My final day of adventure in Milwaukee started out with coffee at Colectivo - Lakefront to connect with one of my cousins. Splendid walk down to the lake -- so much greenery! And yes, I took an alternate route on my way back to The Plaza -- equally as lovely. A lake by the lake and a forested path made it easy to forget I was in the city.
Checked out of The Plaza (I was going to miss my lovely 2-door closet!), and meandered out to the Public Market. I timed it perfectly with lunch, so it was a wonderful swirling mess of people.
Considering I was already at this end of town I decided to continue on to the Clock Shadow Creamery. Might as well fit in at least one tour while I was here!
The creamery tour was pretty educational, and we were able to check out the view from the roof of the building. Neat! Hopped up on knowledge, I thought I'd go for a second learning opportunity and check out the Harley Davidson Museum.
On my walk to HD I passed MobCraft Beer. OH! What is this?! Google, Google, Google. Yes! But they don't open for another hour. Okay, the HD tour and maybe a pit stop the Great Lakes Distillery (which I spied on the opposite corner) could easily fill my time. I had just over two hours until I needed to leave for the airport.
I hauled my sweaty backpack up over the bridge and was welcomed into the museum entrance with a blast of ice cold AC. Heaven! Turns out the tour was $20, which is not bad, but I decided I'd rather spend my $20 at the distillery than checking out harleys (sorry HD fans, I'm a sportbike girl!). Back up over the bridge I go. Two hours until go time.
Great Lakes Distillery did not disappoint! The bartender suggested one of their current features, a lavender collins. I had no idea what what was in it, but the bartender said it was perfectly refreshing for a warm day. Ohhh, so good. I'll take a second!
One hour left. Time to hit up MobCraft Beer.
The space was rad, the beer was delicious (lots of options on tap!), and the owner was very welcoming. This was the perfect way to close out my adventure in Milwaukee.
Not quite the end of MKE!
My Uber driver to the airport was awesome! She was a fun, sassy lady with great stories to share from her Uber experiences.
Back home I was welcomed with an insanely wonderfully overly exuberant pair of pups happy to have me back. Thank you Pack Up + Go for the perfect surprise adventure. <3
Happy Birthday to Me!
Main goal of the day: kayaking
Pack Up + Go included the postcard Life Is Better At The Beach (see the envelope post), which suggested several adventures near or on the water. Milwaukee Kayak Company didn’t open until 10am. As an early riser, I had plenty of time to kill.
I took the long route to Holey Moley Coffee + Doughnuts. Actually I initially wanted to stop at Colectivo Coffee – US Bank. Strolling through the city like I know where I’m going, I come up the area of the coffee shop: a giant corporate looking building. Crap.
ME: Uh, excuse me sir, if there a Colectivo Coffee shop around here?
Guy: Yes ma’am, inside the US Bank building.
ME: Inside? Dang.
Guy: Yea, in their cafeteria area.
ME: That sounds like a lot of work to get to.
Guy: (chuckles) Nah, just go up the escalator.
Ish. Corporate life is not where I wanted to start my birthday. I wandered away toward Third Ward to find Holey Moley, which turned out to be an excellent option. Back to the rad brick buildings, the Third Ward had a great atmosphere.
Post caffeine and sugar binge >> lakeside walk.
Oooo, a lighthouse!
Hello random girls, would you mind taking a photo of me doing a random yoga pose in front of the lighthouse? Not weird at all, right? That’s me.
Less than a block away from Milwaukee Kayak (or so the map said), I feel like I am lost. I see no storefront for anything. It looks like a parking lot/shipyard, I see a man getting stuff out of his car that looks likes it has been up on blocks for a while…and yet I still wander in. Seems legit. O.o
Thankfully I finally noticed signs for the kayak company and make my way to several boxcars being used to hold the kayaks and other river equipment. Nifty! A very nice lady and to younger girls were there to run things.
Me: Hi, I’m here to kayak.
Lady: Did you make a reservation?
Me: No. Do you have any openings left?!
Lady: No problem!
Me: I’ve never kayaked before, is that a problem?!
They pulled out a kayak, got me fitted for a lifejacket (she definitely stressed that I shouldn’t take this off, lol), loaned me a dry bag for my purse, gave me tips for where to go (along with a laminated map on the kayak), and sent me off!
The water was calm and the weather was perfect. I had the rivers to myself most of the time. Seeing the city from a different point of view was fantastic -- easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Several hours later I returned sweaty, suntanned in an odd pattern, and starving! Purple Door Ice Cream was my first instinct for a close option on a hot afternoon. Halfway there I ran across another Colectivo Coffee location: Foundry. Conveniently I’d gotten a text from a friend between my first attempt at Colectivo and now telling me it was a definite point of interest. This location had a good looking patio, so I gave it a chance and was thanked with the ultimate pesto veggie wrap. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Thennnn I made it over to Purple Door Ice Cream. A fresh waffle cone and a scoop of lemon ice cream…uh, duh, yes please!
