Wednesday night, I returned home from a 914-mile trip to northern Wisconsin for two upcoming articles I'm writing about Big Manitou Falls and the Apostle Islands. Though the trip was fast, busy and required an awful lot of driving, I had a great time, and I'm excited to share my stories with the readers of OnMilwaukee.com.
But upon returning to Milwaukee, I experienced the same phenomenon I've come to expect every time I drive out of town for a few days:
When I haven't seen Milwaukee in a little while, it looks huge. Like New York City huge. Like the biggest city in the whole world huge.
Which is funny, because when I'm in Milwaukee, I often wonder if it's big enough. Driving over the Hoan Bridge every morning, I see my favorite view of Downtown, but our skyline always feels mid-sized, at best.
Get away from it from it for 36 hours, though, and the Marquette Interchange feels impossibly large. The US Bank building might as well be the Empire State Building. Even mellow neighborhoods like Bay View look bustling and urban and tightly packed.
It's weird how quickly I can get forget what I see every day.
It's also surprising how quickly I can adapt to a few days without stop lights or traffic, too.
If anything, trips away remind me that Milwaukee is plenty big enough, and we're so fortunate that we can so easily get away – and come back. I'm not sure how long I could handle the pace of a place that doesn't have a Target or good Chinese restaurants, but I certainly couldn't handle a city where traffic jams are the norm and I'd have to drive hours just to see the stars.
My conclusion is always that Milwaukee is the perfect size for me. And whenever I find myself forgetting that, I just need to leave town for a bit. It only makes coming home even better.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.