The last stop on our road trip was Milwaukee! We have had a few folks raise their eyebrows when asking about this part of the trip. Even Danny had put this leg of the vacation in the category of a stop that was focused on family (and their shared love of baseball), but boy was he surprised…. it was a fantastic visit with so much more!
A lot of families have the same beach spots or vacation towns they always frequent. Danny’s family spot is Cape Cod. But for the Heppes that was not the case. We had a few years we visited Ocean City and Bethany Beach back to back and then fast forward a few years and we headed to the outer banks in NC for several years – but for our family there was never a traditional vacation spot. However, there is one consistent place that would always pop up every few years and sorta represents my childhood: Milwaukee. My mom’s sister lives there with her husband, four boys, one girl and pup and we have been going up there every few years since when there was just one cousin. From then on I can sorta watch the timeline of growing up and our family changing by the different visits over the years.
Most of the time we would go over summer vacation and stay for several weeks. My parents would load up bikes, rollar blades and the family dog – drive through the night to get there and then we would spend the rest of our time running around like a bunch of crazies! It was a place I felt like we were just kids – pick up football games, we would hop on our bikes and go to the local bakery or get ice cream, and the trips were always marked by “that was the time I got the black eye” or “that was the trip we went fishing”. For those few weeks we just had a lot of fun being a family.
Now if I am being honest, my cousins are slightly (and by slightly I mean INTENSELY) more atheletic than my family and way more compettive. So I will admit as a girl – and in the minority until my sister Katy and then eventually Bridget and finally their youngest Jackie (there are A LOT of Jackies in my family after my grandma) came along – it would be hard to keep up with the fun and be a girl….. years later I don’t have to keep up as much, but the spirit of competition and fun hasn’t gone far and I knew this aspect would be a big draw for Danny. Competition and sports 24-7…. yeah he would be a happy camper.
My last visit there was when I was in college for Thanksgiving. It was the final family trip we took as the Heppes 7 – just us before life started getting a little fuller with all of us having our own lives to lead. Sorta felt like my jump into adulthood, since shortly after that trip I would graduate and 2 years later be a married lady! Milwaukee has always held a special place in my heart and I have wanted to share it with Danny for awhile. I longed for him to see bits of my childhood and come to love this city that has so much to do and all within walking distance. Plus he just sorta fits with the Jarosz gang: up for anything and always on the go with sports. But I was never really sure when we woudl make the trip, it is not exactly on the way to many things. So when Danny suggested this be our stop before I flew home – I was ecstatic!
So now that you know why I wanted to get to Milwaukee so badly….. here is why Danny found it so charming! When describing it to friends recently he said it was like going back in time. The whole town was into the 4th of July holiday, we spent most of our time outside, and it was so laid back – Milwaukee living at its finest!
We arrived on the 3rd after a full morning and afternoon in Chicago. My family had planned a nice cookout on the back patio. The menu was fantastic and Danny was in awe (even for his New England roots) that we needed a fleece blanket and jacket once the sun started to set. It is exactly how you want summer to be – bright sunny days and cool nights.
After eating we admired all the amazing work they have done on their house that is an awesome blend of rich history, yet with all the details of a custom home and took a little visit down the street to their neighborhood’s block party. As it started to get a little darker it was time to walk closer to downtown Milwaukee for the city fireworks that are always on the 3rd. As we chatted while making our way to the big show, I was reminded again of why being here is always really nice: you just feel so comfortable and at ease! Everyone is hanging out, drink in hand, snacks abound and laughing. I was right at home and it did my heart good to so clearly see Danny there too!
The next morning it was up bright and early to ring in the 4th of July with the town parade (one that I have actually appeared in with a bike over the years)! The whole neighborhood decorates their bikes and strollers, grabs their flags and pups, and walks to the big park at the end of their street where the festivities continue. There we had ice cream, listened to the live music and participated in the annual couples water balloon toss. This is a big morning for this community and all of my cousins met us there to join in. I loved seeing all of them, I so enjoyed Dan’s surprise at this perfect little piece of Americana we had found to celebrate one of our favorite holidays in, and I could not think of a better way to conclude our trip.
After heading back to the house for our own version of the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest (seriously, there is always some sort of competition going on at that house!), and a game of pick up wiffel ball…. we were off to the Brewer’s game! As you can tell from this roadtrip, baseball was a big part! Luckily the Jarosz gang are pretty big baseball nuts AND my cousin happens to have an internship with the Brewer’s this season – so off we went! Oh and as luck would have it….who was in town? Our beloved O’s!! It was a great afternoon of cold beer, salty peanuts, chewy Twizzlers, and some quality stadium time (we even caught up with Bob Uecker)!
And a special thanks to my cousin Joe for sharing the perks of his internship: awesome tickets and a behind the scenes tour!
Finally we ended the 4th with a most perfect Milwaukee cookout: Brats and their local community’s fireworks! A great 4th of July!!
The next morning we headed out for breakfast with a few of the family who were still hanging around. Danny was heading back to Chicago to start his final leg of the trip solo and I had a flight that afternoon. We ate in an area of Milwaukee my Uncle is helping to restore – the warehouse district. The city is developing it into a really fun urban spot with great restaurants, cool shops, and scenic views. And the best part? I got a behind the scenes tour with my Uncle who is the architect helping to preserve some of the historic aspects of this area. I always find history and the stories of what a city street has seen really interesting, so this was a perfect way to end my trip.
And last but not least…. before showering and packing up in time to catch my flight, I walked with their pup Bindi, my cousin Joe, and my Aunt Sharon through their park and around there neighborhood one last time. Visiting Milwaukee was the perfect end to my vacation – cause the fun stuff really is found in just the hanging out!
My family were such awesome hosts – both Danny and I are itching to get back there! Who knew Milwaukee would be added to our list of places to revisit…. well actually, I did! Ya’ll know family means the world to me and I love that Danny got to spend quality time with this side of the Flaherty gang on their home turf. My one regret – I didn’t capture with photos everything we got to see and do there….. but what that really means was that I was just having a lot of fun… oh and we have to go back! So thank you Jarosz Family, we will be making another reservation soon!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!