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Friday, August 24, 2012

Lambeau Leapin' Through Wisconsin

I arrived home from Wisconsin on Sunday, August 19th. I had a blast in both Green Bay and Milwaukee. I met my pen pal Deb and we went to this amusement park called Bay Beach, which is located in Northern Green Bay. We rode this ride called the Zippin’ Pippin’, which apparently was Elvis’s favorite ride. I’m half and half about roller coasters and fortunately this was an older wooden roller coaster (I won’t go on the newer steel roller coasters), but I still held on for dear life. I broke all my nails, yet I couldn’t stop laughing my head off from the excitement and the ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be—it was quite fun. After spending about two hours at Bay Beach, Deb and I went to the Brown County Fair and went on more rides. This fair had smaller rides, yet they were just as powerful as the bigger rides at Bay Beach. That was a lot of fun as well. It was nice meeting Deb and she was a really nice woman.
I made other friends while there as well. While I was at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee, I met this older lady and we walked the fair together. That fair was interesting; it was mostly a livestock show (I learned so much about one of my favorite animals, goats, that night that I can name at least five different breeds and what makes them different, haha) and fried food stands. I had my first corn dog (it was alright) and the cream puffs at this fair were huge.  The Wisconsin State Fair is known for their cream puffs; the receptionist at my hotel told me not to miss them and to stock up on them: they were good, but I didn’t stock up on them because of the hassle of carrying them all over Wisconsin and well, I’d probably eat them all and they weren’t light. In Green Bay as I was walking the botanical gardens I met this couple and we toured the gardens together; their names were Wayne and Janet and they were from La Crosse, WI. Very nice people and Wayne is also a Packers stock holder, so we chatted mostly about the Packers, being stock holders and going to the games. At the tailgate party I met people from all over the country that also traveled to see the game. I met this Browns fan and his Packers fan girlfriend that were from Jersey and another Packers fan couple from Connecticut. Of course I also met a lot of Wisconsinites and connected with them instantly.
Speaking of tailgates, the tailgate was a lot of fun. There were three games; I played the first game which was a scavenger hunt, but lost when I couldn’t find anyone with five pennies. Jared, the one Browns fan from Jersey, was a good sport during the game he played in which three people had to put on a white shirt and collect as many signatures as possible with no repeats from the crowd. Jared of course had a lot of “Browns suck” comments. His girlfriend (which right now I can only remember her last name because she has the same last name as the Packers kicker, which she wore his jersey) thought it was hilarious and she was just as friendly. There were a few Browns fans there and I had them hold the sign I made: GO PACK! Make the Browns eat cheese! They were good sports and actually liked the sign and let me get pictures of them holding it. The Browns fans that were there had significant others that were Packers fans, which was interesting and most likely made for some good rivalry, which me and my friend Christina had and had a good laugh about it. Also, like a typical tailgate there was a lot of good food: brats, hamburgers, pasta salads, cookies and other picnic like foods. Wisconsin is known for the brats, so I stuck off with the brats.
Although the Packers lost, the game was still memorable and a lot of fun. I was sitting next to this family with two young boys that were surprised I made it from Pennsylvania, but sitting on the other side of them was a lady from Pittsburgh. Towards the end the game wasn’t too well played; the rookies were lousy, but that is probably a given since they are so new and aren’t playing by college rules anymore. I think it was more nerves than anything because there were a lot of ball drops. At the beginning of the game, when the only touchdown was scored, the regular players were in. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson (the tag team) made the touchdown and the crowd went wild. The only field goal that was scored, the kicker was good because it was so windy and it drizzled a few times. The final score was 35-10. A lot of people left; the man sitting next to me called them Packers quitters and it was really the only Packers backers that stayed. I made it on the scoreboard as part of the fan cam. The new scoreboard at that. That was pretty cool.
The Brewers won though! 6-2. It was my first baseball game and that was very fun as well. I didn’t get the peanuts and cracker jacks (they were expensive), but I did have cotton candy. Although, this group of people behind me offered me peanuts, so that was cool. They were extremely nice and we all enjoyed the game together. It reminded me of my first Packers game where at each touchdown the people next to me gave me hugs and high fives; this father sitting in front of me and his son gave me high fives (partly because I was alone and my row was practically empty) at each homerun. They were nice as well and very warm and welcoming. I found between last year and this year that most people in Wisconsin are warm and welcoming and very hospitable. What was really cool about the game and the awesome stadium (Miller Park is HUGE) that when the Brewers made a homerun they set off fireworks and when they won they had more elaborate fireworks. I was glad that at least one of my teams won while I was out there; it was amazing to be very close to the players.
I felt that way at the Packers training camp. Larry, dad’s ex-coworker, has a sister that is married to the special teams coach and I was supposed to meet them, but that didn’t happen. It’s okay though because it was awesome being close to them in practice (I was sitting towards the front) and actually watching them play. I was in awe that I was near Rodgers, Driver, Nelson, Matthews, Raji and all the other players. Watching the bike riding ritual was awesome too. There is a tradition with the Packers that they borrow kids bikes (I’m not sure how they are chosen) and ride them along the field at the end of practice.  Though the sun was hot and I got a Lambeau tan (that’s what I playfully call it), it was well worth it. Maybe one of these days I’ll meet the players; though, I think I’m going to write Larry’s sister and send her my worn out Matthews jersey that I’m going to retire (frame) to have her hopefully get a signature from Clay.
When I wasn’t doing football related things (I went to Lambeau’s birth house, that was cool and it was neat to see the town he grew up in) I went to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and Heritage Hill State Park. On Wednesday I went to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary before meeting Deb. Last year when I went it was on a Saturday; weekdays are much better. There was only one camp group, the rest were small families. I love that place because it’s smaller than a zoo, but it still has nice animals that are specifically birds and small wildlife. On Thursday it rained; I was going to go to Lambeau’s grave, but given how miserable it was I went to Heritage Hill. Heritage Hill is a historical site that covers Wisconsin’s prairie history. I only had time for the brief tour before I had to head back to my hotel to get ready for the tailgate; I met the blacksmith and the school teacher and it was great to hear about their importance in their role getting Wisconsin civilized. There was also Native American history, but very little.
When I was in Milwaukee, I visited the zoo and I took the tour of Miller brewery. The zoo was beautiful and it was a decent size. The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal was there for their sponsorship of A la carte, a day at the zoo dedicated to food, music and animals. Sadly, I didn’t have any of the food because you needed tickets and they were expensive (I already paid $12.50 to get into the zoo, didn’t want to pay another $20), but the artists that played were decent. I loved seeing the animals, especially the sleeping ones. It was just a nice day there, especially since it was in the mid-70s, no humidity and sunny.
I am going to write a book about my travels, so you can always check out my stories there. : ) I don’t want to overwhelm you in an e-mail. I also took about 730 photos.

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