Larry and I love to get away on weekend trips whenever we can - it's a mini-vacation, not too far away and always hits the spot.
So we thought it would be fun to go with Mom and Dad to Milwaukee for a Brewers game - I'm sure Dad wished it was a Yankee's game, but we promised a great time in Milwaukee and said he'd love the stadium.
We hit the road early with breakfast in Richmond, at the International - great breakfast!
Then we thought we'd drive around Milwaukee - maybe search out a brewery tour.
Well, let me tell you brewery tours are hard to come by in Milwaukee! We thought we'd try to find the Schlitz Brewery and entrusted our "handy" GPS to send us on our merry way to hops heaven!
Well folks, after driving around forever with aforementioned "handy" GPS, we ended up in an abandoned lot - no Brewery as far as the eye could see - not even a stinkin' beer can!
So we pulled into a Walmart and found a guy to ask about the Brewery. Guess what? The Schlitz Brewery is gone and apparently years ago.
At this point we were all a bit weary of a tour and decided maybe on another trip we'd go on a Miller tour.
Our stomachs were rumbling so we thought we'd go to a favorite spot of ours: The Historic Third Ward District for lunch. I love this - it's artsy, gorgeous historical buildings, great shops and restaurants and the Public Market.
We had a quick bite to eat and headed back to the hotel for a nap - yes, I seem to need naps to function at night - sad, but true.
After the nap we headed to the game. Miller Park is just an awesome sight - whomever was the architect on this really did a fabulous job - and the retractable roof - quite cool!
Larry got some great tickets for the game (Brewers vs. Pirates) and we had a great time watching the game and eating crap food - OK, it was good crap food, but not the best for you. But who cares!
And to top off the night the Chorrizo won the sausage race (can't beat that kind of fun!) and the Brewers won - so it was a joyous night in Milwaukee!
Om Sunday, we were just going to work our way back home, but managed to make a few stops: an RV show we just happened up and a looooong trip to Golfsmith.
I love RVs. Never really been in one except when I was a kid, but it you put one in front of me I need to explore - the bigger the better - so this show was up my alley; and it was free, so hey, why not?
The Golfsmith stop happened as we were driving by a shopping center, Larry saw it and the car just miraculously veered towards it...and hour and a half later...Larry was just glowing. I'm not kidding, he was in some golf induced euphoria!
We had such a nice time this weekend - it was relaxing AND I got my RV fix!
This year Crystal Lake's 4th of July Parade was amazing - just guessing, but it looked like a record crowd. The weather was perfect and the crowds came out. Larry and I enjoyed watching the parade on the front porch and lawn - front row seats!
Enjoy the photos!
On Sunday evening Mom, Dad and Sil came over for dinner. Larry and I showed Sil the progress we've made on the house, and we had a wonderful evening catching up, enjoying the great weather and grilling out - beer can chicken, veggies and fruit salad.
It was such a wonderful weekend with Sil...can't wait to see you again Sil - we love you! :)
This weekend marked the 5th weekend in a row of activity and I have to tell you…by now I’m running on vapors. But it was worth it…because we had a visit from Sil!!!
We of course, wished Terry here too, but it was a Ladies’ weekend, which, of course, is always fun.
Mom had Sil’s visit planned to a “T”: shopping, a play, fabulous food…and of course, lots of fun!
On Saturday, Carol and I joined Mom and Sill for quite a treat: Seeing Billy Elliott at the Ford Theater (formerly the Oriental Theater) in Chicago.
I’ve wanted to see this play for awhile, and having it at the Oriental Theater to boot, was an added bonus – if you ever have an opportunity to see a play in Chicago, go see something at this theater (I also saw Wicked here). It is honestly one of the most stunning theaters I have ever been in — so intricate with the details in the architecture and murals — they could not build something like this nowadays — the cost would be exorbitant! Chicago is truly lucky to have such a gem!
Before the play, we went for a quick lunch at Hub 51 (www.hub51chicago.com). Thumbs up on my meal, breakfast tacos, and the atmosphere was quite nice – very cozy, dark furnishings etc. – I’d definitely go back.
