We meant to leave Friday by noon, but didn’t actually hit the road until after 1pm. Leave it to me to pack and do a security check at the last minute. Yes, I waited until the last possible minute to pack. I can pack in a matter of minutes. Anastasia has to lay out everything on the bed she is packing to insure that she doesn’t forget anything. (She waited until the last minute too.) The kids packed their clothes on their own before we got up and did an excellent job.
Anastasia insisted on driving. Arghhh! Sorry, but I’m a control freak and I love to drive. I am just not happy as a passenger, especially through all the nasty construction and lane closure nonsense on I294. Two sudden stops and she could tell I was freaking out. I didn’t say anything, as it wasn’t her fault. But I think she was also freaking out, being the driver. There was some funky alternate I94 route when we crossed the border that took us on Route 45. Anastasia was freaking out because she thought she shouldn’t have taken the alternate. I told her I was somewhat familiar with that highway, but I had to take out the GPS to confirm we were on the correct route. We were. After awhile, she pulled into a lot and we did a quick fire drill, changing places, doing a u-turn and heading back on our route with me as the driver.
We checked into our hotel and then headed out for dinner. We had a nice dinner at Omega. Anastasia marveled at the fact that she could smoke in the restaurant. (It’s illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants in Illinois.) She felt like a real rebel when she lit up after the salads. It was quite funny...she kept checking diners at other tables to be sure. We went back to the hotel and actually were all in bed by 10pm.
Saturday we had breakfast at George Webb and then I drove around town showing Anastasia and the kids points of interest. Boring points of interest, because there was absolutely nothing to do and no one to visit because my friend from the old neighborhood was out of town and my Aunts couldn’t fit us into their hectic retiree schedule. I filled Anastasia and the kids in on what used to be where, where I grew up, etc. The hotel we were staying at used to have a disco that my sister and our friends used to hang out at back in the day. Even though it’s been a little over 5 years since I’ve been back to Wisconsin, most streets were barely recognizable. So many businesses have changed hands or been bulldozed over and made into something else. Everywhere we went the roads were under construction. Apparently President Obama’s stimulus package was very nice to Wisconsin in terms of roadwork funds.
Leon's Frozen Custard was still open. Leon's is always a must stop when I go to Wisconsin. We stopped on the way out of town. Just as rich and delicious as ever. If you're ever in Milwaukee, Leon's is at 27th & Oklahoma.
We found the Italian grocery, Groppi’s, in Bay View was still open. Every trip back to Wisconsin I've checked on this place. They were closed for awhile, then only open on weekends. Now they are open 7 days a week. When I walked in, even though the place had been remodeled, the smell took me back in time. The smell of fresh ground Italian sausage filled the air. The deli case had more varieties of olives than I’ve ever seen, and the highly prized Mario’s homemade olive salad. We made a trip back on Sunday and filled a cooler with ice and got some of that olive salad and Italian sausage to bring back home. We had a wonderful pasta dinner with Italian sausage and olive salad on Sunday night that brought me back in time to when my Dad would stop off at Groppi's when he was in the neighborhood.
Please stop by tomorrow to read more about my weekend and the reunion.