Birthdays, Balloons & Bats, Oh My!
To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we decided to do something different so drove out to Wausau, WI to check out their Balloon & Rib Fest! On a cool Friday afternoon, we hit the road in search of adventure. Or, you know, roadside attractions.
Our first stop was the Mound Hill Lookout Tower in Elk Mound, WI. Dedicated to all rural mail carriers, you can see almost 100 miles in every direction from the top of the tower.
In Eau Claire, WI we stopped for lunch at the Classic Garage Diner. Inspired by a 1956 Texaco gas station, the diner has checkered floors, polished chrome, and classic cars on display.
We also found a couple of iconic statues. Transmission Man, constructed completely from transmission parts by a local artist, stands in front of a local transmission supply and service center. Nearby is the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues in front. We weren’t able to stay for a tour but did appreciate getting a pic of Paul and Babe.
Look closely and you’ll see that the town of Thorp, WI is decorated with … cows! Over a dozen cows of various designs grace the city. Pictured here are the Polish Cow, Cheese Cow, and Patriotic Cow.
We spent Friday evening and Sunday morning at the Balloon & Ribfest. Located in the Wausau Airport fields, we found easy neighborhood parking and plenty of seating both times we went. No entrance fee, our only costs were for food/drinks. On Friday, the weather was a little tenuous, so there weren’t very many balloons up, but we got to see a couple in the Balloon Glow that evening. Hot Air Balloons are very sensitive to the weather, and a slight wind can make them unstable to go up. The next morning was a lot clearer, one balloon was even able to launch but it was slightly too windy for most of them.
On the way home, we continued our Roadside Adventure with a tour at Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, WI. It’s Wisconsin’s longest cave and you go nearly 70 feet underground. During the awesome tour, we learned many fun facts (did you know one bat can eat 3,000 mosquitoes a night?!), saw different aspects of geology & cave formations, and even experience a moment of complete darkness. Oh, and we got to see the face of the Cave Ghost, can you see it??
Here is the final budget for the weekend:
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