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A Long Weekend in Milwaukee

Last Wednesday, preceeding the Minnesota Twins’ series with the Milwaukee Brewers, The Wife, The Kid, A Sister-in-law and A Brother-in-law set out to visit the greater Milwaukee area for a long weekend. We had a great time, although I can’t say I’d recommend more than a single long-weekend-from-five-hours-away trip to Milwaukee in your lifetime. There’s enough to do, but after doing a lot of it once, two to three days is going to be plenty of time to be there in the future.

On Thursday we trucked out to the most obvious starting point, the Miller Brewery. A brewery of this size is an impressive sight. It’s also interesting to learn what beers are under the Miller umbrella, even if it is just a distribution contract. For instance, I had no clue that Pilsner Urquell was distributed in the U.S. by Miller. And of course, we saw Old Style coming off the line. This excursion brought about the catch phrase for the trip, “It’s Miller Time.” (If you’ve ever been on the tour, you know what I mean.)

Mass bottling

During the tour we were told “Milwaukee’s Best is made from the same ingredients as Miller. We just don’t advertise the beer as much and we pass the savings on to you.” Now considering we drink Michelob Golden Draft Light at softball, I guess Milwaukee's Best Light would probably be just as good on a hot night. Of course, I’m usually just downing the Grain Belts.

At the end of the free tour, we were each given three beers to sample. I’d say they were about 8 oz’s. The beauty of it is that The Wife doesn’t drink beer, and for some strange reason A Sister-in-law and A Brother-in-law don’t like Pilsner Urquell. So let’s just say I was showered in Pilsners from the Czech Republic.

It's Miller Time!

Friday we found ourselves at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The zoo had a nice quantity of animals. I’d say off-the-cuff that it had more animals than the Minnesota Zoo.

Sea Lions have little ear flaps

The Kid was very bent out of shape about the below monkey. Mandrills have a permanent frown on their faces from dawn to dusk. It’s just how they’re built. The Kid went on and on about how the “monkey sad” for probably fifteen minutes. She was very concerned for this mandrill’s happiness.

Mr. Mandrill gettin' his frown on

The Milwaukee County Zoo looked, like many of the places in Milwaukee, to have been renovated long ago in some city reclamation project. I’m trying to be P.C. - what I mean is that it seemed old. I’m not saying it wasn’t nice or anything, but it certainly hasn’t been remodeled in a couple few decades. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

There were peacocks all over the zoo, which was a refreshing change from the usual geese us Minnesotans are used to seeing everywhere.

Reverse peacock

What I liked about the Milwaukee County Zoo was the number of old faithfuls they had “in stock.” Elephants, rhinos, etc. I’m being serious - I like that The Kid was able to see some animals she could easily recognize. And it’s not as if elephants are any less impressive to someone my age. In fact, I don’t know if I had ever seen a rhinoceros in person before visiting this zoo.

Rhino, rhino, give me your answer do

Off to Miller Park, we all bundled up for some mean tailgating. I had won a small propane grill at a company event (great timing!) and it was in the trunk with some Klement's brats (as only it should be in Wisconsin) and weiners. We braved the elements to drink some brews (we even braved Miller Lite) and eat like carnivores.

The Family at The Miller Park

(Beware, non-baseball fans. A bunch of pictures from the game follow. Feel free to scroll down past these shots if you wish.)

We were lucky enough to view the first start of 2006 by one Francisco Liriano or Salvador de los Twinkies. He was as good as we could hope for, giving up one run in five innings while striking out five as well. He also walked three, but hopefully he’ll get in a groove. At least he can strike a guy out when he’s caught in a sticky situation.

I'm assuming Fliriano's delivering a strike

Here’s a shot of Luis Castillo fouling one off to the right side.

Castillo fouls it off

Apparently the National League also has a good scouting report on Torii Hunter. With two strikes, pitch him high. He eventually struck out looking.

Throw it as high as you can

Here’s a shot of our best base stealer being held close.

Reggie Cleveland All-Star, Lew Ford

Francisco Liriano’s first major league at bat turned out about as successful as his first start of 2006. He hit a Texas-league single to left, knocking in a run. The Twins would need to score only one more run for the win.

Fliriano drops in an RBI single

Watching Cuddyer is kind of like watching Corey Koskie when he was on the Twins. Minnesota needs on base guys, but sometimes their patience results in a few too many no-swing strikeouts, as the picture depicts. (Note: The picture depicts Cuddy not swinging at an apparent strike. I’m not sure if a strikeout was the actual result of this atbat.) So far in 2006, I’ll take it!

Cuddy watchin'

(You those non-baseball fans? You can start reading again here.)

Saturday began with a trip to the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (i.e. Mitchell Park Domes). These indoor plant repositories would probably be a tad more rejuvinating in the winter, but I thought they were nice just the same. In front of the dome entrance is a sundial station.

A Sister-in-law and The Kid dial it up

There are three domes on the site. A show dome (happened to be “The Secret Garden”), an arid dome and a tropical dome. The tropical dome was hot, but made for a nice backdrop.

The Family

We also hit the waterfront before Saturday’s baseball game. It was a nice walk, but I wouldn’t say there was anything spectacular going on, except for the feminist mass picnic near where we ate our lunch. We watched the Milwaukee Art Museum flap its wings from where we ate.

MAM's wings are prone

Here’s an unusual shot of the MAM’s wings fully extended. Well one wing. From behind a fountain.

MAM wings on the water

(More baseball. It'll go fast. Seriously.)

We attended another baseball game Saturday evening. We arrived less early - just enough time to drink some Rolling Rocks before the first pitch. It was strange how welcoming Miller Park was to the Twins’ mascot, T.C. Bear. He was allowed on the field, on the Twins’ dugout, and he was golf-carting through the parking lots with Bernie Brewer before the game. Of course, when the kiss cam arrived, Bernie and T.C. were both on screen and Bernie beat the crap out of T.C.

T.C. Bear on the field

I didn’t like most of the pictures from our Saturday game, but here’s a full-on view. Twins have the bases juiced.

Bases loaded!

Since the only picture those who visit here really want to see is a picture of The Kid, well, here you go. She is partaking in that most typical of all stadium foods: raisins.

The Kid watching the Twins stomp the Brewers

I almost forgot to mention. We were strongly encouraged to visit Kopp's Frozen Custard while we were in Milwaukee. As fate would have it our hotel was a mere block from a Kopp’s. Thus we were required to visit the place twice. I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately. All the workers where in white - it had a nice vibe. And the custard was excellent (I partook in Peach Melba and Grasshopper Fudge). Oh, and we hit The Original Pancake House before leaving for home. Ironically, their pancakes were rather small, but I would guess their omelets were 6 eggers. Seriously, the things were falling over the edge of a normal dinner plate, and about 1.5 inches tall!

During the trip we also stopped at the Lakefront Brewery, which is interestingly located on the Milwaukee River. It was a very small brewery - apparently they brew in a year what Miller throws out in a day. The deal was $5 for four ten ounce drinks and a Lakefront Brewery pint glass. How could we refuse? The brewery was extremely busy. When we asked if this was typical crowd for a weekend we were told, “No. Just when the Twins and Cubs are in town.” Nice!

I don’t wish to sell the Milwaukee short. We didn’t actually go into the museums, so there is certainly more for us to do in Milwaukee. And maybe we’ll catch one or more of those things in the future - on a three-day weekend.