Monday, July 10, 2017

My 4th of July Vacation

I always try to get away from the city and do something fun for the 4th of July. In 2013 I was on the Eastern Shore with my parents and a sorority sister, 2014 I was in New Hampshire, 2015 was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and last year I was in Seattle. So of course this year had to be just as fun!

Not the fireworks from this year, but you get the idea. Image found here
I started my trip the Friday before the holiday, when a friend and I went to see the fireworks at Fort Meade. They were SO good! We sat right up front; we could lay on the grass and just look up to watch the show. There were so many fireworks: different colors, varied designs, and they were loud! I don't know how much money they spent to put on that show, but it was awesome!

As for the trip part of my holiday, I was originally going to visit a friend in Columbia, South Carolina, because she is down there for school. But then she said she was planning to spend a lot of the summer at her parents' lake house in Wisconsin. She invited me up there instead, and I thought, "I'm not going to turn down a lake house!" So I flew into Chicago super-early on July 1, she picked me up, and we made our way up to Hustisford (Ever heard of it? Nope, neither had I).

Our view of the lake. Amazing!
We started our vacation right away. As soon as we arrived, we changed into our bikinis and sunbathed for an hour. I'm glad we did that first thing, because it ended up raining that day! But we didn't let the rain ruin our day. We still walked around the nature trails near the house (it goes around the whole island in a circle, so you can't get lost), and picked blackberries for a pie (recipe here). Each night we had some down time to read, enjoy huge dinners, drink LOTS of wine, and see fireworks on the lake! And on two of the mornings, I woke up pretty early to beautiful sunshine on the lake, so I practiced yoga out on the dock. Glorious!

But we didn't just stay at home: we wanted to explore! We visited the Willow Creek cheese factory (owned by Union Star Cheese), where I tried cheese curds and quark for the first time (Quark is a dairy-based dip, but the one we had was lemon, so it was sweet! Great with animal crackers, FYI).

A little sketchy looking, but the owner is really nice! Image found here
After that, we visited two wineries. Pine River Winery is in a man's basement, which was a little weird, but he had such a variety of wines, and lots of flavored ones, too! I didn't really like the wines, but I did buy a "Raven's Cache" wine glass as my souvenir.

So pretty! Image found here
Then we visited Vines & Rushes Winery, which is a more traditional winery. The space is beautiful, and big! Again, the wines were not all that, but we each bought a glass so we could sit outside with our picnic of cheese (bought that day), crackers, and fruit salad.

Monday was our trip to Milwaukee. We started the day visiting the Boerner Botanical Gardens, where I took a million pictures! Here are just a few:

Such a pretty entrance!
I have never seen a plant that had such obvious male and female flowers! Notice how different the middles of the flower are!
This tree had a knob that eerily looked like a sideways baby head...

The rose gardens are amazing!
There was a waterfall in the park.
They are on-point with their succulents!
This cone flower is a bit out of proportion...
Then we went to a baseball game, because the Orioles just happened to be playing the Brewers (just like they just happened to be playing the Mariners when I went to Seattle last year. Very weird!). The woman attending the parking lot gave us a free pass to park closer to the gate, so that was awesome!
We enjoyed our hotdogs, but after six innings of losing, we left early (thank goodness, because the score didn't change after that!). But I was glad I could wear my patriotic O's shirt again.

The Domes!
After we slipped out of the game, we went to Mitchell Park Conservatory (i.e. "The Domes"), which had been under construction the last time my friend was in town. They were really neat! They are three glass domes that each have a different plant theme: a tropical one, a desert one, and then the "show dome," which had a purple theme to it (I think it changes regularly). Again, many photos:

Both of the botanical gardens had koi fish.
These plants were given water dyed with food coloring. You can see the different colors of the plants, and the white ones have not received the colored water.
This bird sat quite still, so I could get a few good shots of him!
Yes, that's the real name of this plant.
Our actual fourth of July was pretty low-key. We stayed at home, reading, watching movies, and petting the two cats and dogs that my friend's parents brought with them (so cute and friendly). We actually saw the fewest fireworks on our real Independence Day. But we did have a beautiful moon that night!

Such a great vacation! I would love to visit again. Hard to beat having so much fun!

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