A Trip Report
We got the bright idea
that since our normal October vacation was overtaken by various
events (Heartoberfest, politcal events, brewery events, etc.),
we thought we would take a long Thanksgiving week and visit our
loving daughter in Chicago.
As Thanksgiving approached, Diana did book us a room for several
days about an hour's drive away from her new home in North
Chicago. Do you think this was an omen? Nah! She
skillfully explained it was near several great things to do in
Chicago (actually, in Schaumburg) that we could enjoy
together. That and there is nothing to do in North
Chicago. The town, not the northern part of Chicago.
We really did not have a lot of detail figured out, including
when we would leave or what to do enroute to Chicago. But
Mark had vacation to burn so it would take us several days to
drive the 6 hours to Chicago. I believe we decided on
Friday evening to leave on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
En route to Chicago
Morning - we got a bit of a late start from Laurel's
perspective. The sun had been up for nearly an hour.
But our first stop was planned to pick up some pastries to eat
as we began our trip. We did pick up 2 long johns with
walnuts - one with chocolate icing and the other with maple
icing. Laurel grabbed the keys and started the journey by
running down a handicap parking sign. The sign is probably
totaled and. as I write this, we have yet to determine the
determine the damage to the van. But I can tell you that
it includes the front bumper and driver's side quarter
panel. Oh, and the headlights now pointed a bit
kiddiewankered. But the van still ran with no significant
rattling or other significant damage. More on that
later. So the pastries will be a bit expensive.
Our destination for Sunday was a bit vague so it gave us some
time to discuss something other than the new condition of the
van. Mark took over the driving from that point on
too. We wanted to visit a carved stone monument store we
saw a few years back up near Green Bay, Wisconsin, so we headed
northeast. We considered several options to stop on the
way, but eventually just ended up in Green Bay that afternoon.
One interesting side note, the van's lighted dashboard was now
occasionally blinking on and off. But back to the travels.
One option we considered to stay the first night was Wausau,
WI. We stopped into the town and besides lunch at
Malarkey's Pub (www.malarkeyspub.com), we went into the Wausau
Center mall (shopwausaucenter.com). Mark actually bought
some walking shoes at H. T. Cobblery and we found a little sign
shop too (www.uffdahhh.com) where we picked up a lovely sign for
Wausau was a nice little town, but we decided to keep on going
and eventually ended up in Green Bay, probably 6 blocks from
Lambeau Field. The Packers were playing a night game in
San Francisco that weekend, so that left pretty much nothing to
do and pretty much had the town to ourselves that evening.
We did a bit of research and discovered a few items of interest
- including wineries, chocolate shops, and lets not forget the
monument store. Monday's agenda was turning out to be
busy. Oh, I forgot to mention that car's sensor was
indicating the the driver's side rear tire's pressure is
Monday Morning - what to do first?!? Mark insisted
that we fix the tire. Good thing, too, because they pulled
out a sheet rock screw.
After patching up the tire (thanks CarX) we headed out to the
Seroogy's homemade chocolates (www.seroogys.com). This was
a pleasant surprise and reasonably affordable at
$21/pound. We left with a pound of dark chocolates
engulfing cashews, almonds, and filberts. Also some mint
dark chocolates and a variety of various stuff some people may
find in their Christmas stockings (if we don't eat it all
first). As the trip went on, it became clear we should
have bought more.
Okay, off to the monument store
(CarvedStoneCreations.com). All we can say is if you win
the lottery and want to embrace gluttony with marble, granite,
or some other lovely cared stone statues, fountains, yard
decorations, or just build a castle - this is the place to
go. Unfortunately, we learned the owners are tired of
driving an hour each way to work each day and have determined
they may have over extended their offerings. They are
intending to move and downgrade to just more of the lawn
ornamentation. But for now, they have no definite plans
Now it was time to consider a brewery or winery. We
settled on going to the Von Stiehl Winery
(https://vonstiehl.com) mostly because it was the closest -
being on the southern end of Door County. They have a wide
variety of wines. We were not overly impressed until we
got to the Ice Wine, Port, and the apple ciders. Oh, those
were very nice. Actually, the cider was done by Schmiling
brothers cidery. In the end, we walked away with a case of
wine and cider and a few less dollars in our pockets.
