Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Long Weekend in WI

This is my friend Brenda's husband Dean. Dean was NOT in SW WI with us. But I did think about him and Brenda an awful lot as Mark and I headed off on Saturday for SW WI. I was thinking about Brenda and Dean first because they came up from Eastern TN to see us a few weeks ago. Really they came up for an Eagles Concert at Soldier Field so it was a quick trip but the bonus was they got some visiting in with us too! Anyway - Brenda is just a road trip crazy girl! We did lots of them when we were buddies in University together (UT Knoxville). She has done the concert in Chicago trip several times over the last 10 years (since we got the house) and it's always an adventure for her and her passengers and I always love seeing her. I thought it was only natural that as we started our road trip I be thinking about my road tripping friends!!
So we started out a little later than I had hoped in the afternoon but our only deadline was to be in Mineral Point WI by 8 pm as we had tickets for theatre.
We started across Illinois on I-90 to Rockford but then headed north up to Jaynesville, WI (home of Jaynesville Flyers - wooden wagons) and decided from there on we would take back roads. It helped the decision that we were warned at a friendly roadside stop about the zero tolerance of local law enforcement for speeders, especially speeders with out of state plates! So we caromed around and across rolling hill sides and saw some beautiful farms!
I also saw some quilt barns on the way! I was surprised because I knew they were popular in Ohio but I guess the word has spread across the midwest. I remember being young and driving south through PA and seeing the PA Dutch symbols on homes and barns but this was my first quilt barn experience. It was pretty cool and no - we didn't stop for pictures!!
Why SW WI? Good question. Not just the proximity to us but also this is a very different landscape than most of the midwest. Many years befor emy time (believe it or not) as the glaciers headed south the scraped the midwest flat. For some reson they drifted over the SW corner of what is now WI and the land was left with rolling hills and lots of abandoned rocks (think HUGE boulders) from the glacial movement. This area is referred to as the 'driftless' . Well, in those rocks there were minerals!! So when the minerals were discovered (early 1800's) settlers flocked from EU and the East coast. Many of the miners were from the Cornwall area of England, andthey constructed the town of Mineral Point in their traditional style using the local rock . By the mid-1830's the minerals were playing out and news of the CA gold Rush came and the miners left Mineral Point in droves. One day saw 60 families leave town all at once!
Time goes on like it always does, and eventually some preservationists saw the beauty and history of this area and decided to restore what could be saved. The town has evolved into an artistic center. So now there are historic homes you can tour, art galleries to browse where you can meet and see the artists in action and there is also a nice local theatre group. It is outdoor theater in the woods, with interesting original productions, very talented players and musicians. We saw a play called "You Have No Idea"and enjoyed it very much. If you are interested in more info on the theatre group visit
More tomorrow!!

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