I have not spent much time in the Midwest except for the first 9 years of my life in Denver. To me, the Midwest has always included any state from Ohio to Colorado, but the difference between all of these states is becoming more apparent to me as I visit some of them. I feel odd now lumping them all into the “Midwest” because they each have their own distinct personality. Nonetheless, I had never been to Wisconsin. It seemed like some far off world to me. And the Great Lakes? Even more of a mystery.
As Jeremy and I flew into Milwaukee on Friday, I was astonished at the “greatness” of Lake Michigan. The teenage boy behind us was wondering if we were over an ocean (geography class, hello?). It honestly did feel like the vastness of an ocean, so I’ll give the kid a break and just silently encourage his parents to buy him a globe. Since landing in Wisconsin last week though, I have learned that Lake Michigan is only the third largest of the Great Lakes. (You mean there are 2 bigger?) I also learned that the lake is slightly larger than the country of Croatia and has a surface area of 22,400 square miles! Ok, enough history. Let’s just say, I was intrigued by this lake.
Luckily Friday was a beautiful day. We enjoyed the sunshine knowing that the rest of the weekend would be cold and rainy. Andy took us downtown to the 3rd Ward for lunch on the river. Windy, but delicious. It was just the beginning of a food and beer filled weekend. I even broke down and told Jeremy we could eat whatever we wanted all weekend with no guilt (as long as we promised to start the “diet” upon our return!)
After lunch, we headed out to Cedarburg, which is by far the most idyllic town I have ever been to (besides Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls, but I’ve only been there thanks to the magic of TV.) No history lesson on Cedarburg. It’s more of an experience, I think, but pictures will have to suffice for now. It seemed like the perfect place to raise a family (don’t worry, we’re not moving….. yet….) We got that sense as we encountered several groups of children roaming the streets with no parents, riding their bikes to the candy store to get ice cream, hanging out at the pizza place… Honestly, the place seemed like it was run by kids. There were barely any adults to be found! And if a town can support 3 separate local candy/chocolatier shops, than that is a town for me! Another small little store also caught Andy’s eye, so we had to get a picture…
Even though our drive to Cedarburg was at the spur of the moment, I kind of think Andy had it planned all along as part of his ploy to get us to move there. It was the perfect day, the perfect town, and then lo and behold, we walked by a gorgeously designed architecture firm! It was fate!
Ok, enough of that. On to the grocery store, then back to Wind Lake to enjoy some beer and brats. (Hey, it’s Wisconsin for crying out loud!)
Saturday was indeed rainy and cold. Luckily we could warm up at the Miller Brewing Company Tour. Ah, the smell of barley and hops. Not only was the tour free, but we also got to taste 3 fairly large glasses of some of Miller’s finest at the Miller Inn.
After lunch we attempted another brewery tour at local Lakefront Brewery. Unfortunately, this is one of the most popular brewery tours, even among the locals, so all the tours were sold out by the time we got there. It was still necessary to have some more beer, though, since we were already there.
After our afternoon movie and the picking up of more beer for later, we decided to make the trek into Illinois for traditional Chicago pizza.
We had eaten this pizza on our trip to Chicago last year, per Andy’s suggestion. And when you’re drinking beer, nothing often sounds better than pizza. So we had to have it. It was a bit of a drive, but definitely worth it!
Back in Wind Lake that night, Jeremy and Andy taught me how to play a certain drinking game involving cards (you know the one), and I think I finished 3 whole beers in one sitting. That’s quite a feat for me, the lightweight.
Sleep finally took over, though. The next morning, while I let the guys sleep, I headed out to the lake to ponder life (and blogging) and to read my latest in chick lit. Before heading to the airport, we visited the Milwaukee Art Museum just to see the impressive architecture and the bird-like wings spread into the sky. I got another glimpse of Lake Michigan and felt very small in this world.
Sadly, we had to end our adventure in Milwaukee that day with me flying home to the kids (Sorry, did I not mention that we missed them dearly?), and Jeremy flying out to Tacoma, WA for work. It had been a fun weekend. Not necessarily a weekend for catching up on sleep, but I think I’ve heard you can never catch up on sleep, so oh well. Wisconsin impressed me, much more than I expected. Driving through fields of sod farms with bright red barns lining the horizon… It was pure. It was not the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was not the Rockies. It was not the beaches of the NW. But it was Wisconsin – Milwaukee at that – a gem of it’s own.