few of them were imported from Europe.

But it was the costumed interpreters outside that made the event.  Not quite sure what this guy was trying to do.

This guy is hard to mistake, however.  President Lincoln joined us for the Gettysburg Address.  He started out talking about his travels through Wisconsin, his speaking at the Fair, and the Republicans of Janesville.  That brought a laugh from the audience.  Not a Republican town anymore!

The shoulder is coming along nicely, main trouble is with fatigue.  Guess all that healing on the inside takes a lot of energy because just about anything poops me out pretty quick!  Wayne is probably going to be working all weekend due to some storms coming in, so Katrina and I are considering a camping trip to Kohler-Andrae State Park.  All this fatigue could work well for sitting on the beach with a book for a few days!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Stroll Through Milwaukee's Third Ward

I played hooky from physical therapy yesterday and Katrina and I drove out to Milwaukee instead.  Milwaukee ain't no Chicago as far as difficulty getting there and finding parking, but it can still be a hassle.  We lucked out with our late morning timing and got in and back out of the city by 3:00 with minimum trouble.

Our first stop was actually Whole Foods which is near UWM.  Got to go a long way around here to find those personal and cleaning products that are safe for me and the environment!  We enjoyed gawking at the bit of remaining architecture in the neighborhood while walking to the store, including The Oriental Theater.  After reading Wikipedia's write-up on it I'm thinking I need to go back and catch a show to check out the inside!

Directly across from Whole Foods was The Clock Tower Building, which was written on the side but I couldn't find any information about it on the internet.

After Whole Foods we drove to the Third Ward, where a fire from an exploding oil barrel in 1892 destroyed 440 buildings.  The district was rebuilt over the next 30 years and was a center of commerce then and again today.

I was excited at the prospect of the Milwaukee Public Market, but it was really just a collection of a few lunch counters.  However, they have a parking lot and when we got our parking validated we ended up only paying $2 to park for a couple of hours.  Sweet!  We grabbed some food and ate outside, then walked around the district just admiring the architecture.

The stuff on the inside was fun to look at too.

  We didn't get a chance to take a stroll down the RiverWalk...maybe next time we're in town.