Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead



This is the ninth in a series of articles about seeing tulips and touring the state of Michigan


By Charles N. Stevens

Photos by Dolores Seidman

We leave Green Bay on a sunny morning, traveling southbound to the Wisconsin Dells. Again we pass Lambeau Field and Lombardi Avenue on our way to Highway 41. Our bus rolls through miles of level farmland and several dormant forests just starting to turn green. As we go through the small town of Neenah, our guide tells us that the town is noted for producing, of all things, manhole covers that are shipped all over the United States and Europe. Kaukauna, the next town, is famous for its cheese. The Pierce Company in the larger city of Appleton produces fire engines. We could see hundreds of them gleaming red in the sun. Lawrence College and several paper mills can also be found in or near Appleton. Two of Appleton’s citizens who gained fame are Harry Houdini and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Near Lake Winnebago, we rumble through Oshkosh, home of the greatest annual air show in the United States. The Experimental Aircraft Association’s museum featuring all types of airplanes is close to where the airshow is held. Dolores and I had visited this museum several years before and were very impressed with the aircraft exhibits. Oshkosh is also the home of Oshkosh B’Gosh, the maker of their famous overalls and children’s clothing. And, of course, there are pulp mills adding their “fragrance” to the air.

Now on Highway 44, we pause in the town of Ripon, the birthplace of the Republican Party. The building where it was born is a small white clapboard house with square paned windows. It is preserved because of its importance. It is amazing how such a vital and influential party could have arisen from such a tiny place. Ripon is also the birthplace of H. Gordon Selfridge who later founded Selfridge Department Stores in London featured on a recent PBS series.

Out in the country again, now on Highway 23, we pass miles of cut cornfields. Tractors are busy turning the short stalks under and raising clouds of dust. Our bus rolls through the small town of Princeton with its fine old houses then out through piney woods. The next small town is called Montello, the Fox River flowing through its middle. I see a young man sitting on the bank fishing. He looks so content. The largest tree in the state of Wisconsin, a huge cottonwood, grows here, and a former rock quarry has been turned into a park with waterfalls. It seems that every town, no matter how small, is proud of something.

We arrive in Wisconsin Dells at about noon. Pausing here for lunch, we find we are in a large pocket of “ugly America.” All along the boulevard are amusement attractions and gross fakery, such as The Haunted Mansion, overdone miniature golf courses, souvenir shops, “duck” rides, fake castles, laser tag arenas and even a great Noah’s Ark. Loud motor cycles cruise down the boulevard. There are fudge shops, a Believe It or Not Museum and biker restaurants. The area is the biggest tourist attraction in Wisconsin, all these places designed to siphon money out of wallets. The area is also known as the water park capital of the world. There are many elaborate ones, some with grand hotels on the premises.

But we are not interested in any of that. We are bound for the dells of the Wisconsin River that has formed a large lake flowing back into many picturesque canyons. What makes the area especially attractive are the Cambrian sandstone rock formations, rocks stacked like thick petrified pancakes. We board a boat that will take us out into the lake and into some of the canyons. Mallard ducks cruise in the water, and swallows dash everywhere. A “city” of their mud nests clings to the bottom of a bridge we glide under. Pines and hemlocks grow on top of the gray to reddish rock formations, adding their beauty to the scene. A guide tells us that the Wisconsin River will eventually flow into the Mississippi River, and that rafts were once used to travel from here down to New Orleans. We look out on the many intriguing small inlets and narrow spaces between the rocks, finally stopping at a larger inlet called “Witches Gulf.” Stepping out of the boat, we walk on a plank walkway that winds through narrow passages in the weathered rocky bluffs, the forms so strange and exotic that they look manmade, like those in Disneyland. Some rock formations appear like giant mushrooms. We explore other coves and hike to places affording great views of the dells.

On our way again after the boat tour, we pause at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant for an early dinner. Then we are bound for Middleton where we will stay the night. We pass by farms with Holstein cows, many ponds and lakes, a wind farm and fields of dark Wisconsin soil. We’re glad to get into our room at the Fairfield Hotel.

The small building in Ripon, Wisconsin is where the Republican party began.

The small building in Ripon, Wisconsin is where the Republican party began.

This walkway in the Wisconsin Dells winds through narrow canyons in the ancient rock formations.

This walkway in the Wisconsin Dells winds through narrow canyons in the ancient rock formations.

This is a view from our boat of the forested rocky bluffs.

This is a view from our boat of the forested rocky bluffs.

Some rock formations in the Wisconsin Dells look like giant mushrooms.

Some rock formations in the Wisconsin Dells look like giant mushrooms.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 43 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

Leave a Response