Wisconsin Embellishments

Wisconsin Embellishments

The thing I absolutely love about doing this blog, is that when I’m out and about, I am always on the lookout for interesting things to photograph. It just makes me so much more aware of things – instead of just driving by trying to get to my destination. Shouldn’t that be the way we always travel? I think it will surely be the way I travel from now on. Then, when I get home and have to post my pictures, of course I have to know what the heck I’m talking about, so there’s some research involved. That’s when it gets really interesting. When I understand what I recently saw.

Why is it that when you are shopping for a new car, suddenly half of the cars on the road are the car you’ve decided on? Or when you get pregnant, you are suddenly more aware of all the beautiful baby bellies out there? I thought the same thing about barn quilts. I set out to find some barn quilts, and BAM! They’re everywhere! Especially around Shawano, Wisconsin.

Turns out Shawano County set out – and has become – the Barn Quilt Capital of Wisconsin with a project that started up in the summer of 2010. They started with three in the fall of that year and currently there are more than 300 all around the county.

The very first barn quilt in Shawano County is on display on Rasmussen Road west of Caroline. That quilt was designed and painted by members of the Caroline Aces 4-H Club. Click to see the video with a great synopsis of how the project originated, from the inspiration of the narrator, Jim Leuenberger after he saw several quilts on barns in other states – to seeing 300 of these beautiful creations – each unique – on barns across the county.

From that project has come the “Bike the Barn Quilt Project” where seven bike routes, each from 5-70 miles, travel past barn quilts on the beautiful backroads of Wisconsin. For more information on the Bike Ride click hereTo see the locations of the barn quilts in Shawano County click here.

Shawano County’s 203rd barn quilt (pictured above) was sponsored by Shawano Pathways, the area’s local bike/pedestrian group. It was the first of three barn quilts the group sponsored as part of its “Bike the Barn Quilts” initiative that kicked off in fall 2013.

No Embellishments

I suppose I chose this broken down old house because of its lack of embellishments, except that bright yellow tree in the front yard. These are the kinds of things that are missed by staying on the interstates and the things that make road trips so exciting, at least for me. I passed by this and had to turn around to get the photo. On the return trip, I remembered exactly where it was and took another look. Love it!

Concrete Park – Phillips, WI

Concrete Park

When we first discovered the Concrete Park more than 20 years ago, the kids were young and we were all impressed by the uniqueness of it all. Today when I stopped, the memories returned, as the concrete and brightly-colored broken glass-adorned men and animals stood proudly on this fabulous day in Phillips, Wisconsin. The park includes over 200 folk art sculptures which are pretty awesome and there is also a short nature trail.

After a bad storm in 1976 where 70% of the park was destroyed, the Kohler Foundation, Inc. restored it and then turned it over to the county. Today, it’s maintained by the “Friends of Fred Smith” a non-profit organization plus donations. It really is something to see!

“In 1948, at age 62, Price County native Fred Smith began creating what is known today as the Wisconsin Concrete Park. Smith, a lumberjack, tavern owner, farmer, and dance hall musician, created over 230 figures depicting his vision of the local culture and the world. His work is considered by experts to be one of America’s most unique displays of folk art. Smith’s characters came from local legend and personal acquaintances as well as legendary heroes. His most widely recognized statues include Ben Hur, the Lincolns, Sacajawea, and Paul Bunyan.” To read more about Fred Smith and the Wisconsin Concrete Park, click here.

More Wisconsin Lakes

Clam Lake

Everywhere you turn on a road trip in Wisconsin are beautiful lakes. The photo above was taken at Clam Lake, located in the heart of Chequamegon National Forest. This lake is embellished with a fishing boat, as are many in Wisconsin. It looks pretty inviting, don’t ya think?

The photos below were taken about one mile north of Clam Lake at Day Lake. Day Lake Campground features 52 shaded campsites nestled under towering pines. It is absolutely beautiful! There’s another one of those bridges I love so much!

Nueske's MeatsAnd here is one last shot of the greatest “billboard” of them all. I thought this vintage Nueske’s delivery van was surely unique, but then I saw several more, strategically placed around the area. Their website makes me hungry just looking at it. Check it out.

If you have come across something really cool in your travels, shoot me an email and we can set up a guest blog! Or at the very least send me your cool photos and a blurb about it and I’ll give you credit for both! I would love to share your special stories too. I shouldn’t be the only one sharing my stories on here!

Well, this has been one splendid day. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did exploring some of Wisconsin’s Embellishments!

Happy trails,

Barbara Olson

Barbara Olson

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