Anyone that really knows me knows that I'm not a big fan of my home state. I wonder all the time why, out of all the states in the union, I had to be born in this one. Now before all the die-hard Wisconsin lovers start to attack me, let me finish.
The weather here is horrible! We have only two seasons: winter and summer. The winters are bitter cold and full of snowstorms. You take your life in your hands every time you get behind the wheel in the winter! And summers are so brief; when they finally get here, enjoying time outside is nearly impossible because the air is filled with gnats, mosquitoes, and horseflies!
Wisconsin is also known for everything I'm not interested in: sports (namely The Green Bay Packers), beer, hunting, and cheese. Well, maybe not cheese. I really like cheese. Yay! I found one thing I have in common with my fellow Wisconsinites! I like cheese!
Well, all joking aside, after years of traveling by car across this beautiful country of ours, I have found some things about Wisconsin that I actually do like. They may seem kind of silly, but hey, at least I found some things!
In all my road trips these are the few things about Wisconsin that I have found have other states beat!
1) We have hands down THE BEST rest stops of anyone in the country, and, we have a lot of them! I can't tell you how often we are driving in other states and we need a bathroom break and there is no where to pull over! And if we do find a rest stop, it's a run-down, shambled old building that looks like it belongs in a third world country, not America. Don't believe me? Try driving through Kansas, New Mexico, or even central Illinois once! Wisconsin rest stops are like five stars hotels in comparison to other states.
2) Easy on/easy off exits with a modern convenience/gas station and plenty of fast food restaurants at every town or within every hour. When you drive in Wisconsin, I can guarantee that every hour or less you will see a sign for gas or food (and not a run down mom & pop place either), and the location will be immediately when you take the exit ramp right off the freeway. In other states, you could drive for hours before seeing a gas station or restaurant, and when you do find one, it's fifteen or more miles off the freeway! I can't understand for the life of me why Wisconsin is the only state smart enough to take advantage of freeway traffic and put businesses near the exit ramps.
3) Lots of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and state parks. O.k. Wisconsin is definitely not Alaska or California. They win the trophy in this category; however, Wisconsin is definitely up there! But, due purely to geographical location, Alaska or California wins. Despite it's lack of mountains, Wisconsin is still a beautiful state full of lush forests, rolling hills, lakes, and rivers. And I think our state has worked really hard to preserve it's natural beauty and provide lots of outdoor activities for everyone. There are sixty-six state parks to enjoy in Wisconsin. Alaska, California, and New York have the most park acreage and the states with the fewest state parks are North Dakota (15), Nebraska (18), and Louisiana (20).
4) And finally, and the whole point of this post, Wisconsin has so many nice small towns. On many of our cross-country road trips, I've noticed that there is a lot of "nothingness" until you reach a big city. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is filled with small towns. Yes, we have the big city of Milwaukee and the hipster cool capitol city Madison, but the majority of our state is made up of small cities and towns. We have 1,260 towns in our state and 190 cities. Although, I would consider most of the cities on this list as towns because they are so ridiculously small! You could get in your car and drive for hours in the state of Wisconsin and pass through one small, cute, town after another. It's just not like that anywhere else I've been.
And that's what this post is actually about: Small Town Wisconsin. One Saturday this past summer my husband and I took a road trip. Our daughter was in Ripon, Wisconsin for a concert and needed us to pick her up. Since it was over three and half hours away, we decided to make the trip one of our monthly "Adventures".
We had to drive through many small towns before reaching Ripon, but the two towns we had never been to before and we found the most interesting were Montello and Green Lake.
When we drove down the main street of Montello this was our view:
My husband and I looked at each other and were astonished. A waterfall on the main drag through town! What was this all about? Of course we had to stop the car and check this out!
The town had this sign explaining the significance of the falls and a little history of their town.
This is the pretty little church sitting on top of the rock that plays religious music described in the plaque above.
The water tower, church, and falls.
We did enjoy this view from the bridge and thought it was very pretty and quaint.
This Old Time Barbershop was pretty cute too!
After strolling the main street, we hung out by the falls taking fashion pictures for my blog (we are always looking for interesting backdrops for that! If you missed that post, you can see it HERE), then we found a farmers stand and purchased some corn on the cob and tomatoes. They were absolutely delicious!
Our next stop was Green Lake, Wisconsin where we found the sweetest little beach that had the warmest water I have ever experienced!
We didn't have swimsuits, so we only waded. I loved watching the seagulls fly above the water.
We also found a family of ducks enjoying the warm water too!
We found this pretty park near the downtown area.
I fell madly in love with this flower covered bridge.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, but I currently live in a small town of 354 people. There are lots of disadvantages to living in small towns, but there's a lot of advantages as well. My favorite things about living in a small town are: peace and quiet, safety, abundant wildlife, and natural beauty. Disadvantages? Having to drive a long distance to do anything, virtually no professional arts, a smaller selection of stores and restaurants, poor churches, and a lack of diversity. In small towns, people all tend to act and think alike. I often miss all the different types of people in big cities.
Someday, I hope to move. My husband job holds us here for now, but someday I plan on moving. Hopefully to a warmer climate, but I really don't know where. We tend to fall in love wherever we just traveled last. For the longest time we wanted to move to North Carolina. Then we discovered Vermont and New Hampshire and thought "That would be nice". We've considered Colorado many times because we love the mountains and all the outdoor recreation, but then I think "NO MORE SNOW!". And to our surprise, we both really fell in love with the climate and culture of New Mexico and seriously started to consider retiring there. Now our kids moved to Florida, so maybe, something tropical might be in our future. Who knows! The only thing I do know is it won't be Wisconsin. Even if they do have the best rest stops in the United States.
Have a great day! Amy
p.s. If you love Wisconsin and/or your small town, please don't take anything I've said in this post too seriously. Most of it is just tongue-in-cheek nonsense. :)