Beachfront Business

After my “kwik trip” to Wisconsin to celebrate Bre’s confirmation, I was home for just a few hours before heading back to the airport. As has been the case several times this year, a business trip ended up being scheduled right against a bit of fun. This time, my early Monday morning travel was to Florida – on Tuesday I was facilitating a workshop.

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The hotel where our meeting was held included “beachfront” in the name and was very aptly named, the view from the balcony of my hotel truly was stunning…morning, noon and night! Needless to say, when in my room I spent a lot of time staring out the window or out on the balcony. At night, the gentle sound of the waves coming through the sliding glass door made for excellent sleep.

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After a successful day on Tuesday, my goal for Wednesday morning was simple: be on the beach for sunrise. I am so glad that I did that! The 40 minutes I spent on the beach watching the sun, clouds & waves was so restorative – as the light started to emerge and play against the clouds and water my head was filled…with favorite verses, with lyrics to songs & hymns (morning has broken, anyone?), with reflections on the last couple of years since I made the decision to change jobs and relocate…In the midst of it all, I was thankful for the technology held in my hand that allowed me to capture pictures & even videos of the sunrise to share with dear ones far away.

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Midday on Wednesday, it was time to leave the spectacular beachfront views and begin to journey home. As I drove back towards Orlando, I saw a sign for the Brevard County Stadium – a lightbulb went off that this was the home of the Brewers farm team: Brevard County Manatees. I had plenty of time before my flight so I took a 3 mile detour to the stadium. I walked around & snapped a few pictures to share with friends. Staff cars were in the parking lot so I found the main phone number & called. “Hi, I’m a Brewers fan in the area on a business trip – is it possible for me to stop in & get some Sea Cow Swag?” I was given instructions to take the elevator to their office & someone would meet me. In just a few minutes, we were in the team store (which was already torn down for the season) & I was picking up a couple of ball caps from the storage closet. All told, I maybe added 15 minutes to my time to get back to the airport – and now I have a fun new hat to add to the collection (sidenote: manatees have been a favorite animal since a 5th grade report on them – still have yet to see a live one up close…)

The workshop was a success…the beach views restorative…the baseball stop a fun serendipity! Once again, it was fun to work a bit of extra fun into a few road warrior days.

A Kwik Trip

This time last weekend, I was briefly in Wisconsin – yep, my 3rd visit to the WI family in 5 weeks. While each of the other trips was filled with planning & anticipation by all of us leading up to the weekend, this trip was a little different…only 1 person knew I was coming. Bre’s Confirmation was on Saturday afternoon and while we all wished I could join them for the weekend, with all the recent trips we assumed that wouldn’t happen…then, I found a good flight option and so a secret trip was planned.

A surprise Saturday morning journey

A surprise Saturday morning journey

I was on the 5:50 AM flight out of Philly on my way west. By 9:00 AM I was settling into my rental at the Milwaukee airport for the drive north. It was a beautiful Wisconsin Saturday for the drive that I have done so many times. Of course, a WI road trip included a stop at Kwik Trip – the new weekly Packers Player cup filled with diet Dew fueled the drive. The “never lost” GPS system from the car rental brought a chuckle – there was no need for it on a route that I know so well. Throughout the trek, I was staying in touch with my partner in crime with ETA updates & confirming if I was coming home or just showing up to the pizza party – the timing worked to come home before the lunchtime party.

Before long, I was home. I pulled into the driveway & walked into the garage & into the house just like I have done numerous times. Bre was in the doorway & the look on her face was priceless – she immediately asks her mom if the plan was that I was coming all along. Meanwhile, Vicki is around the corner & can’t yet see me. She quickly turns the corner & sees me – as her jaw drops. Surprise achieved! (Oh to have had the camera rolling) Hugs and laughter ensued as the boys came downstairs and saw I was there.

Celebrating Bre!

Celebrating Bre!

The afternoon was all about celebrating Bre! With Bre’s work schedule, the party was before the confirmation. Friends & family joined at a local restaurant for pizza and cake to celebrate. Late in the afternoon we all piled into the pews at church for her confirmation mass. After mass, a few pictures before Bre had to go to work.

