Posts Tagged With: Wisconsin

Summer Is Almost Here…

The month of May means different things to different people. For Cambodians, it marks the Royal Ploughing Ceremony and King Sihamoni‘s birthday.  In America, we think of flowers blooming and some mysterious dance around a Maypole, which I don’t think anyone really understands.

For teachers, and students, it only means on thing.

Summer vacation is around the corner.

To herald the summer of 2015, I bring you a video that Sean made of one of our favorite Wisconsin activities: playing in the water.

Last summer we spent a few days at our friend’s cabin in Eagle, Wisconsin.

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Eagle Spring Lake is a funky area. Kettle Moraine State Forest is next door, there’s an island with a house on it in the center of the lake, and there’s a gorgeous little channel of water that connects you to Lulu Lake, which is just beautiful. I’ve never seen so many lily pads.

If there’s one thing you’ve got to do in Wisconsin, it’s spend some time on our lakes in the summer. (Even if you’re from Minnesota. I won’t judge you.)

Watch Sean’s video below (in 1080p if you can), and just try not to get out your sunscreen and sunglasses.

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A True American Summer

Hello, August. The month of humidity. Of lazy summer days. Of making summer memories and planning fall plans. Ever since I was young, August has signaled a few landmark events for myself and all Wisconsinites:

 

  1. The Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee
  2. The Legendary August 15th Relocation: Madison’s whole-city moving day
  3. School supply commercials
  4. The Sturgis migration
  5. Finally turning the air-conditioning on!
  6. Numerous festivals involving brats and/or beer
  7. Fruit-pickin’ season
  8. The sausage races at Miller park
  9. Getting to the American Players Theater before it’s too late
  10. Losing frisbees in cornfields (Or is that just my family?)
  11. Fireflies, fireflies, fireflies!

 

This summer, Sean and I spent ample time in Wisconsin. We visited friends and family, and played tourists as often as we could. We seized every opportunity to create a true “American Summer”.

 

As I sit on the airplane, traveling back to Cambodia, I reflect on how rockin’ of a summer it was. Let me share it with you.

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Disc golf. Invented by a Californian in the late 70’s, it doesn’t get any better than this. You spend the afternoon walking through a manicured park, throwing frisbees into metal baskets.

 

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More disc golf. You can really get lost in the woods.

 

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Our collection of discs. My motto is, “Buy two, lose one.” Most courses have a gnarly rough, where we have lost multiple discs. This summer I made a personal record and lost two: one at the bottom of a pond and another down a ravine.

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Freshwater lakes! Lots and lots of them. They say that Michigan is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, but Wisconsin surely has them beat. (Sorry, Viking folk.)

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Lake Geneva. A Wisconsin postcard town. Sean snapped this photo as the mail boat drove by—this is how the residents of Lake Geneva receive their mail. Founded in the 1800’s as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, affluent residents took the train up from Chicago and built decadent homes. The only way to receive mail was by boat. To this day, you can hop aboard and take part of an old tradition of delivering the mail, rain or shine.

 

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Wisconsin’s storybook turtles. I am lucky enough to average one sighting every summer.

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The White House! A tour of America is not complete without a trip to the country’s capital. We visited Sean’s brother, Kevin, who was awesome take the day off and show us all the sites. He was a fount of knowledge and energy! (Kevin, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!)

 

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Just as a trip to America is not complete without a stop in DC, one does not simply venture to DC without visiting the Smithsonian.

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As much as I loved the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, we absolutely adored the Smithsonian Zoo. And, if you’re debating a trip to DC yourself, keep in mind that all Smithsonians are completely free to the public!

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 If you’re sick of cliches, then I recommend you stop reading now, because we actually went to DC over the Fourth of July weekend. Watching the fireworks over the National Mall was unrivaled, challenged only by the mouthwatering Ethiopian food cart I found minutes before the big booms.

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 Nothing beats the heat like a milkshake. And milkshakes we had. If you find yourself in DC, slake your thirst from museum touring with a visit to Bullfeathers for the best shakes this side of Appalachia.

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Horseback riding! My sister shows horses, so Sean and I went to one of her competitions this summer. She completely cleaned up, and wrangled first place in all of her events.

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Mullens ice cream. Founded in 1932, Mullens is a Watertown, Wisconsin staple. They handmade their ice cream, and you dine over formica tables and checkered wallpaper.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.09.21 AM Photo compliments of http://mullensdairy.com/history_photos.html 

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Boating. If you’ve been keeping up with Angkor’s Away, then you know Sean is the proud owner of a GoPro Hero 3+. To my chagrin, he took it on the tube this summer and snapped this awesome photo as he flew off the side into the abyss of Eagle Springs lake.

