I’ve pretty much gotten to the stage where I’m beyond planning anything for travel not dictated by those who employ me. This is just about the exact opposite from a decade ago where I had a tour book, ledger, and a timeline.
I wish I could say this was part of some kind of mystical theoretical journey where I’ve cast off the toolbox shackles of a younger age, but truly it’s just because I don’t have enough energy to care. It’s the mentality of, eh, it’s just for fun, whatever. Show up, and see what happens. I like this, it takes less effort.
For those of you unfortunate enough to be a regular reader of this degenerate blog, I now end up traveling to Chicago regularly now. But I usually fly into Milwaukee for this is cheaper to the bottom line.
A hint perhaps, for those of you looking to head to Chicago. If you fly into Milwaukee both in terms of flight cost and rental car, you’ll save at least $100. And your trade is about $8 in interstate tolls and an extra hour’s drive. You decide if this is worth the tradeoff.
Anyways, I usually have zero time, and so turn south from Mitchell Airport bound for Chicago. This last week though I had a few hours since I got there very early in the morning. So instead I turned north and decided to spend a few hours in Milwaukee.
With zero upfront planning I ended up in downtown, parked, and just walked around for a few hours. This was a good idea. However, it didn’t help that I felt terrible that entire day, but there was nothing I could do about that. So I decided to carry on.
First I walked around like a lunatic until I could find breakfast, I ended up at a local Greek diner:
Mykonos Gyro & Cafe
1014 North Van Buren Street
This was a wise, fortunate, rendezvous. They do two things I’ve never seen before, they put gyro meat in an omelet, and you get tzatziki in a squeeze bottle. Both of these are wise decisions. But be warned, for about $8 you’ll get enough food that you feel compelled to walk it off for hours. So in other words, this was a huge win.
Then it was few blocks east down to the Lake.
Lake Michigan from the bluffs of Juneau Park. As is typical for Eastern or Mid-Western cities, those damn highways are in the way of water views. If you didn’t know, this was a deliberate decision of city designers in the early car era. Highways, or parkways, were put along the water to give casual driver’s a good view. This is the lunacy of getting fully dressed up and going on a drive in the 1930’s, because that was considered recreation. My Granddad used to chuckle about that, you would go on a drive for fun. So back then, having the road along the water was an advantage, now they just kill our view.
Soloman Juneau. First mayor of Milwaukee, and it seems an all around decent guy. An explorer, trader, and trailblazer of the American West who seems to possess a rarity in that he has little or no blood on his hands.
At the base of Juneau’s statue. At first I was like, “is this some type of weird local offering to Juneau’s ghost?” But in reality, I came to the conclusion that this was somebody’s really, really bad day.
Then it was a short walk to the East Side of downtown, separated from the West Side by the Milwaukee River.
Milwaukee Federal Courthouse. Once a regular federal office building, is now a place where dreams are destroyed. A classic piece of late 19th, early 20th century city building architecture. I hate new office building designs, all glass, all stale awfulness. At least back then they built things they looked like they actually cared.
The Pfister, one of the oldest hotels in Milwaukee. A broader American hotel icon, and recent setting in Space Cop. An interesting note is the property on the right-side street corner is for sale. Their pitch in the window is it hasn’t been available for purchase since, “The Dow was at 500 points.” I don’t know what year that was, but that’s a pretty awesome sales pitch.
Milwaukee River. It wasn’t as cold as it looks, but it usually is, apparently.
Milwaukee Public Market, in the historic Third Ward. An awesome place.
At this point, that I felt horrible, and that stole the rest of the journey out of me. So I briefly had lunch at this place, another win:
The Wicked Hop
345 North Broadway
And then I had to basically get out of there, drive south, and find a way to get to bed early. It helped because I felt better in the morning for work. But it’s only left me wanting to go back to Milwaukee again soon, and get more in depth, to a city that has a lot of offer, but who’s surface I’ve just barely scratched.