Steamy and stormy. That’s how I think of Milwaukee summers. And incredibly hectic, too.
Summer in the city is always crammed with more festivals, fairs and block parties than civically necessary or nutritionally advisable.
But it’s an integral element of my longtime summer routine, and I’m too old to stop now. Admittedly, though, some moderation has crept into my ritual over the years; I’ve already been back for 10 days on my annual visit to Milwaukee, and I haven’t had a frozen custard cone from Kopp’s or Leon’s yet (although in checking the website for whether or not Kopp’s has an apostrophe, I noticed chocolate peanut butter is an upcoming flavor of the day and my abstinence streak may need to be broken).
OK, I already have had a few Wisconsin brews, but I am from Milwaukee. My doctor will understand. Plus, I had to check out the new (to me!) beer gardens at Milwaukee County Parks.
When I do Milwaukee, I do the city right. I’ve worn out lesser men and women who’ve braved the journey with me over the years. One retired friend who visited during a particularly sweltering summer actually called the airline to move up his flight a few days after he feared he wouldn’t survive another sweat-drenched day of roaming Milwaukee with the local kid.
Just about every summer since I moved from the city in 1979, I return for at least a few days – always around Summerfest.
This year, I decided on a different approach. I took a couple of extra weeks off from my job teaching journalism at Colorado State University, loaded my Trek bicycle in the car and headed to my Wisconsin summer home (that sounds much nicer than the house where I grew up in the heart of Milwaukee). I figured the bike would give me a new perspective – at least one that I haven’t had since tooling around the neighborhood on my Schwinn Sting-Ray when I was 10.
And you know what? It did give me some interesting new looks at my favorite city. Heading south from my Walker’s Point ba…Read more...