I won’t say that much about the play so I don’t give anything away, but I will say in was fantastic. And while everyone in it was fabulous, the boy who played Billy Elliott was incredible – I’m not joking when I say this – my jaw dropped when he performed. A true triple threat: actor, singer, dancer. I felt like such a sloth because this kid, and he was a kid, was amazing. I’m sure he will be a huge star.
After the play we were standing outside by the marquee and met one on the little girls who was in the play – purely by accident – we just saw her and her family and asked if they’d take a picture of us. We then found out by her parents that we just saw her in the play and she’s also already done Broadway…and she’s eight! Truly a nice family from Indiana and she was very sweet.
We headed to NOMI (www.nomirestaurant.com) for drinks before we met Brett for dinner at Spiaggia’s. Apparently, NOMI is the hip place to go and celebrities frequent their. We were seated in their wonderful rooftop terrace and I will tell you I felt…very short and…yikes…average. Not that I don’t have confidence in myself, but my gosh, everyone must have been 5’9” and a model! It was a great people watching place and the drinks were quite fabulous! Alas, we didn’t see anyone famous, but there’s always next time!
Dinner Spaiggia’s (www.spiaggiarestaurant.com) was the definitely a once and a lifetime experience - it's where the President goes when he's in town. The food was excellent and the service was amazing, although, I will say waaaaay too expensive. But again, a once and a lifetime experience.
This was an incredible day and I'm so happy it was spent with our wonderful Sil - thanks Sil!
Friday was our last full day of vacation and I must admit I had a bit of a panic attack because of the realization vacation was ending – why do they always seem to fly by?!?
Friday was a “tricky” day because for the last week, Scott, Larry and I were trying to figure out when to surprise Gwen with a cake celebrating her recent graduation from college, and with high honors, I might add!
Since we all hang out most of the day during vacation, this was going to be no small feat of deception…we had to figure it out!
So on Friday, I told Gwen that I was going to go shopping while she went for a run, which kind of looked like I was blowing her off and not inviting her to shop – but in the name of sneakiness…I had to! But I figured she’d forgive me later when she saw the cake etc…
The problem all week has been that I could not find a bakery in downtown that sold small cakes. And if we tried to make a cake at the house, that would be a dead-giveaway, so I needed to find a darn cake and quickly! One downtown store recommended a place on the outskirts of town, so as soon as I had a chance on Friday I took off on foot for said cake, hoping that I wouldn’t run smack into Gwen on her run – kind of tough to explain a big white bakery box to someone that you are trying to deceive!
So I literally was walking as fast as my little legs would carry me…not an easy feat since it was quite hot that day.
I managed to find the bakery, Willow Cakes & Pastries (www.willowcakes.ca) and just in the nick of time, because it was closing shortly. This place was phenomenal – I’m talking yum with a capital “Y”! It was definitely pricey, but again worth it. I selected several small cakes/treats for us to sample and off I went…Now if I could just get back home without the darn things melting!
That evening we did manage to pull off the surprise without a hitch. And Gwen forgave me for blowing her off that day, when she saw the tasty treats.
Our last night was celebrated with yummy treats, wine and of course games!
Saturday we begrudgingly packed up and our vacation was over. Larry and I headed to Lansing, Michigan for a Saturday night stay over and Scott and Gwen headed home.
It was another great vacation with Scott and Gwen. Can’t wait to see them on Labor Day weekend when they are in town!
On Thursday it was a division of sexes...Larry and Scott went one way (golfing) and Gwen and I went another way (shopping!).
I have to say that unless I'm missing some shopping mecca in Canada, I just was not experiencing great shopportunities! Maybe I'm "spoiled" because we have a lot of great stores by us, but honestly, my shopping experience was not that great this past week. I should state though that as far as ad cute local shops, there was a plethora of them in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Mass-available designer clothes (like the Loft and Ann Taylor)...no so much.
