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2 Weddings and a Blacksmith

 I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Not from scratch this time, but from a can I found in the fridge. I needed as much room as possible in the fridge to hold the wedding cakes so we were trying to eat everything in there. 

I tried to sleep in, but Brooke really wanted to get vacation going. I think we ended up eating the entire tube of cinnamon rolls. This must be another Romenesko tradition akin to eating six corn on the cobs at one sitting.

 Soon after breakfast we headed to Laona to go to Camp 5. This week has been very nostalgic for me. Visiting all my childhood favorites.

I recently heard about the closure of Storybook Gardens in Wisconsin Dells. I know that it was falling apart when I was a child, but I still have a place in my heart for that tourist trap of yesteryear. Even if it is only the faintest memory.

We got our tickets. They cost way more than I was expecting. If we were closer to the cottage we would have gone home, but since we drove an hour to get there we decided to go through with it.

About the time we bought our tickets the train came chugging down the tracks, smoke spewing out of the old-time locomotive. For that brief moment I felt like kid excited to see something big, something different.

 We had planned to sit in the caboose but kids kept coming in and we felt awkward. 

These tourist attractions feel a little strange when you're 25, 26 and you don't have kids. 

The train conductors sat in the station relaxing between the big show. These men, at retirement age, seemed to love the idea of fulfilling their childhood dream.

Looking at these pictures, I wish I could've looked at the train with the same wonderment as the train lovers and little ones.

We took a short train ride to the "camp".

During the ride we passed a rice paddy that is still farmed by the tribes in the area. Many of the cities in Northeastern Wisconsin are within a short drive of a reservation. 

The ticket guy stopped by just like on a real commuter train and told us the ice cream at the camp was the best he's ever had north of Manitowoc.

 We were pretty much the only ones there without children. I had remembered this place being a lot bigger when I was a kid.

The first thing we did was look at a cabin full of "stuffed" animals and advertisements for the future of lumberjacks.

I have a feeling that Camp Five is entirely funded by the logging industry. There were hints here and there about John Deere's logging subsidiary. Nonetheless it's an interesting, if a bit strange, place.

Next we headed over to the slaughter house.  I definitively don't remember this at all. It was downright creepy. 

I also had the bejesus creeped out of me. I guess maybe if I can't handle a former slaughterhouse with fake blood on the walls, I should maybe go vegetarian. At least they weren't being all pc and whitewashing history.

Next to that was the ecology trail. That took us about 5 minutes to walk through.

I really enjoyed this definition. 

In the middle of our walk Cevonne texted me, Where are you right now? I responded with, On a nature trail in northern Wisconsin. 

Ironically we hardly ever get cell coverage up north.

Here's a family next to the old slaughterhouse.

Next we went over the petting zoo area. I swear there was a sign that we were allowed to go in the cages. I went right into the cage with the kitties. There was a lock on the door which I thought was weird.

Moments later Brooke got peed on. I think the cat was just wet from playing in the water.

 Outside I noticed we were the only adults. The parents of the children were watching them on the other side of the fence. 

The kid with the chicken was running around like a nut picking up chickens. His brother or friend was not into carrying hens.

These goats just hung out and didn't mind having their picture taken.

Then we went into the most exciting part of the trip. The logging museum. I love history so this was very interesting for me. We watched a 15 minute video on the history.

Somewhere in the video we noticed the name Cornelius. The wedding we just attended was for our friends Joel and Brittany. Joel's last name is Cornelius. We wondered if that's why their family had that large compound on the Lac de Flambeau reservation. Someday I'll ask or if any of the Cornelius's are reading this post...

We each tried to carry buckets of water. 

I have a feeling it was much harder with actual water in the buckets.

That huge chainsaw in the front was one of  the earliest powered timber cutters. It required two men to run the contraption.

 On the other side of the museum was a blacksmith shop. I remember the blacksmith being an older gentlemen. You can make requests for the blacksmith to make you a horseshoe or railroad nail. My mom never let us have a souvenir because they were too expensive. Now they do requests for letters, numbers, and shapes. 