After the confirmation festivities were over, we settled into our typical “time together” routine – it doesn’t take much to keep us entertained when we’re together. Saturday evening was just hanging out while watching some baseball and football and listening to a Mercer football game. Sunday was a lazy morning of deep conversation and then we headed to Green Bay for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings before I needed to leave – since the Packers had already played, it didn’t dawn on us that it was opening Sunday of the football season and so BWW was loud & crowded. Then 20 hours & 45 minutes after I walked in the door to surprise them, we were saying goodbyes in the restaurant parking lot and it was time to drive down to Milwaukee and fly back to PA…I arrived home late Sunday night for a quick 7 hours before my next journey…

Currently…August

As August comes to an end there are all sorts of signs to remind you that fall is just around the corner…my sister began her 16th (!) year of teaching early in the month…dear kids are heading back to school…here and there you see a few leaves that are starting to change…there have been some crisp breeze moments…pots of mums are at the store to bring home…in the midst of it all, these are the some of the things that filled my August days…

Summer reads

Summer reads

Reading…an eclectic assortment…more details in a September twitterature round-up…I maybe got carried away with library requests & my appetite of books to read is out-pacing my ability to read them within the due dates…Rules of Civility had languished on the Kindle for so long – it was the perfect read for my “Meet Me in Milwaukee” travels…among the other reads: The Lincoln Myth and The Energy Bus

Listening…Packers preseason games on the radio online (if only it would stream through iDevices)…enjoying the One Republic iTunes Session (in addition to their current album)…a couple of audio books have also been coming through the earbuds…

Watching…Mercer’s first football game of the season – thrilled that all their home games will stream on the Watch ESPN app…enjoying The Honorable Woman mini-series on the Sundance Channel….The Lumineers Live at Red Rocks was a fun find while browsing the channel guide…

Crafting…I’ve called a “do over” on my Brewers Crackerjack – the reality is that 4 rows per game was too much, the scarf would end up being way too long…so I’m starting over – this might be football knitting for a while but I definitely do want to see this to completion

Browsing…a few good reads online this month: the story of a Korean KC Royals fan traveling to Kansas City and capturing the hearts of everyone; on becoming a London cabbie; on ending the round the clock attachment to work email; Ralph Waldo Emerson on friendship

Simple & Satisfying Supper

Simple & Satisfying Supper

Cooking…A bit late to the party, I finally tried the “Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Spiced Yogurt Sauce” recipe that has been floating around – delish! A simple & tasty baked eggs & roasted tomatoes dish is a great “any meal” option.

Sipping…Adding a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to my coffee as I cold brew it…

Preserving Summer

Preserving Summer

Preserving…a bit of summer sunshine is neatly tucked into jelly jars for holiday gifts…Spiced Honey Tomato Jam & Vanilla Cantaloupe Jam

Dining where George Washington dined

Dining where George Washington dined

Noshing…quite a bit of frozen custard…enjoying simple meals of local farm fresh produce…a delicious grilled pork chop with grilled peaches at a local tavern where George Washington dined…

Traveling…2 trips to Wisconsin for some family summer fun

Remembering Grandma

Remembering Grandma

Remembering…Grandma would have turned 100 this month. On the day after her birthday, we noticed that the bing homepage featured the beautiful floral carpeted hills where Grandma & Grandpa posed for one of my favorite pictures. We all agreed that it was a delightful way to remember a delightful woman!

Looking Ahead…a quick business trip to Florida is coming up soon…are you ready for some football?…attending a Mercer away game…figuring out what Packers game to attend…planning holiday gift knitting…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up.

What are you into these days?

Meet Me in Milwaukee

This last weekend was “Part 3″ of summer fun with my Wisconsin family.

Part 1 & Part 2 were on the calendar from early in the year. Of course, both of them were originally meant to be longer adventures before life & work caused the plans to change. So…as Part 2 was being shortened by work requirements we quickly decided to add a Part 3. Our plans were to meet up in Milwaukee for a long weekend of baseball, museums, frozen custard and all around fun as a bit of a back to school blast. Once the dates were confirmed, points were used to grab hotel rooms for us and we began to add possible activities to our TripIt itinerary to fill our days with fun.

Miller Park Memories

Miller Park Memories

Baseball…Our only “definite” for the weekend was a Friday night Brewers baseball game. The giveaway for the game was a Brewers t-shirt sponsored by Kwik Trip – we all chuckled at the appropriateness of that for us. We got to the stadium early & had fun checking out the kids zone activities before settling into great seats along the right foul line. While we weren’t thrilled with the outcome of the game, we cheered heartily throughout.

