A Weekend in Manitowoc
More about Manitowoc - Dining, Lodging, etc.
Journey to the Far End of the Lake
Far End of the Lake
Berghoff & Blues
Green Lake, WI
Green Co, WI
Are We There Yet?
Ever since I took my first trip across Lake Michigan on the
Badger, I was hooked on the experience and have wanted to repeat the
excursion. It is not often that I get the opportunity to repeat many
excursions – part of this is my own fault, but part of it is due to
the fact that that are just not enough hours in the day or days in
the week to get everything taken care of that is on my “list”. So
when opportunity came knocking for a chance to sail once again on
the Badger, I answered the door in a hurry.
This time we left the Chicago area a bit earlier – about 2:30pm –
and took Heidi’s parents along to celebrate her father’s retirement.
The construction at the south end of Lake Michigan was not quite as
intense as it was last year, and the trip to Ludington, Michigan
took only about 4 ˝ hours. We checked in to the Viking Arms Motel (a
clean and friendly local place with free high-speed Internet
access!) at about 8:00pm – don’t forget the time changes – and
enjoyed a celebratory cocktail as some rain showers moved through
(the forecast for the following day was not particularly good and I
was a bit concerned about the condition of the Lake; big waves and I
do not get along well… more on that later). Soon there was the hint
of an approaching sunset and we all took a short drive into town to
take a look around – something that Heidi and I were unable to do on
our last trip due to the lateness of our arrival.
Although it was almost 9:30 at night, the one place that we had been
told not to miss – House of Flavors – was absolutely packed. But we
got in line anyway and were all soon licking furiously on our
favorite-flavored ice cream cones as we walked down toward the lake.
The evening was a pleasant one except for the threat of more showers
and we enjoyed the short walk and the clean air and talk of the sail
in the morning. Returning to the motel, we checked the weather
map and noticed more storms approaching. If it stormed I did
not know, for the sound sleep sleep into which I fell, along with
the drone of the room air conditioner erased all other sounds.
The morning dawned mostly cloudy with a continued
threat of storms and I was worried about the marine forecast, which
included a possibility of three to five-foot waves on the lake.
Of course Heidi was overjoyed, for she seems to revel in those types
of conditions (she actually gets ravenously hungry when the seas are
rough while I seem to turn pale green and lose all
desire to eat...) and she was almost giddy with anticipation.
After getting our tickets, we boarded the Badger and headed right
for the top aft deck to watch the cars, Semi-trailers, busses,
campers and assorted other motorized vehicles as they were loaded.
I am still amazed at the amount of cargo that this ship will hold.
But I am reminded that she was originally designed to carry railroad
freight cars during all months of the year - she can now handle up
to 600 passengers and 180 vehicles - so this was no big deal.
At 8:00 on the button, the ship gave a few brief blasts on the horn
headed out of the harbor, waving to many on shore who waved
to us as if we were on the Queen Mary and heading out across the
Atlantic Ocean. We also met up with Lynda Daugherty, Director
of Media Relations. Lynda is an incredible asset to the
Badger; she has always given much of her time to help us find our
way around the ship, share information with us and just generally
make us feel at ease while on board. She also pointed the way
to the place where I could get some of the acupressure wrist bands
that would really make my trip much more relaxing and enjoyable.
I do have to say that I have no idea as to the size of the waves
that day, but the Badger is as sound a ship as I have been on and I
hardly noticed the gentle rocking motion as we crossed the Lake.
We docked in Manitowoc exactly 4 hours later - again
exactly as the schedule had said - and headed to the newly renovated
Best Western Lakefront Hotel
(formerly the Maritime Inn). It was a
bit early to check in, so we decided to pay another visit to the
Wisconsin Maritime Museum and another tour of the USS Cobia
submarine. For those of you who have still not been to
Manitowoc and toured the sub... well, you just have
to. The museum is "the Smithsonian's home in Wisconsin and the
largest Maritime museum on the Great Lakes, as well as 'homeport' to
USS Cobia, the nation's most completely restored WW II submarine in
America", and is also an incredible experience. We were
fortunate enough to be there on a day when former aft torpedo-man
Charles Stewart from the Cobia was there. He was on board the
sub at his actual wartime station and shared a few stories from the
Cobia's patrols. It is impossible to relate to you how
compelling the experience was.
We returned to the
Best Western Lakefront Hotel
and immediately noticed the
new carpets, fresh paint and a cleaner look and feel to the place -
certainly a vast improvement over our last visit and a venue
with a great location and friendly atmosphere with all the amenities
for all occasions. The storms that had threatened seemed to
diminish and disappear out over the lake, so we decided to take a
walk to the downtown area where we again visited Beerntsen's (we
stayed for a quick lunch of tasty brats and some homemade chocolates
for dessert), Cook's Corner (an incredible superstore loaded with
every piece of kitchen ware imaginable) and took a walk along the
clean and nifty river front - in the process of renovation to
include a new road down to the Badger. We returned to the
hotel and cleaned up for a trip to my favorite dinner spot, the
Courthouse Pub, where we enjoyed a relaxed evening and some great
entrees before returning to the hotel for another night of sound and
We were on something of a tight schedule this trip, but
there was one final stop that we made on Wednesday morning. We
had been unable to tour the
Natural Ovens Bakery on our other visits
because they were all on weekends. This time however, the
mid-week trip afforded the chance to see what I now consider to be
one of the best "factories" I have ever toured. Factories is
in quotes because it is nothing like what the word conjures up.
The place is immaculately clean, the environment is quiet and serene
and the employees there are smiling, cheerful and helpful. If
this sounds like an impossibility to you, all I can say is that you
should visit the place and see for yourself. You have to see
it and also watch the video to believe it, but the working
conditions are enviable at the very least, and it is all about what
is in the food we eat - according to owners Paul and Barbara Stitt
(Paul started the company in 1976). Without sounding like a
rep for the company, let me at least say that I am impressed by the
fact that all products are made from the finest of natural
ingredients, preservative free, without chemical additives and about
90+ % organic. According to Barbara and Paul, it is all about
diet. Plan a visit and try some
of their breads, rolls, muffins and bagels. They are
The trip home from Manitowoc included a quick stop at
Miesfeld's in Sheboygan for some of their excellent brats, some
landjaeggers, bacon and cheese (what would a trip to Wisconsin be
without buying some cheese?!) It once again seemed like an
incredibly quick trip, but I guess the old adage is true "time flies
when you're having fun". And fun... we certainly did have
a lot of that.
The real key though was the relaxing down-time aboard the Badger.
For four hours on what might have appeared to be a damp and dreary
July day, the rest of the world and its problems did not exist.
It was certainly some marvelous quality time. Thanks once
again to Ludington, Lynda Daugherty, the
and its fine
captain and crew, and to the city of Manitowoc and all its fine
venues. It is a trip that you absolutely have to put on your
list of things to do!