Midwest Delights: Lambeau Field, Chicago and (southern) Michigan

Rob and I departed Conover for Green Bay on a warm, sunny Sunday for the Seahawks vs. Packers game. Our plan was to hit a library to print the standing room only tickets that we acquired on Craigslist, then hit the Northwest Packer Backer and family friend’s extended family’s tailgate before the game itself. Turns of the library was closed so we had to find a Kinko’s before picking up some tailgate supplies (more kringle and squeaky cheese curds).

Lambeau field is really close to a bunch of neighborhoods and the NW Packer Baker/San Diego Packer Backer tailgate was located in one of them. Since it was 7 hours until kickoff, parking was plentiful and folks were getting ready for gameday. Tailgates were kicking up in a nearby parking lot. Since we were early, we wandered through the early tailgates drawn to the large waving 12 flag in the enormous parking lot. A number of other Seattle fans had flown in for the game and we had a couple beers with them before heading to the first tailgate.

The NW Packer Backers are the Puget Sound area Packer supporters group. A large number of them (and their assorted Seahawks fan relatives and friends) came out for the game. Our kind hosts had cooked up a bunch of brats and a crockpot full of cheese and procured 2 kegs. We had fun meeting other fans in town for the game including a couple that had picked up a car in the midwest and were about to drive back to Seattle. A local news crew showed up to film the NW Packer fans that turned up for the game.

Checkout the film crew in the background. The lady in yellow interviewed a number of fans.

Checkout the film crew in the background. The lady in yellow interviewed a number of fans.

Some nice tailgaters lent us some cheese gear.

Some nice tailgaters lent us some cheese gear.

After crashing in the driveway of the very nice tailgaters we met, Rob and I woke up early Monday morning to go tour Lambeau field. It was neat to walk through the Packers’ tunnel and see the opponents tunnel (less than half the width). The tour concluded with a loud “GO PACK GO! from the group. I also got a chance to take some daytime “Lambeau leap” statue photos. Some British tourists even had me pose for their photos because they wanted a real fan in them.

Then we drove on to Milwaukee to stop at Amanda’s family’s favorite burger/custard place growing up – Kopp’s. YUM! Just as good as I remembered. The local cops stopped by Kopp’s for their lunches while we were there.

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Next, we swung by Miller for their free factory tour. It took forever – a full 1 hour before we got beer (After a rousing chorus of “Miller Time”). Then when we did, the beer left something to be desired. As Rob put it, “Only Miller could put on a beer tasting where the best beer was Miller Lite.”

Miller T-shirt for sale. They did not sell a version with the roles reversed. 😦

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Rob tried on a new accessory at the Miller store.

Running short on time to make it to Chicago for dinner with my cousins (my cousin Connor’s 7th birthday), we decided to grab Kringle in Racine, drive by the house I grew up in then visit the Jelly Belly warehouse. The exit to my old house was under construction and super congested so we skipped that in favor of sugar. We grabbed two Kringles at O&H (birthday and Wisconsin flavors-the Wisconsin is way better) then made it to Jelly Belly for the last tour of the day. The Jelly Belly tour was an extremely uninspiring train ride around a factory with videos shown intermittently. Earlier, I had joked to Rob that this tour couldn’t possibly end with a yell, but it did. A shout of “Jelly Belly” was requested. At least we got free jelly beans out of the deal and were able to buy a bunch of more jelly bean mix bags and candy corn. The drive to Chicago took an hour longer than expected, but we finally made it to dinner.

We had a great time with my family celebrating Connor turning 7, heard all about American Ninja Warrior (with demonstrations) and Pokemon and played some competitive cards. The next day, we got a 24 hour Divvy bike pass and cycled the Lakeshore path stopping at the zoo, Navy Pier and Millennium Park. The sculptures were pretty neat and the zoo was way better than we expected for a free zoo.

Our friend, David, is finishing his doctorate at Northwestern, so we met up with him for beers after work. Then his fiancee, Daphne, joined us for a roast chicken dinner at a Peruvian restaurant . We stayed with them and their incredibly gregarious cat, Mystery, that night. We were re-introduced to Mario Party for the Wii and introduced to a game where you slice different objects. David bested us all in the slicing tournament.

The next morning, we left for Niagara falls via Michigan. Texting our Michigan friends for ideas, we decided on Steffen’s advice to stop at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo for some excellent brews. By the time we finished those, we realized that we wouldn’t be into Detroit until 5 pm, thus missing the Ford factory tour. We had already missed the Harley Davidson factory tour in Milwaukee, so we decided to stay overnight in Detroit area. Our friend, Mark’s family lives in Romeo, so we were able to crash at their house for a night.

We set off bright and early for the Ford factory tour. Unfortunately, you couldn’t see how all the different parts are made, but you did see the final assembly for a good deal of the F-150 truck. After that, we drove around Detroit looking at street art including the Z parking garage in downtown, saw some famous fist sculpture, purchased chips from the factory outlet that was like getting money at the bank, and got some Coney dogs.

Art in the Z parking garage in Detroit. The nerve of folks blocking the art with their parked cars.

Art in the Z parking garage in Detroit. The nerve of folks blocking the art with their parked cars.

Getting coneys are Kerby's diner in Detroit.

Getting coneys are Kerby’s diner in Detroit.

Finally, we crossed into Canada via Port Huron heading for Niagara Falls.

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