Leaving at 10:00 am, we had
expected to encounter less traffic; it still took almost an hour and
a half just to get to Lake Geneva. But there was no hurry and
the late February day was filled with bright sunshine and an azure
sky to boot. We had booked a room at the
Hilton Garden Inn on
the outskirts of town and right off Interstate 94 (the exit was just
opened in early 2011). Located on a plot of land called Pabst
Farms, the hotel is a relatively new addition to the area, open for
perhaps only three or four years
According to their
website, Pabst Farms is "a unique and inviting 1,500-acre
master-planned community unlike any other development in
Southeastern Wisconsin. It offers all of the conveniences and
amenities of an urban area in a breathtaking Lake Country setting
which is only 40 minutes to downtown Milwaukee and 45 minutes to
Unfortunately, the Pabst Farms
development appears to have taken a direct hit from the economic
downturn before it was totally developed; plenty of open space
remains... Nevertheless, the area offers many recreational,
dining and shopping opportunities, and the hotel has 100 comfortable
and new rooms.
Early check-in allowed for us to
settle in to our room and head down for a brief workout in the
exercise room, followed by a relaxing session in the spa. A
change of clothes and we were ready to do some exploring!
Within easy walking distance is
the Market Place at Pabst Farms; with a Pick & Save food store,
Huntington Learning Center and a Starbucks (they seem to pop up
everywhere) -- to name just a few -- the Hilton is nicely located
and convenient. And just around the corner from that is
Frank Brennan opened a fruit stand in Monroe, Wisconsin
in 1942. He later added cheese and then other items like wine,
beer, bread and vegetables; all were -- and still are --
purchased direct; freshness and quality were a guarantee. Now
in five locations and still growing, Brennan's offers some of the
finest food items available. I have a very hard time passing
one if I see it; even if I go in "just to look", I always come out
This time was
no different. In addition to about five pounds of various
cheeses and some other items, I purchased my first pastys. Yep
-- that's the "Pasty" mentioned in the very first sentence above.
Its history is unclear, but the pasty is sort of a pot pie without
the pot... so to speak. Consisting of ground meat, onions,
potatoes, carrots and rutabaga that are folded into a pastry that is
crimped on one side, it was supposedly a favorite lunch of Cornish
miners. I had heard of them but never tasted one. And I
was excited to have found them at Brennan's and bought a pair to try
for dinner when we got back home... They are now a favorite of
mine and I hope to find some locally that I can try.
A little help
from a map of Oconomowoc and, of course, a GPS and we located the
restaurant where we were to enjoy the luncheon on Saturday.
Out of several other interesting possibilities, we decided to try
dinner there as well. Nestled up to the southwest corner of Okauchee Lake was a restaurant called the Golden Mast.
Complete with dockside mooring for summer boaters, the restaurant
was a study in dark wood, massive beams and great food.
A touch of
German lineage ensured that the dinner was replete with tasty rye
bread, cole slaw and potato salad to accompany the fish fry --
which, by the way, also came with French fries and a
potato pancake! Both our dinners (lake perch for me and
steamed cod for Yvonne) were excellent and we departed the
restaurant quite sated. The following day's luncheon was just
as good, and more time needed to be spent in the exercise room to
ensure that at least some of the excess calories were burned!
We also took
advantage of the Hilton's kitchen and dining room to enjoy a great
breakfast before departing on Sunday morning. Heading south on
Route 67, we noticed a collection of cars in a parking lot near a
small lake just south of Oconomowoc. I made a mental note to
be sure to plan an
ice-fishing excursion to this area in the near
future. There are several more restaurants I'd like to try,
and I know that I'll be planning another stay at the
Hilton Garden Inn.
It was a fun
and relaxing journey; nice to be away from work for a few days.
Sort of an out-of-the-way place, to be sure. But if you're
looking for a getaway with lots to do in any season -- a place that
isn't too far from the Fox River Valley -- Oconomowoc might just be
the place you're looking for!