Connections, concoctions and Elvis: Day three in Janesville
I meet a great number of people during my travels, some for a fleeting moment, and others I get the pleasure of a stimulating conversation. Over the years I’ve crossed paths with the most fascinating people, from all walks of life. Take for example my coffee experience this morning where I met Lucy of Lucy’s Loon Lake, a boutique coffee shop located within a health food co-op…an unlikely location for an unlikely, but remarkable cup-a-Joe.
I wasn’t quite sure what coffee concoction I should order, so Lucy took the reigns and asked if she could make me a cup of “Sassy Pants.” I think she was on to my personality in the moments we had just met, an amazing talent I would see on display over the next hour. Sassy Pants is described as a double-shot latte boosted with cayenne, honey, coconut cream and whole milk! Lucy says this coffee drink promotes heart health and weight loss. Wink wink! I say, it was uniquely delicious! Lucy thought perhaps she had picked the wrong drink for me as my initial sip caused a cough as I inhaled a few specs of the cayenne, but I reassured her it was the perfect choice.
In between customers, Lucy sat with me as we discussed a dozen or more topics. It felt like we were long-lost friends, someone with whom I could have sat the entire day with and talked on myriad topics. Unfortunately, I had other destinations on my agenda. Parting can indeed be sweet sorrow.
My next stop was a very unusual one for me as I don’t typically visit nurseries when I travel, but I was told that K&W Greenery does something pretty unique with poinsettias, so given this vibrant plant is a signature for the holidays, I figured I’d stop by and see what all the fuss was about. I met Jordan and Chris, members of the family who run the place. After a quick tour we came upon a cluster of the uniqueness that was described to me…painted poinsettias. I had never seen anything like it, there were dozens of vibrant and differently colored plants synonymous with Christmas, but in a number of colors one would not expect from this variety of plant. Chris is the paint master if you will and he even gave me a demonstration of how he applies the spray that alters the color of the plant. While it must certainly take some practice to get the painted poinsettias to look so good, Chris made the process seem pretty easy.
The other day while dining at the My Apartment Pub, I enjoyed a local beer, today I took a tour of the brewery. The Gray Brewing Company started making beer in 1857 with an apparent hiatus during prohibition when they produced root beer. After the brewery tour I bellied up to the bar where a sixth generation family member poured me a flight to try. I’m not typically a dark beer fan, but the oatmeal stout was outstanding. My favorite beer however, was the seasonal drunken pumpkin ale with a cinnamon/sugar rim, which was a new twist to beer drinking for me. The combination of the sweet spice and the pumpkin ale was outstanding.
After my beer tasting I was off for a self-guided historic tour. Someone recently told me about a travel app called Clio, so I downloaded it just for this trip to Janesville. The app highlights historic and cultural places nearby using GPS. I walked around historic downtown and could click on points of interest to learn more. One such place I stopped by was the Lincoln-Tallman House. The app brings up museum hours, history on the property with photos and a few other items. Twenty percent of Wisconsin’s buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be found in Janesville. The type of architecture I am particularly fond of is the American Italianate of the 19th century, which is the style of the Lincoln-Tallman House as well as the Guardian Angel Bed and Breakfast where I had been staying up until today.
There had been a bit of snow on the ground when I first arrived in Janesville, and while it has been cold, much of it had melted away. As I made my way to the Armory theater for dinner and entertainment, the snow began to fall and I was getting excited. I was really hopping for a good snowfall while in town. To me, the white, flaky, fluffy stuff falling from the sky is what really says “Christmas.”
I walked into the Armory not really knowing what to expect. I picked up a ticket that was waiting for me at will-call. I was promptly seated and learned I had a table right up front, near the stage. The space was quite festively decorated for the season. Originally built in 1930, the Armory features a stunning array of brickwork, terrazzo floors and decorative iron. Soldiers from the National Guard that later became Company “A” of the 192nd Tank Battalion during World War II, a group also known as the “Janesville 99,” trained at the Armory prior to the War. Today, the Armory is a dinner theater and event space. Tonight was a production called “Blue Christmas,” where Elvis and his band played a set of Christmas tunes as well as a few Elvis classics. It was a wonderful evening of entertainment.
When I left the Armory and walked outside, huge flakes of snow were falling from the sky. At least a couple of inches had fallen during the performance. Excitement was building! It was so quite and peaceful out and I was thrilled by the blanket of snow.
I made my way to the car and it was covered. Thankfully the rental car company included a brush and scraper so I could make quick work removing the couple of inches of snow. Everything was white! The giant snowflakes glowed from the street lights as they slowly made their way to the ground and began to accumulate. After the car was warmed up I made my way through town. There were very few cars on the road, which I was thankful for as I had no idea how my rental car would handle the snow.
I made it safely to my hotel, tonight I’m staying at the Hampton Inn as the Guardian Angel B&B was booked for my last couple of nights in Janesville. I have just one more full day in town, so with all of this snow, I think I will go sledding tomorrow.
Click here if you missed my previous Road Diary update from Janesville, and click here to read the next one.