Friday, August 31, 2018

Dinner in Minocqua Wisconsin

As I'd mentioned previously, after shopping and exploring downtown Minocqua, we wandered on up north, just looking at the woods, scenery and the town of Boulder Junction.  What I didn’t realize was that we were only about 13 or 14 miles south of the Cisco Chain of Lakes in Michigan where Laurie, David II and I had spent a couple of vacations many years ago. 

In any case, by the time we finished our drive it was time for dinner…

For dinner, it was back to Minocqua and once again, it was a restaurant located on a lake.  In this case, it was Lake Minocqua and the restaurant was The Thirsty Whale.

 These photos were taken from the shore beside the restaurant just before I went in.  The first photo is just a general view of Lake Minocqua from the left side of The Thirsty Whale.

The second photo is interesting as I believe that it’s the remnant of a former railroad trestle for one of the railroads that used to service the town of Minocqua.  From the map of the area around the restaurant that I pulled up on line, it shows that the structure stops about three-fourths of the way across the lake, just short of reaching town.  The trestle also lines up perfectly for the depot that I photographed in Minocqua.

The bar and ‘game area’ was pretty empty when we showed up for dinner but I’m sure that it’s a lively late night operation as it stays open until 2:30AM most nights in season.  It is a spacious area, that’s for sure.

Outside dining is available for those who are so inclined…and there were a dozen or so people taking advantage of that big tent-like covering.

The dining area inside The Thirsty Whale was bright, equally spacious and clean.  As you can see, it had a bit of a north woods ambiance.  Service was prompt and efficient…

This was Laurie’s French Dip Sandwich with potato salad on the side. ($9.99) It was good but I noted that the roast beef was sliced thicker than one would normally expect on this sandwich.  The toast hoagie bun was a plus… 

Carla and Bonnie both had fish…one as a sandwich with potato chips and the other without the bread and sided with French fries. ($9.99) The sandwich is appropriately enough named “The Whale”.  

I had the Wisconsin Burger, the house hamburger topped with a generous amount of cheddar cheese and plenty of quality bacon. ($8.99) It was a good choice!  Love those seasoned French fries too…even if I shouldn’t have eaten any of them.

This was a bowl of The Thirsty Whale’s Wild Rice Clam Chowder. ($5.99) This bowl of thick and luscious goodness was probably the ‘star of the show’…the best thing that Karole or anyone ate at this restaurant!  This is the one and only time that we’d ever seen this soup on any menu…Karole also had a nice side salad.

The Thirsty Whale’s menu is pretty basic, sticking to appetizers, soup, sandwiches and salads.  Friday nights they have a fish fry option.  This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  Address: 453 West Park Avenue in Minocqua Wisconsin.  Phone: 715-356-7108.  Website:  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Truck, a Cannon, Shopping and Critters…

How about a little ‘miscellaneous’ for a change!  What follows is a bit of playtime plus some shopping and a look at some of Laurie’s favorite animals too…

This is yours truly riding in Dale’s ‘hunting’ truck!  It looks a lot like similar old trucks in hunting and fishing country across the USA.  Laurie’s cousin Carla was a bit dismayed to discover that the old rusty truck was back in working order, but her husband was quite pleased!

Hey!  Boys have to have their toys don’t they?!  Actually, Laurie really got a kick out of this ‘potato cannon’!  Basically it’s a PVC pipe creation with a screw top chamber at one end.  A Coleman lantern lighter is frequently used as the ignition source.
The ‘gunner’ sprays some flammable hair spray in the closed chamber, then closes it.  A potato is jammed down the barrel, one aims the cannon and pulls the trigger!  There is an explosion and the potato is launched at a surprising velocity… I’m sure that at close range this thing is highly dangerous!  If you enlarge it and look carefully at the third photo, you will note the potato over the top of the tree by the center peak of the house… Laurie loved this creation!

Alternative names for these creations are the ‘spud gun’ and the ‘spudzooka’.  A plethora of different potato cannon plans are found on-line and a couple of them are even more powerful than this one.  Spud guns or potato cannons can actually be purchased through Amazon!