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Swimming. Our friends have a cabin on Eagle Springs lake, and initiate new visitors to the “hot springs”. Telling her it was a hot springs, we smirked from the comfort of our dry swimsuits as my sister dove the bottom of a frigid cold spring spouting out of the mud.

14-chicagoOnly a two-hour drive from my parent’s house, Chicago is a must-visit. We met up with our friend Eric Walker, whom we taught with in Kuwait.
15-chicagWe had great weather for a long walk throughout the city!

 

10513413_10203511480379816_5423679962905393463_nAn afternoon on the Memorial Union terrace. Sean wanted to catch a few of the World Cup games, so we settled in for an afternoon of sunshine and beautiful views.

 

16-merrika Amusement parks. I relived my childhood memories at Little Amerricka, a traditional amusement park. Many of their rides are from the 1950’s—including this coaster!

 

17-merrikaMini golf. Need I say more?

 

18-merrikaAnd of course, a ride on the carousel. You are never too old for a whirl on the merry-go-round!

There you have it. Our very American summer. But it wouldn’t be complete without…

10350640_10203466261449371_5228002970130524419_n…a game of cribbage, Miller High Life, a bloody mary topped with a burger and bacon, and a Sprecher root beer. I think I gained a few pounds just looking at this photo.

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Door County, Wisconsin

While my blog normally covers all things exotic and foreign, it is all a matter of perspective.

For all of my non-American readers, today you will experience the exotic culture and geography of the Upper-Midwestern United States. A part of America that is so familiar to me, I can close my eyes and recreate each of the five senses purely from memory alone. We all have places like this—my friends in Ethiopia can taste shiro and injera, and smell the wild baboons in the Simien mountains. My friends in Cambodia can feel the salt of the Gulf of Thailand on their skin and the taste of tangy prahok in their mouth. Similarly, Sean and I can hear the call of the hermit thrush, taste of cheese curds, and imagine the waves of Lake Michigan lapping the rocky shore.

Here is Door County in early June.

DCIM101GOPROThe Holiday Music Motel, a vintage throw-back in Sturgeon Bay. One of the best hotels I’ve stayed at in the US so far. Absolutely fantastic breakfast in a ‘serve yourself’ diner setting.

 

DCIM101GOPROI felt like I was either in my grandmother’s kitchen or a church basement for a Friday night fish-fry. (If you’re from Wisconsin, that sentence makes perfect sense.)

 

DCIM101GOPROOn the shores of Lake Michigan, at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

 

DCIM101GOPROOne of Sean’s favorite places in Door County, Cave Point County Park.

 

DCIM101GOPROPerched on the rocky ledges of Cave Point.

 

DCIM101GOPRODoor County is famous for its lighthouses. This one is located in Peninsula State Park, one of the most popular State Parks in Wisconsin.

 

DCIM101GOPROOn top of Eagle Tower, with Horseshoe Island in the background.

 

DCIM101GOPROHorseshoe Island.

 

DCIM101GOPROHiking the Eagle Trail. Was it difficult? Not so much. Beautiful? Absolutely.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.37.14 PMSean goes spelunking in the caves along the Eagle Trail.

 

DCIM101GOPROIn Sister Bay, Wisconsin, there is a famous restaurant that has goats grazing on their roof. We, unfortunately, visited on a day that they were mowing the lawn. No goats, but certainly an entertaining photograph!

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.33.48 PMWe then visited The Ridges Sanctuary State Natural Area in Bailey’s Harbor. It was recommended for being particularly beautiful and remote, with an active bald eagle nest. As you can see in the above photo (which is actually a screen capture from a video), I became a mosquito-fighting phantom, covering every part of my body from the ridiculously vicious mosquitos that were there!

 

DCIM101GOPROInside The Ridges there is an old homestead from the early 1900’s.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.31.41 PMWe were the only people for miles around. It was a fairy land.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.30.15 PMThen we popped out on the shores of Lake Michigan once again. I never get tired of this view.

 

DCIM101GOPROOn our way home, we found yet another lighthouse. Door County never ceases in its simple beauty.

 

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Top Ten Travel Highlights of 2013

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2014 already. Since we’ve moved abroad, Sean and I have rang in the new year in Jordan, Egypt, and now Cambodia. As amazing as it is to keep looking forward to new adventures, it is equally important to reflect on all we’ve experienced. 2013 was pretty awesome. We moved from Kuwait to Cambodia. We celebrated our second year of marriage. Sean had knee surgery. I had wrist surgery. Sean tried pufferfish. I started eating chicken again. We watched Breaking Bad. But I digress.

Anyways, here are our travel highlights of 2013. There’s not really any particular order; it was near impossible to prioritize such perfect memories…  I hope you enjoy!

