Monthly Archives: August 2010

Shot of the Week

This little cafe is one in a strip of identical eateries hidden behind the bus stop in the border town of Villazón, Bolivia. The two women — one carrying a baby on her back — serve up a traditional breakfast of hot flatbread (seen sitting on the counter) and tea with coca leaves to its patrons on picnic tables.

Tara for TKGO

Save a Roadside Attraction!

The Midwest has a long upstanding tradition of zany roadside attractions. My personal favorite, the corn maze, is unfortunately often poorly tended, making what was once a clear path into a jumble of cut stalks buried under a foot of mud.

 

Corn mazes may be great in theory, but Sarah and I agree — you definitely want to be walking on gravel if it rained the night before.

 

Like a ray of hope in an era of degrading farm mazes, two yellow flags flew high over a white sign with black lettering, in all caps, declaring: “MAZE.” To the rescue came the A-Mazement Park in Marion, Wisconsin, to solve the region’s pressing corn maze mud problem. Every April until September since 2001, the park opened to thousands of highway nomads searching for cheap thrills. For $7, you could spend hours diving through the wooden walls and gravel paths to get to each of four checkpoints, where you stamp your card before trying to return to home base in record time. In mid-October through Halloween, the park became Transyl-Maze-ia, where for a slightly steeper admission price of $12, you could enter the park as late as 10 p.m. and not only dodge walls, but also park employees cloaked in demonic attire and white face paint.

 

The A-Mazement Park is in an ideal spot, just four hours from Chicago and Minneapolis and two and a half hours from Milwaukee! Courtesy of Google Maps.

 

Sadly, you notice I write in the past tense. The A-Mazement Park’s survival is at risk. Because of the owner’s heavy time commitment to a construction company, the A-Mazement Park is not open this year and is for sale. To purchase this Wisconsin landmark and progressive maze for $399,000, call VR Business Mergers at (715) 966-6647. (Or, to buy the Transyl-Maze-ia props, call Todd at (715) 754-4566.)

 

The A-Mazement Park, courtesy of the official site

 

It’s really in great condition. Plus, since the walls are made of wood and stand off the ground by two feet or so, the owner can move them every few weeks so customers enter a new maze whenever they come. (You also have the added security of being able to army-crawl your way to the open air at any point if this gets old. Then, there’s always mini-golf.)

Act quickly! You may even be able to open in time for Halloween!

The A-Mazement Park is located at 111 Industrial Drive, Marion, WI 54950.

Tara for TKGO

Massachusetts History at a Family Reunion

This past weekend my extended family (mom’s side) gathered in Sudbury, Massachusetts for a combination graduation party/family reunion. Massachusetts is my mom’s provenance and it’s a place rife with Revolution history. Childhood visits to the grandparents meant stops at Plymouth Rock and the like, and this weekend’s trip followed course. Starting with lunch at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn we spent the day catching up with each other and also, as the day continued, learning about Massachusetts history and folklore.

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn

 

The right half of Longfellow's Wayside Inn, by Karina for TKGO

 

The history: The Inn has welcomed hungry and tired travelers for almost 300 years, beginning in Colonial times. Henry Ford is to credit for preserving the Inn as a non-profit historic landmark.

Today: The Inn serves lunch and dinner 364 days per year, and the menu features classic New England dishes with a modern flair. (Don’t worry, they’re still generous with the mashed potatoes.) There’s no required check-in to dine, though guest rooms are available for a stay. It’s also — as we witnessed — a popular site for wedding functions.

Mary Had a Little Lamb Schoolhouse

 

Filing in for our history lesson on Mary and education, by Karina for TKGO

 

The history: Who knew a little Massachusetts girl and her lamb could spawn so much debate? Mary and her schoolhouse have a relatively convoluted history, and to this day no one can claim to know the full truth about it all. As the poem goes, Mary’s lamb did follow her to school one day, which caused a ruckus. There was a visiting minister-in-training of sorts, John Roulstone, present to witness the fracas, and he returned to the school the next day with a slip of paper containing the first few stanzas of the poem. Whether Roulstone wrote the entire poem or Sarah Josepha Hale, who is the acknowledged author in poem’s first publication, finished it up, we do not know. Regardless of who is the rightful author, Mary’s incident in 1830 became a cultural phenomenon.

Today: Henry Ford (there he is again!) moved what he believed to be the original schoolhouse to a field adjacent to the Wayside Inn, where it now sits. Visitors during the school’s “open” hours are free to peek around the house. If a guide is present (and I believe one generally is during open hours), I recommend sitting in to hear about the history of the house as well as about America’s past educational practices — yes, switching was involved. Our guide was dressed true to Colonial times, and there were even some hoops and sticks out for playing.

Wayside Inn Grist Mill

 

Front of the Wayside Inn Grist Mill, by Karina for TKGO

 

The history: Hydraulic engineer J.B. Campbell built the grist mill in 1929. If it looks vaguely familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it on a Pepperidge Farm product. Apparently, the company used the mill for production from 1952-1967 and the Pepperidge Farm logo is based on its picturesque look.

Today: The mill continues to churn out five tons of flour per year, some of which goes into the Wayside Inn’s offerings. It’s definitely worth a visit, whether to be in the presence of classic New England charm or to pick up a lesson on white flour versus wheat from the miller. And if you need more convincing, just check out these lovely, nostalgia-charged Yelp entries.

Start at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn; everything is within walking distance. 72 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury, MA. 978-443-1776.

Karina for TKGO

Shot of the Week

When Tara and I lived together in New York City in spring of 2009, our West Village apartment was just a short walk from the West Side Highway. The path stretching along the water is a favorite escape and running trail for New Yorkers, and the same was true for us. This photograph is from one Sunday sunset walk; the skyline is New Jersey’s.

Karina for TKGO