GNABRT Day 43 – The scene around Racine


the shirtAnother of those rare days on the Great North American Baseball Road Trip where I had the chance to catch up with a long-missing friend,  This time, a woman I used to work with at my last job, who up and left for Wisconsin to live near her parents,  She would ultimately get married and have a son, which meant I had even more people to visit if I ever made it up there.

Fortunately, the GNABRT has provided me with the opportunity to visit so many of these distant friends.  After lodging at a hotel off Lake Michigan, I caught up on some sleep before dropping the car off at the local Subaru dealer for service visit #2.

My friend had a whole day planned out for me, despite assurances on my part that just catching up with her and meeting her family would be just dandy for me.  As is the case with most of my dealings with women, she paid me no heed.

Instead, we first stopped for “breakfast” as she introduced me to kringles, a large pastry ring filled with, well, whatever.  The selection was wide, but I opted for cherry cheese, since she said her family liked that flavor.  That was smart, because the thing was the size of a pizza.

IMG_0564Next, we visited Wingspread, the Frank Lloyd Wright-built home for H.F. Johnson, third in line for the famous S.C. Johnson company.  The sprawling 14,000 sq. ft. home included hundreds of windows, over half a dozen fireplaces and a “crow’s nest” to climb up and see across the entire expanse.

Much of the home has been converted into conference rooms for the S.C. Johnson company, but the parts that were within visiting range were stunning from both architecture and landscaping.

IMG_0571Then we went to the Mars Cheese Castle, a combination of Cracker Barrel and a large deli.  Various eating items of great interest abounded, but the nature of my trip frustrated any attempt to pick up some chunk cheese.

We popped into Culver’s for lunch.  Very nifty place and nice selection of food as a step-up from the traditional fast food joints.  I had the pot roast “dinner”, which was pot roast, mashed potatoes and green beans.  Good stuff.

We toured the S.C. Johnson administration buildings, more Frank Lloyd Wright creations and learned an awful lot about Sam Johnson (4th in line).  The buildings retain the characteristic imagination of Wright and it was a neat visit.

The day wrapped up back at my friend’s house where I got to meet first, her two-year old son and then the rest of her family.  We talked and ate while watching the youngster go through his paces (and I did a load of laundry).

We parted and I headed back to the hotel, to check out tomorrow for a day game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Before I left, my friend gave me two gifts.  An official GNABRT T-Shirt (in my favorite color) and a GNABRT keepsake shadow box to put all my tickets in.  Both were hand-customized by her and are amazing additions to my GNABRT memorabilia.

The city:  Racine, Wisconsin.  Located adjacent to where the Root River empties into Lake Michigan, the town (currently 5th largest in the state) was officially named Racine (after the French word for “root”) in 1841 .

Among its claims to fame are the opening of the first public high school in the state (1852) and the home of several industry giants: J I Case (heavy equipment), S.C. Johnson (cleaning and chemicals) and Arthur B. Modine (HVAC).

Other interesting notes about Racine:  malted milk was created there (1887) and the garbage disposal (1927, forming the company InSinkErator).

Miscellany of Day 43:

– As we were driving around the streets of Racine, there were numerous tall trees flush with purple leaves.  To my eyes, it looked like trees of beets.  Although I can find no concrete answer to the question, the closest tree I can find to fit the bill is the Norway Maple.  It’s a stunning and unusual looking tree.

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