After more than 10 hours of driving, (8 hours in Illinois) from Branson to Wisconsin....and seeing miles and miles....and MILES of farms, barns, corn, and road....we finally made it to our stopping place for the night-
Green County, Wisconsin-home of lots of cows, and one of their industrial contribution-cheese.
Wisconsin was new to me. I'd never thought about wanting to go until I decided I needed to see all 50 states....because I can, it seemed very American, and fun. I looked up Wisconsin in my 1,001 places book, and asked some friends FROM Wisconsin for advice, and I even threw it out there into cyber space...and some of the BEST advice was from some random helper that stumbled upon my cyber question.
Green County was mentioned in my 1,001 book as a must see. I understand, and agree. I'd say this pretty much fulfills every cheese packaging I've ever seen with cows grazing by the picturesque red barns, snuggled in between the dips and rolls of the quilted green squares of pastures.
Oh...so....cute. So...quaint. So...blessedly....refreshing! Had it been sunny, I'd probably still be sitting on a pasture somewhere trying to get a job as a milk maid, or a cheese processor, or a fly swatter.
We spent our evening exploring the town of New Glarus.
This is a town the Swiss settled, and we enjoyed dinner at one of the few places open after 5, and....apparently one of the few places open on Monday.
The New Glasrus Hotel restaurant provided a really great view from the table of the Swiss themed town below, and an even better view of the pot of fondu on our table.
I had read mixed reviews, and this wasn't our intended destination, but I'm glad everything else was closed down b/c we really enjoyed it. It's a big restaurant with polka bands, and dancing every Friday and Saturday night....I'm not sure I'm ready for that, but someday. I enjoyed my quiet pot of melted cheese, and Swiss dishes this go 'round. It was a peaceful little slice of Wisconsin life I'd highly recommend spending a day in just because it's precioius.
There were several cute looking stores, and a bakery I had read about, but all of this was closed by the time we arrived, though there was a neat little flower and decor shop open near the train station when we first drove into this little town. Maybe I should also mention the painted cow statues are sort of 'their thing.' Each one is different, and placed at random locations, and levels throughout this little town.
We got up early on Tuesday morning and we headed to one of the (many) cheese factories in the area-the Alp and Dell.
Why this one? Because it’s the first one we passed, but certainly not the only one we passed. A few blocks away was the Swiss Colony Cheese factory, and a few blocks beyond that were plenty more Co-Op cheese factories in a very small radius from our launching site. We tried out some cheese.
Watched cheese being made.
Discovered that the cheese hats on TV also extend to cheese pins, cheese earrings, cheese bow ties, cheese ties, and cheese koozies, and that we only THOUGHT we knew what team spirit was...
Last, we briefly flew through the visitor’s center in Monroe in honor of the Door County area, with a museum we skipped this go ‘round before heading up the road to Chicago.
My summary: Green County should be in the 1,001 Canada/USA book. It's a really 'gentle' wow, but a wow in the way you enjoy a sigh.
It's not somewhere you could necessarily go for a week and stay busy and actively site seeing, but maybe the point would be to relax? What a novel idea for a vacation. I'd love to swing through sometime in the sunshine and explore a little more, stop by a pasture, practice my 'moo.' I recommend the homemade caramels they sell in the various cheese stores. I'm a fan of caramel and I do believe this is the best I've sampled.
I'm not done with Wisconsin for this trip, but our next stop on the road took us a state away back to Illinois, specifically-Chicago.
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