The other morning I was driving home from work. It had been a long night but I had my bucket of Starbucks, it was a gloriously sunny day, and I was in an exploring mood. I decided that I needed to see the Wisconsin Lake Michigan coast from southern Milwaukee to the Racine-ish area.
I jumped on Oklahoma and headed east. On my way I discovered 2 more Milwaukee area Starbucks, which is always a good thing for someone who works weird hours. I had Waze up and running in case the roads turned and I got disoriented (which totally happened in the city of South Milwaukee). When Oklahoma T’d at Lake Drive I turned South.
I’ve lived in SE Wisconsin for almost 15 years now. How did I not know that from Milwaukee to Oak Creek most of the lakefront area is made up of Milwaukee County Parks? How have I missed this??? Also, how did I not know that a branch of the FBI takes up some sweet real estate along the Lake in St. Francis? And do they need a slightly used respiratory therapist who loves kittens and has career interests in research and writing? Because that would be cool…
So I meandered through the south part of Milwaukee, through St. Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, and part of Oak Creek before the scenic route disappeared in favor of the Oak Creek power plant and I was on familiar ground again. The entire way I saw beautiful homes, playgrounds, trails, a little waterfall, and even a small waterpark. For your reference, below are maps of the general areas I was in:
Thank you Waze for letting me know I can purchase Wet Ones in the Milwaukee suburbs. It’s nice to know I wasn’t wandering in a land devoid of convenient antibacterial wipes.
I was so excited by my findings that after I got home and rested I insisted that we go back to the area RIGHT NOW as a family for some exploring.
Before K1 and K2 came along the hubs and I loved road trips with no advanced planning. Even our honeymoon was a completely unplanned road trip south. We would just pick out a point on the map every morning and just go. It was AWESOME. These wandering tendencies continued after our honeymoon even though we were usually broke (thank you recession of the early 00’s). Driving and walking around was cheap so we wandered all over Chicagoland (where we lived at the time). We saw and experienced so much with our only deadline being that we had to be to work on time on Monday mornings. Part of me really misses those days.
But when life took us to Wisconsin the wandering stopped. We got immersed in our new jobs, our new community, and in parenthood. It’s harder to wander without any sort of plan when you have 2 littles in tow that are 21 months apart in age. But parenthood is an adventure in itself and honestly, we didn’t have the energy or time for wandering. But the hubs and I have missed our random drives so I told everyone to get into the CRV, that we were going exploring.
K1 was somewhat OK with going out without a plan, but K2 has a hard time with this. He’s a clockwatcher and likes to plan his days down to the second. It’s just his way of making sense of the world. So the idea that we were going off somewhere without any sort of plan was very hard for him to comprehend. But we convinced him and off we went.
At about 8 miles from home K2’s allergies started acting up and he got a bloody nose. Blood was everywhere…. He looked like he had either been beaten up or had a great time eating ribs at a BBQ. We stopped at Starbucks (YAY! More buckets of coffee!) and mopped him up. Things were all good until I realized that I had forgotten my emergency stash of allergy meds at home.
So another side trip, this time to Walgreens. And then I got us lost in the industrial section of South Milwaukee.
Annnnnnnnnd then the cold fog started rolling in off the lake. Within minutes it was super foggy and very chilly. In June. I started looking for Dementors.
But we were out, dammit, and I wasn’t giving up on our exploration trip. We found an awesome playground in Grant Park in South Milwaukee and stayed there for about an hour. We then continued north, found a play area in Cudahy but it was fenced off and the rain had started. I was still not giving up though! I showed the kids where the FBI is (I’m probably now on some sort of video surveillance watchlist for driving past there several times in the same day while staring tourist-style at their facilities). We persisted north, stopping in Bay View at this awesome park that we could barely see due to the fog. We tried to play, but it was cold. I did get this picture of the lake though. You can’t really see them but there are boats in the water! I swear!
It was at this point where the kids had enough and started
whining saying that they wanted to go home. I detected a note of hangriness so we stopped at a brewery in Oak Creek for a passable, if not great, dinner. This soothed the masses enough to get us home.
And yes, the fog lifted as we drove south and Hubs and I had to endure lectures from K1 & K2 about how unplanned trips are dumb and home is better. They insisted that we at least check the weather channel app before we try this again. I told them to get used to it and that their senses of adventure are in dire need of improvement. Cue kiddo eye rolling and muttering when they thought I couldn’t see them in the rearview mirror.
And I totally had my revenge when the fog set in about an hour after we got home. I really hope the Dementors aren’t following us.
Afterthoughts: I’m looking forward to heading back to that area with the kids later this summer. Dementor weather isn’t the norm and I witnessed first hand what the parks look like when the sun is shining. If you’re in the area I highly recommend the parks on the coast of Milwaukee county. Visit the Milwaukee County Parks map & website for more info.
Have a happy, Dementor-free day!