This is what I wanted. This is what I wanted. This is what I wanted.
It’s funny how a few sniffles can dampen excitement for an undertaking that normally would charge me up: travel! On the eve of last weekend’s trip to Kentucky, I was feeling very distraught about the weekend and month ahead, which promised two longer-distance trips, one greater-Minnesota trail race, and in in-town race. The idea of getting on a plane to get it started was overwhelming. Steve reminded me that I was likely to have a great time, and when I finished with this trip, I’d have the next one to look forward to. I was worriedly wondering, “when, exactly, will I get the cold-slaying sleep that I need?”
In fact, just two weeks prior I had taken the first of my handful of fall adventures, a road trip to Milwaukee for a friend’s wedding. Steve also had to provide a little encouragement because he wouldn’t be joining me on that trip, due to a weeklong business trip to a more distant and perhaps even more beer-loving destination, northern Germany. I was envious because I’m really craving a trip to Europe, but I was more happy to be headed to a wedding that promised tons of smiles, some re-connecting with college friends, good food, and some spectacular scenery due to the changing leaves on Wisconsin’s gently rolling terrain.
My trip delivered on all the above, plus more. The wedding was on a Saturday evening, and in the morning, we had quite a few choices for activities to keep us busy until ceremony time. Due to the incredibly good weather, fellow alumna Avery and I opted out of visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum, and headed to the Cedarburg Wine and Harvest festival. There, we got in a good walk and took in all the sights and a few of the eats. These included plenty of crafty Wisconsin objects, wonderful food smells, festive music, and some fantastic people-watching.
My favorites were the first and last: the sunshine felt great, as we knew that winter is coming, and the atmosphere was very celebrative. It may have been partly due to the fact that we saw plenty of people carrying around glasses of wine before noon, but that doesn’t explain the kids and families’ apparent glee.
Perhaps there have been anthropological studies done on the psychological and socioeconomical benefits of public markets: people making stuff, selling it, making more, eating food their neighbors grew and/or prepared, et cetera. With my camera in hand, I felt like an audience member, and this was a demonstration of humanity, working together.
This was somewhat poorly timed for a visit to Wisconsin, but most of the lunch food involved pork and/or sausages, and I’d had enough of those lately. I dropped Avery off, and headed to one of the restaurants that the bride had recommended: Benelux Café, down in Milwaukee’s Third Ward area. I had no reservations about sampling some low-country cuisine, as Steve and I enjoyed it in New York at Resto (and how different can it be from French cuisine?). I did have some minor reservations about visiting a neighborhood with “ward” in its name, however. Maybe I’ve read too many books in which a ward was not a good place to be (“1984”, maybe? That’s the idea). Alas, the drive into downtown was enjoyable, and I got over those reservations as I approached the area. The various weekend crowds downtown helped me find the place easily, and I was extra pleased to find that my metered parking spot was free that afternoon.
Benelux was huge for something called “café.” That didn’t stop me from finding a great table for one and sipping on some delicious Belgian beer, which I think was the Confession Grand Cru, from Lowland Brewing Company. A delicate but crammed-with-salmon croquette, cheesy hash browns and spring green salad came shortly afterwards, and my fuel tank was filled! Ready for a wedding, I headed back to the hotel.
Onward to the wedding: Christine looked lovely, the event was joyous, and the food excellent. The cake rocked. All of this is worthy of a its own post, perhaps on a private channel. If Christine is reading this: congrats!
That said, a travel post about a trip to Milwaukee that included a visit to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center needs to mention it. Not only was it a lovely location for a wedding, but Christine had arranged to have some of the center’s resident raptors and their keepers available for wedding guests to meet, at the reception! I got to see some amazing creatures up close, including a Barred Owl and an American Kestrel!
I do plan to return to Milwaukee, to share Benelux’s riches with Steve, to check out the Art Museum, and of course to visit my newly married friends, there. As I continue to go to bed early, drink massive amounts of water, and keep Mucinex in business, I am grateful to be so fortunate to be able to have the travel adventures I do.