If you need to spice up your roadtrip playlist for your drive home for the holidays, look no further!
Growing up in Nekoosa, Wisconsin is something that I would never change. Living in a town with a population of 2000 is something that not everyone experiences, but I am glad that I did. The Nekoosa Papermakers are a mascot most people will never understand, and, while I may not be able to stand the smell of manure, I have no problem with the rancid smell of the mill. A close-knit, small-town community smack dab in the Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin may not be the first choice for some to raise a family in, but, let me tell you, it is the place I will always call home. Every Friday night of fall is spent traveling near and far to support our football team, whether it's a good season or a bad. The experiences you have in a small town are unreal. Here are some things Nekoosians know all too well:
1. Pumpkin Fest
The Giant Pumpkin Drop
The Giant Pumpkin Fest is held the first weekend of October each year. While its location may have changed, (and then changed again...and again), we still know it to be the same great event it always has been. From cool crafts, to volunteer opportunities, to the best food out there, you would be lying if you said you weren't pumped to go. Cheese curds, walking tacos, brats, cinnamon roasted pecans, cheesecake on a stick...okay, my mouth is watering. But, you can never forget the point of Pumpkin Fest: the 1,000 pound pumpkins and the magnificent giant pumpkin drop! And, there's always the competition to see who can carve the coolest pumpkin or who can kayak down the Wisco River.
2. Rome, WI
Rome: not home to the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, but, rather, the place of golf courses and summer employment opportunities for high school and college kids returning to our quaint, little town. It's the place where rich Illinois families come to drive like maniacs and spend oodles of money on golfing and cabins on the lake. To us Nekoosians, Rome is an entirely different place. But, it truly is Nekoosa, no matter how hard we differentiate. Your friends may live in Rome, but, if you want to send them some mail, the address still says Nekoosa.
3. The Mill Smell
Wisconsin Rapids City Times
Out-of-town friend in your car as you drive down Market Street: "Ewwwww, what is that smell?"
You: "Wait, what smell? Oh, that's just the paper mill."
Some days are good, some days are bad. Everyone in town knows at least one person who works at the mill or did at one point. And, if you really want some key bits of information, check out that Domtar sign to see what's new while you wait for three train cars to take their sweet time getting into the wood chip yard.
4. The Pool
A Dollar General was placed atop the unmarked grave of the former Nekoosa City Pool.
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Rest in Peace city pool. This thing was out of commission before I even turned old enough to ride my bike down the street and go swimming. However, I have fond memories of freezing for 8 a.m. swim lessons and dreams of going down the waterslide. Now, all we have to show for its complete and utter destruction is the Dollar General and the newest edition of retired living spaces, which look extremely nice. But, no worries, the Splashpad is on its way--it's no city pool, but at least it's something.
5. Beavers Dime Store
Beaver's Dime Store is the place for all your candy and crafting needs. It's the best place to get giant bags of Frooties or raffle tickets for Prom Committee. I'm sure before my time, it was quite the place to be. If I ever need yarn to make bracelets, I know exactly where to go. I have a fond memory of riding back to my house in the car after we stopped at Beavers and grabbed a miniature pool for my little brother, cousins and me. It may have only been three feet long and about a foot deep, but it was a pool nonetheless.
6. The Blue Water Tower
Rest in Peace, once again. The Blue Water tower coming down was a historic moment for us all. For the longest time, the empty lot seemed so vacant. Who knew replacing it with the white one in the "Business Park" would be such a wounding experience for everyone? Blue Water Tower, you are very missed.
7. Peter Papermaker
Anyone who didn't grow up in Nekoosa is thoroughly confused after reading this listicle item. Peter Papermaker, was our beloved mascot, who, up until January 2016, was scarier than all sin. Falling apart and mangled, Petey got his revamp. Some people like to comment on how it's not a very scary or intimidating mascot, but, really, have they ever lifted a roll of paper off the press? Didn't think so. Try again.
Tucson can be arguably boring at times, and a lot of us get into the same rhythm of staying in. It is so important to utilize the beautiful state that we're in, and adventure as much as possible! If you don't have a car, then find a friend that you can carpool with. I promise, you will be so glad that you decided to road trip and explore our surroundings. At the end of college, I want to be able to say that I traveled all over Arizona, and experienced the best parts of nature (and I'm sure you do too)!
here are the top 5 places to road trip to:
1. Mt. Lemmon
1-hour drive from Tucson.
Okay this one can be super obvious to a lot of locals, but surprisingly a lot of students have yet to take a trip to Mt. Lemmon. It's a beautiful little microclimate, and this mountain is usually about twenty degrees cooler than Tucson, which can be an amazing getaway during the hottest days. Most people don't even know that there is a lake where you can walk, run, or even fish in!
2. Picacho Peak
41 minutes from Tucson.
Picacho Peak is an awesome place to hike, but make sure you bring sunblock and LOTS of water. There is also a cute ostrich farm where you can feed the ostriches, and even pet stingray!
3. The Grand Canyon
5 hours from Tucson.
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, and it's only about a 5 hour car ride away! Definitely rent an airbnb and spend the weekend hiking, rafting, or rock climbing.
4. Seven Falls
25 minutes from the University of Arizona.
This is one of my favorite hikes in Tucson, by far! I would highly recommend going right after it rains, because that's when the falls are the fullest! Make sure you bring your swim suit, and go early because the sun is super intense.
5. Lake Pleasant
2 1/2 hours from Tucson.
This was by far one of my favorite hikes in Phoenix. My friends and I actually saw a herd of wild horses grazing, fighting, and even mating (yeah that last one wasn't the best to witness)! There is also a place where you can cliff jump, but be prepared, its a mile hike up a rocky path!
Overall, my favorite places to road trip to have been Seven Falls, Lake Pleasant, and Mt. Lemmon. I really recommend stepping out into nature. Instead of staying in and watching a movie, rather enjoy what Arizona has to offer. Arizona is a beautiful state, make sure that you don't miss out on taking an adventure whether it's in Tucson or beyond.