Day 17: Wisconsin Begins

At last — moving on to a new state.   The original plan was to do about two-thirds of WI, move on to MN and then hit the lower part of WI on the way home.  We’re about four days behind schedule so it might mean lopping off the lower half of MN and the remainder of WI.  Still water, water everywhere and the young-uns continue to be ballistic.  Leading to many stops but great fun for all of us.  The end of the day’s run was at the former Marty’s Showboat (see Flickr photo tonight) where its abandoned golf course leads right to the water.  Sad but happy all at once.

The day started in Ironwood, MI — so let’s start with this sign from there:


Moving on to Wisconsin.  From Ashland — tell me you’re not getting sick of these vitrolite storefronts:


The Steak Pit in Washburn features this sign by the main road:

and this one on its rooftop which is closer to the water:

Sorry all you carnivores, that’s as close as you’ll get to a food shot of meat from me!

Ah yes, a reminder that we’re now in Packer territory — at Pagac’s Bar in Ashland:


From Iron Belt.  This one must have had neon originally — a couple of tubing holes still remain where the text is.  I’m glad they’re keeping the sign up — although there was probably much more detail at one time.


From Mercer.   I don’t know what to make of this one.  Those top and bottom pieces are clearly new.  The “BAR” part might be new or refurbished.  Perhaps the “Heart of the North” is covering a previous name?  Whatever — it’s still colorful and fun.  Still, I wish I had time to make some phone calls about every single sign, building, and statue while the people who know their histories are still around.


From Woodruff — stuck shooting through trees from a distance for this one:


From Minocqua.   When I last saw this place in 2006, it housed “LifeSpring”, a coffee bar & gallery.  Now, it’s vacant and I don’t have a good feeling about it.  It’s now pretty surrounded by modern strip malls and box stores.


This one from Tomahawk:


This was the Alamo Plaza Motel the last time I was through here.  I must have a photo somewhere but I can’t find it.  Best I can do is this loopnet image:

As you can see, the smaller signs between the poles are gone now.  And the bare-butt-ed Indian kid was replaced:


A window skeleton sign from Land O’ Lakes:


The last couple photos for the night come with a story.  So, I was driving some long straight line distance again and trying to take it easy.  No ticket today!  But in my fatigue after 12+ hours of driving, I noticed the car in front of me had some non-human-like movement in the backseat.  At first glance I thought it was a dog — but clearly the profile was ears and horns!   A goat?  Yes — there’s a goat in that car.  When they pulled over into a gas station in Pelican Lake, I followed them in.  I went over to get a closer look and ask some questions.  Her name is Etta.  She was adopted from a Girl Scout Camp.  She doesn’t poop in the car (I even checked).  She sleeps in the house, on someone’s bed.  Hangs out on the sofa.  They were there at the Musky Mart to get Etta her favorite candy bar — a Skor bar.  I don’t think I’ve tried that one but you can bet I’ll be shopping for one tomorrow in her honor.  From Google, it’s made by Hershey’s and sounds like it’s a crunchy toffee.

Blurry here but this is how Etta likes to ride:  back feet (sorry, hooves) on back seat and front feet on the console.  She really seemed so calm and intelligent.  I have so many questions that I didn’t get to ask.

Tomorrow, we should be able to get through Oshkosh, Green Bay and a bunch of other smaller cities.  Gradually, working our way down to Milwaukee and then working back up at a diagonal towards MN over the next week or so.

11 thoughts on “Day 17: Wisconsin Begins

    • I want to drop this roadside stuff and just go back and document the life of Etta. It wouldn’t take much encouragement.
      I foresee Vitrolite of the Day shot with all these positive comments.

  1. What Monika says goes for me,too.

    Skor bar = Heath bar clone.
    I like both (couldn’t you guess?).

    Delta Diner: Cool.
    Interior shot: Through the window?

    Neon GOOD.
    Indian headress neon: Heap Good.

    Drive carefully.Watch out for Coppers.

    • Delta Diner shot from inside. They hadn’t quite opened yet but the nice owner let me in. Diner interiors so much better without distracting people in them.
      Trying to slow Sparkle down a bit. This trip has been expensive enough already!

    • Really? It’s hard to imagine that I can be educational in the wee hours of the night/morning when I can barely keep my eyes open. So I’m glad I’m toughing it out. I should really have started a “Storefronts” section at my site — but can’t bear to give myself another huge theme project. So, in lieu of that, I’ve been sticking some now & then at the blog as a way to document the ones that really catch my eye. So I’m glad that folks are not sick of them! They don’t shoot well though — too reflective — look much prettier in real life.

      • That’s really a complement – thanks. But actually my blog has helped ME notice things that I might not give much thought to. I’ve tried taking weekend trips with a promise to myself that I won’t do the blog and Flickr thing. But about 1/4 thru the first day, I’ll see something that isn’t worthy of the website but deserves documentation. So I break down and start shooting stuff again for the blog. It’s really ridiculous after a long day of shooting to be doing this. But in the end, when I see the stuff that’s now “out there”, I’m glad I’ve done it. It’s also a way of documenting the madness, explaining the depth of my obsession and how, yes, it’s possible, to drive for 30-something days with four maniacal beasts along for the ride, while getting no sleep and eating mostly sugar. When do I get my own reality show?

  2. Ditto on Skor and Vitrolite comments. Your posts have helped me see the roadside in a whole new, appreciating elements I would have never noticed before!

    • Oh that’s really touching. I’d like to think that in my little way, I’m creating a fan base for plastic signs, odd little statues, etc. so that more of them might live on.

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