So there I was, a sweaty smelly mess, wandering through downtown happily enjoying a giant ice cream cone. Birthday bliss!
A long walk and clean-up session at the hotel had me ready for an evening beer. Milwaukee Ale House was my brewery of choice. Definite win. Guess what I did after…yup, a long scenic walk! There was really so much good scenery here! I wandered along the Riverwalk to take in the sunset and wind down for the night.
Hello 34, I've arrived and I’m happy to be here.
Do you ever get so excited that your brain ceases to function normally?
Or you're so excited about something new, like a fresh haircut or a new car, that you think for sure everyone is going to notice?
Both of those were me right in this moment.
I strolled into the airport like I owned the place. Holla. That's right, I'm here for my Pack Up + Go surprise vacation. I'm going to Milwaukee! I'm so lucky that there is hardly anyone in line at my securty gate. So rad. That's me.
Is this the line for Sun Country gates? No?
I was looking at the letter for my seat, not my gate.
I have no idea where I am.
Finally through the correct security entry, I strolled up to my gate (which I double checked on the monitors twice). Oddly I'm still in "I'm a big deal" mode and I didn't pay attention to the instructions for lining up for boarding the plane. I somehow got on the plane not understanding that seating is first-come-first-served. I had to ask the girl walking down the aisle in front of me how to know which seat to sit in. My cool attitude was completely in check after that. I swear was turning 34, not 14.
I spent the flight planning out my day. First stop: Swingin' Door Exchange, which was on the list from Pack Up + Go, and also which my Uber driver to SDE confirmed was a quality pick, a popular Milwaukee location.
After a delicious burger and beer, I wandered toward the Milwaukee Art Museum. I passed many a worker in business attire. It made me smile a little bigger to know I was currently operating outside the "normal" adult routine.
The Art Museum was a lovely building...from the outside. Despite the sweaty mess I was becoming from wandering around with a backpack in the full sunshine, it was far too nice of an afternoon to spend it inside. Especially when I had this beautiful park and lakeshore in front of me to explore. Sorry art.
I wandered along the lake and into the park until I spotted the giant rainbow kite. Oooo, pretty colors. And a great idea. A good breeze coming off the lake, sunshine, and a bit of time to kill -- the ideal moment to fly a kite! A noble unicorn from the Gift of Wings Kite Shop made a perfect candidate for the job.
I checked into my hotel -- The Plaza Hotel Milwaukee. I was so pleased to see I wasn't staying in a big typical chain hotel. This place was adorable. Yep, I just used that term for my hotel. Deal with it. They gave me actual keys for my room. My room had its own kitchen equipped with a full-sized fridge and a small oven. There were two closets (yes, two!). One of the closets was so big it had two doors (yes, two!). Ha!
I showered and ditched the backpack before heading out for beers and dinner -- and sunglasses!! Not a good thing to forget when you're going to be outside for the next few days. A nice lady pointed me in the direction of Metro Market as the most likely and probably only place nearby that would sell sunglasses. I lucked out and found some sweet aviators. Ah yisssss. No more squinting!
Water Street Brewery was the focus of my evening. The Raspberry Weiss was my first victim. Scrumptious! Eventually followed by the Honey Lager Light -- also tasty. So far this city is setting the bar high! And then my glorious dog sitters sent pictures of my puppies! Oooooohhhh, they're so cute! (The dogs, not the sitters... though the sitters are adorable also.) :P
I had yet to take a direct route anywhere, and I didn't anticipate that to change. There was so much to see while roaming from point to point and I didn't want to take the same route twice. The architecture was fantastic. Quite a few churches, many of which looked like a cross between a fortress and a church (in a rad way). The details were spectacular.
5:15am, Monday, July 11, 2016
My Uber driver pulls up. Eeeeee!!!
Bye pups! Don't kill anyone, or at least don't get caught. Love you!
Uber driver: Airport, huh? Where's your luggage?!
Me: (holding small backpack) Just a 3-day!
UD: What airline?
Me: I don't know!!
(I tell him about Pack Up + Go)
Me: But now I can open my envelope!!! (Rip open envelope!) ...Milwaukee!!!
UD: No way! I'm from Milwaukee!!
(Insert excited conversation about the contents of the envelope and additional tips from my driver until we arrived at the airport)
About the time I was opening the envelope I received the email containing my boarding pass and some additional information. So many things to open and read all at once!!
My prep email arrived exactly a week before departure. Not gonna lie, I definitely looked up a weather map of the US for dates of my trip! I had a several guesses, some more likely that others, but I didn't want to dig too deep to give away the surprise.