Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road in Wisconsin: Deer & cows & more, oh, my June 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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About to enter Wisconsin at La Crosse.


SINCE MY SECOND DAUGHTER moved to Wisconsin seven, or maybe it’s eight, years ago, I’ve grown to love this neighbor to the east of Minnesota.


Crossing the Mississippi River with Minnesota to the right, Wisconsin to the left.


A particularly scenic vista heading west toward La Crosse and eventually Minnesota.



I like Wisconsin’s rural character, its rolling hills and bluffs and open farmland.


East of La Crosse.




Cow cut-outs line a ballpark fence in Mauston. Can you correctly answer the dairy trivia question? Check the end of this post for the answer. And also check back tomorrow to learn all about this herd of cows.


I like the quaint farm sites, the cows grazing and the proud promotion of dairy. This is, after all, the Dairyland State.


A cheese-promoting mouse statue along the interstate.


I’m amused by the obsession with brat frys and cheese and the Green Bay Packers.


I’ve never seen so many dead deer as in Wisconsin, except in Pennsylvania. Live ones, too. On the return trip to Minnesota from Madison, I counted 17 dead deer along the interstate. I likely missed some. I didn’t count the miscellaneous roadkill. On the trip out, I saw even more dead deer, but didn’t tally those.


I’m not so amused, though, by all the dead deer along roadways.


This message flashed multiple times on signs along the interstate on Memorial Day weekend. During the 538-mile round trip to Madison and back to Faribault, I saw only one law enforcement officer, a policeman just outside Kenyon, MN. I wish one would have been around to catch the driver of the car that passed a semi on the left shoulder of the interstate in Wisconsin.


Nor do I find the drinking culture particularly positive.


As expected, there’s plenty of road construction mixed into summer travel.


But all in all, I find Wisconsin an interesting and beautiful state with small town nuances that often delight me.


The Wisconsin Dells, with its many waterparks, is a popular tourist destination. Here vehicles are backed up along the interstate following a serious car crash. I was thankful we were on the opposite side. Traffic gridlock stretched for many miles.


I am now in the process of discovering a region of Wisconsin previously unvisited. That’s the Madison area. In the past, visits to my daughter took me off the interstate at Tomah and across the state to Oshkosh and then a bit north into the Fox Valley. Now she lives in Madison, a Memorial Day weekend destination. It’s a four-hour drive, an hour less than the previous drive. But it’s still scenic and so quintessential Wisconsin.


FYI: Please check back for more posts from Wisconsin, including one on those cows in Mauston and several posts from Madison. All photos here were taken along Interstates 90 and 94, except the image in Mauston.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “On the road in Wisconsin: Deer & cows & more, oh, my”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    The cow question was way too easy. 🙂 That mouse, though, was adorable. Very eye catching. I remember driving that same stretch and commenting on the dead deer as well so maybe the DOT does not clean them up quickly or something? I don’t know. But I do remember counting as well and there were a lot. Which makes me think that the deer population is very healthy. Until they get hit. 🙂

    • The opposite is actually true about the deer population in Wisconsin, where chronic wasting disease is a major problem.

      I saw no indication that the DOT removes dead deer from the interstate.

      And, yes, that cow question was way too easy. Check back for other trivia in my post tomorrow. Those questions are not quite as easy. Or take the trivia test online.

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    I’m amused by the obsession with brat frys and cheese and the Green Bay Packers.

    After God, country and family, these are the three essentials of life.

  3. parkerozgood Says:

    We just took 90 Across when I went to Ohio a couple weeks ago. I have always done 94 across WI because it is easier to get on that here in the cities. After making that drive on 90, I don’t think I will ever take 94 again! So pretty going through the bluffs there before you hit cheese country!

  4. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    I’m also alarmed by the number of dead deer I’m seeing around the metro area roads. Also was under the impression there’s a road kill of all types clean up, maybe contracted, as on repeat drives I’ve not seen the kill in the road, just on the side. That might be highway patrol. I don’t get around the state much, but with our natural scenery and their retaining old charm, it’s a lovely state. I have folks in the LaCrosse area. Nice you’re not driving, can snap pictures! Thanks.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I got the trivia question right away too. I find all of the dead deer a little disturbing and then my daughter makes it worse by saying “rest in peace’ every time we drive by one.

  6. Murphy's Law Says:

    Long drive to visit your daughter, but a beautiful one. I love the mouse statue and the cow cut-outs. The barn and silos are just stunning.

    The roadkill problem, and slow cleanup, is a problem here in NY as well. It’s sad to see dead animals on the side of the road. We invaded their territory, took their homes away from them with our tractors and bulldozers, and then run them down with our vehicles. I know, you can’t always avoid hitting an animal who darts out into traffic, but it doesn’t make it any less sad.

    I’m sure you had a wonderful visit, but probably wish you could’ve stayed longer.

    Was the trivia question easy? Sure was ’cause even I said Holstein!! Lol.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    • That’s a good observation about us invading the natural habitat of wildlife. So true.

      The drive to Wisconsin is not nearly as long as the drive to Boston to visit our son. When we did a road trip there two years ago, we drove through upstate New York. I loved the area.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Holstein….yep I got it, but I do feel like I know my cows growing up in the country and having a cow pasture right by my house. I used to go sit along the fence and watch them for hours. It’s that “wanna-be” farm girl that I was. I love driving to lacrosse, it’s so pretty along the river! I’m looking forward to your posts to come.

    • If you guessed that Holstein was the breed of dairy cows on our farm, you would be right. I always loved when we visited one of my mom’s uncles near Courtland. He had Brown Swiss. I loved their soulful eyes and velvet like appearance. Much more exotic to me than the common Holstein.

      Yes, you definitely are a farm girl at heart, loving gravel roads and barns and country churches.

  8. valeriebollinger Says:

    I noticed a lot of these scenes on my drive to Oshkosh, and remember a lot of these Wisconsin scenes off 90/94 from my multiple trips to and from Chicago, IN, MI (friends and son’s colleges) and then just driving back and forth to Madison for a good half way meeting point with a friend from IN.

    I, too, counted the deer on my recent trip to Oshkosh, but didn’t get as many as you.

  9. Randy Says:

    click-click. Oh shoot my counter wore out , there are so many..

  10. You found some real beauty in your travels! I lived in Milwaukee, WI many years ago and all I remember is that it was a large ugly city. Love the quaint signs. 🙂

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