Saturday, February 28

From Iowa to Wisconsin.

From Walcott, Iowa, we had about 3.5 or 4 hours to go to Milwaukee. We didn't have to be there at a certain time on Monday so we did not set the alarm for the crack of dawn. I think we hit the road at about 9:00 AM. I made Will take me by The World Largests Truckstop which I have to say was something of a disappointment. It really didn't seem all that large, but I guess the largeness is based on all the amenities and not the size of the truck stop store. They did have some interesting Jesus t-shirts available.

Soon we left Iowa behind, crossed the Mississippi and hit Illinois.

Mississippi River

We took I-80 to I-88 to I-39. The interstates through Illinois really sucked. Totally cracked and bumpy. I also noted that east of the Mississippi everything suddenly felt a lot less spacious. Just after the Wisconsin border, we got on I-43 which took us into Milwaukee. Driving into the city, we passed Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. We also got a nice view of the Miller Brewing Co. Our hotel, the Ambassador Hotel, was just up the street from Marquette University and near downtown.

We arrived at the Ambassador at about 1:00 PM. It is an historic art deco hotel and quite luxurious for us especially after two nights of roadside motels. It was not particularly expensive, but it was definitely one of the nicest hotels that we have ever stayed. I think we were both pretty wide-eyed the whole time we were there. The hotel has a restaurant and lounge in the lobby. And a coffee shop. A fitness center downstairs. A spa that we did not visit but it was on one of the upper floors. Impeccable service. I could have stayed there forever.

Right off the bat we met Sam, the valet and then some. (Not sure what his official title is.) He helped us unload our luggage onto a cart which he maneuvered upstairs for us. I was all flustered because I had never experienced bellhop service before and had no idea what amount a proper tip might be. I think I did okay though. He was super nice and told us all about the hotel and what was available there and around the city. Our room was fantastic. Large, light and airy. A king-sized bed, a sitting area with a couch, coffee table and wide screen television. A desk and chair with an ethernet cable provided for internet access. Large closet with two plush terry cloth robes in it. A little bar area with sink, small fridge and coffee maker. A nice, sparkling clean bathroom with actual porcelain fixtures. (I hate that plastic shit.) We were seriously stoked.

We were also seriously starved so we headed downstairs to ask Sam where we should lunch. He recommended going downtown and had a variety of suggestions. We were wanting to go to one of the brew pubs so he drove us down to the Water Street Brewery. (The hotel has a complimentary shuttle service that will take guests downtown or to any number of the tourist attractions. It came in handy for us.) On the way downtown, Sam pointed out all the historic buildings and told us a bit about himself. He was born in Germany and moved to Milwaukee with his parents in 1951. He's lived there since and loves it there. He was a fireman for 30 years or so, retired about 5 years ago and took the hotel job as a "hobby" job to keep him off the couch.

The Water Street Brewery was an excellent choice. We were seated and ordered up some of their house brews. We both started with the Honey Lager Light. The beer arrived in glasses as big as our heads. Uh-oh. While we were studying the menu, a sweet old Dodge Aspen pulled up outside. It was a nice maroon color that you don't see anymore. The driver was an older man. He ended up seated at the table behind us with another older gentleman.

Anyway, our young waiter was very nice and not so busy so we chatted him up quite a bit. (I guess I get chatty after a couple of days on the road.) We were excited about being in Milwaukee and just wanted to find out more. It also reminded us a lot of Pittsburgh. We ordered some food and then got to talking. He'd been in Milwaukee for a few years, moved there to attend the University of Wisconsin. I think he said he's studying business. He really loves it there but has dreams of going west, possibly to California. And then came the big question:

"Where are you from?"

"Green Bay."

You can imagine what came next. A whole lot of Brett Favre and football talk. He loves Brett, loves football and was more than happy to talk about it with us. Said that most Green Bay fans watched all the Jets games last season as well. He said that in fact, the station in Green Bay actually aired more of the Jets games than they normally would. I asked him if he has a cheese head. Of course, he does! His grandparents have season tickets and so he goes to at least one or two games a season. He said that it's the most amazing experience, seeing a game at Lambeau Field. Apparently a lot of people put their kids on the waiting list for tickets when they are born because it takes something like 50 years for the name to come up. He was bummed that his parents hadn't done that and only recently put his name on the list. He confirmed that most people in Wisconsin are Packers fans. Bears fans are not well liked there, but there doesn't seem to be too much hatred of the Steelers.

We did manage to have lunch too. Will ordered a Scotch Egg for starters. (We toasted Sheryl before taking the first bite.) He had the Smoked Sausage Platter which consisted of Usinger smoked beef sausage (flavored with their lager beer) and smoked link kielbasa, charbroiled and served with red cabbage, freshly sautéed spätzle. I picked the Old World Selection: Usinger Bratwurst and Stuttgarter Knackwurst, charbroiled and served with German potato salad and fresh sauerkraut.

Lunch at the Water Street Brewery.

Both platters were pretty mind-blowing. Usinger sausage is some of the best we've ever had. We also had another round of beers. Will tried the Pale Ale and I had the Water Street Amber. Both were really good and suited our tastes. And oh my god, we were so full. And so happy. Free and easy in Milwaukee.

As we got up to leave, the older gentleman with the maroon Aspen asked us where we were from and we ended up chatting with both gentlemen for a few minutes. People in Milwaukee are so friendly! We headed back to our hotel with a side trip to the bronze statue of the Fonz that's near the river. Pictures will come once I have gotten to my pile of photos to scan. We decided to walk back to our hotel and while it was nice to stretch our legs, man, it was cold. Bitterly cold. Our cheeks were apple red and frozen. Will said he lost feeling in his butt. I had no problems there since I have much more padding to keep me warm!

After dropping our coats in the room, we headed down to the lounge for a drink. They had a nostalgic drink menu that made me think of the LUPEC ladies. I had a vodka rickey which is nothing fancy, just vodka, seltzer and lime. It was good, but we weren't that into the lounge. The bartender was not so friendly and they were playing really loud not so good jazz music. We finished our drinks and headed back upstairs for some hardcore relaxing. It was such a lovely evening of wine, an episode of House and Cobb salads from room service. (First time ordering room service for both of us!) And I slept through the night in our oh so heavenly bed with the oh so heavenly fluffy comfortable.

1 comment:

  1. this story makes me so happy!
    I'm glad you guys lived it up in Milwaukee!


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