Museum Moments

Museum Moments

Museums…On Friday we experienced the Milwaukee Public Museum – Ry’s excitement of being at a museum was palpable as we walked up the stairs towards exhibits. We wandered through exhibits of dinosaurs and butterflies and rain forests and scientists at work and old Milwaukee and so much more. On Saturday we headed towards the foggy lakefront and the Discovery World Museum – what an incredible collection of science and technology to explore. From interactive models of the Great Lakes to an aquarium that included “petting pools” to hand powered toys and machines to the techno jungle to a Les Paul’s House of Sound – each exhibit was designed for plenty of hands on interaction. Without a doubt, I think the adults had as much fun exploring as the kids in Discovery World.

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

Frozen Custard…As we were starting to plan for this weekend, I came across an article about the best frozen custard places in Milwaukee. I added the details into our TripIt itinerary and we joked that we would see how much custard we could enjoy. Turns out that we managed to make it to 3 of the 6 custard stands in the article – each day we did a late lunch at a stand – first burgers and then the custard. Our approach to evaluating each stand varied among the group – some went for hot fudge sundaes, malts, flavors of the days. A few of us went with a standard baseline – vanilla frozen custard in a waffle cone. On Friday, we started with the oldest stand, Gilles. It was a tasty start to the tour. The “first time visitor” packets they handed out where a fun introduction to their history. On Saturday, as we left Discovery World we headed for our second stand. In the “serendipity way” that sometimes transpires, as we were nearing our destination, Chris comments about how he used to go to a place called Oscar’s in this area when he was a kid…and just like that we were turning into the Oscar’s parking lot. I do believe that someone was transported back to happy childhood memories with the burger & custard. On Sunday, we concluded this portion of the tour with a stop at Kopp’s on the way to the airport. The outdoor eating area of benches by a huge water wall was a nice change-up from a “traditional” sit down area.

Family Fun Times

Family Fun Times

All Around Fun…Beyond the baseball, museums and custard we had plenty of fun, no matter what we were doing. Thursday kicked off with lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings – with Ry challenging me to the lunchtime trivia game. Our hotel was a great base camp – for R&R whether it was a good nap, pool time for the kids or lounge time for the grown ups. One evening we browsed through a local mall and enjoyed dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Another evening, we invited cousins over for an impromptu pool & pizza party at the hotel. Through it all, there were plenty of moments of fun just because we all were together.

On Sunday afternoon, it was time to say our goodbyes & “see you soon” and head back to the non-vacation life. But never fear, we are already talking about what our next “meet me in…” vacation may be – we all agree we need to do this again.

Birthdays and Baseball

This past weekend was a “quick trip” to Wisconsin for a family birthday celebration. While the time there was short we packed a whole lot of fun and more into the few days…

Friday was for an early morning flight into Milwaukee…which means a bit of a road trip to get home…When we road trip in Wisconsin, we stop at quite a few Kwik Trips – the kids roll their eyes as we pull into the parking lot – we try to explain that road trips are meant for stops like that…(and a huge thank you for the crew that came to pick me up – suggestions that I drive up there on my own were met with loud and emphatic no responses)

Ready for a Birthday Bash!

Ready for a Birthday Bash!

Saturday was for the Family Birthday Bash…since all 3 kids have birthdays within a couple of weeks of each other there is “1 big party” to celebrate them…the adults in the house were up early to get a jump start on the party prep – finishing some food prep, getting the outside area ready for the party – yard work and decorating were on tap…Grandpa arrived to setup for a Wisconsin fish boil (salmon and rainbow trout that he caught)…cakes were picked up…kids were excited…family arrived and a party was had…kids squealed with delight as gifts were opened…it was early to bed for all of us after a busy and fun day…

Take us out the T-Rats!

Take us out the T-Rats!

Sunday was for Baseball…if you do something two years in a row that must mean a tradition is forming….this year the baseball game was the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers down in Appleton…a bit of a road trip (including Kwik Trip stops)…standing in line for the gates to open and get a bobblehead…a beautiful day for a game…the fun of minor league stadium entertainment…Ry asking players for autographs on the program…meeting Bernie Brewer…just as the game was headed into extra innings, a heavy rainstorm opened up over the stadium…a mad dash to the covered concourse…then a mad dash to the van as the rain let up a bit…stopping at a local burger & custard stand for supper and sweets on the way home…a beautiful rainbow seen through the van windows as we drove through more summer storm weather to get home…

The original plan for this trip was for me to stay for another week – work for a couple of days and then a long weekend of additional summer adventures. A project at work changed those plans and so Monday was for flying back to PA…but in a couple of weeks we are meeting up in Milwaukee to “finally” enjoy the rest of the summer adventures we were planning…