2016 Port Washington, Wisconsin Road Trip
This “sibling” road trip was planned approximately 7-8 months in advance. Brother, Carl, every year would send pictures of the huge Salmon he caught on his “guy’s annual fishing trip.” Sisters, Cathy and Karen finally decided we wanted to join in on all his fun! Carl set-up the fishing charter through Nicky Boy Charter for Wednesday, June 1 (1/2 day) and Thursday, June 2 (1/2 day) for the family. Brother, Chris, could not join us on this sibling trip.
The plans were for Cathy and Dean (husband), driving from Houston, Texas to meet Bill (my husband) and me, driving from Allen, Texas to meet on Monday, May 30 at our campsites at Harrington Beach State Park, in Belgium, Wisconsin. Carl and Hilan (Dad) would be driving from Anoka, Minnesota and staying in a hotel in Port Washington, close to Charter departure.
Since Bill and I are retired, we enjoy planning stops along the way on our road trips, taking much longer than it actually would take to just make the drive straight through to final destination. A friend recently introduced me to visiting antique stores with a mission to find old napkin rings and add to my Hummel collection passed on to me by my precious Mother, so this road trip added stops along the way to spend time walking through antique stores. My husband was such a trooper! Our road trip begins on Sunday, May 22 from Allen, Texas.
Bella Vista, Arkansas – Bella Vista RV Park, 725 Park Road (2-Night’s Stay)
Drove 337 miles to Bella Vista RV Park, only 10 miles from Bentonville, Arkansas where we spent our first two-nights. This is a Good Sam Club RV park offering discounts for members. It is nice with a flowing creek alongside, access to the Blowing Springs Trails and short driving distance to area attractions. They do not have many amenities, there is no swimming pool. We thought we may play golf a few days because there are several golf courses in the area, but there was quite a bit of rainfall over the 2-nights we were there.
Crystal Bridges Museum – 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR (Tourist Event)
Visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, an approximate 12 mile drive from the Bella Vista RV Park. There was a special exhibit called “Open Road Photography & the American Road Trip” exhibit. How appropriate for our love of “road tripping!” We thoroughly enjoyed the special exhibit and walking through the museum. Also, included in the visit is their 120 acres of native Ozark forest, outdoor walking trails/park surrounded by nature and the beautiful gardens.
You must allow yourself a full-day to take in all that is available to see and enjoy. We experienced some rainfall when we were completing our visit outdoors, and didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked to spend. This will have to be a repeat visit for us.
Flying Fish – 109 A Northwest 2nd Street, Bentonville, AR (Meal/Tourist Event)
With rainfall still coming down, we drove to eat at the Flying Fish, grabbing umbrella and wading through the rain puddles. The food was really good and the experience was neat. They have walls filled with wall-mounted fish that their guests have donated. If you are not a fish/seafood eater, no problem, they also have hamburgers, chicken tenders and salads. The gumbo was delicious.
21c Museum Hotel – 200 NE A Street, Bentonville, AR (Tourist Event)
Our friends, Jim and Kaye Geiser, recommended that we walk through this hotel, they had enjoyed it during their recent visit. We took them up on the recommendation, walking through their lobby which includes rooms with artwork. Although, the indoor artwork was modern with a little weirdness for our tastes, it was an experience worth seeing. We enjoyed taking photos to share with friends and family of their outdoor basketball exhibit with several hoops stacked onto one pole reaching at least 2-stories high. Our son and grandsons, remarked on how fun it would be to attempt playing basketball on this piece of artwork!
East St. Louis, Illinois – Casino Queen RV Park, 200 Front Street (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 326 miles to the Casino Queen RV park. The RV park shares the parking lot with the Casino Queen casino, and offers a clear view of the arches just the other-side of the Mississippi river. This a Good Sam’s Club RV park, offering a discount for members, however, we felt the rate was still too high at $55.00 per night, especially since it shares the parking lot with the casino. We played a little slots, Bill won $50.00 in craps, so it made up most of the expense.
Dubuque, Iowa – Miller Riverview Park & Campground, Admiral Sheehy Dr. (5-Night’s Stay)
Drove 335 miles to Miller Riverview Park. The rear-view from our RV large window was of the Mississippi River and a remarkable bridge. We didn’t know how many days we would stay in Dubuque with open plans, but enjoyed this park and surrounding areas, extended our stay to 5-nights. There was no sewer or water, electric only but the pricing was good at only $15.00 per night and in a nice area for touring. It is adjacent to the Mystique Casino and Greyhound Dog Race track. We were lucky to get such a good site with it only a few days prior to Memorial Day weekend. Arriving on Wednesday along with a cancellation, luck was on our side. We did have an issue with all the flying bugs that were so bad, they covered the trailer and were very annoying, they weren’t flies, but looked a little like love-bugs. Bill purchased several cans of bug spray and saturated the trailer with the spray which seemed to help for a couple of days anyway.