 2013 Travel Highlights

10. Playing disc golf with my family over the summer (Wisconsin)547901_4009921418603_1670924733_n

 

9. My last vegetarian thali at Banana Leaf (Kuwait)img_2404

 

8. Climbing Kep Mountain (Cambodia)10

 

7. Learning to speak Khmer (Cambodia)1185019_10201246178628688_1713916646_n

 

6. Eating giant prawns on the Koh Kong coast (Cambodia)img_6725

 

5. Becoming addicted to shiro and injera (Ethiopia)img_4913

 

4. Smoking shisha with my mother and the head of the Ministry of Communication (Kuwait)img_4726_2

 

3. Hiking five nights on The Beaten Path trail (Montana)15

 

2. Petting baboons in the Simien Mountains (Ethiopia)img_5656

 

1. Standing under the raging waterfall of Tad Yeang—Can you spot me? (Laos)img_7795-version-2

 

 

 

Categories: America, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ten Things I Love About Summers In Wisconsin

Happy July! Sorry it’s been a month since my last post, and I know I promised to keep you updated on all that is an expat’s summer in America. Well, that sounds a little grandiose. Today I’ve got the top 10 things I love about summer in Wisconsin. I am typing this on my iPad, so I’ll unfortunately have to brief. I like the WordPress app and all, but tapping out letters on a touchscreen grows tedious. Anyways, that’s not what you care about. You are interested in what makes Wisconsin so great! So, forgive me for the awkward autocompletes that I will probably overlook, and enjoy my Wisco Top 10.

#1. Watching critters cross the road.

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We saw this little guy as we were driving between Lake Mills and Watertown on some backroads. I have always been afraid of turtles as I’ve heard they’ve got massive chomping power, so we herded him off the road into the grass as best we could.

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#2. Day trips to nearby towns.

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I love America for the ease at which you can drive anywhere. You can just get in a car and go, no strings attached. No passport, no currency to exchange, no language to learn. (That last one sounds a bit ethnocentric, but I mean it in the most polite way. Try describing travelers diarrhea to a pharmacist in a foreign count for once, and you’ll know what I mean!)

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My dad and I took a day trip to Galena, Illinois in early June. He was meeting a friend for business, and he thought I’d like getting to see the town. Galena is the natural form of lead, which is how the town got its big boom back in the day. It is incredibly well preserved, from every manicured lawn to every old fashioned home and restaurant.

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The Desoto House Hotel was built in 1855, and Abe Lincoln gave a speech from the main balcony in support of John Fremont’s bid for presidency. Galena also holds the home of Ulysses S. Grant, which you can still tour to this day. I love exploring around the Midwest!

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The Main Street in Galena. Picturesque, isn’t it?

#3. My parents backyard.
#4. Sitting on the deck with my husband and my family in my parents backyard.

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#5. Trivia Nights! This was at Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, home to one of my favorite IPA’s, Bitter Woman. Needless to say, we did not triumph in trivia.

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#6. Watching my sister play with her horses. However, that’s an understatement. My sister is pretty much a horse whisperer. Ever since she was six, she has professionally shown horses. She went to the American Pony Finals in Kentucky when she was ten, and came in the top 50% in the nation. Not bad for a peewee, huh? This horse’s name is Luna, and Emily bought her “green”, which means the horse isn’t used to being ridden… Or brushed… Or trailered… Or anything. The day I took this photo was the day Luna took her first steps with Emily on her back. I am so proud of my little sister!

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#7. The Old Fashioned. If you’re a Madison native, I need not say no more. If you’re not, it’s a restaurant on the capital square that serves everything that is quintessentially Wisco. Their old fashioned are to die for, and I am in love with their portobello burger. They serve everything from deep fried cheese curds to Schlitz to Wisconsin chili and local burgers. Emily loves them for their cookies.
#7.5 Playing cribbage in a place where everyone knows cribbage and every bar has a cribbage board.

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#8. Korth County Park in Lake Mills. Sean and I had our two-year anniversary picnic there this year. Due to his knee surgery, we haven’t done anything too adventurous this summer, so a picnic was a perfect romantic afternoon. Korth Park overlooks Rock Lake, and is the perfect way to enjoy the glacial hills of southern Wisconsin. (If you look hard enough, you can see the pyramids in the bottom of Rock Lake…. Look it up…)

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#9. Going out for Friday fish frys. This was at Donny’s Girl, Southeast of Watertown.

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#10. Gearing up for our annual summer backpacking trip! This year we struck out for the Beartooth Mountains in Southern Montana. As I type this I am sitting in the Bearclaw Bakery as it is pouring rain. We were supposed to leave for a five-day backpacking trip today, but the weather had other plans. I am not even in Wisconsin, but I always post my blogs in chronological order. Maybe it’s a teacher thing.

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What is your favorite thing about how you like to spend your summer? Post in the comments below, and stay tuned for our adventure in the Beartooths!

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