Places to Write, Travel, Wisconsin

Places to write: Perc Place, Hartford, WI

Mark Twain at Perc Place, Hartford, WI
I have to love a cafe that features a painting of Mark Twain on the wall.

Perc Place, located in Hartford, WI, is one of my regular writing haunts. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that is conducive to writing, if you can manage to be there during the right time of day. The walls are covered in painted replicas of old Life Magazine covers and are accompanied by a variety of knick-knacks that always seem to provide an interesting focal point while you’re contemplating your next sentence.

Perc Place seems like a coffee shop at first glance, but its main focus appears to be the restaurant business. Don’t visit expecting to use their WiFi during busy mealtime hours, as it’s only available during their slow times. While the lack of internet access can occasionally be a pain, I find that it mostly keeps me from getting distracted when I should be writing.

I like to enter through the back door and avoid the crowded restaurant section in the front of the building. If you’re here to write, you want a cushy chair or couch cushion in the back where it’s quiet. Well, quiet-ER. The old regulars can get a little rowdy from time to time! Continue reading “Places to write: Perc Place, Hartford, WI”

Places to Write, Random Writing Rants, Restaurants, Wisconsin

Dreaming, drinking coffee, and pretending to write

The Cafe de Arts has an interesting selection of artsy sandwiches to accompany your coffee while you hang out pretending to write.
The Cafe de Arts has an interesting selection of artsy sandwiches to accompany your coffee while you hang out and pretend to write.

I’m writing to you this morning from Café de Arts in Waukesha, WI. It’s a cute little café in a big, old Victorian house with a huge sunflower painted on the side. I so want to open my own business in an old house in my town and paint the house purple with a huge sunflower on the side. I even have the house picked out. It’s a foreclosure that’s been sitting empty for about three years, just calling me to buy it.

I have a dream of opening my own writer’s studio/café/bookstore where I can hang out with other writers and discuss our craft in a homey setting. I’m picturing fluffy couches with books lining the walls, and a barista conveniently stationed in a cozy corner.

I’d hang out all day, writing in my notebook in between talking story with my customers. Sometimes, I would offer writing classes and workshops for more focused work. Ultimately, I would create my own little writing community where I can plug in to my local writing scene and keep my creative juices flowing while offering the same service to others. Continue reading “Dreaming, drinking coffee, and pretending to write”

Places to Write

A writing session at The Flying Pig, Algoma, WI

The Flying Pig Algoma Wisconsin
The Flying Pig, in Algoma, Wisconsin, is a neat place to just have a quick cup of coffee and check out garden artwork or to spend the day indoors writing.

Today I’m writing to you from The Flying Pig in Algoma, WI. Located 2 miles south of Algoma at N6975 State Hwy 42, The Flying Pig is an art gallery and green space that includes a small coffee shop where you can also grab a glass of wine or a cookie while you write.

A friend from my novel writing class stumbled upon this place, just south of Door County, a while back and invited me to take a day-trip back here to get away from home for a day and get some writing done in a fresh location.

The first thing we did when we got here was walk through the outdoor green space and look at all of the marvelous garden artwork on display. The entire gallery is free and open to the public, so this would be a great place to stop even if you are just passing through with no money. Continue reading “A writing session at The Flying Pig, Algoma, WI”

Travel, Vacation Planning

Just got back from a fabulous vacation!

A picture of the twilight river boat, docked at LeClaire, Iowa
The beautiful Twilight riverboat calls LeClaire, Iowa home.

I just returned from the most wonderful vacation, and I have to brag about it. I had always wanted to ride a riverboat on the Mississippi River (or better yet, a raft!) ever since I read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as a kid. So, when I was brainstorming ideas for our summer vacation this year, “Mississippi River Cruise” was at the top of my terms to Google. And I’m glad I did. The trip we took ended up being a magnificent deal, and each one of us came home more than satisfied with the experience.  Continue reading “Just got back from a fabulous vacation!”

Restaurants, Travel, Vacation Planning, Wisconsin

Eat outside at Mullin’s Drive In, Fox Lake, WI

Mullin's Drive In restaurant, Fox Lake, Wisconsin
The car hops at Mullin’s Drive In restaurant in Fox Lake, Wisconsin take your order at your picnic table and bring your food to you. No standing in line like most summer burger stands!

On our way home from Amish country Saturday, my SignifO and I decided we wanted to have lunch at some kind of small, family-owned restaurant rather than the usual boring chain. So, when we came across Mullin’s Drive In, located in Fox Lake, WI, we had to stop and eat.

Mullin’s sign boasts their car hops come to your car to take your order, but that’s not all. The property includes a large yard full of picnic tables where patrons can take a seat in the shade while car hops take their orders table-side. A car hop/waitress greeted us as we exited our vehicle and directed us to take any table we liked, and she would be right with us.

