Trader Family Road Trip – Day 6: Mil-WALK-ee

Waking up on Tuesday morning I had a plan in my head for the day. We had a list of things to see and some of them had time constraints. Here was the schedule:

Busy, but doable, right? Well, sure if everything lined up. And of course, it didn’t.

We got off to a late start and didn’t leave the hotel until around 11 a.m. The breakfast there (Courtyard by Marriott) was FAB.U.LOUS! The only thing that would have made it better is if it had been continental. But alas it was not. Still, very yummy and the wait staff was top-notch. It cost $30 for the 3 of us, which was a little pricey, but not the most expensive breakie I’ve ever had on vacation. That honor goes to our hotel breakfast in NYC a few years ago. They had a buffet and we thought, great, that’ll be easy. When the bill came for $75 (for 2 of us), I peed all over myself! You better believe we went back for 3rds and 4ths to get our money’s worth. I even stuffed fruit in my purse.  Lesson learned I guess!

Anywho, we got downtown around 11:30 and parked. That gave us 15 min. to find the Fonz, take pics, and find the ladybug building. We found Fonzie first:


“Like oh my God, Fonzie is so dreamie!” I love how I’m standing on my tip toes and then slouching over. I look like a giant…or a ragdoll!


“Eeeyyyy” CJ looks really thrilled here. I think he was trying not to look drunk and then ended up looking bored.


“Um, who’s this guy? Can we go now?” She didn’t quite get it but that’s ok. Someday she’ll look back at this picture and be thankful we brought her here! Or maybe not. Whatevs.

After that we started to walk in search of the ladybug building until we realized it was 11:45 and we had to get to the museum, park and be at the BBS building in 15 minutes! Eek! So we raced back to the car and sped away. We actually got to the BBS like 5 minutes early and had time to walk a bit. I had told CJ in the car that the only other time I was in Milwaukee was with a college friend who brought me home for Thanksgiving. As we were walking to the museum I saw 3 people walking toward us. I swear to you it was that college friend with her mom and hubbie. But in my head I was thinking it couldn’t be because she lives down south now. I almost shouted out to her but stopped myself because I didn’t want to look like an idiot. Now I wish I would have said something as I’m 99% sure it was her. (Sara – if that was you – doh!)

Anyway, at noon on the dot, the roof of the BBS started to close. It slowly lowered its wings down, down, down.

Here’s what it looks like fully opened:


Here’s the halfway point as it’s closing:


And here’s when it’s all the way closed:


It then opened back up again. The whole process took about 15 minutes. It was pretty cool. They play music during it too which was a nice surprise.

We were starving by that point and set out to find a place for lunch. Now, you’d think that in downtown Milwaukee, right off the lake, there would be a ton of restaurants. You would be wrong. We walked. And walked. And walked. For 90 MINUTES! There was nothing! No vendors, no fast food, no nothing. Just apartments and parks. Finally we said screw it and went back to the car. Turns out there is a cafe inside the science museum that is next door to the art museum. We ate in there. It was about 1:45 by now, I had blisters all over my feet, we were all hungry and tired and hot and therefore cranky. But dammit we had more to see!

We opted to forgo anything that involved walking so we drove to Jelly Belly as their tour was all done on a train.


The tour was a bit disappointing. You basically rode around the warehouse and watched videos on how they make the candy. We didn’t get to go in the factory itself, which is what I had hoped for. Still, it was free and we got Jelly Belly samples at the end so, all in all, not too bad!


We were tempted to head to Madison from there but it looked like Gambrinus might be on the way so we went in search of that. Turns out he is in the beer garden of a bar that was closed. But that didn’t stop us from sneaking a pic through the gate!


And of course we had to get one of CJ posing with him, er sort of.


I particularly like that CJ’s wearing an X-Men shirt. Looks like Wolverine could use a beer!

After that it was straight on to Madison, with a stop for dinner. After the lunch fiasco, we weren’t about to take chances on that one!

We got to Madison around 7 which gave us time to get Isabella to bed, soak in the hot tub and watch a movie. We got a suite complete with kitchenette and sitting area, which Munchkin thought was so cool. She had fun jumping on the bed (we only allow that on vacation… ;)), running around and pretending to talk on the phone.


That’s it for day 6! Only 1(ish) more days to go until this vacation is over and I stop boring you all with my pics and stories!

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 5

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 4 (cont.)

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 4

Trader Family Road Trip–Day 5: To the Land of Cheese!

Day 5 did not go nearly according to plan. Originally, we had hoped to take a ferry from Muskegon, MI to Milwaukee, WI (the 3 of us and our car!). It would take a couple hours and we’d be there by noon. However, I didn’t realize that we needed to make reservations in advance. Thinking back I should have known but for some reason it never crossed my mind. Unfortunately, because we didn’t make a reservation, they didn’t have any openings for a car. So we had a few options: 1) stay in Manistee longer, 2) go home early, 3) drive up and over Lake Michigan or 4) drive down and around Lake Michigan. After much research and discussion, we decided to go down and around. It was a 5 1/2 hour drive so we’d be in Milwaukee by dinner. We thought that was the best way to go!

But first we wanted to meet up with CJ’s sister and dad for breakfast and to shop around their downtown. We had a nice morning and I got some sassy red shoes for 60% off!

We were on the road by 11 and ready for adventure!

And it wasn’t long before we found it. After driving for a while (after stopping for lunch and then hitting the road again) Isabella was starting to get antsy. We needed a place to stop and play so I pulled off in to the next town that came along. Surely this town would have a park. We drove around for a while and finally found it. Turns out it was a pretty sweet park AND it was connected to a beach!


We played on the equipment for a while and then wandered down to the beach, which stretched for miles. The sand was so soft and fine and there were hardly any people there. It was a perfect place to stretch our legs!


Isabella enjoyed digging and walking in the sand. There was a dog there that she enjoyed watching. She found some cool rocks and shells too!


But eventually we had to get back on the road or we’d never get to Wisconsin!

We finally pulled in to Milwaukee around 6:30 pm. On the way in we saw the Allen-Bradley Clock tower at the Rockwell Automation headquarters (which is the largest 4-faced clock in the world – yes even bigger than Big Ben):


We also saw Miller Park, home of the Brewers.


We really wanted to get to our hotel at a decent time so we could all get to bed. Every night prior it had been nearly 9 p.m. before Isabella got to sleep and we didn’t want to disrupt her schedule too much. So we found a hotel and settled in. CJ went down to the bar and relaxed with a beer while I hung back in the room and caught up on emails. I caught a little TV too and then crashed.

It wasn’t a super exciting day as it was mostly driving but we still had fun. And we were looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure!

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 4

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 4 (cont.)

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 3

Trader Family Road Trip–Day 4 (cont.)–Doo it!

I already told you about much of what happened on our 4th day. The rest I’ll talk about now!

The major part of the day was going to the sand dunes. It had been planned for a while and we really didn’t know what to expect. Would it be really bumpy and loud? Would Isabella be safe on it?

We got to Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and saw a line up of “Big Mac” trucks waiting to take people out. Apparently this is a big thing to do!


When it was our turn everyone eagerly piled in to one of the trucks. We had a big group and took up the whole truck on our own. CJ, Munchkin and I took the front seat, next to the driver, because we figured it would be the least bumpy and scary for Isabella. We all strapped in and were off!

Our driver was super great. Really nice, funny and most importantly a good driver! He took us out over hills and dunes and around sandy curves. The scenery was just beautiful.


(that’s Lake Michigan in the background)

He went just fast enough so that the curves felt a little shaky and the hills gave you that stomach-drop feeling when you went over them, but not so fast that it was out of control. I felt safe the whole time. Our driver would stop at various points to tell us some history and show us scenic spots. The sun was beating down too so it was hot.

Isabella was ok at first. She was a bit shaken by the loud truck and some of the hills but seemed relatively at ease so long as she had her woobie and was safe in the arms of mom or dad.


When we got up to Lake Michigan they let us get out and take pics.

Here’s our whole group, in the truck:


(That’s us in the front seat and CJ’s 86 year old dad is there in the 2nd to last row, in front of the bars. He surprises me by all that he does!)

Me and my hubby.


And with Isabella.


And the whole Trader side of the family.


(That’s our niece Kristin (the grad that we were all celebrating), Isabella, CJ’s sis Shellee, Dad Fred, CJ, Me and Shellee’s husband Chuck)

They also had a big chair there set up as a picture spot. It was totally touristy. So of course I was all over it!


The whole ride took about 45 minutes. Toward the end Isabella got more scared and the only way she felt safe was to snuggle up under daddy’s chin and hold his hand.


