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Madison, WI
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Modeled on a archetypal Bavarian resort (there is a "Garmisch" there, reputedly quite beautiful), this place was built in the 1920s by a Chicagoan as a private family retreat and over the years has gone through several ownerships and revisions. Since 2004, the owner is one Dennis Howard, who interestingly enough lives in Middleton where he was born and raised. In meeting him last weekend, I learned that he wrestled at Middleton High School and in 2004 won the state championship at 95 pounds. He now tips the scale around 200, I'd guess, and is about the same height as me.

Garmisch is located some eight miles east of Cable, a non-incorporated burg 20 miles north of Hayward on State 63 that formerly was famed as the site of the Telemark ski resort which eventually went under and now stands largely unused as a convention center that is but a mere shadow of its former self. One of myriad lakeside resorts on or around Lake Namekagon in the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest and homeland of the Objibwe tribe, Garmisch along with its close neighbor Lakewoods is the crown jewel of the area--a main lodge, about a dozen smaller outlying lodges and another dozen little cabins spread through the woodsy grounds. It's around 170 miles from the Twin Cities and 300 from Madison.

We drove up on a rainy Friday afternoon, the rain continuing off and on through the night, and settled in for most of the time in the Bierstube, the little main lodge bar adjacent to the spacious dining room. We played cribbage until dinner, a deep-fried ocean perch special, all you can eat, and quaffed a couple of the famous house Bloody Mary's (mine with tequila, a "Bloody Maria") which I washed down with Esser's Best, a very fine if somewhat pedestrian lager brewed in Cross Plains, of all places, since 1852, if I remember right. I hadn't had one for more than 40 years, the last time at a hilltop supper club just outside of CP, and they carry it at Garmisch I'm sure because of Dennis Howard's familiarity, he living in Middleton.

The other guests were a pretty even mix of Wisconsinites and Minnesnotans, the former including a good share of locals, the others tourists like ourselves, including a group of about a dozen old-timers from Osseo who were in the area for a golf and drinking outing--their 50th annual. Among them was one fella who belongs to a barber shop quartet and he has schooled the others in his art so that together they perform impromtu a decent group harmony which they performed in a couple of songs that brought rounds of applause from the rest of us. Around 6 p.m., in came part of a group of 41 bikers from the Twin Cities, many of whom live within 20-40 miles of us here in Plymouth. Having ridden all day in the rain, they were cold and wet but largely unbowed in looking forward to their annual fall ride for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday dawned coolish, early temps around 30 degrees, and fairly breezy, especially there on the shores of the lake. We had eggs bennie for breakfast, a habit of ours when we're traveling, and we pronounced them as a "10." Best we've ever eaten anywhere. The same went for dinner in the dining room that night when we had the prime rib special, by far the most tender and delicious we've ever had the pleasure to attack. Prior to din-din, we'd taken about a 60-mile circular drive back down to Hayward, then east and north again, through the Chequamegon, ablaze with fall color peaking, said the natives, at about 90 percent. I'd ridden the same trail on the bike a few years ago when we were visiting our friends at their summer place in Hayward.

Back at the 'stube by mid-afternoon, I donned my Bucky jacket and we drank more bloodies and Esser's while watching the Badgers fritter away their national ranking in East Lansing. As I mentioned in a previous post, where in hell was their third-down defense? For that matter, where in hell were Toon, Gilreath and Kendricks? Same might be said for the linebackers and defensive backs. It was disappointing, yes, but not quite enough to ruin my day. Best part was being able to watch a game in a place surrounded by Badgers almost exclusively, as contrasted to having to share a public space with jerks from Minnesnota.

To be fair, however, I have come to the conclusion that people who live in both Wisconsin and here are pretty much the same sort of animal. I equate them with differing clans of the same Indian tribe (badgers and gophers, if not foxes and turtles) who dwell on opposite sides of the river. If there's any major difference, it's that one adorns itself in cardinal and white, green and gold, whereas the other wears maroon and purple.

Which in turn reminds me of a story told to me years ago by Patty Loew, herself part Chippewa.

Seems that a couple hundred years ago, before the Sioux had been chased west to the Dakotas and were among prime inhabitants of Minnesnota, they were mortal enemies of the Chippewa, who lived in northern Wisconsin. Whereas the Sioux were aggressive and powerful, the Chips were poor and struggling, usually getting the short end of the coup stick whenever they happened upon confrontation. But this one young Chippewa buck, hearing that the Yankees were paying premier prices for Siouxian scalps, came up with a daring plan. Enlisting a couple of bravish pals, he crossed the river one night in a tiny raiding party with hopes of cashing in on the opportunity. They camped, went to sleep, and when they awoke the next morning found that they were surrounded by the entire Sioux nation.

Rolling out from under his robe, the young buck leaped up, looked at his pals, rubbed his hands together and announced excitedly, "Boy, oh boy--are we gonna be rich!"

Fred Milverstedt

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Madison West High School - Class of 1960
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