Category Archives: Going Driftless

Shocking and amazing! Roadside attractions in the Driftless area

A windowful of antlers in Viola. Or LaFarge.

As I’ve documented before, I do a lot of driving around during my weekends in southwest Wisconsin. This past weekend, we had two friends along and decided to take a different route, heading to Viola and La Farge. Three times during the trip, we told our driver: STOP! TURN AROUND! (He is a patient man.)

STOP! Time Number One: An Antler Installation in Viola (actually, we now can’t recall, it might have been La Farge — anyone out there know?). Someone had converted empty storefront windows in an empty building to a vast collection of hunting trophies. That’s a lot of bucks. And yes, hunting season had begun in this part of the state.

Really, really big squash on Rte. 61, near Mt. Zion.

STOP! Time Number Two: A lineup of gigantor squash set out along Rte. 61. I think they might have been hubbard squash, but at this size who knows? For the record, sticking my head inside one of them was a little smelly.

We didn’t get a photo of STOP! Time Number Three, which happened when Deborah spotted a beautiful Siamese case in an alley, and made our Patient Driver stop so she could roll down the window and coo at it.

(Photos by John Koethe)

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An answer to a question I sometimes get

Sometimes when I’m in the passenger seat (and maybe a little when I’m not) I’ll hold my Flip camera up to the window. I’m fascinated by the motion of the landscape going by. Here’s my first attempt to edit a bunch of video into something. From two recent trips to southwest Wisconsin.

(Country driving isn’t the only time I hit the record button to collect random scenery. I posted something from PrideFest earlier this year.)

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Why I am a little happier than I was a week ago

Deauville Beach, N.J., the view from my beach chair.

Because, after too many years of making excuses (bathing suit fears), I spent some time at the beach. The end.

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The pot is on the stove

The corn I plan to eat tonight, as soon as the water comes to a boil, came from this place this morning. It was 35 cents per ear. Also for sale: laying hens $8, eggs $2, cukes 25 cents each, green and yellow beans $1.95 per lb., tomatoes $1.25 per small box. I bought four ears plus tomatoes.

Total bill: $2.65.

I threw $3 in the yellow cash box. I’ll bet they figure all the tourists round up like that.

We were on our way back from Waupaca. More about that trip later. I’ll also report in about the corn.

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The Bean House

 

A view of the Bean House from the upper meadow.

 

I’ve made mysterious inferences about trips to southwest Wisconsin, and it’s time to reveal the reason why. My partner John, knowing he would be retiring soon and having spent considerable sums of money on fly rods and reels, got it into his head a few years ago that he’d like to build a little getaway house in fly-fishing country.

He also decided he would furnish it entirely from the L.L. Bean catalog (which I had opinions about). A friend referred to his project as the Bean House one time, and it stuck.

It is located in the Kickapoo Valley. Nearby towns include Boscobel, Gays Mills, Soldier’s Grove and, a little further up the road, Viroqua. There is not much to do around here except fish and admire the view. Some restaurants serve only potato and cole slaw as vegetable choices.

This swath of Wisconsin is called the Driftless Area; it is the only part of the state never touched by glaciers. So its rough edges still show, and it’s hillier than the rest of the state. And it’s gorgeous. I love the thought of Going Driftless. One dictionary definition I found:

Having no drift or direction; without aim; purposeless.

I think I’ll start saying, “I’m Going Driftless.” It’ll mean I’m on my way to the Bean House to dreamily consider the landscape, eat cole slaw, and re-connect with my rough edges.

 

 

View from the under-construction pergola on the lower meadow.

 

 

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