Another retailer bites the dust!  This was the soon to be closed Younker’s Department Store in Plover Wisconsin.  Having worked in retailing for most of my adult life, I’m sensitive to the ongoing collapse of brick and mortar stores across the country…

Younker’s was a highly respected Iowa based department store company.  The Company was founded in 1856 in Keokuk Iowa…that’s 162 years ago!  The company had been purchased by Bon-Ton Stores Inc. but the entire company, with 256 stores, is being liquidated.  The company had stores in 23 states and they employed about 23,000 people.  Other names operated by Bon Ton include Carson-Pirie, Herberger’s, Bergner’s, Boston Store and Elder Beerman…

I took this photo inside the store after I got done having our car washed.  I made one serious error in judgement!  Laurie and her sisters went shopping in this closeout environment and I wasn’t there to oversee what was happening…

I knew that I was in trouble when I ran across Bonnie in the store and asked her where Laurie was.  She sort of sheepishly rolled her eyes and motioned toward the center of the store, telling me that “Laurie’s over there checking out”.  One designer purse later, we exited the store.  Laurie was happy but I did whine for a bit.  It didn’t do me any good though.  

This next retail experience was more to my liking, with products that I appreciate and prices that don’t make me twitch!  This is Feltz’s Dairy Store at 5796 Porter Drive near Stevens Point Wisconsin. 

The store is part of a fifth generation dairy farm.  The current owners purchased it from the husband’s parents in 1995 and their children are prepared to operate the farm into the sixth generation.

So far away from home and so many days before we’d be home… We both love cheese but we had to walk away from this magnificent display of happiness.

Jams and bread were also on display.  The store just opened in June of last year.  Among the features the store offers are viewing windows into the ‘robot barn’ that allows visitors to observe cows being milked.  In the education corner visitors can learn more about both farming and this family farm.

In addition to cheese, milk, ice cream, butter, jam, locally baked bread, specialty coffee, maple syrup, eggs, they also sell locally produced meats, (including their own Angus beef) as well as sausage and bacon and many other products.  Then we found something fairly local that we could purchase and take back with us.  Note those 6-packs of New Glarus beer. 

This is the service counter at Feltz’s Dairy Store.  Note the cheerful young lady behind the counter.  At the right you should note the ice cream freezer, another temptation we avoided.  The same was true for the candy display at the left!  The beer purchase kept us from being totally frustrated and we made a small contribution to the store’s sales for the day…

I included a photo of this small flowering plant outside the store.  It was attractive and unusual.  I haven’t been able to identify it.  Any feedback would be appreciated!

It’s a fact that any farm, dairy or otherwise, has to have farm cats!  They do a great job of holding down the rodent population.  These two don’t seem too energetic though.  They aren’t overweight and that does indicate that they get much of their nourishment through hunting.  Like most cats, they act like they own the place!

The Feltz Farm dairy cows are Holsteins.  This is the most common US dairy breed.  They’re best known for their black and white spots…and for the fact that they produce more milk than other breeds!  The first Holsteins were brought to North America by a Dutch settler in 1621.

The Feltz Farm has grown green beans, sweet corn and peas and they have 750 acres where they grow alfalfa and corn for silage for their herd.  There are 700 cows on the farm.

The cow barns and facilities are the best and most up to date that we’ve ever seen.  Those are happy cows!  The cow in the last photo is looking at us as if we’re interrupting her day.  We were startled to learn that automatic milking has been installed at the farm.  This involves 2 robots that service 100 cows.  The startling fact is that the robots allow the cows to determine when they want/need to be milked.  Wow!

Feltz Farms offers guided tours of the robotic milking operation by appointment only during the week and every open hour on the hour on Saturdays.  Tours are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children from 6 – 12 years old and $3.00 for children 5 and under.  Phone: 715-344-1293.  The farm’s website is at

That’s all for this edition of my blog.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for joining us on another busy day in Wisconsin!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, August 27, 2018

Exploring Minocqua Wisconsin and another Refreshment Break

From Tomahawk, we drifted a bit further north on US Hwy 51 to the town of Minocqua Wisconsin…and actually drove all the way up to Boulder Junction, which is located just a few miles south of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  However, we did stop to shop and look around in Minocqua.

