There are a ton of images I am going to share in this post but whoever said there has to be a limit, besides, the La Crosse area and Coulee Region have a lot to offer a photographer. This past summer, my family and I traveled back to La Crosse, Wisconsin for vacation; my Dad and younger brother were born there, most of my family still lives there and it’s a place you’ll often hear me say I am “from” although I was born in Tucson, Arizona. There are many reasons I call this place home; my earliest memories are from here, on the lakes or rivers, at the racetrack and Holidays with the family. It’s where I started school at Washburn Elementary in Kindergarten and most of 1st grade before moving back to Arizona. I returned when I was 19 and stayed for 6 years before returning to Arizona and met my wife Maria and have been here ever since. Maria and the boys have always heard me talk endlessly about the places and people but this would be the first trip for them, and Maria fell in love with the area; I knew she would.
I wanted to make sure we were there for one of my favorite times of year up there, “Riverfest” a 5 day event scheduled to end on the 4th of July and we looked forward to the photography opportunities that were ahead of us. First thing we did after we checked in at the Grand Stay hotel within a stones throw of the Mississippi River was head down to Riverside Park where all the food vendors were and fill up on Bratwurst; sure they sell Brats anywhere but something about tasting them at home on the Mississippi waterfront makes them taste Oh So Good.
With a full belly and lots to see, I took Maria and the boys to the base of an iconic statue in La Crosse, Hiawatha. This 25ft. statue weighing an equal 25 tons was created by local La Crosse artist Anthony Zimmerhakl in 1962 and placed in Riverside Park where the 3 rivers, The Mississippi, Black, and the La Crosse Rivers meet. I have had this statue in my memories since I was a kid, whenever I think of La Crosse this is one thing that stands out in my mind. Anytime I come back home, this is the first thing I go to.
These statues below are permanent structures in Riverside Park, an Eagle Statue and a depiction of children waving goodbye or welcoming incoming ships overlooking the docks. The La Crosse Public Library Tuesday Night Knitters created the knitted scarf around them and the handrails. As I have said before in my Blog, I am a sucker for graffiti but this was different, as it would not damage anything it was affixed to. It’s 1500 ft. in length and took over 100 knitters to create.
Although the history of La Crosse dates back much further than it’s official incorporation as a city in 1856, it became one of the largest cities in Wisconsin being logistically situated on the river banks of the Mississippi and Black rivers as they rafted lumber through the area and saw mills built nearby; soon came the brewery industry and the utilization of the railroad hubs and Steamboats. The La Crosse Queen is a staple tourist attraction today but the dock once hosted the great riverboat and now retired “Delta Queen”.
The city of La Crosse take their history very seriously with strict and honorable laws that protect the history, they are very successful at preservation but still manage to make way for the new without disturbing the look and feel of this city. A good example would be the addition of the Cameron Street Bridge built parallel to the exiting Mississippi Bridge also known as the Cass Street Bridge; it’s arched curve placed in the center of the span of the older structure and painted light blue to match.
As Riverfest rolled on with entertainment ranging from local area bands to lumberjack shows or people just enjoying time with friends or family on the river, this was the place to be for 5 days if you wanted to celebrate the 4th of July.
With the first week behind us, my brother and nephew joined us in a day trip out to Cashton, Wisconsin to visit Amish country. Maria has always loved country décor so taking her and the boys out to old farming country was something we had talked about for a long time. Being July and all, the corn crops were about chest high and it was close to the first cut for alfalfa so it was a neat time to see the landscape.
Sure we were on vacation but Maria and I had the pleasure of 2 impromptu couple sessions with great couples like Josie & Troy, his sister Jackie with her fiancé Steve followed by 2 karting events and the big show at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. We can’t call it a working vacation by any means; we had a great time and can’t wait to come back and spend more time taking images. See the links below including Maria’s Blog POst on her vacation shots.
If you’ve made it down this far, thanks for stopping by; I know it was a long one so thanks for hanging in there. We can’t wait to return to La Crosse again, we had a great time and there is so much more to capture.
Until next time,
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