Destination: Milwaukee

Remember that time I drove from Princeton to Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend to surprise my parents? True story.

Last month (better late than never with blogging, right?), a co-worker and I set out on a spontaneous, epic—and lengthy—journey to the Midwest, with stops in Streetsboro (Ohio…just for the night…thankfully), Kalamazoo, Chicago (where I dropped her off), and finally, Milwaukee.

We left Princeton late on the Thursday afternoon of Labor Day weekend. After a never-ending seven hour drive through nature’s roller coaster, aka Pennsylvania, we made it to Ohio around 12:30am on Friday. Highlights of this leg of the trip: seeing a shooting star for the first time and eating at one of the nicest Panera’s I’ve ever been to. (It should also be noted that during these first 7ish hours, it became quite apparent that we had not made enough CD’s to listen too…oops)

One fitful sleep, a hot shower, a decent free breakfast, and sub-par cup of coffee later, we were back on the road at 9:30am en route to Kalamazoo for coffee and beer. I know what you’re thinking…and the answer is yes. We drove up to Kalamazoo to get coffee and beer to bring back to The Jerse. What can I say? We’re snobs when it comes to amazing coffee and a delicious brew, particularly when either come from the Midwest (while we’re on that subject, I also brought back a ridiculous amount of the always delicious Spotted Cow).

After some crisscrossing through Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, we finally made it to Chicago…just in time for rush hour. We sat on I-94 for a while, listening to the radio, taking in the skyline, and generally absorbing all the midwestern-ness that was surrounding us. Then I saw my first Wisconsin license place in ages and got a little giddy. I dropped my co-worker off (I’m not actually sure where in Chi-town we were. I was so turned around!) and was en route to Milwaukee. I had about an hour and a half to go before reaching home and I figured listening—Oh, who am I kidding? I didn’t listen; I loudly sang along—to Philadelphia Freedom, Man from Milwaukee, and Fly Like a Cheesehead on repeat the whole time would make the drive go faster. It didn’t.

I passed the old, wooden Welcome to Wisconsin sign on I-94 and started screaming with excitement! It was nearly 7:30pm by the time I made it into Greendale. I parked a few houses away 1) in an attempt not to be accidentally seen by my folks and 2) there was a party going on somewhere and really had no other choice. I started walking toward our house and called my parents, using a clever rouse that went a little something like this:

ME: Was there a box outside the house when you got home today?
MOM: Nope.
ME: Are you sure? I ordered a birthday present for Dad and it arrived earlier than I had expected. The UPS tracking said it was delivered today…can you check if it’s hidden in the bushes or something?
DAD: Ok, I’ll go check!

Cue me—standing on the side lawn (our asphalt driveway was just redone and I couldn’t walk on it, bad timing), still talking with my Mom, when my Dad opened the door and saw me there. Then I hear on the phone “Hold on,  Dad’s yelling at me to come to the door.” The phone gets put down (while it’s still connected with me, by the way) and Mom appeared at the door too…SURPRISE! And that was the start of a fabulous holiday weekend in Wisconsin, filled with good food, amazing theater (Blithe Spirit at American Players…awesome!), and great family and friends.

Plus, I got to have brunch in Chicago with my favorite partner in crime/theatrical troublemaker/mafia maven, Kit the Lit. Like I said before: Epic. Weekend.

And in case you’re wondering how the drive back went…this should tell you all you need to know about the 13 hour trek back East that we did all in one day: it was so long we did not take a single photo while on the road to document the last day of the trip (though being at a dead stop on the interstate in Indiana long enough to turn off the engine and pace outside the car for a while would have been a prime photographic moment…damn). Enough said.

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