We are officially halfway through our road trip through the upper midwest. (Feel free to read about days one, two and three). 

When we go on our road trips, not all of our destinations are necessarily known to draw tourists.  Sometimes we have to spend the night in an area just because it is on the way to our next destination.  

It is during these times that we get acquainted with small towns.  I have never lived in a small town – I have lived in suburbs my entire life.

That was where we found ourselves last night – in a small town halfway through the lower part of the  Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Bob's Big Boy restaurants

The only restaurant in town was Bob’s Big Boy and we were greeted by a giant moose dressed as Bob.  The food was good and it reminded me of eating at Bob’s Big Boy restaurants as a child in California.

For some reason, there was a moose dressed in another outfit in front of our hotel as well.

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This is the view from our hotel this morning.  It was cloudy and cold at 41 degrees.

We dressed warmly and left on our way toward Wisconsin and further adventures.

Upper Peninsula

This is the view that we saw from the car 90-percent of the time as we drove through the Upper Peninsula, which is sparsely populated.

As we were driving, I saw a young bear cub romping toward the trees and the beach – pretty cool!

Upper Peninsula

We crossed into Wisconsin and stopped by a small restaurant that is a favorite among locals.  As we stepped out of our car, we noticed that the temperature was 40 degrees warmer (81 degrees) then where we had left from that morning. 

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The food was good, but basic.  Bratwursts, hot dogs and burgers made up the menu.  You could tell that the restaurant was very popular with newspaper articles posted on the walls, t-shirts for sale and a lot of customers.

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When in Wisconsin, you shop for cheese.  My husband loves cheese, so I made sure to buy some for him.

chocolate cheese fudge

There were many types of cheese and while my husband likes trying out unique flavors, I figured that he wasn’t up to having chocolate cheese fudge.

I did end up buying garlic cheddar, smoked cheddar and chipotle cheddar cheeses.

An piece of a tree trunk makes a nice planter for annual flowers at the entrance to the Green Bay Botanical Garden

An piece of a tree trunk makes a nice planter for annual flowers at the entrance to the Green Bay Botanical Garden. 

As we entered Green Bay, Wisconsin, we decided to visit the local botanical garden.

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As my loved ones know, when I am in a garden, I tend to walk off and disappear as I take pictures of plants.  Thankfully, my husband and my mother are understanding about this tendency.

Curve your garden paths to add interest and a bit of mystery as to what is around the bend

Curve your garden paths to add interest and a bit of mystery as to what is around the bend. 

As a horticulturist and garden writer, I have a large photo library of plants.  Some of the writing I do is not limited to the southwest, but for all regions of the United States.  So, I like to take opportunities when I travel to take photos of plants that I will use later.

Lavender Peonies

Lavender Peonies 

I have a list of plants that I would love to have in my garden – but that do not grow in my desert climate.

Red Peonies

Red Peonies 

One of those plants on my list are peonies.

I love their full, ruffled flowers borne above bright-green foliage.

Did I mention that they are also wonderfully fragrant?

Lavender Peonies

Lavender Peonies 

The Green Bay Botanical Gardens were filled with flowering peonies in a myriad of different colors.

Maroon Peonies

Maroon Peonies 

I have photographed peonies on previous trips, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see so many different-colored peonies in one place.

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Peonies bloom once a year in late spring into early summer depending on the variety and climate.

They die back to the ground in winter.

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While peonies will grow in most climates, but they need cold temperatures in winter, so they do not grow well in zones 9 and above.

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts ‘Alba’ 

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are another flowering plant that I would grow, if I could.  They love cool, shady gardens.

Their flowers resemble a ‘bleeding heart’, hence their common name.   Available in both pink and white forms, this flowering perennial is just lovely.

White Bleeding Hearts

White Bleeding Hearts 

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Do you have a bird bath in your garden?  I like the simplicity of this stone one.

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When visiting botanical gardens, I am always getting new ideas for the garden.

While I have seen trellises created from branches before, I think this is the best one I have seen.  The branches are large enough to be able to provide support for climbing plants.  Rebar posts are used to anchor the trellis.

I think that I may have to make some for my own garden.