Minocqua is a tourist/vacation orientated town!  For a place with a population of about 4,500 people, downtown Minocqua was a busy place.  Lots of vacationers wandered along the sidewalks and in and out of the stores… Although the town was organized in 1889, the town doesn’t seem very old. 

Proof that Minocqua is a tourist destination is everywhere.  Plenty of the buildings project that ‘German Bavarian’ look and then there are these painted ‘buildings’ in view along Oneida Street… Cute!

The fact is that a great many buildings in the center of town were destroyed by a big fire in 1912.  Many of the buildings on Oneida Street…Minocqua’s main street…were designed and built after the fire.  

Like many towns that we visited throughout central Wisconsin, the local Chamber of Commerce and local businesses did a nice job of brightening up the business section of town with lots of hanging flower baskets & planters of flowers.

By the late 1800s, this was a logging town.  Of course, construction of railroads was critical to early growth in the area.  They were of course built to provide access to the timber.  Later the railroads catered to sportsmen and tourists and Minocqua was transformed into a vacation destination.  It obviously still is! 

It’s hard for me to reconcile the look of this gift shop with the fact that shows a photo of this building as a surviving depot…having been built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. (Better known as the Milwaukee Road) I almost didn’t take a photo of it despite the fact that it is currently referred to as “the Old Depot Shops”.  It has been really modernized and, in my opinion has lost much of its character… I did find a photo that indicated that the depot existed ca. 1919.

·         The former railway right of way and the 2 trestles that brought trains to Minocqua are still in use, but not for railroads.  They provide the basis for the Bearskin State Trail, which provides hiking and biking in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter.  To learn about this trail, just go to

Wandering off Oneida Street onto Milwaukee Street, I came across this attractive home.  A sign on the home stated that it had been built in 1894 from lumber salvaged from the first rural school house that had been built in the area… 

This distillery was right across the street from that old home.  This is the home of Northern Waters Distillery, a ‘very small batch’ distillery that produces vodka, bourbon, gin and moonshine.  A typical batch for this small distillery yields less than 100 bottles.  All mashing, fermenting, distilling and bottling is done by hand. 

To learn more about this distillery and their products, you can go to:

Then I noticed the Minocqua Museum on the other corner!  Well, the ladies were shopping and exploring so I decided to do my own exploring. The women who were on duty on the first floor told me that I’d probably enjoy looking at the model train set-up in the basement.  So off I went!

These are just 2 photos taken from the 10 or so that I took of the model train layout.  It filled the entire basement of the museum and another volunteer was on duty operating the trains.  Fun!  The layout depicts the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s when the logging industry was king.

For all you railroad buffs out there, the Northwoods Model Railroad Club has posted a video of their creation at the Minocqua museum and they provide some railroad history as well.  Check it out at

Upstairs at the museum, there are several areas of interest broken up into compartments.  There is even another small railroad layout…at the right of the photo.

The military is well represented with manikins in uniforms, photos, old posters, news clippings and various other related items.

Love the old kitchen, don’t you?   What I like best about it is that it actually predates yours truly!  Look how thick that refrigerator door is…

I’ve seen a lot of old cars in a lot of automobile museums, but I’ve never seen this one before!  This is a 1908 Cameron Model 9.  This beauty had 3 speeds forward, a 4-cylinder engine producing 16 – 20 horsepower, could reach speeds of 45 miles per hour and it was a ‘great hill climber!’  This auto company operated in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and in Connecticut where its last auto was manufactured in 1920.

The Minocqua Museum is located at 503 Flambeau Street.  Call for open hours.  Phone: 715-356-7666.  I’m sure that this museum is operated by volunteers.  Admission is free but donations are accepted.  The museum is on Facebook at

After all of our exploration it was only logical that we would stop for a little refreshment.  I’d already been down by the Minocqua Brewing Company and taken this photo.  I should have asked our waitress what this large and sturdy building had been in the past but it slipped my mind...

