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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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Seeing Milwaukee by boat offers a new perspective on the city.
Seeing Milwaukee by boat offers a new perspective on the city.

Milwaukee by boat

Just over a week ago, I took a little boat ride. Something of a three-hour tour actually around the harbors and inlets of the Milwaukee coastline. I've done the booze cruise thing a few times before, but this was a small, unscheduled trip on a friend's boat. Booze was definitely included but the point wasn't happy hour. It was to view the sights of the city from a new perspective, and perhaps get a buzz along the way.

Milwaukee isn't a huge city by any means. With more than a million people taking up residence in the area, it's definitely not NYC or Chicago. But, when seen from the water it looks like a much larger city and it's obvious just how much the skyline has changed over the past 10 years.

As I hopped onto the "Minnow" there were a few unnervingly large fish jumping clear out of the water not ten yards from the boat. Images of Asian carp launching themselves onto the deck and biting off my toes began to enter my mind, but I cooled my sea monster anxiety with a glass of wine and we were off.

Two glasses of wine (well, really only about one and a half since JD didn't warn me he was going to floor it and most of glass two wound up on my jacket, boots and lap) I began to feel pretty poetic about our little city. The scene was quiet but not silent. Just inside the breakwaters, as we floated past the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World, the air turned from windy cold to warm and still and it felt like we were in Florida, a nice treat for October.

We traveled south and got up close to the Lake Express and took bets on how much jail time one would face for driving underneath it, which would've been more than doable even if we'd all been standing, but figuring arrests would put a major damper on the trip we decided better of it.

I've seen the Lake Express a handful of times cruising into the harbor on a clear day, but I was amazed at how big and stealth looking it really is. I'm definitely hoping to enjoy a quick ride to Michigan on that boat someday.

We went up the Milwaukee River, past the Edelweiss, the Ale House, Rock Bottom and what looked like a ton of uninhabited condos. Just one more sign of the times. Though the river isn't known for its cleanliness, it was a beautiful scene. The lights of the surrounding buildings and various decorative elements along the way hid what we didn't want to see and delicately lit what we did.

We traveled back south, down through the industrial section of the Kinnickinnic River. Large piles of coal were barely visible in the dark of night and the smells and sounds had certainly changed from the Milwaukee River. Huge rusted old train bridges loomed out of the darkness and for a while it felt like we may be the unknowing victims in the remake of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer.'

We passed Barnacle Bud's, still busy on a Wednesday at 9 p.m. on our way to The Horny Hideaway.

The docks at the Hideaway were empty but the deck, bar and volleyball courts were packed.

On my first trip there I only got to enjoy one vodka seltzer but first chance I get I'm definitely going back. There was a private office party with a humongous table of tasty appetizers and no one really paying much attention, so I figured who would notice if I made a plate for the ride back? But when I ventured close enough to steal a pita triangle it became pretty apparent I wasn't welcome. So we were off again, heading home to the marina for the night.

If you have the opportunity to see the city from the water I highly recommend it. It's not just a great photo op, it's an entirely different way to view our "little" city. Travel north to view the hustle and bustle of Downtown Milwaukee and south to see an entirely different aspect of Milwaukee's culture and commerce.

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