June 15: Skyway Drive-In Theatre, Fish Creek WI

It’s Day 166 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I took my first-ever trip up Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, having driven from Shawano through Green Bay to the Skyway Drive-In Theatre northwest of Fish Creek and right across the highway from Peninsula State Park. The drive took less that two hours.

The Door County Pulse wrote that the Skyway first opened in July 1950, owned by Orville and Elton Voeks. (Elton sold his share to Orville in 1955.) According to the Pulse, “The screen was 46 x 50, the same as today. The Voeks showed foresight in building the screen to face the south, so a late-setting sun wouldn’t hit it. … The orange, yellow and pink marquee they built is still in use.”

Orville sold the Skway to Darrell “Wild Bill” and Eileen Jacobson in 1981. Their kids, Jeffrey and Dale Jacobson, took over in 1999.

The Skyway’s got a great history page on its web site. The site says that in times past, “prior to the movie, Orville or (Darrell) would drive up and down the rows in a 1955 Chevy, which was designed to release a mosquito-repelling fog.” That must have been a sight!

Speaking of old sights, I’ve embedded a 10-year-old YouTube video of a Door County “Explore the Door” travel show that celebrated the Skyway. The projector has changed, (digital was installed in 2013), but most of it’s still the same.

Honestly, Wonder Woman makes a very good movie to see at the drive-in. This marked the fifth time I’ve seen it in 10 days, including the second night in a row. That’s more than I would recommend.

Miles Today / Total:  105 / 21692 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Wonder Woman / 82

Nearby Restaurant: The White Gull Inn‘s cherry-stuffed French toast was a finalist in Good Morning America‘s Best Breakfast competition, so I was really glad the place also served breakfast at lunch. I had a half-order with some meat, because that really is a lot of French toast. Great stuff!

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s a nice little place called Julie’s Park Cafe & Motel right across the street from the entrance to Peninsula State Park. There was good wifi and a fridge in my room.

Only in Fish Creek: Just six miles up Highway 42 from the Skyway is Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, which has goats on its roof. It felt like deja vu because a few months ago I visited a place in Georgia called Goats on the Roof. Al Johnson’s doesn’t include them in the title, but you can watch them live on his Goat Cam.

Next stop: Field of Scenes, Freedom WI.

June 14: Moonlight Outdoor Drive In, Shawano WI

It’s Day 165 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I bounced down from Chetek WI to Eau Claire then turned east, driving about three hours to reach the Moonlight Outdoor Drive In in Shawano.

The Moonlight is one of those drive-ins that opened next to an existing indoor theater, in this case, the Shawano Cinema. According to Movies By Twilight, the Moonlight opened in September 2000, with the parking area fully developed by the next season. The screen came from Grafton’s 57 Outdoor Theater, which had built it about 10 years before it closed in 1985.

A 2011 article in the Shawano Leader indicated that the indoor theater had switched to digital projection by then but the drive-in was still using film. Owner Tim Suick lowered the admission price as a result, telling the newspaper, “We don’t have as many first-run movies showing outdoors because more and more movies are only coming out in digital, so we wanted to make it more attractive for customers.”

Julie Boucher, Shawano Cinema general manager, said then that weekends averaged 25-30 vehicles for the drive-in.

I was glad to continue my streak of consecutive movie nights (up to 13 now) even though it was the fourth time I saw Wonder Woman. It’s really a pretty good drive-in movie.

Miles Today / Total:  191 / 21587 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Wonder Woman / 81

Nearby Restaurant: It had been a while since I had some pizza, so I was happy to stop by Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta. I had a regular-crust pizza with plenty of vegetables, so I could say I was eating healthy. I was so proud of myself that I also had a cannoli for dessert.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Here’s another regional hotel chain that’s new to be – the Boarder’s Inn. My basic room didn’t have a fridge (that’s just for the suites here), but the wifi was very good and the hot breakfast in the morning was a great way to get the day started.

Only in Shawano: No trip to Shawano would be complete without a visit to Twig’s Beverage Museum. Twig’s Beverage was started in 1951 by Floyd “Twig” Hartwig. The museum tour includes bottling, history, knick-knacks, and samples. And the best part is that it’s free, except for the souvenirs and six-packs for sale in the gift shop.

Next stop: Skyway Drive-In Theatre, Fish Creek WI.

June 13: Stardust Twin Drive-In Theater, Chetek WI

It’s Day 164 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I had another short- to medium-sized drive again, just an hour and a half from Lake Elmo MN across the border to the Stardust Twin Drive-In Theater, just northwest of Chetek WI.

The Stardust is one of those modern, 21st century drive-ins with a retro vibe. It opened in May 2008, owned by Paul and Marlys Javener. Paul Javener told the Wausau Daily Herald in 2015, “We wanted to give people an experience they and their kids are going to remember. Everyone who has ever gone to the drive-in as a kid fondly remembers it, including myself, so we wanted to keep that going.”

Some drive-in owners may want to skip to the next paragraph. Javener also said, “One of the perks of the drive-in is you can bring in a lot of your own treats and snacks, so we serve items that are more like a complete meal or that people can’t easily bring in on their own, like pizzas, burgers and breadsticks.”

The Stardust has a little bit of everything. There’s a shaded deck, a tractor-pulled train for kids, a playground, and lots of fun space-themed kitsch. There’s even a second screen, added about the time it converted to digital projection in 2011.

What a great time it was for me to visit. There was a new YouTube video (embedded above) posted just two days earlier. The second screen started with a blockbuster that had previously eluded me, The Mummy. Chicken taquitos from the concession stand filled me up, and hot fudge coffee kept me awake. Good times!

Miles Today / Total:  89 / 21396 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Mummy / 80

Nearby Restaurant: The day before I was off by a letter in thinking that Gorman’s Restaurant might be a German restaurant. This day I was reward with the little Chetek Cafe. It was so German it even offered German coffee. (When I think of German coffee, I think of the Munich train station with a stand offering “Coffee To Go” in those English words. But I digress.) I had the Jaeger Schnitzel with mushroom gravy for lunch. Wunderbar!

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are at least a dozen resorts on Prairie Lake next to Chetek, but for just one night, I thought it would be more appropriate to stay at a mom and pop motel. Or maybe that’s just mom, since it’s called Mamma’s Cottage. This is a humble, vintage, wood-themed (formerly the Oaks Motel) place, but my room had a mini-fridge, a microwave, and wifi, plus a very low price.

Only in Chetek: Every summer around the Fourth of July, Chetek holds its Liberty Fest. The celebration includes a softball tournament, helicopter rides, a horse pull, and of course, fireworks.

Next stop: Moonlight Outdoor Drive In, Shawano WI.