Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Schlemiel, Schlimazel, Milwaukee!

The first stop on our trip out west with Pearl was Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Yup, that's correct - Milwaukee.  I read that Milwaukee is one of the best cities to visit in the United States in 2016 so I thought we would check it out.

It reminds me of Buffalo in many ways - German heritage, river, architecturally interesting buildings, brats, and beer. We arrived late our first night.  We expected to get in early enough to have dinner downtown but we were delayed for two hours just east of Chicago because of a tractor trailer fire on I-90.  What sucks about this is we were about ten cars in.  The fire was on the other side of the thruway but because the fire was quite intense and they had to get emergency crews to the scene, traffic was stopped on both sides.

Jamie used to drive tractor trailers and he is an engineer.  Bad combination when stopped in traffic for two hours wondering what the hell is going on.  We had all sorts of theories and he was explaining all that could have gone wrong ("What probably happened is the something or other just in back of the cab rubbed on something and that caused the fire."  I felt like the dog in the Far Side comic who recognizes only its name in a conversation with its owner.  He thought it was a catalytic converter fire.  Sure.)

It took so long that we counted up the vehicles that arrived to help with this fire.  This is as much as we could count: 2-3 ambulances, 3 copters, hook and ladder truck, police and fire people, 5-6 water tankers/foam trucks, tow truck, Indiana state troopers, 2 flatbed wreckers, a Bobcat skidster (I don't know what that is, but Jamie said it so I wrote it down).

This is after the fire died down a bit.  Smoke was quite intense for a bit. You can see how close we were to freedom.

Three helicopters circled. I assumed they were TV copters - this is just one.  We found no evidence of this incident on any news outlet.

We got the all clear and we are driving by.

Some of the emergency vehicles called into service.
While we were waiting, Pearl and I ate our little package of blueberries.  I opened them for her, handed them to her and then after a few minutes asked if I could have some.  She handed the package up to me (I was in the front seat, she behind me).  I started eating them and she said, "take some for yourself and pass them back. I'm not done yet."  Hey, she is the boss.

Once we were given the green light to drive, we drove by and saw that it was a truck full of Brawny paper towels.  I joked with Jamie that those damn paper towels sucked up enough of the liquid that was sprayed onto that fire!  No wonder it took so long to put out!

We did joke that if I didn't have to stop and go to the bathroom, we would have made it ahead of this accident.  I said that if he didn't forget something at home at the start of the trip, we would have made it past the accident.  We also joked that if we didn't get behind some idiot at McDonald's asking the folks to remake his eggs because he was sure they were from a can and not from actual eggs getting cracked for him, we would have made it past the accident.  But where's the story in that?

[As an aside, when we drove home we took this same route and Jamie said he thought he saw a cross on the side of the road at this mile marker.  He thought the driver might have died. Again, we couldn't find anything about this incident.  If that is the case, our hearts go out to the family.  Not funny.]

We didn't make it to Milwaukee until late and we went straight to bed, for the most part.  As we were checking in, Pearl asked us if we had two rooms or one.  We told her we got one room with two queen beds.  In fact, we tried to do this for the entirety of the trip for a couple of reasons: 1) it's cheaper to get one room, and 2) we didn't feel comfortable thinking that Pearl might wake up in the middle of the night or the morning not sure where she was or what was going on and then panicking.  We weren't sure if the later would happen but we didn't feel right finding out.

When we told her we got one room (didn't tell her the reason), she said, "well, no hanky-panky you two."

Um, Pearl, you can rest assured that having your mother (or mother-in-law) in the next bed is akin to sexual DEET.  You needn't worry about "hanky-panky."

The next morning, Pearl and I went for a walk along Milwaukee's RiverWalk.  Our hotel was just two blocks away so it made for a nice walk.  We were able to take a leisurely stroll along the Milwaukee River and see the downtown area along with some wonderful sculptures as part of a downtown art project - RiverSculpture.  Pearl also got to wrap her arms around The Fonz (he was bronzed).

Pearl and the Fonz

My selfie with the Fonz

Views along the River Walk

Boat going under one of the lift bridges.
Gertie Gets Her Ducks in a Row by Benjamin Rothschild

Cow and Ballerina by Schomer Lichtner
We left Pearl in the hotel room to rest while Jamie and I went out for a walk. I am a tad bothered because I took several others pictures that seem to have disappeared from my camera.    Several of the pictures were taken as we walked through the Milwaukee Historical Society.  They had an exhibit on beer and brewing in Milwaukee - Brew City MKE.  Now, I don't drink beer and could normally care less about beer but it so defines this city that it would be foolish not to take a look.

What an interesting exhibit.  In many ways it reminded me of the tour I did a few years ago in Utica.  Prohibition played a huge role in our history and it's interesting to note that "brewing" still happened during prohibition but in a very different way.  Non-alcoholic beverages were brewed as were "kits" that were given explicit directions that you should not add 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar, stir and then heat (I don't remember the exact directions but it essentially told you how to make alcohol by warning you against it - very clever).  And then once prohibition was repealed, beer was available in no time flat even though it takes quite some time to brew beer.

We also found our way to the German corner (hell, the whole city is German corner and we were okay with that).  There was a restaurant we want to try when we return - we didn't think Pearl would like it - full of German sausages and other delicacies and dishes.  My mouth is watering thinking about it.  We did find a wonderful sausage/deli market and a cheese shop.  Of course we purchased something in each store.  The woman in the sausage store - Usinger's -  apologized that the jerky/sausage we bought was expensive "because everything is hand-made."  Funny, we didn't find it pricey and thought that if this was expensive, we are living the high life!  (It is Miller country.)

At the Wisconsin Cheese Mart we got some curds and some other cheeses to eat on the way as well as a little souvenir cheddar for Pearl - the cheddar cow pictured below.

Love this little cheese cow!  Peel the wax and eat the cheddar. I can't seem to do it, though.

Thankfully, both shops ship so we can always order more.

We left Milwaukee vowing to return.  We were only able to see the city in about four hours which is not enough time and did not do it justice.  I think the RiverWalk was an excellent experience and would welcome staying in the area again when we return.  And you can get here in one day - a pretty long day - but one day.  If anyone would like to share experiences of Milwaukee, please do.

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