August 14, 2017 (by Angela)
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Have you ever heard of it? We hadn’t until we were looking for a camping site for a week with the following guidelines:
- somewhere in Wisconsin between our location in Iowa and where we hope to be next week, with a drive of 250 miles give or take a few
- full hook ups (our preference when Jim is working during the week), which means electric, water, and sewer
- affordable, and “duh,” with availability for the week,
This search led us to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, County Fairgrounds. The RV parking area at the fairgrounds is not pretty or spacious, and many lots are not level, but it met all of the other criteria. Since it is actually in the city, access to food, gas, etc. is easy. Now, here is the big, beautiful surprise. The city of Fond du Lac itself is lovely, inviting, clean, and offers much for us to do. The big bonus is that the city is located on the southern tip of Lake Winnebago, and Jim and I made the most of this location over the weekend.
We arrived on Friday and were set up in time for Jim to grab a quick nap before we went in search of something to eat. Man, oh, man – we were lucky the first time out. He and I found the coolest place with a theme we’d never have expected here. We went to Friar Tuck’s, and upon arrival assumed we’d made a good choice when the parking lot was full and there was a line waiting for a table. We didn’t have to wait too long, but the aromas in the room fueled our appetites. He got fish, and I got a turkey burger. We were stuffed, and Jim took home leftovers. If in this area, go to Friar Tuck’s: atmosphere, food, service, and price – all are excellent.
Saturday, Jim and I drove out to a local creamery located on the Kelly family farm. Ice cream made on site iss eaten in full view of the diary cows whose milk allows the creation of many tasty flavors. The ice cream was so filling that ended up being lunch for me. Of course, the mundane occurs on the road, too, so we had to go shopping for the week, but not before we checked out Lakeside Park (yes, it is on the southern portion of Lake Winnebago). The first thing to catch my attention was an old, working carousel. Then, I saw the beach, the sailboats, and the lighthouse: I fell in love. We decided to come back later in the afternoon to walk Chewie there (but I’m not sure we were supposed to have a dog in the park, though we asked). Chewie enjoyed his walk there, and Jim and I found things we’d missed before. It is a great place to spend a day as a single person, couple, or family. The wrap up to our Saturday was watching the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders play the Green Bay Bull Frogs. (Yes, those are truly the team’s names.) It was our first, and probably last, baseball game of the year, but it was great. The weather was awesome; Jim had gotten us really good seats, and the game was fun and exciting to watch with some close plays and even a homer. It was affordable fun. We learned after arriving that this was the inaugural year for the Spiders as a farm team for Milwaukee, and it was their last home game of the season. By the way, they won.
Sunday, Jim and I literally drove all the way around Lake Winnebago. First, we headed toward Oshkosh. On our way, we saw this sign (see photos below). It was an RV park, but then name had Jim in stitches for some reason. We went to the outlet store there and shopped for birthdays and Christmas for our grandchildren. Doing all the damage there we could at the time, we headed own toward a nearby cheese factory with company store. Getting hungry as we drove (it was lunch time), we lucked into a out-of-the-way bar and grill named Boom Bay Bar and Grill. The place had a friendly vibe, tasty food, good service, and reasonable prices. It was fun to watch boats pull into the dock, folks hop out, and order their food in the outside eating area (we were inside). As we arrived at Union Star Cheese factory, there were several bikers there. One of them told Jim to be sure and taste the Parmesan; it was excellent. Jim said it was excellent, and that is a good thing as Parmesan was one of the cheeses I’d hope to buy. Three cheeses in the bag later, as we were leaving, another local biker told us this was the best cheese place in the state. He said he knew because he’d tried just about all of them. Moving on, we drove and explored making our way around the lake. We stopped in Appleton on the north end to walk the downtown area briefly before heading south down the east shore. The views of the lake were even more amazing from the east side. We also found some campgrounds along the lake that do not show up in our RVParky app. If in Calumet County, Wisconsin, check out their county parks campgrounds. The final, and perhaps best,, surprise of the day was when I saw a sign for the Littler Farmer Apple Farm. It was open, and we stopped. Cool! It is 139 acres of fun and good food. If we lived in the area, I’d be here often, especially in September and October. The “you pick” apples do not come in until September, but there were some early apples bagged and ready. Or, you could do as we did, and have the folks make you a fresh caramel apple using these early, freshly-picked apples. YUM! Jim even scored a homemade cherry pie, which he says is the best pie he’d ever eaten. That’s good because he still has 2/3 of the pie to eat.
Fond du Lac and the Lake Winnebago area has so far been simply an unexpected treasure. We like it so much, the Jim and I have it at the top of our list, along with upstate NY, as a place we could live in the summers after he decides to retire.