Friday started off really well with, like I mentioned, sleeping in until 9am, local time. Actually, we might have been able to sleep a little longer if Dad hadn't knocked on our door a little after 9, making Zoey cry.
The hotel room came with a complimentary breakfast in the restaurant. Figuring that it was the standard continental breakfast (sometimes you get lucky and they have a waffle maker), we weren't in the biggest of hurries, but it still takes us a good hour to get ready and leave once we've decide we're going somewhere. Not helping matters, Zoey decided to throw a tantrum for a reason we never deduced. Breakfast ended at 10am and, knowing this, we didn't get down to the restaurant until 10:15am. We were supposed to meet my parents so we thought that was all we were doing. As it turned out, the waitress and cook had waited for us, and made Jacob and I an awesome breakfast as only you can get in Wisconsin.
After breakfast, we packed up the hotel room and left to pick up the car rented for Jacob and I. Not only convenient, but necessary as not everyone could fit in one vehicle. Well, maybe my uncle's Armada. That thing is a BEAST! And he'll tell you, "Don't touch the lift! It goes down automatically! Don't touch the lift!"
We picked up the car and decided to drive down by Lake Michigan. Mom suggested it, as it has always been a favorite spot of hers in Milwaukee; I had never been also, besides driving by it briefly. But as anyone who has been to Wisconsin knows, the scenery is a cornucopia of cows, corn fields, clouds, and jungle so your visibility is always pretty limited.
This picture of the outskirts of Milwaukee doesn't even do the city justice. It is by far one of the neatest, most interesting city in the US.
Zoey fell asleep in the car so we just stayed on one spot of the lake. It was a perfect spot, though, like a random little beach in the heart of the city; there was beach sand and everything, and since the lake is so large it's impossible to see the other side (well, maybe on a clear day but that would also mean hell had frozen over).
Here she is, the Stick Insect with No Soul, rocking the hottest summer fashions as only a wire hanger can! Given the circumstances of the trip, I lost 2 more pounds while in Wisconsin. My mother swears my weight loss is due to my antidepressants, which I don't completely disagree with. But I did put on 3 pounds almost immediately when we got back. And I guess I'll just have to deal with the fact that I'm skinny and medically happy.
He's never seen the ocean so this was as close as he's gotten so far. I know what you're thinking: but he picked you up in Florida! Well, instead he saw some awesome swampland.
Jacob and I walked down around the beach while my parents kept an eye on snoozing Zoey.
Zoey woke up a short time later so we took her down to the beach. Her first time walking on beach sand!
She was definitely interested in it. She was neither delighted nor scared, just stared at it as she continued to pick it up and it inevitably slid through her fingers. I have noticed, though, that she really enjoys feeling new textures with her feet.
Once we were done, Jacob and I and my parents parted ways, us for Berlin and they would be a few hours behind us. Just getting in the car in and of itself was stressful. The streets are small but people insist on parking on them anyway. Does that stop them from tearing around the corner? Nope. But that is not exclusive to Wisconsin. Furthermore, we weren't used to driving around so many people, and having more than one alternate way to get somewhere. But thanks to Jacob's instincts, we were able to make it out of the city in the right direction. It wasn't until we were much closer to Berlin that we missed the exit, then went up and around.
We left Milwaukee a little after 1pm but by the time we only had 10 miles left, it was 4pm. Zoey needed formula and diapers and I knew it would get increasingly difficult to find these things as we got closer to my uncle's cabin so we stopped at Festival Foods in Omro. The store was huge and looked like a giant gay pride flag inside and out. I frustratingly found the baby aisle because the fucktards decided not to keep all non-food items together. Oddly, though, formula wasn't in the baby aisle with everything else. So I asked the pharmacy tech who happened to be standing in the aisle where it was. She informed me it was locked up in the front of the store next to the ice. I said, "Are you joking?" Surprisingly, she smiled warmly and said, "No, just tell them what you need." I walked up to the front to find Toddler Corner (or something), babysitting for shopping mothers. There was a teenage girl in charge of one boy and I asked, "I'm told I need someone to open the formula for me," and pointed to it. She said, "Oh, just when you go through the check-out, tell them what you want and the cashier will get it for you." I just stared at her and said, "This is absolutely ridiculous." I grabbed Zoey from the cart and we marched out of the store to Jacob in the car. When I told him why I was sans formula, he was shocked, then found a handy Walgreens right across the street.
I walked into Walgreens and found the diapers and formula easy-peasy, and without assistance. The store manager was the one to ring me up and I said, "Coming here was so much easier than going to Festival Foods." He said, "Yeah, we hear that a lot. You're just not as boisterous." I said, "Oh, I can be boisterous. They lock up their formula!" He said, "I heard that. Well, come back any time." I felt gratified until later that night when I realized - in my irritation at and with Festival Foods - that I had unwittingly abandoned Zoey's beloved Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit. I used it as a cushion between her and the shopping cart and when I got pissed, I just snatched her and left. Luckily, though, as we drove back to Milwaukee a few days later, we recovered it from Festival Foods' lost and found bin. So I guess they're not all bad.
We finally made it to Berlin but couldn't decipher the map Dad had drawn for us. It had been 2 years since we had been there, and complicating matters was that once you were out of the city, everything looked familiar, but unfamiliar at the same time; everything looked exactly the same. So we called Ken and he gave us directions.
Once we arrived, we learned the cabin and surrounding areas has lost power due to a major storm that blew through just that morning. We actually drove over the power lines running into the road. And unfortunately, power remained out for the duration of our stay. Since we had spent the day in the car, on top of being tired from travels period, we didn't feel much like going anywhere once we arrived at the cabin. We knew Zoey wouldn't appreciate being put back in the car, either, so Uncle Ken and his friend Brian went to a place frequented often, but we never got to see the inside of, The Home Bar. It was Friday so we got the requisite Fish n' Chips and it was amazing; really put my favorite at The Alpine to shame. Unfortunately, it didn't get into our bellies until after 9pm. They were also going to pick up a Pack n' Play from a friend of theirs so we needed to keep Zoey occupied, fed, and happy until Ken and Brian returned. Even though we were apprehensive, Zoey was a perfect angle until we put her down.
Enjoying her book Color Carnival on Aunt Karen's big cushy chair. She had such fun wiggling around on that chair.
At the same time, Uncle Ken and Aunt Karen hit the sack too so Jacob and I sat in the dark and whispered our reflections on the trip thus far while we tried to muster the energy to eat our amazing meal. We each had different views, mine being that all of these minor road-blocks being thrown in our way was teaching us that we always have help and that we are constantly surrounded by love and concern; and his was that this was a learning experience on how to be more patient and flexible to the circumstances. Either way, the rest of our trip continued to offer us varying perspectives and many opportunities for self-reflection. It also drew us a lot closer.