 We had a long talk with this young gent. He's only 15 years old and was trained by the blacksmith last summer. Pretty cool for a first job. An older gentlemen asked why he wasn't wearing any protective glasses. He replied that he didn't need any. The man then made a comment that he probably got the job because the old blacksmith couldn't see anymore. 

We made a request for a souvenir and I'll let Scott tell the other story. 

Since the teenager seemed to be working so hard I thought it would be nice to have him make something. Brooke came up with getting a letter T for Tuska made. We shot the shit with him for a while. At somepoint after talking about how my first job was at a taco joint he asked, "Do you like knives?"

I thought, "What a strange thing to stay?" In fact I thought it was a bit, shall I say, creepy. I responded by saying, "Well, I like cooking. So yeah, I can dig knives." He quickly pulled a knife out of a wood stump and let me look at it. It was cool: twisted iron for a handle leading to a point. Despite his craftsmanship, I'll always remember that one line, "Do you like knives?" 

After he finished I gave him ten bucks even though it was only $5. I'm sure as a 15-year-old blacksmith he doesn't make much money. As soon as he was finished with us he moved on to the barn for other work.

We were 5 minutes late in missing the train back to the parking lot. The next train wouldn't come for another hour and 15 minutes. We had already seen everything at this point. We were hungry and ordered a frozen pizza. The train conductor on the train ride in said they had the best ice cream here north of Manitowac. We were pretty excited about this until we saw that it was just Bridgeman's. 

It definitely was not as good as the Not Licked Yet in Door County or Dick's in Kaukauna.  We didn't have to try to find out.

The train came back eventually and we jumped on.

Back at the train depot kids rushed up the stairs to condutors window, pulling the trains whistle, shooting smoke into the air.  

Right behind the train is a large active wood mill. It looks like Laona is still dominated by the lumber industry 100 years on.

Here's the letter T the blacksmith made for us. 

For dinner we had fish tacos made from fish my dad caught.

Again, another recipe from the best cookbook in the world, Best Recipes in the World.

I thought this was a picture of Scott doing dishes, but now I see it's just him getting dinner ready. 

My mom had mentioned to us that there is a flea market every Wednesday at the park in Three Lakes. We headed there after breakfast.

A woman saw Scott taking photos and offered to take our photo by the gazebo. 

Somehow I mentioned that we were getting married and the lady reminisced about her sons wedding at that very spot. 

I so wanted the fox picture.

You should've seen the other crafts this guy was making. They were like cuckoo clocks with random sports paraphernalia ratcheted on and the clock missing. 

There was lots of stuff there, but we didn't get anything.

We were on a mission for wedding place settings.

I kept passing this guys house for his "garage sale" and wanted to check out what he had. We ended up talking to him for awhile. He even brought us inside where he had just as much stuff. 

We struck up a conversation and he told us that he had built houses on Brooke's family's road. He once owned multiple parcels of land over there. When I mentioned they had been there since the early 90s, you could see his clock turning. 20 years for this gentleman was a drop in the water. He had collected land and junk for much of his life. What had happened during the last 20 years was a blur to him, just one part of his unique life of collecting everything around him and then selling it.

We stopped at a vintage thrift store and stocked up on more dishes for our wedding. 

We got a back seat's worth of china for less than $50!

When we got back I got started on making loads of frosting.

I had told my mom I needed a lot of sugar so she bought me a 50 pound bag. I picked up the bag to bring it over to the kitchen. About 5 minutes after this photo I threw my back out. My body went from a 20 somethings to an 80 year olds. Scott was taking a nap and I yell to him that I was in pain. I couldn't stand up straight the rest of the night. I probably should have laid down, but frosting isn't made on its own. 

I was happy once I got to sit down and have some corn. 

Some corn...


Blake Romenesko said…
I think Camp 5 is owned by the Connor Lumber Company in Laona
Scott almost looks like a lumberjack in his plaid shirt.
That makes a lot of sense Blake. I guess it's not a conspiracy theory at all. If anybody should fund a lumberjack camp it would be a lumber company.

P.S. I am a lumberjack.
Amanda said…
Funny that you guys worked hard at eating everything in the fridge! You guys drove quite a ways to the logging camp. My parents have been there but I never have gone. Now I feel like I have!
I love how that guys suspenders at the flea market are like a tape measurer.

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