False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

False Indigo (Baptisia australis) 

Blue-flowering plants help to visually cool the garden, which can be welcome during the warm summer months.

Blue Forget-Me-Nots

Blue Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sylvatica) 

Blue flowering plants look great when paired with white, pink or pale yellow plants.

Willow Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)

Willow Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) 

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From a design standpoint, I like how a strip of blue phlox was planted to divide two separate plantings – don’t you?

Wild Red Columbine

Wild Red Columbine (Columbine canadensis) 

Wild red columbine was planted throughout the garden, in order to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds, which is the only hummingbird species found in Wisconsin.

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As I got ready to leave the garden, I spotted this guy working very hard cutting back the weeds/grass with a brush cutter.  The slope was steep and it was a hot day – it made me glad that my garden doesn’t have steep slopes.

*After leaving the gardens, we drove through the city of Green Bay.  Now, if you haven’t heard of the fervent fan base of the Green Bay Packers football team, than you must have your head buried in the sand.

Packer Stadium

Packer Stadium 

Spend just a few minutes in the city and it is obvious that they love their football team.  How do I know this?

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Across the street from the stadium are homes that back up to the street.  Without exception, every house has some sort of Packer decoration.

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From a decorated gate, a raised deck encircled with etched glass with the Packer emblem and a giant football statue – the neighborhood has it all.

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You can even buy cheese in your favorite Packer shape.

*I hope you are enjoying reading about our road trip adventures.  Thank you to those of you who have commented!

Tomorrow, we are off to more road trip adventures!

Our road trip is going very well.  We encounter both the expected and unexpected each day, which is part of the adventure.

We spent a very wet morning, visiting Niagara Falls.

The falls are truly magnificent and pictures do not adequately describe the beauty and power of the falls.

And, no – we didn’t fall in 😉

We visited the Canadian side, which has a better view of the falls.

The ground was so wet from the mist generated from the falls.

These tulips didn’t have a chance with the sopping wet soil.

I also had to be careful with my camera because of the mist.  I would take a photo quickly and then cover up my camera.

After spending the morning at Niagara Falls, we headed toward the Finger Lakes region of New York, which is in the central part of the state.

On our way, we saw a sign for an Amish swap meet.

So of course, we had to stop by.

There were many different vendors and we saw some very nice items along with the more ‘traditional’ flea market stuff.

I had fun seeing all the food choices there.  It reminded me of ‘fair food’.  Here is a sampling of what we saw…

“Gramma’s Butterflied Potatoes” are basically a huge mound of freshly-fried potato chips covered with cheese.

My favorite food in the whole world is bread and when I saw this sign, I must admit that I was sorely tempted…

But, I resisted the temptation.

The Belgian waffle also looked good.

Next, we headed to the plant section…

Spring is in full swing and there are beautiful container combinations everywhere you looked…

It was a hot day…about 89 degrees and a bit humid, so I took the opportunity to sit for a few minutes on an ‘Adirondack’ chair.

I admired the fresh vegetables…

Before leaving, we stopped to buy fresh bread from an Amish woman and her little brother….

We bought a inexpensive foam cooler for the car where we keep some fresh Amish cheese, fruit and bread for snacking on.

We arrived in Geneva, which is in New York’s wine country.  Geneva is located right on the shore of Seneca lake.

Because there were many different wineries, we stopped by one to buy some wine for my youngest sister and her husband.

While my mother tasted the wine and made her selection, I headed out to a small garden I saw next to the store…

Did you know that there is a species of Prickly Pear that is native to New York?  According to the sign above, there is.  

I just loved seeing succulents planted in an old pair of boots.

I love Dicentra, don’t you?

The poppies were huge…

Grapevines and the beginnings of grapes…

The water from the lake helps to keep the vineyards warm enough to grow grapes.

As we left the winery, we spotted a red fox trotting by the roadside.

He was awfully cute and since we don’t have foxes where I live, we stopped by the road to watch him.

He didn’t care that we were nearby – he was concentrating on catching dinner…  

He did catch dinner while we watched and swallowed it in one gulp.

We had a fabulous day 🙂

Our next stop is to the historical places and picturesque towns of upstate New York.