That being said, Gwen and I trekked to Niagara Falls again to hit an outlet mall. While they had some stores stores we were used, it was small, and well, there were no deals. And folks, I'm a deal kind of gal. If it's not a good price...I walk. And I was really bummed because they had The Body Shop, which I love and it was definitely not an outlet in my book - too pricey!
Since the outlet mall was a short stop, we thought we’d hit a local mall. This was an even bigger disappointment – there weren’t any familiar looking shops. And it’s not that I wouldn’t be interested in something that I haven’t heard of…it’s jut that nothing even looked cute – I felt like I was in some time-warp of outdated clothes stores!
Later that evening we reconnected with Larry and Scott for dinner. Except for a few times this trip, I will say, and I think the 4 of us would agree, we didn’t have the best dining experience. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Unfortunately, most of the places we went to were just…OK. And this night was no exception – after walking around Niagara-on-the-Lake aimlessly, we finally settled on a restaurant that had 1) a table without a wait and 2) outside seating. Like I said the food was just OK, not even worth mentioning the name and they had a very interesting interpretation of bruschetta…not in a good way!
All was not lost…at least we ended the evening with the Mays trying to squash the Sgwotts at Dominoes. However, I’m afraid the Sgwotts overpowered the Mays…stinkin’ Sgwotts!
On Wednesday we decided to get a little honest-to-goodness tourist action! Although Niagara Falls is definitely “touristy”, it is breathtaking.
It was very hot, but lucky for us, the constant barrage of the Fall’s spray kept us cool. Our coifs didn’t fair too well, but, if you are visiting the Falls, you pretty much should just give in to the fact that you will not look picture perfect at the falls – as you certainly can see in our pictures!
We decide to just park and walk around the Falls (Canadian side) for awhile and just take it all in. We went to the visitor’s center, walked out to the overhang to experience the spray and just took in the general splendor and awesomeness of this wonder – it really is incredible.
After being batted about by the spray, we all decided it was time for some appetizers and drinks – we settled on a restaurant overlooking the Falls. Ironically we couldn’t get away from the spray because it still hit is while were eating!
That night, we decided to cook out on the grill: chicken, veggies and…S’MORES!
Unfortunately because it was so expensive to buy groceries, we didn’t cook in as much as we’d like to that week, but this meal was excellent – thanks Larry and Scott!
The s’mores were yummy also, but we all decided that somehow they seemed to be easier to make when we were kids – still though…yum!
We ended the evening with playing Dominoes and drinking Konzelmann Pinto Noir – in my book…that’s a winning combination!
That evening we went to Deluca's Wine Country Restaurant (www.tonydeluca.ca) for dinner - right across from Jackson-Triggs and Stratus wineries - so it was nice to be in the "thick" of wine country for dinner.
I was so incredibly starved, that I pretty much hoovered my meal; not sure I was able to fully appreciate what I had - the 2º Pork (slow roasted belly and tenderloin/yYukon hash/mustard jus) - although I will say that the food and service was excellent. I do wish, however, that the menu offered a few more entree options. I was avoiding the seafood because of my mussels fiasco of a few days ago and that only left me with limited options. But again, overall, it was a great experience. Great view too!
We had been trying to figure since Sunday how we were going to tackle the wineries in the area - there's about 22 in Niagara-On-The-Lake. The management company of our cottage recommended that we use a limo service to tour the wineries. But when we looked into it they were ridiculously expensive and only included 4 wineries!
So Larry offered to be the designated driver and after breakfast we hit the wineries.
I have to say...we managed to visit quite a few - about 15 of the 22!
Although not quite as picturesque as Napa and Sonoma over this region, which the four of us visited several years ago, it was quite beautiful...just a tad flat.
I wanted to mention that Konzelmann (www.konzelmann.ca ) was our favorite - fantastic Pinot Noir and we also enjoyed visiting Jackson-Triggs (www.jacksontriggswinery.com)
There is a great website of the wineries in NOTL - take a look if you are visiting the area: www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com.
Enjoy the view!