You only *thought* I was done talking about graduation! (insert evil laugh)
What else would "G" stand for besides GRATUITOUS GRADUATION recap?
Day 1: Fly to Milwaukee, check into the Astor Hotel, and walk a block to the Metro Market to load up on supplies. Let me tell you.... people aren't lying when they say Wisconsin has a lot of cheese! Basketball playoffs were on, so we went to the corner bar to watch Dallas. Turns out it was COLLEGE NIGHT - - - - $2 Miller Lites and free pizza! Yes! (Yes, you see chrome and disco lights in the place - it was as cheesy as can be, but exactly what we wanted.)
Day 2: We take the bus to visit to the campus that I'll be paying off for several more years. (To answer your question, it was the first graduate program that interested me... I didn't care that it was in Milwaukee. It was online and it worked for me! Plus, "dachshund" means "badger dog," and UW Madison are the Badgers, so it all fell together.)
We got off a few stops (8 blocks) too soon, so we got to walk through the neighborhood. It was the first sunny day these people had seen in about 7 months, so the college girls were all in lawnchairs on their front lawns. It was cute.
Once we got to campus, I visited the bookstore to buy a t-shirt and a hat and then just walked around a little. Here I am at the main sign. I'm not sure why I am posing like this. The only thing I can think of is that it was a little windy and maybe I didn't want my dress to blow up.
The bus we took to campus was the "30." We got back on it going the other direction and thought we were golden. Until we missed our stop. And slowly descended upon a part of Milwaukee that I'm pretty sure tourists are not supposed to see. We took the ENTIRE 30 route. I doubt you can tell from the tiny map below, but it is the route on the bottom. The one that takes 2.5 hours to ride.
At one point, we were the only ones on the bus. Everyone else had managed to make their exit. Even the driver got off to stretch his legs so I took a quick picture of us.
We went to dinner that night in downtown Milwaukee - but we took a cab.... The place was called Buck o'Bradys I think and it supposedly has the longest bar east of the Mississippi. It was a neat place.
Day 3: I wanted to go walk by the lake. The coolest thing about walking around was seeing surprises. Like the fact that there were tulips growing everywhere!
We walked all the way down to the lake to realize that it wasn't the lake. It was some other large body of water, but it was certainly not Lake Michigan. While we were down there, it started to rain. We tried to take cover under a weeping willow without much luck.
We went home to get cleaned up and get ready to greet my parents, who flew in that day. We enjoyed some of our traditional wine and cheese happy hour while Larry told them stories. (probably about riding the 30 for almost 3 hours.) Do you see the door? It almost looks like a coffin - it has some sort of rounded insert. All the doors were like that and we had never seen anything like it.
Fortunately my dad travels with his "MacGyver" tool, so he broke into it. It opens from each side - back in the day, I would open my side to place my soiled gloves in it so that the staff could come through, open the other side, and take them to be laundered.
My parents and I enjoyed a toast, and then we headed out to dinner.
We did not realize that Bon Jovi was in town that same night approximately 1 block from where we were trying to eat, so all the restaurants were full. We walked around for a little while and took pictures on the "riverwalk."
We finally found a place that was emptying out and had a nice dinner. The most memorable part of that experience was the wine. We ordered a carafe and it came out in the clear wine bottle labeled "3 fancy." (in middle of picture.)
Of course, since I am so fancy, I loved it. Didn't know what it meant, but my dad asked the waitress if we could have it and she basically said that if it wasn't there when they cleaned the table it wasn't going to be a big deal. Later, I looked up why it was labeled "3 fancy." Well, they serve 3 kinds of wine there.... 1-cheap, 2-fine, and 3-fancy.
Day 4: We started with mass at the beautiful Cathedral... complete with trees that made a nice photo op for my mom and I:
I had to be at the graduation place by 12:45, so the hotel staff took me by myself. (I didn't want everyone else to have to sit there forever.)
While I was backstage sweating to death in that giant gown and hat, my mom, dad, Larry and our friend Sal (who came in from Chicago) went to find seats. When they got there, they ended up waaaaay in the top bleachers. Then I guess my dad noticed a whole row of empty seats on basically the front row. There was some "caution" tape around them, but my dad figured it couldn't hurt to ask.
The people sitting around the empty seats said that the tape was there from the morning graduation and the seats were not reserved.... so everyone moved to the sweet seats. I'm not sure how long they waited, but finally they were able to catch a glimpse of me in all my glory:
Our speakers were actually pretty good. Hopefully somebody else remembers what they said, but they weren't boring or anything. I just can't remember! As I was walking up to receive my diploma, Larry took what *would* have been a perfect picture.... if my eyes were open!
We headed to get a bite to eat at the Brat House, which was surprisingly delicious. Mom, I'm assuming the pictures we took there are on your camera, because I don't have any!
Afterwards, we went to a place called The Safe House. If you are ever in Milwaukee, you have to go. It is a spy themed restaurant, complete with a password to enter and an illusionist named Scott:
I highly recommend it! (Just try not to stand next to a smelly girl like Larry had to.) One last picture in the hotel's "library" before heading to my parent's room to watch a Jesse Stone made-for-TV movie. (my choice....starring Tom Selleck.)
Day 5: we said good-bye to my parents, who hopped on some fancy boat to go see my Aunt and Uncle in Michigan. Sal packed Larry and I in the car and drove us about an hour north to Lake Geneva. (Well, he started driving us there until the hotel called and told me that they found my camera..... so we turned around to pick that up and then started all over again. Thanks Sal!) We went to a cute little place serving PBR and brats:
The next day was gorgeous - I got to lay out at the pool and read and relax for a few hours before heading into the condo to make some "Cove Kabobs."
We had our snacks and then went for some dinner before calling it a night.
Day 6: I walked around downtown Lake Geneva - they have some of the cutest little shops. My favorite was called the Cornerstone. I could have spent hours in there. The boys were waiting for me when I got back and we headed to Larry's favorite place in Fontana - a restaurant called Chucks. (This was where his favorite triathlon used to take place... they moved it to a different town up the road this year.)
I tried the cheese curds, which I had seen on every single menu up there. They were basically just like fried mozzarella sticks except they were little balls of fried cheddar. We took the obligatory pictures in front of the lake before leaving:
Day 7: Loaded up and Sal took us to the airport. It was 55 degrees and raining the entire way. When we landed back home in Austin, it was 101 degrees. (and has been just about every day since.)
Very memorable trip - so glad we went and that my parents got to come too.
And now, you can exhale a sigh of relief - the posts related to grad school, graduation parties and graduation will cease.