There’s No Place Like Home

It’s official.  Post-Vacation depression has finally set in.

I found out how I was missed when I went back to work.  I went down to the cafeteria and the guy behind the counter ringing me up for a Snapple asked where I had been.  I told him I was on vacation in California.

“Connecticut?” he asked.

“No, California,” I repeated because he doesn’t speak English well.  He then pointed to my T-shirt which had Connecticut on it.  I smiled and told him that was last year’s trip and that I hadn’t gotten around to doing laundry yet.  It reminded me that I am sort of like a walking billboard sometimes.

I love being on the train almost as much as my vacation destinations.  When you go to the dining car, they seat you with other people so they have full tables and there is room for everyone.   It’s interesting to discuss with the other passengers where they are headed, their experiences and, almost as if it’s required, why they are traveling by train.

Sometimes conversation starts slow. During dinner my 2nd night on the train trip home, I was seated at a table across from an elderly gentleman and next to a middle aged woman.  The southwest chief Amtrak train was actually heading northeast at this point.

“You must be going to Milwaukee,” the man said finally breaking the ice.  It also broke a wide smile across my face as I thought about home.

“I am.  I was on vacation in California,” I replied.  The train originated in Los Angeles so a lot of us had boarded in Cali.

“I was in San Francisco for a reunion of my ship’s crew.  I served on the USS LITTLE ROCK,” he told us.

“The LITTLE ROCK?  The one that’s in Buffalo?” I asked and was correct.  He was impressed and a little proud that someone of my generation would know that particular ship.  I explained my interest in all things Maritime.

Once our meals arrived and after a brief hiatus in conversation the man asked me if I knew what the best part of being on vacation was.  I was a little puzzled and thought since we were at dinner it might have been the fact that you didn’t have to cook or do dishes.

“The best part of vacation,” he clarified, “is coming home.”

I smiled again.  I had been away from my family for 2 weeks and was missing them terribly.  It made me a little teary as I agreed.  I love to vacation in California and other places I’ve been, but I would never choose any of those places over Milwaukee.

“I’ve never been to Milwaukee really.  Took a plane through there,” the man said and then he asked me what made Milwaukee so great that I’d leave sunny California for it.

“I love Milwaukee,” I looked down at my shirt.  It was black with the image of a Godess-like woman leaning on a globe that says Milwaukee Feeds and supplies the World.  It may have at one time, but even me as Milwaukee’s biggest bolster, would have to admit that it doesn’t anymore.  To me the shirt always emitted a tone of Socialism

“If I were a tourist there where should I go?” he asked.

I explained how our art museum “The Calatrava” is known throughout the country, as well as our Summerfest, which is the largest music festival.

I was asked if those were my favorite since I mentioned them first.  I admitted they weren’t but that it was something that was supposed to make Milwaukee popular.  I said I would choose the Milwaukee Symphony or the Milwaukee Repertory Theater over the art museum. 

“Then what makes you smile about Milwaukee, the way you did when I first mentioned it?” he asked.  

I love Milwaukee’s architecture.  It has an old world charm in that many of the buildings are still in use from the 1800’s having survived the urban blight when industrialization when out the window (or should I say to China).  So many of our old buildings have been given a new life in the form of condos and office buildings such as the Pabst and Schlitz breweries.  It’s neat to see an expertly built brick building butted up against a clearly modern structure.  Old meets new.  That’s what Milwaukee is about.

But if looking for free things, Wisconsin is so pretty in every season that if I moved I would miss hiking and biking through the State Parks and along the lake front.  We’re lucky to have 2 Great Lakes for our borders.  My personal favorite is finding historical landmarks and it’s so easy to travel around Wisconsin compared to California.   I said I like to vacation in Wisconsin and go to places like Holy Hill, The Dells, Cave of the Mounds, Apostle Islands and The House On The Rock.   

The man was really intrigued until I started telling him that there were once pyramids in Wisconsin in Aztalan (A.D. 1000 and 1300. The people who settled Aztalan built large, flat-topped pyramidal mounds and a stockade around their village. )

Wisconsin DNR photo of Aztalan

I thought I needed to reel the man in again so he knew I wasn’t just telling wild tales because he had never been there before so I began to tell him the story of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company and the 28 submarines that were built on Lake Michigan during WWII.  I figured bringing it back to the Navy side of things would get him back into the conversation. 

The lady who had been quiet til now decided to mention the trouble with the police shootings.  I think she was tired of hearing me go on and on (She was from Chicago…. I think there might have been a rivalry there) so it ended my Chamber of Commerce lecture. But just because she stopped me from talking, it doesn’t mean I won’t go on and on if you want me to 🙂



More profitable than people in station wagons making s’mores


Last weekend, my sister rented the 2010 movie Yogi Bear from Red Box.  I had almost forgotten that I had wanted to see it because I very rarely keep up on movies in the theater.  I’m so glad she remembered!  I absolutely loved it!  I watched it twice and bought my own personal copy.  It was so funny and I just wanted to bear-hug Yogi and Boo Boo.

I’m not here to write a movie review or spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it.  The story line in Yogi Bear is that Mayor Brown realizes that the city is in financial crisis and on the verge of bankruptcy.  He wants to run for Governor and know he wouldn’t have a chance at winning the election if the city was in ruins.  Reports had shown that Jellystone Park has been losing business, so greedy Mayor Brown decides to shut it down and sell the land to logging and developers in order to get money.  That way he’d balance the budget AND give each citizen a big fat check for $1,000.  

“I’m working on my people skills,” he says as he walks up to Ranger Smith and says point blank that he is shutting Jellystone down.  Then he whips out a book to point to the city ordinance that he was allowed to do it.  How crude.  No thought of the impact on people.  He was just going to do it to save money. 

Mayor Brown (played by Andrew Daly) reminded me so much of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during the movie.  He was one of those slick politicians who tries to be everything to everyone when the time is right.  He turned friends against each other.  

You would just have to see it and live here with it to really understand it.

If you’ve been keeping up on Wisconsin politics (and we’ve made national news since the beginning of the year), Scott Walker is so determined to pass his budget repair bill in the form that he and HIS (not mine) Republicans presented it that he has been showing signs of character flaws and poor judgment.  I understand that he wants to balance the budget and get Wisconsin out of debt.  He’s flip flopped on whether removing a Union’s “right” to collective bargaining is fiscal or not.  Originally it was, so it couldn’t be voted on without the Democrats (who vacationed in Illinois for a while) present.  Then he decided money was not involved and the Republicans voted themselves to pass it.  Changing rules to fit his needs.  Then Walker takes a phone call from an imposter investor and schemes on how he can thwart the crowds of protestors outside the Capitol. 

The whole Walker-Budget-Unions situation makes me so mad. It’s turned me off of the Republican party for one thing.  in the past, was I blind to the type of shenanagans and bogus tactics thay use or have I just started paying closer attention.  I really liked Scott Walker before, but I had no idea he was going to do this when I was elected.  I have my picture taken with him, and I helped him campaign for Governor the first time he lost.  His mother even made cookies and brought them in to the campaign office while I was stuffing envelopes. 

Well I can’t blame it all on Scott Walker.  when John McCain was running for president and he chose that dim-wit Sarah Palin, that’s when I started stepping back and slinking away from the Republicans.  I didn’t want to be associated with that.  I put my membership card in a drawer for another day when I can be proud to carry it.  I feel that I’ll use it one day….. I hope.

I’ve gotten way of track at this point.  I think it’s time to watch Yogi Bear again.   And, just as a side note, when I was a little kid I always wanted to work for the Department of Natural Resources and be a park ranger.