We started our vacation on Sunday by getting up early and heading to Wrigley Field for the Cubs game.
They lost spectacularly, but hey, it was still Wrigley Field. Somebody posted something on social media the other day that went something like, "Hang in there, Cub Fans," and I told my husband, "Hang in there? I waited 47 years to see them win the World Series. They are the reigning World Champions. That's something that a lot of Cub Fans didn't get to see in their lifetime, my grandfather among them. Don't you worry about me. I'm good for at least another 47."
From Chicago, we drove to Racine, Wisconsin. If you've ever been to Racine (or most places in Wisconsin), then you know about Kringle. If you haven't been there, then you are missing out because my Scandinavian ancestors knew their pastries...pastries and boat building. We chose Racine for North Beach and its proximity to Milwaukee. And, of course, the Kringle.
We drove into Milwaukee one night. Here's the thing I told my husband I remembered about Milwaukee: You can find lots of places to park and walk around. It really doesn't feel like a "big" city. I'm pleased to report that 23 years later, that's still what it feels like. We ate at Sobelman's Pub and Grill, hit Boswell Book Company (amazing place I could frequent every day if I still lived there), walked the Riverwalk, ate some rolled ice cream (Have you seen this new thing?), posed with the Fonz, and visited my old apartment building.
This last activity brought on a huge wave of the feels that, quite honestly, smacked me upside the head when I wasn't expecting it. I moved to Milwaukee when I was 24 to train for a teaching job and get my Master's degree. Seeing that tiny efficiency apartment building (and the neighborhood around it, which is quite happening now, by the way) really brought back that moment in time for me. Compared to other years, it wasn't a particularly happy time in my life, but it was something I was determined to do. I really had to figure out what I wanted that year in some ways. And I find myself thinking now that you can actually be happy without knowing you are happy if you have a purpose and a challenge to rise to. Suffice to say, I'm really proud now of that 24 year old kid. She didn't back down when life sucker punched her.
We also had to get cheese because, Wisconsin.
And we visited the Jelly Belly Center in Pleasant Prairie on the way home. I am always amazed by the work and planning and details it takes to make one thing, like the Jelly Belly. From the thousands of tiny molds they pour those things into to the airbrushing of the logo onto each bean, all the hard work that goes into one tiny bean is pretty astonishing to me. I start thinking, "All this work...why didn't they just give up?" But persistence and tenacity are both qualities I respect. After all, I'm pretty sure that's how that kid made it through that year in Milwaukee. The almond Kringle also helped.