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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

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Country Springs is a splashing good time.
Country Springs is a splashing good time.

3 end-of-summer kids mini-trips

Back in June, I wrote about the 5 summer kids trips I couldn’t wait to take.

Well, summer got busy, and despite my best intentions, I only made it to one of my top five suggestions.

But that’s not to say I was a deadbeat dad this season. My almost-6-year-old and I had lots of fun this summer, and in fact, we found a few other places to visit as the calendar inched closer to the return of school. All three were just within an hour from home.

1. The Hi-Way 18 Outdoor Theatre

As much as I love going to one of the area’s two drive-in theaters, it can be a tricky project with young children. Last summer, we visited the much dumpier one in Kenosha – the Keno – and our kid fell asleep 20 minutes into the first movie, then woke up and whined until we left.

This summer, though, we did it right. First, we went to the Hi-Way 18 drive in Jefferson. It’s a long drive, but an easy one. We also waited until later in summer when dusk wasn’t so late, so we could get in an entire movie before our daughter passed out in her car seat. If you get there early enough, there's a playground by the screen that's teeming with kids.

On a weekend, this place gets very busy, so we parked way in the back. But in some ways, that made it more fun, since we could giggle and chat more through the movie. The facility here is a lot nicer, too, and even though we didn’t make it to the second movie, this summer, we got in enough family time to make the trip well worth it.

2. Country Springs Hotel and Water Park

Obviously, kids love water parks, and I’m a fan, too. While the Wisconsin Dells may hold the record for quantity and quality over, well, everywhere else in America, that’s a long and expensive trip.

Much closer to home is the County Springs Hotel and Water Park in Pewaukee. We actually visited last summer, but now that my daughter is a little older, she even had more fun (read: tears when we left). I tried this one-nighter as my own as a daddy-daughter activity, an…

This is not your average car show.
This is not your average car show.

Milwaukee Masterpiece rolls into town

I recently interviewed a former boss, a courageous woman who once hired me as an intern. She’s now affiliated with the Milwaukee Masterpiece, a high-end car show.

Meet Bev Jurkowski, my mentor –  and the woman crazy enough to ask me to be a "celebrity judge" this weekend at the show. So how did you get involved in the Masterpiece?

Bev Jurkowski: I’ve been a gear head for a long time. It started with my days at Miller when I worked with the sports marketing group and got to meet race legends like Danny Sullivan (the guy who did a 360 at Indy – not intentionally – and still won the race), and NASCAR greats Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace. I’ve been involved in car clubs since the 1980s. A few of my friends in the Porsche Club are working behind the scenes for the Milwaukee Masterpiece and they drafted me to join them.

OMC: What can people expect to see when they attend the Masterpiece this year?

BJ: It’s a two-day event. On Saturday, Aug. 23, you’ll see cars and motorcycles shown by anyone who wants to bring a vehicle down to the show field in Veterans Park. Spectators will pick a People’s Choice winner. Saturday is a prelude to Sunday. That’s the real deal when the show field will be occupied by 230 vehicles that the Concours Committee has invited to compete for awards. These vehicles will be judged in 29 different classes. Each class will have a first-in-class winner. Prestige awards will be given as well including the Chief Judge’s award and the granddaddy award – Best of Show.

The lakefront provides the perfect setting for this family friendly event.

OMC: This sounds kind of stuffy.

BJ: Not at all. The people who own these unique vehicles are down to Earth. They’ll talk your ear off if you indicate the slightest interest in their vehicle. Stop and talk with Jack and Annie Bonham of Shawano who will be there with their 1941 Packard 120 Convertible Coupe. Jack spent 14 years working on the restoration.

OMC: Some o…

Behold the "Baconmeister."
Behold the "Baconmeister."
The perfect burger? You'll have decide.
The perfect burger? You'll have decide.
In the truck, it's a family affair.
In the truck, it's a family affair.

Food Truck Week: The "Baconmeister" from Burgermeister

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

I’m a sucker for a great burger, and now I’ve had two very good ones in two weeks from the Burgermeister food truck.

I quite enjoyed the "Garlicmeister" last time, but I’m pretty sure I’m now partial to their $9 "Baconmeister" meal. With 1/3 pound of Angus beef, topped with bourbon bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese (I opted for cheddar), it’s the brioche bun that makes the difference to me. It comes with homemade chips or fries and a drink.

I found both burgers could’ve been a little saltier, but much to my detriment, I really like salt, so maybe I’m not the best person to judge on that. Still, for fast street food, this was a really good burger. I’ll be back.

Inside the truck, it’s a fun story, too. The owner, his ex-wife, his current girlfriend and his son all work in concert. They recently started taking orders on paper to speed things up a little, and it’s a good system. They told me that Burgermeister’s "Frankenburger" appeared on Spike TV’s Chicago episode of "Frankenfood" – and won.

I guess I’ll have to try that beast of a burger/hot dog mash up next time.

The perfect street food.
The perfect street food.
The truck is Brewers-colored!
The truck is Brewers-colored!

Food Truck Week: Falafel Guys

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

I could pretty much eat falafel every day of my life and never get tired of it. The fried chickpea dish is close to the perfect vegetarian dish, and whether you claim it’s Israeli or Arabic, it’s one meal that everyone in the Middle East can agree is great.

I visited the blue and yellow Falafel Guys food truck twice last week when it was parked outside the Chase Building – partly to see if it was consistent, and partly just because I was craving falafel. Both visits were equally cheap and delicious.

For $5.95, you can a fresh falafel sandwich in a pita, with hummus, tahini sauce, pickles and lettuce (I ordered mine without tomato). Seasoned with parsley, it’s a simple, street food staple. And I love it.

Only two guys work the truck, and each sandwich is made to order, but even at high noon, it was speedy. The menu is pretty small, and also includes shawarma and eggplant sandwiches, plus fries and soda/bottled water.

The shawarma sandwich is $8.95 and cooked on a rotisserie in the truck. The $6.95 eggplant sandwich comes with a hardboiled egg.

But why mess with perfection? I’ll have the falafel sandwich every time.