Weird Travel: Odd Wisconsin exhibit’s odd items

Wisconsin has enough odd history that the “Odd Wisconsin” exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison has swapped in 40% of what is on display. The result is a fresh look at Wisconsin’s oddball undertakings.

What makes many of the objects odd are not the objects themselves, but the stories behind them. Many–from the serious to the nostalgic, illuminate aspects of American history that have a Wisconsin connection.

One of the items in particular has me humming a tune that’s probably going to be with me for the rest of the day.

Do you remember a certain hot dog commercial with a certain song? The instrument that played the tune offers a trip down memory lane for anyone whose childhood goes back that far.

Although Aaron’s the Tuesday Trivia aficionado, here are two more pieces of trivia to add to this week’s questions. What instrument is on display and what’s the song? You don’t have to wait until next Tuesday to find out the answers to these two. They are after the jump.

And here’s a bonus: What’s in the jar?

The instrument: banjo-ukulele.

The song: Oh I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener.”

The song title is written on the instrument. Banjo-ukulele’s were made in the 1920s and 1930s in response to the popularity of Hawaiian music at the time.

The museum’s Web pages that highlight the Odd Wisconsin exhibit describes some of the items on display. They include:

  • Wonder Spot “Book” Sign. The Wonder Spot was a cabin built on the side of a hill that was angled in such a way to give tourists to Wisconsin Dells a discombobulated feeling. The cabin was taken down in 2006 to make room for Highway 12.
  • Glass Teddy Roosevelt drank out of after he was shot while delivering a speech.
  • Giant Punt Gun. Used in the 19th century to hunt ducks, this gun weighs 26 pounds.
  • Skunk Grease Medicine. Made in 1920 as a home remedy for pleurisy. (That’s what’s in the jar.) The description of this concoction centers on the self-reliance of Wisconsin’s farmers.

In case you missed out on the Oscar Meyer Wiener commericals, here’s one of the classics.

I Heart My City at Intelligent Travel: readers chime in

If you love your city–and hopefully you do because there is nothing worse than not liking where you live, here’s a chance to show it off. Intelligent Travel, in conjunction with National Geographic Traveler, is running a series, I Heart My City where readers fill in blanks to answer questions about where they live.

The favorite picks are being highlighted this month in their own Intelligent Travel post. The latest one is Sonia Dubielzig’s tribute to Madison Wisconsin.

From what I’ve read, each entry is an excellent way to gather information about what to do and see in a city that captures its essence. In a way, this is a personal tour without ever meeting the person who gave the recommendations.

As well as offering a chance for readers to toot their cities horns, the series is a fitting companion to National Geographic Traveler’s March issue. The issue is devoted to celebrating the “urban places that captivate us. “

The great American road trip: Montana here we come

With gas prices fluctuating between $3.95 and $4.09 in Columbus, Ohio, we’ve embarked on a road trip to Montana, cruise control set at 65 mph.

Right now we’re driving into the sunset on I-80 near Fremont, Ohio, home of Rutherford B. Hayes. My laptop is resting across my lap. We’re passing yet another white farmhouse with a barn silo. Our goal is to make it to La Quinta Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. It has a pool, WiFi and free breakfast. Wheee!

If we don’t make it, we’re out $100. It’s 8:52 p.m. If you do the math, you’ll notice that we won’t roll into the parking lot until at least 2:00.

The relatives we just left in Brunswick at a high school graduation party for one of our ten nephews gave us hugs and waved us off. “Of course, you’re driving to Madison tonight,” was the general response.

The graduation party stop, two hours after I shoved our last belonging in the car in Columbus, was a quick one-just enough time to say our congrats, have a swim in a backyard pool, eat our fill and head out.

The stop was a chance to regroup. Leaving Columbus was not the smoothest. We left pillows and umbrellas behind. By the time we made it to the entrance ramp of I-71 north, I was ready to call it quits. This was not even a mile from our house.

My mom just called to tell me the things she did that we forgot to do. Things like emptying the coffee grounds, turning on an inside light, changing the bulb of our porch light and turning that on, and watering our flowers. The neighbor kids will be by in a couple of days, but the flowers looked limp as we pulled away.

But, we are off in our Ford Taurus station wagon with a new set of rear brakes and an oil change. This car has made the trip two other times, the first time all the way to California and onto New York when our son was a year and a half and our daughter was ten.

This time we have broken our no DVD player stance. Our son is watching Chicken Little, but he had to wait to be plugged in until we left Brunswick and turned onto the highway. The idea is to parcel it out so he’ll notice the scenery and we can visit which is part of the purpose of a road trip.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in Minneapolis, the city filled with outdoor art, visiting two sets of friends. One set who used to live on our street before we moved to Taiwan. Their son was our daughter’s best friend when they were five.

The other set was friends of ours in Singapore. Back when we hung out together, they were kid-less and so were we. We spent one Christmas together hiking between Jomsom and Pokhara, Nepal.

Catching up with friends we haven’t seen for awhile is another road trip purpose. As a person who has had a life of travel and moving, these visits offer me some sense of continuity.

But, for now we’re floating on the highway, the sun is gone and the moon is up, a crescent in front of us—good company for a night of driving. [The photo is what Chicago looks like at 1:00 a.m. I would have taken the photo myself but I was in a road-hashed stupor. This shot is of evanembee’s view from his condo.]