This was another shopping excursion day trip to Monroe. Past faves including Decatur Dairy and Minhas Brewery & Distillery were on the itinerary. I also found a new cheese factory, bought some apples and enjoyed lunch downtown.
I got out of the house early as I wanted to be able to tour the Silver-Lewis Cheese Factory Cooperative in Montecello, Wisconsin. When I called the day before, they suggested I arrive by 10am which meant being on the road no later than 7:30am since it was raining and I wanted to be sure to allow enough time to stop along the way should something catch my eye.
The drive was relatively uneventful other than a short traffic back-up near Madison around the morning rush hour. After my visit at Silver-Lewis (see separate review), I wanted to check out the surrounding area for barn quilts as Monticello is one area I had not really explored for photo ops. I had a dickens of a time trying to find the "Once in a Blue Moon" barn quilt based on the street address provided on the Green County Barn Quilt map.
Turns out, the barn quilt doesn't come close to facing the road (Hwy EE) and requires taking a narrow lane down to the farm at the end of the road. Fortunately, I was able to view and photograph the pretty quilt without being shot at. I'm thinking it is called the "Once in a Blue Moon" pattern because that is probably how often someone actually sees it.
I was also able to take some photos of a couple of other first-time quilts for me. I especially enjoyed "Peaceful Hours" as the rain created an extra variation of texture on the barn and adjacent silo.
With barn quilts taken care of, I head on to Monroe for some shopping including the Swiss Colony Outlet Center and the Minhas Brewery and their sister distillery across the street. No trip to Monroe is complete with a visit to their retail stores for beer, soda and booze! It was nice to see that their Godstilla is finally up and running, although they had nothing in it during my visit.
While in Monroe, I stumbled upon an interesting memorial to September 11th. The memorial included a piece of the steel structure from the World Trade Center - South Tower. The memorial is located at the firehouse in a public area facing 18th Street.
I enjoyed my lunch stop at Baumgartner's Cheese Shop & Tavern on the downtown square in Monroe. Check out my review with photos, to learn a bit more about them. Monroe's square is the center of the city's activities with several special events held throughout the year. Every-other-year in the even years, it is also home to Cheese Days . . . a regionally recognized festival to celebrate everything cheese.
Green County Wisconsin is the largest cheese producing county in the State of Wisconsin and will known worldwide for many outstanding products that have received international acclaim. Not trip to this area is complete without at least one cheese factory on your itinerary. There are plenty of choices, with many offering tours and onsite sales at significantly reduced retail prices.
In addition to my morning tour and shopping visit at Silver-Lewis, I also paid Decatur Dairy of Albany, Wisconsin a visit to buy some of my new favorite cheese, their Stettler Swiss . . . a mild lace style Swiss cheese that has just enough bite to let you know you're eating Swiss. At $3.85/pound over-the-counter, you cannot go wrong with this award winning cheese!
My last stop before heading home was the Ten Eyck Orchard to buy some apples for our upcoming trip. Check out my review on my shopping experience as well as a couple of photos including their beautiful barn quilt entitled "Apple a Day" which is located on a unique round barn that is nearly 100 years old.
My drive back to Milwaukee was uneventful. As miserable as the morning was with cold rain, the afternoon skies cleared and it turned out to be a nice afternoon. I did take a ride through the Amish community between Albany and Brodhead, but didn't stop at the bakery since they are only open Fridays and Saturdays.
I enjoyed driving the rural back roads from Brodhead through Evansville, Wisconsin. A town that was settled in 1863, Evansville just celebrated their 150th anniversary. Throughout the historical downtown area were a number of smaller quilt squares on a variety of buildings including a law firm and the feed store.
All totaled my day encompassed 275 miles and 10 hours. I arrived home in time for a 6pm supper.