In my earlier walking visit to this area of town, I took a couple of photos of the lake by the brewery.  Part of the attraction for the town of Minocqua is the fact that the town is really located on an isthmus that extends into the middle of Lake Minocqua.  It’s not a small lake either, as it covers 1,339 acres with an average depth of 23 feet.

Back to the Minocqua Brewing Company and Restaurant… These days it seems like breweries, wineries and distilleries are just about everywhere.  The Minocqua Brewing Company offers an extensive menu as well as a lounge menu in the area where we were seated.

In keeping with the north wood theme, the craft beers on the menu were named the “Largemouth Blonde”, “Minocqua Pale Ale”, “Roadkill Red”, “Bear Naked Brown” and the “Pudgy Possum Porter”.  I don’t remember which ones we tried but they were better than average.  We didn’t sample their menu...

The Minocqua Brewing Company is located at 238 Lakeshore Drive.  Phone: 715-356-2600.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Wisconsin Supper Club

Wisconsin Supper Clubs are slowly disappearing as new dining concepts take hold and the younger generations look for experiences more in tune with ‘their’ lifestyle.  So what is a Wisconsin Supper Club?

The theory is that the original Supper Clubs originated in the 1920’s as prohibition roadhouses where gangsters stopped while moving moonshine from place to place.  These roadhouses were outside most city limits and when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, liquor licenses were first granted to establishments outside city limits that served food with their alcohol.  The “Supper Club” was born!  A true ‘supper club’ is a throw-back, a step back in time with menus that frequently reflect earlier times.

This is the Pine Tree Supper Club at 115 West Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Tomahawk Wisconsin.  The sign out front states “Fine Dining and Cocktails” and the building itself “looks like” a Wisconsin supper club. 

The dining area of the Pine Tree Supper Club also screams ‘supper club’ with wood paneling, a salad bar and the feeling that it’s been there a long time.  Log walls are also popular in many supper clubs.

Here are the sisters and Carla at our table in the Pine Tree Supper Club.  (Laurie, Carla, Karole and Bonnie) Unfortunately, we weren’t hungry enough to really test out the menu.  We were there for drinks and snacks…

This was the bar scene at The Pine Tree Supper Club.  Not bad for mid-day during the week!  What kind of drinks does a typical supper club still serve?  How about a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned?  Sure, they’ll whip up more hip concoctions…but the old time drinks are still popular.

As I said, we were at the Pine Tree Supper Club at lunchtime but just for snacks.  I’m sure that you’ll note that everything we ordered is fried!  We had deep fried cheese stuffed jalapenos, fried cheese, fried cauliflower, fried shrimp and fried onion rings!

Now let’s talk about the ‘real’ food on the menu.  How about steak sandwiches, deep fried walleye, prime rib, bacon wrapped filets, stuffed shrimp and a 25 oz. sirloin...  Almost all on-line reviews talk about the ‘huge portions’!  I took special note of one ‘heart stopping’ luncheon special called “The Spirit”.  It is an open faced sandwich…toast layered with ham, mushrooms, asparagus spears and Hollandaise sauce loaded with melted mozzarella cheese over everything!

Laurie took this photo of Karole, yours truly, Carla and Bonnie near the bar.  Note the definite ‘north woods’ ambience!

This wall laden with lake trout trophies is typical of the supper club atmosphere… It’s “the look”.  Other popular decorative elements in supper clubs are trophy bucks, turkey, bear, etc. and/or paddles, canoes, fishing poles, etc.  Laurie and I always feel like we’ve come home to a place of comfort when we go to a supper club in Wisconsin!

It is extremely difficult to completely define a ‘supper club’.  An article published in the Chicago Tribune back in 2015 took a stab at it… Check it out at  I believe that the author nailed it with his 4-point definition…but it’s too long for me to repeat here.

As of 2016, Wisconsin Supper produced a list of 300 existing supper clubs in operation across the state.  They even produced a map providing a list of towns or areas with supper clubs.  To learn more, go to

The Pine Tree Supper Club in Tomahawk Wisconsin is open daily for lunch and dinner.  Phone: 715-453-4235.  They don’t seem to have a website but there is an unofficial Facebook site dedicated to this restaurant at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave