Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Young Man And A Trip: Wisconsin Chapter 3


Two years ago, my then 14 year old son The Future Rock Star, astounded me by asking if he and I could take a winter trip to Wisconsin so he could learn about where I grew up.  It was a tremendous trip.  We did it again last year.  I am now addicted to this event and I look forward to it from the time of our return after a week up North each year.

Due to the vicissitudes of public school calendars, the week before Christmas that was listed as vacation for the FRS when I booked this trip in August had to my dismay become exams week by Thanksgiving.  The FRS was crushed, at least as much as a young man of 16 will allow himself to show.  We went anyway, staying for three nights.  At least that was the plan.

We had surprisingly easy flying, enjoying a typically fine meal at One Flew South in the Atlanta airport before landing at O'Hare in Chicago late Friday evening.  It was snowing when we landed and it continued the entire trip.  When we checked into our hotel in Wisconsin, the photo above was the general look of things.  We couldn't have been more excited about our prospects for the weekend. In our room we found evidence of what I consider a nice trend in some hotels....a little seasonal toy to brighten up the evening...


A touching item in the opinion of this seasoned traveler anyway.  When we are in Wausau, Wisconsin we always go to the Great Dane brew pub for dinner.  They make superb beers at the Great Dane and the food is amazing also.  I had a seasonal Pumpkin Ale and a German Sausage Platter while the FRS had a "light" appetizer of fried cheddar cheese curds followed by a great looking Jagerschnitzel platter.  Oh for a teen metabolism!!!

I sprung a surprise on the FRS at dinner that evening...that we were going to his first-ever Green Bay Packer game at legendary Lambeau Field the next day!!  He was astounded and very excited.  It would be my first Packer home game since I was younger than he is.

Here is the view out the window on Sunday morning...


Time to hit the road for the hour and twenty minute drive to Green Bay.  Here is a tip.  Line up stadium parking in advance.  This web site was really great and we got parking a block from Lambeau Field with a very nice fellow helping us out when we got there.  We donned all the cold weather Packer gear we owned...


...then we bought some more.  With proper equipment, the weather made the trip.  Without proper gear, disaster would have ensued.  But I knew this from growing up in the area so we were well prepared.  We rounded the corner and ...


...a snowy Vince Lombardi greeted us at the stadium atrium entrance.  We wandered around the tailgate area for a while but the wind began to whip the snowflakes into a blizzard so we decided to seek refuge inside the atrium...


...an excellent spot with the huge Packer gift shop, several places to get food and drink, and a bluegrass band.  We were watched over by a pantheon of Packers...


...until it was time for the pregame gates to open and we went to our seats.  It was a little over ten degrees [F] when we went into the stadium proper with snow and a howling wind.  The "frozen tundra" indeed.



The glamour of being an NFL cheerleader loses something in a blizzard...and in a snow-suit...


We procured souvenir programs...


...and funny stick-masks of Aaron Rodgers' face...[he didn't play]...


The stick-masks helped block the wind.  A little.  Balaclava masks made from micro-fleece did a MUCH better job.  The big scoreboard televisions showed a perfect picture for replays and reminded us of our glorious history as thirteen time champions...


As I said, we lost a close game that we should have won.  It was so cold that I didn't even try to take a photo during the game because that would have entailed removing my gloves. All in all though we were very comfortable during the game.  Let me say again, long underwear and those balaclavas were essential.

The hour-plus drive back to Wausau in the dark after the game was over a snowy highway with only two tire tracks in one lane open.  Luckily lots of Packer fans were making the drive in a long caravan so the tracks stayed open and nobody was speeding or trying to pass.  Sketchy driving for Dad, even with my Norwegian genetics and [long unused] winter driving skills.  Safely back at our hotel, the FRS hit the shower and declared that he was not going out for dinner so I sallied forth for take-out.  Which, luckily, landed me at Treu's Tic Toc Club, one of the great Wisconsin bars you will ever find...


There was a lot of snow outside the night in question.  The inside of Treu's is a warm shelter from even the most significant Wisconsin storm...


Treu's even has festive holiday d├ęcor...


And great hot beef sandwiches and of course Bratwurst.  But on this blizzard of a night, the best thing was that the bartender was featuring Tom and Jerry cocktails, my favorite winter defroster.  One of those and I was ready to carry food back to the FRS.  A perfect trip completed [other than the football loss of course].  Or so I thought.

At the airport the next morning this was the view outside the concourse window...


This was the BEST it got all morning...as flights were cancelled and delayed and delayed and cancelled.  All for good reason I might add. I have never understood the anger of fellow travelers when an airline refuses to launch them off into a hurricane, thunderhead or blizzard.  In the event, it became increasingly obvious that if we stuck to the plan of flying home [it was December 23] we stood a serious chance of not being able to fly on our appointed day, nor on the worst flying day of any year, Christmas Eve.  As a result, we stood a significant chance of not being home for Christmas. 

I looked at him.  He looked at me.  Two words formed simultaneously for each of us.  Just like the classic scene in Animal House. 

ROAD TRIP.

We abandoned the airport before the rest of the stranded hoard [who were soon hot on our tails] and rented a superb SUV.  Then we drove it all the long way home.  Well, I drove it.  Along with my excellent little $100 GPS unit. The FRS provided in-flight entertainment with sports trivia and by using the Shazam app to identify obscure songs on the radio when we couldn't guess what they were.  That happened quite a bit actually.

Wisconsin,
Illinois,
Arkansas,
Missouri,
Mississippi,
Alabama

Twenty hours.  We did have to spend the night of the 23d in deep downstate Illinois because of our late start leaving Wisconsin.  By all accounts, a grueling drive.  But it was tremendous fun.  An unexpected two days of extra dad/son bonding.  An Epic gift of the highest order.  We arrived home at 9:30pm on December 24.  The condition of the truck told it all...


But we made it, safe and sound.  Possessed of memories we both will cherish the rest of our lives.  A superb Christmas present.  I can't wait to do it all over again next year.

8 comments:

Petunia said...

What a fabulous adventure! Love it. I'm sure you will both cherish the memory of this trip for many years to come.

Petunia said...

What a fabulous adventure! I'm sure you both will cherish memories of this trip for years to come. Happy holidays!

kihrig said...

What a great time for you both and an experience that neither of you will ever forget.

kihrig said...

What a great time for you both and an experience that neither of you will ever forget.

Ben said...

The road trip home, does my envy green betray my feelings? One couldn't ask for anything better in a trip with one's son.

M.Lane said...

Thanks everyone! It meant an awful lot to me. We had a lot of fun in the car on the way home and laughed a lot. It was fun just to be free of homework and grades and the office and ..... and just have fun for two more days.

ML

CashmereLibrarian said...

That. Is. Wonderful. Happy Holidays, Epic!

M.Lane said...

Cashmere! Thanks for the comment. I miss your posts.

ML