I (Crystal) grew up in a mid-size town in southern Wisconsin that goes by the name of Janesville. Have you heard of it? Maybe not, but if you have kudos to you! When asked I often say “Madison” because people can locate that pretty quickly on a map. After college it took me approximately 2 weeks to escape to this great City of Oaks, but Janesville will always be the place that I know as “home”. Maybe it is the way I say “bag” or my Midwest Nice demeanor, but I’ll always have a little bit of Wisconsin in me.
This past weekend I got to spend a few days with family. I often don’t spend much time in Janesville because, well, there really isn’t a whole lot to do and most of my time is spent with family. However, when I do visit there are a few things I always make time for:
Woodman’s would be the Wisconsin version of Wegman’s, sort of. Want to know the first thing I said when I first entered a Lowe’s in Raleigh North Carolina? “Where’s the cheese?”
Maybe this sounds crazy, but I always go to the grocery store when I go home. The smell is familiar, I like to bask in the glory of all things cheese, and I even like to pick up some bread from the Italian House. While there are other grocery stores in Janesville there really is no competition with this employee owned establishment. If you want to pay a visit to Woodman’s don’t forget your debit card or cash because they still don’t take credit card.
Breathe in Some Fresh Country Air
Depending on where you are you might catch a strong whiff of cow, but there is nothing like a little bit of fresh country air. Some of my fondest memories growing up were on my grandparent’s farm. I was outside constantly.
As an adult with a million things going on there is something I really value about looking out and seeing nothing but land. It is hands down the best way to relax and clear your mind of all your worries. Even the O’Hara’s knew it was good for you:
“Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” – Gone With the Wind
How do you think Midwesterners stay warm in the winter? They eat.
My favorite places to catch a bite in Janesville are all places I cannot find in Raleigh and therefore I cherish my memory of them even more when I visit. Culvers – the home of the butter burger. While I may be vegetarian I always stop in for the custard flavor of the day (this past weekend was turtle, yum). Speaking of ice cream, we would always count down to the grand opening of Frostie Freeze. Lines would be around the block just so you could get the first crunch coat cone of the year.
Take a Walk on the Ice Age Trail
Janesville was by no means a “small town” but my parents put a lot of trust in me when it came to exploring outside of our general neighborhoods, not something I would probably let my children do in Raleigh, no offense Oak Heads (can we make that a thing?). There are miles to this walking/biking trail that cuts through Janesville and I was on it all the time in the summer. Rollerblading, biking, walking, exploring. I would go miles and my parents would simply expect me home by dinner.
You might be catching a theme here, but when it is brutally cold 8 months out of the year you really soak up the outdoors the other 4 months.
Go to a Park
This is a no-brainer for the locals, but you have to go to a park if it is above 50 degrees! Janesville is Wisconsin’s City of Parks. Growing up my favorite park was Palmer Park where my sisters and I would play in Camden Playground for hours, talk about free child care. My mother could have left us there and we would never have known she was gone. Before hitting my teenage years we would also spend a good amount of time in the wading pool. Any degree above 70 is considered wading pool season.
On Wisconsin! xoxo ‘n lols, crystal