In the end, we stayed an extra day to squeeze in the side
trips. It was definitely worth the extra time.
Tuesday the weather reports were predicting gloom and doom with
lots of cold, wind, and snow. Time to head south - to
Milwaukee. This distinct German immigrant town had some
things to offer. First we went downtown to the
Christkindl Market (www.christkindlmarket.com/Milwaukee).
Lots of little shops with tempting treats that we could not live
without, including maple syrup, honey, liquor chocolates (cognac
and Irish cream). One of the shops serving up bratwurst
and German potato salads also offered up some other suggestions
of things to do - including tour 3 of the breweries.
Miller turned out to be closed that day, but we did go to
Sprecher Brewery (www.sprecherbrewery.com) and bought some
beers, ciders and tap handles. Very romantic, eh??
For a late afternoon lunch break we went to Lakefront
Brewery (www.lakefrontbrewery.com) for a few more beers and
kielbasa, cheese curds, and fish 'n chips.
We had thought about going to the Safehouse
(www.safe-house.com) for an evening of espionage and intrigue,
decided to play it safe an go a bit farther south to avoid the
foot of snow close on our heels. We finally settled on a
night in Kenosha. Other than dinner at Texas Roadhouse,
evening was uneventful.
As I mentioned earlier, Diana had booked us in the
Country Inn & Suites in Schaumburg, just west of
Chicago. We decided to see if we could get there without
driving on a toll road or using modern directional
technology. In the end, Laurel did pick up her smart
phone and got us to the hotel. It is a nice part of
town. Lots of shopping, eating, and entertainment in the
area. We hit a local shopping mall and wandered
around. Every shop was deep into their pre-black friday
shopping frenzy, but it was not too busy the day before
Thanksgiving day, Diana came over around noon and we had a
lovely time catching up on each others lives.
Dinner was to be at a local restaurant (Clubhouse) at
4pm. Very nice ambiance and food and no clean up.
Not a bad way to do Thanksgiving. Afterward, we
wandered around the outdoor mall area admiring the lights and
occasionally checking out a store or two. All in all,
pretty much a relaxing day.
Friday we went over to North Chicago to check out Diana's new
century-old house. She has been busy putting in a
library in her attic. We are grateful to Malcolm for not
feasting on our flesh during the stay. That dog has
serious territorial issues.
Mad Dash Home
Laurel was becoming more and
more concerned about the weather. Up until then we had
been ahead of the storms and south of the snow, but we needed
to go back home into the heart of the beast. So Saturday
we decided to leave a day early and start heading home.
If the weather was too bad, we could use the next day waiting
out the storm or trudging along slowly amidst the cold, wind,
and snow. Remember, she had abdicated driving after her
little mishap 15 minutes into the trip. Well, as we got
into Wisconsin it started to rain. Then midway through the
state, rain changed into more snow. And then as we went
by Tomah, one of those idiot lights came on the dashboard to
check engine and the traction control was off.
Hmmmm. Well, we chucked it up for one more thing for the
mechanic and auto body folk can look into once we returned to
Prior Lake. Onward.
In reality, it was not too bad. We were greeted at home
by an unplowed driveway which we got to the top of the
driveway before the bald tires just couldn't get any
traction. Yep, one more thing to do with the van.
But we shoveled ourselves into the garage, unloaded the
trophies we brought with us and breathed a sigh of relief that
we were home safe and sound.
That is the trip. We still need to plow
out the driveway and visit the mechanic and auto body shop to
put the finishing touches on van, but all in all we had a good
Thanks for listening,
The Glewwe Family in
Mark and Laurel