National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium – 350 E. 3rd Street, Dubuque, IA (Tourist Event)
Drove approximately 4 miles to visit the museum. There was advertisement that there was going to be “live” entertainment the evening that we visited, but learned it was cancelled. We did enjoy walking through the museum and reading the history of the Mississippi River with the building of the locks, dams, etc. There were live mallard ducks in an indoor water exhibit that were so beautiful, picturesque that I took several pictures; their movement was the only evidence of their being real as they were so perfect-looking.
Eagle Point Park – 2601 Shiras Avenue, Dubuque, IA (Tourist Event)
Drove a short distance to visit this park which was recommended by Tim Schmidt, a Dubuque resident and a neighboring camper. It is a 164-acre park in the northeast corner of the city of Dubuque. The park offers viewing sites of the Mississippi River and the Lock and Dam. There is a small $1.00 per vehicle entry charge, if you are not a season member. The most disappointing to us was that no dogs are allowed in the park. We had Gabby, our Toy Fox Terrier, with us thinking it would be a nice event for her to join us, but were told at the gate that the dog would not be allowed out of the vehicle. We enjoyed a nice drive through the park, then when we needed to get out of the truck to see the Lock and Dam from a viewing site, we rolled the windows down about half-way, leaving Gabby in the truck. Disappointing that she couldn’t enjoy a nice walk through this pretty park with us.
Mystique Casino – 1855 Greyhound Park Road, Dubque, IA (Tourist Event)
Drove a short distance to play a little slots or craps and eat dinner at the casino closest to our campsite. We’re not big gamblers, set ourselves a budget of usually not more than $20-$40 each and play on the “new player’s club” benefits, if any offered at the casino.
Diamond Jo Casino – 301 Bell Street, Dubuque, IA (Tourist Event)
This casino was close to the National Mississippi River Museum, only approximately 4 miles from our campsite. We always join any new casino’s that we visit by signing up at the member’s desk, there are many times some kind of new player’s one-time benefit. This casino was offering a free buffet and they were having a fun, free slot tournament. You were competing against several other slot-players (2-rows of 6 players back-to-back), it was exciting and fun, although neither of us won anything.
Hazel Green, Wisconsin – Eagle Point Fishing Barge, 4380 Eagle Point Road (Tourist Event)
Drove 5 miles over the bridge (viewed from our campsite) to a fishing barge, another recommendation by Tim Schmidt a Dubuque resident and a neighboring camper. It took longer than it should have taken to find this location because we were having difficulties with following our GPS. The fishing barge is actually a docked, very old, no longer working boat. There was a small charge to fish off the boat aka barge, and we weren’t getting any bites, however, I did catch a large drum/sheepshead which we understand is not good to eat. We saw many people fishing along the banks, but there wasn’t many fish being caught. There were some beautiful wild-flowers growing along the bank with the sunshine hitting them just right for a photo opportunity.
There were Memorial Day events happening in the park where we were staying, as well as around the city of Dubuque, but we had to pack up to continue our trip onto Port Washington, Wisconsin leaving on the morning of Memorial Day.
Belgium, Wisconsin – Harrington Beach State Park, 531 County Road D, Belgium, WI (5-Night’s Stay)
Drove 206 miles to Harrington Beach State Park to meet up with Cathy & Dean, as originally planned. This was a popular state park for locals with the beach (Lake Michigan), trails and campsites. The sites were electric only, no water or sewer. It was too windy and cold for us to go swimming, but we did take a walk to the beach, the quarry lake and walked a few trails. Reservations were made through Reserve America and when checking in there was some difficulty. We learned after checking in with our camping fees paid in advance through Reserve America that there were additional charges. There was a required vehicle admission sticker needed for every vehicle stopping in the park, including the towing vehicle and it is an $11.00 daily fee unless you have an annual sticker which most locals purchase. It was going to cost us an additional $55.00 for the 5-days stay. We decided that paying the $38.00 (out-of-state plates) annual fee was the better deal, but all-and-all, it was a surprise charge never mentioned when making our reservation through Reserve America.
Carl and Hilan drove to our campsite on Tuesday, May 31 to join us for a steak dinner, celebrating Carl’s 53’rd birthday (May 29). We all had a great time and discussed our next-day’s fishing trip.
Port Washington, Wisconsin – Nicky Boy Charter, Port Washington, WI (Tourist Event)
We had lunch at a Chinese Food Restaurant, close to the boat docks, after returning from the first day of our fishing charter. Since Chris, our older brother, couldn’t join us for this sibling trip, he is the flat Stanley on the table. We missed you brother!