Just like at an indoor sit-down restaurant, the waitresses at Mullin’s Drive In will bring your food right to your table. Continue reading “Eat outside at Mullin’s Drive In, Fox Lake, WI”

Travel, Vacation Planning, Wisconsin

Mt. Olympus water park at Wisconsin Dells

The entrance to Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park...
The entrance to Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This summer, a gas station down the street is giving away free tickets to Mt. Olympus water park at Wisconsin Dells with every 10-gallon purchase of gas. I’m a part-time teacher/freelance writer, so of course I’m always broke. Deals like these are usually the only way I can take my kids on such extravagant outings, so of course I bit the hook on this one. Approximately 3 weeks and 40 gallons of gas after finding out about this special, I was ready to take my kids to Wisconsin Dells! Continue reading “Mt. Olympus water park at Wisconsin Dells”

Illinois, Lakes Rivers and Streams, Rivers, Travel, Video by Mandy

The sights of East Peoria & Peoria Heights

It feels like I haven’t blogged in ages. The last time I wrote to you, I was visiting my sister down in Peoria. We had a great visit and spent some time seeing the sights around East Peoria and Peoria Heights. First we took the scenic route down Peoria Heights’ Grand View Drive, which winds along a very high bank of the Illinois River with a sweeping view of the river on one side and gracious mansions on the other. One of our favorite homes on Grand View Drive is a modern castle complete with turrets on beautifully landscaped grounds.

Castle house on Grand View Drive in Peoria Heights, Illinois
We all argued over who would get the turret bedroom if we were to buy this castle house in Peoria Heights.

After we drove all of Grand View Drive, we headed across the river to East Peoria. My brother-in-law drove us on a precarious bridge that ran over the interstate and up onto another high bank above the river. Once we reached the top of the hill, we drove our car through another neighborhood of sprawling houses overlooking the river. These were not quite as impressive as the ones we saw in Peoria Heights but were still nicer than anything I’ve ever lived in. Plus the view of the river was amazing Continue reading “The sights of East Peoria & Peoria Heights”

Illinois, Lakes Rivers and Streams, Rivers, Travel

Traveling the Illinois River Road

Mandy Webster at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Refuge near Lacon on the Illinois River
This is me at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Refuge near Lacon, IL on the Illinois River

Today I am blogging to you from my sister’s kitchen table in Peoria, Illinois. We took the scenic route down from Wisconsin yesterday, straying from I-39 just south of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge at LaSalle-Peru. We headed west a few miles until we hit highway 26 and drove the Illinois River Road south the last several miles into Peoria.

We were in no hurry to arrive at our destination, as my sister and her boyfriend were working and wouldn’t be home until after 5:30, so we thought we’d take our time and look at some sights along the way. The Illinois River Road turned out to be a beautiful ride, although we didn’t get to see quite as much of the river along the way as I had hoped we would. Continue reading “Traveling the Illinois River Road”

Religion, Travel, Vacation Planning, Wisconsin

A Milwaukee Day Trip

Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill is located at 1525 Carmel Road in Hubertus, Wisconsin.

Last weekend, my parents were in town for a quick visit, and we decided to take them on a scenic day trip around the Milwaukee area. We started off at The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill, which is located just a few miles north of Milwaukee. I lived in Milwaukee for six years, but it wasn’t until moving out of the city that I discovered this gem. This was the first chance I’d ever had to take my parents to see it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about being challenged to climb an endless supply of rickety stairs to breathtaking heights,) the scenic tower was closed for our visit. But, the view from the balcony in front of the main chapel is still amazing, even if you don’t make it up to the top of tower.  Continue reading “A Milwaukee Day Trip”

Chicago, Conventions & Conferences, Travel

AWP 2012 Conference – Chicago

The Palmer House Hilton
The lobby of the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago - Image via Wikipedia

Well, I returned safely from my quick two days at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ 2012 Conference and Book Fair in Chicago. The conference was a whirlwind of activity with over 10,000 attendees filling ballrooms at both the Chicago Hilton and the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Windy City.

I came home with a good 10 – 15 pages of notes on the sessions I attended at the conference, so there’s no way I will hit it all in one blog post. But I do have a lot of useful information I’d like to share with my readers, so I think I will just touch on some of the surface fluff for today and then do a series of posts discussing the down and dirty writing stuff I picked up.

Since I wasn’t able to make it to Chicago until Friday afternoon (I was teaching a class Friday morning,) they were all out of AWP tote bags and conference programs by the time I arrived. So, I was a little disoriented trying to find my way around. By the way, I’d love to get my hands on a program still, so if you went and happen to have an extra one, I’d gladly take it off your hands!

I went to a couple of sessions Friday and then went out to eat with a professor and one of her friends at the Tamarind (I’m planning a restaurant review blog post too, so stay tuned for more info on that) before heading back to my room for the night.  Continue reading “AWP 2012 Conference – Chicago”