She looks so small and fragile! She was such a trooper though and I was very proud of her!

If you’re ever in this part of Michigan, I’d definitely recommend a sand dune tour. It was fun, adventurous, and scenic all at once! Maybe we’ll go back when Isabella is older and have her try again…

If you liked this, you might also like:

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 3

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 2

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 1

Trader Family Road Trip–Day 4: It’s Craaaaazy!

Sunday was jam packed with all kinds of fun activities. There is so much that I’m going to break it in to 2 posts.


First we all met up for breakfast and then headed to Silver Lake Michigan where the first stop was Craig’s Cruisers.

The first thing we did was head to the race track and go drag racing! Isabella and I sat out to watch and take pics so that CJ and the others could ride.


(Side note: CJ has 2 basic poses for pictures (his “blue steel” if you will). One of them is to have the hand up waving and the other is to look drunk. He doesn’t try to look drunk it just happens as a result of him talking or laughing or blinking or actually trying to do blue steel. So, I had to laugh when I saw this pic with the hand wave even while driving!)


CJ’s 86 year old dad even got out there and raced! I was impressed!

After finishing that race, some of the group decided to try the Crazy Cars ( I think that’s what they’re called anyway ). Basically the cars drive around on a metal surface so they slip and slide all over.


We ate lunch and then some of the group went on the bumper boats! Again, I stayed ashore due to my intense fear of water/drowning.


Then it was off to the Sand Dunes (which I’ll post about later – it needs a whole post of its own!). After that we came back to Craig’s Cruisers and CJ and I played mini golf while Isabella went with her Aunt Shellee and Uncle Chuck to have ice cream.


As we all know, I have a competitive streak. Once when playing mini-golf at the Olympic facility in Sydney, Australia I got so mad at a hole that I whacked my club against a tree and bent it. Oops. This is probably why I don’t play real golf. It would be too expensive for me. So with this game, I kept telling myself that this would just be a friendly game of putt-putt. No big deal. Just have fun. But let’s face it – that’s not my nature. I kept meticulous scores and it was a very close game. The difference between winner and loser was 1 point (yes I had CJ verify the math). I won’t say who won but I will say my club was solidly in tact when we left.


Isabella really enjoyed the time with her aunt and uncle. Chuck showed her the “Crazy Clock” in the arcade which she still talks about!  Later she insisted on taking me and CJ back to show us the Crazy Clock!



It’s CRA-AAAZY!! When I asked her what her favorite part of the day was she said “CRAZY CLOCK!!!” and then her second favorite thing was ice cream with Uncle Chuck!

We were all pooped by the end of the day. Isabella slammed in to bed and we weren’t far behind!

Stay tuned for more to come!!

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 3

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 2

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 1

Trader Road Trip–Day 3: Party!

Saturday was the big day. It was the reason for our whole trip! Our niece was celebrating her graduation from high school!

The party started at 1 p.m. and there were other activities during the morning for those who were interested. We thought it would be best to chill at our hotel room, let Isabella get adjusted to the time change and have a good nap, before we ventured out. CJ and I ended up taking naps too! Once we were up and rested it was time to par-tay!

Unfortunately we misunderstood the location of the party and went to the wrong place. We then spent the next hour driving around trying to find the right one! Oops! But we got there eventually and had a great time.

The party was at a rented beach pavilion so there was lots of food and things to do. There was a playground, the beach itself (on Lake Michigan), a light house to walk to and family games to play.


Isabella LOVED the playground! She went around trying pretty much everything!

From the swings…


…to the merry-go-round


…to the dome.


We literally had to tear her away from there when it was time to go!

We also walked over to a lighthouse nearby.


Isabella wasn’t so interested in the lighthouse as she was in being tossed around by her daddy! He thought it was pretty fun too!



Can you tell it was a windy day? My hair didn’t stand a chance! We do look like quite the red/white/blue family though!

We made sure to take a family group picture too before the day was done! This is CJ’s side of the family.


Everyone departed and went back to their various hotel rooms/homes to clean up and get ready for dinner. Then we all gathered at CJ’s sister’s house for a cookout. It felt good to clean up a bit and change clothes.


We were back at the hotel by 8:30 or so and settled in for bed. We knew Sunday would be a busy day and we would need our rest!!

If you liked this, you might also like:

Trader Road Trip – Day 2

Trader Road Trip – Day 1