Thursday, June 2, the second day of our fishing trip was the afternoon trip, and our plans were to have a nice dinner to celebrate Cathy’s 66th birthday, since we would be packing up and getting ready to depart the next day, Friday, June 3. However, it didn’t turn out quite as we had planned and hoped. Hilan was tired and had been sick most of the day, so he went back to hotel room to go to bed; Carl and Bill were not able to join us until they resolved an issue with Carl’s truck. By-the-time we ordered and were eating it was after 9 pm and the restaurant did not have any special “birthday” desserts. It was the thought that counted and Cathy appreciated the efforts. Dean, her husband, gave her a beautiful infinity necklace the next morning for her special day.
Ewig Brothers is a smokehouse located on the west shore of Lake Michigan in Port Washington, just a few blocks from Nicky Boy Charter which was recommended as a good place to have our fresh catch smoked and vacuum sealed. They need approximately 2-days to process during busy season. They were able to smoke our first day’s catch which we picked up on Friday afternoon before leaving. The second day’s catch we were not in from fishing until after Ewig Brothers’ closed, so we purchased our own vacuum seal and froze without smoking. We learned that the smoked salmon needs to be slightly frozen before vacuum sealing to lock-in the flavors. The charge was nominal at $1.25 per pound for smoking, $1.00 per pound for vacuum sealing without smoking. Ewig Brothers explained that if you are vacuum sealing fresh caught fish, without smoking or slightly freezing, you place a paper towel/napkin around the edge of fish closes to where you will be sealing, this process ensures a good seal (of course the paper towel/napkin remains in the sealed bag).
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin – Sherwood Forest RV Park, 2852 Winconsin Dells Parkway, Wisconsin Dells, WI (2-Night’s Stay)
Drove 147 miles from Port Washington, Wisconsin to Wisconsin Dells. It was after 2 pm when we left Port Washington, so wanted the next over-night stay to be close and Bill wanted to visit the Dells. We were lucky to have gotten a camp site with our arrival on a Friday afternoon, we originally were going to stay at a KOA camp, but found signage to this campground, so decided to change over without any reservations. There was one couple trying to check-in as well, and were told they had no more sites.
Sherwood Forest was a nice shaded park with a nice pool and walking distance to the main attractions and downtown. This resort provided a coupon book with discounts to many of the attractions.
Dells Boat Tours – walking distance from RV park (Tourist Event) We took the upper river Dells boat tour which we thoroughly enjoyed and received a discounted rate with a coupon. It is an approximate 10-mile roundtrip, scenic and beautiful tour of a stretch of the Wisconsin River. The captain provides historical information about the river and there are a few stops where guests get off the boat for a short walking tour. There are many rock formations, the two land tours were Witches Gulch and Stand Rock. H.H. Bennett is credited as being the Dell’s first historian by his capturing photographs of the area in his journeys by foot, rail and raft boat, recording the Dells. One of the interesting stops at Stand Rock was seeing a German Shepherd dog jump across a five-foot chasm (break in rock formation) several feet above the ground, demonstrating how H.H. Bennett experimented with shutter speed by having his son leap across the same two rock formations.
Seeing it makes you realize how dangerous this experiment must have been with nothing to break the fall, if the son missed the jump. With the dog demonstration, there was a dog trainer and a net below the rocks. They offer a night-time boat ride that they market as a ghostly tour, one of the stops is Witches Gulch which teenagers and young adults would probably enjoy.
St. Louis West, Missouri – KOA Camp, 18475 Old US Hwy. 66, Eureka, Missouri (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 437 miles from Wisconsin Dells to this KOA camp located outside of St. Louis. This was one of our favorite camp grounds, as usual for us, we were wishing we had the grand children with us. There was a nice pool, kid activities, and wooded sites. It was located very close to Six Flags St. Louis (just across highway), and there was a Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park close-by. If this campground weren’t so far away, we would be returning with kids.
Sallisaw/Ft. Smith, Oklahoma – KOA Camp, 1900 KOA Ave., Sallisaw, Oklahoma (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 411 miles from Eureka, Missouri to this KOA camp in Sallisaw where we only spent the night with no tourist events. We had stopped at a few antique stores along the way and were tired by the time of arriving late that day, we were ready to just get home the next day.
Drove 229 miles from Sallisaw, OK to our home in Allen, TX
Another wonderful, adventurous road trip with my beloved husband, Bill and Gabby, our adorable Toy Fox Terrier.
God has blessed our lives in so many ways, we are thankful to Him that He gives us the opportunity to travel across this beautiful country meeting new wonderful people and seeing His wonderful creations. We are blessed with family and friends. Thank You Jesus.