For the past decade, summers have been capped off with a family gathering in northern Wisconsin at a resort called Garmisch USA. This is to distinguish it from Garmisch, Germany.
Garmisch USA was the brainchild of a series of Chicago lumber barons and their heirs, starting at the turn of the last century. One heir, Jean Funk, had traveled the world and came back eager to recreate what she had seen. Here she is, posing on the Queen Mary with her mother and in front of a bistro in Paris.
Garmisch is comprised of a lodge and about 20 “cabins” with names like Blarney Castle, Chateau des Alpes, Edelweiss Haus, Schwaben Haus, and The Beetle, which is where we congregated thanks to my aunt’s generosity.
The Beetle looks normal from the outside. There are two levels, each with bedrooms, a kitchen, and living area. The kitchens look normal.
But turn around, and you’ll wonder if someone slipped LSD into your beer.
Jean must have traveled through Africa and the South Pacific, too, and brought home treasures to incorporate into Garmisch. There are shelves and glass-fronted display cases full of souvenirs, including this uniform. Swiss? German? Hitler Youth?
There are closets galore, an elevator, and a hidden trap door that leads to two vast unfinished third-floor rooms full of surprises.
The grounds are sprinkled with out buildings overrun by chipmunks.
And creepy figurines, and a cannibal cauldron.
But we’re there for the family time on Lake Kabetogama.
We sat inside during the rain and talked and ate and read and played Scrabble. When the sun was out a dozen people took the pontoon to fish and swim and gape at other enormous cabins. We hiked and kayaked and made bonfires. Some of us went into town to the farmer’s market and some went to my niece’s baby-naming ceremony at Lac Courte Oreilles reservation. She and her partner and the baby are missing from this photo, otherwise there would be 17 of us.
Boy, am I ever short. I wonder if I am shrinking or if my niece, whose shoulders I am holding, is getting taller.
No Minnesota summer is complete without a day frittered away at the State Fair. Dubbed “The Great Minnesota Get Together,” this is your chance to socialize with two million of your neighbors in the heat and rain and to enjoy gourmet delights such as deep-fried pickles on a stick.
I arrived early to hit the booth of a local spectacle store that had advertised State Fair specials. I need a new pair of glasses and I found some great frames on sale. After figuring in my three prescriptions (reading, computer, and driving), UV protection, antiglare, and tax, I walked away having blown the better part of a paycheck.
I met some friends and we partook in craft beers, then perused the crop art in the Horticulture Building. Yes, all of these are made of seeds. Winters are long on the prairie and people must amuse themselves somehow.
We swung through the Dairy Building to gaze upon the climate-controlled, revolving butter-busts of the Fair Princesses, including Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
Then it was on to the livestock pavilions. Really, it’s a wonder these poor animals don’t die of terror after 12, 12-hour days being poked and prodded by strangers (We were there on the last day and the rabbits were being readied for transportation back to their farm; they were in larger cages during the fair).
We swung through the Department of Natural Resources for photo ops with Smoky the Bear, who turns 50 this year. I know he’s not real, but a girl can dream. Tall, dark, and furry….
Evening began to fall, and do did the rain, as I met another group of friends for the concert in the Grandstand: the Thomson Twins (but only one of them), the B52s, and Boy George and Culture Club.
Boy George’s makeup can only be described as satanic. His response to the audience, was “Wha’ di’jer expect? I’m Boy Fucking George!” It was great.
And that was my summer. Eight more sleeps, then I’m Australia bound.