Was the migration of Monarch butterflies the highlight? No, visiting with one another was, but Monarches were high.


Our gathering place this year nominally was Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Our VBRO rental house on the western shore of Lake Michigan was actually north of Sheboygan in the little town of Cleveland and closer to Manitowoc than to Sheboygan.

We came from many directions to reach to Sheboygan. Bill and Julie drove across Wisconsin from Roseville, MN. Bob and Lolly came the shortest distance; they came from Shawano, WI, but arrived a day late due to health issues. Bob and Ann drove the longest, coming from St. Louis, MO.

Gail and I flew to Milwaukee from Maryland. Maija picked us up at the airport to take us north to our destination. We were very early, long before the check-in time, so we stopped in Cedarburg, a city with a historic center just north of Milwaukee. We walked the main street, visited an art show in the community center, ate a tasty lunch at The Chocolate Factory, and did some wine tasting (and buying) at Cedar Creek Winery. We visited the oldest remaining covered bridge in Wisconsin.

Good food and ice cream at The Chocolate Factory

Covered Bridge built in 1876 and used until 1962


Our shelter was a large house on the shore of Lake Michigan. It had five bedrooms, comfortable living room, balconies, lots of stairs, and a cramped kitchen. The dining room was spacious with a great view of the lake and the sunrise.

The morning sunrise on Tuesday, September 21

The morning sunrise on Friday, September 23


We were surprised and delighted to see a steady stream of Monarch Butterflies fluttering south between the house and the beach. Their speed, small size, and erratic motion made them hard to photograph. In addition, some were resting in a small stand of trees between the house and the beach.

Flying Monarchs

Resting Monarchs


When we get together, there are many topics to talk about: politics, gardens, health, activities, vacations, families and friends, etc.

Enjoying the deck, the weather, and the conversation

Living room discussion seen from the dining room

Another living room discussion seen from the bedroom wing

Returning “home” after an excursion


At lunch at Il Ritrovo Restaurant
Over the years, we have gone through many phases in how we sustain ourselves with food, but we have generally dined well. This year, we decided to have our main meal in a restaurant at noon with do-it-yourself breakfasts and a light meal at “home” in the evening. For breakfast, cereal, bread, milk, fruit, eggs, and, of course, coffee were available. For the evening meal, quiche, bread, salami, liverwurst, fruit, wine, and beer were shared.

We looked to Manitowoc for our first noon meal because it was the closest city and chose Ryan’s on York. The restaurant only had two small tables in the back room that would accommodate us. There were lots of beer selections and many of the dishes were good, but the soups and the fried green tomatoes were disappointing. Probably won’t eat there again.

The next day, we went to Sheboygan to the Kohler museums so we chose to eat at the Il Ritrovo restaurant. That was universally enjoyed.


There are a number of things to do in the area. About a mile south of our VRBO was Fischer Creek Park, where we walked and tried to skip stones. Other options in addition to breweries and parks, included the Sheboygan County Historical Museum, Bookworm Gardens, Wisconsin Maritime Museum, and Pinecrest Historical Village.

We chose to visit the Kohler art museums in Sheboygan. Thursday morning our group adventure was a visit to the John Michael Kohler Art Preserve. Similar to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, this museum mostly contains art by folk artists. Some of the art is whimsical, some somber, and much may be obsessive.

After lunch a few of us went on to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which featured more conventional modern art,

At the entrance to the John Michael Kohler Art Preserve

Bob, Maija, and Anne inspecting sculptures
from Frank Oebser’s Little Program

Bob, Gail, and Al reflected at the lavatory in the first floor men’s room
in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Looking east over Lake Michigan at sunset, we could see the reddish Belt of Venus just above the dark shadow of the Earth.


Gail photographing the “Great Wall of (vitreous) China”
Check out was 10 AM on Friday morning and everyone was on thier way before then.

Maija drove Gail and me back to the Milwaukee airport. Because our flight did not leave until late in the afternoon, we decided to visit the Kohler Design Center before we left Sheboygan. The first floor of this facility was mostly a showroom for Kohler products. However, at the back wall was a massive sculpture called the “Great Wall of (vitreous) China”. It consisted of about 32,000 pounds of toilets, bath tubs, and figures.

In the basement of the Kohler Design Center was an exhibit of the history of the Kohler company. It begins with a portrait and family tree of the Austrian immigrant, John Michael Kohler, who started the company. The exhibit shows the first products, which were farm implements, and continued to Kohler’s first bath tub - an enameled water trough. A later display showed a 1926 electronic sink, a foreruner of the modern dish washer. It was fascinating to see how the items we use in our kitchens and bathrooms changed through time. A display gave a time line of Kohler events, one of which was a strike by the unions that began in 1954 and wasn’t settled for six years. That reminded me that my dad refused to by Kohler products because of the strike.

Where shall we gather next year? We discussed several locations: Springfield, Illinois and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, among others. In the end, we agreed on the Twin Cities.

Responsible: Albert Holm
Created: 26 September 2022