Wednesday, June 01, 2016

10 Years of Blogging: Middle Aged Road Trips

This year marks my tenth year as a blogger, and I've been going through the 30,000+ posts to highlight a few of my favorites over the years. In 2011 I went on a road trip with a few of my middle-aged buddies, and wrote about it for Shore Magazine. This is that article...

Regular readers may remember a column I wrote a few years ago, about a middle aged road trip to Memphis with my college buddies. We enjoyed that experience so much, we decided to do another middle aged road trip last weekend.

The excuse: Our buddy Dane's 50th birthday. Destination: Milwaukee. Number of intrepid middle-aged road trippers: 6. Cast of characters: Dane, Rick, Mike, Scott, Jeff and Dave.

It went a little something like this...

*When Dave sent out the itinerary for the weekend, he estimated pick up time for Rick at 4:42 PM. The car arrived four minutes early, but only because it left four minutes early.

*When we checked into our hotel in Milwaukee, the clerk surveyed the giddy expressions on our faces and asked: "Weekend with the guys?"

*We gathered in the lobby after freshening up, and noticed that Dave was wearing a sweater that Bill Cosby wouldn't have worn. Imagine that "The Grimace" had his chest cut out and shaped into a sweater.

*Rick was hoping to hear some authentic Milwaukee German accents. Sure enough, the waiter and waitress at the two German restaurants we visited both had authentic accents. Unfortunately, the accent at Mader's was Australian, and the one at the Hofbrauhaus was Russian.

*Dane had his heart set on an authentic Wisconsin fish fry, and we went to a great one. But he probably wasn't thrilled when his "friends" had the German oompah band sing "Happy Birthday" to him, and wish him a happy 60th. He wasn't exactly thrilled when nobody said "Wait a minute, you can't possibly be 60."

*We knew we were really in Wisconsin at the fish fry when we heard our first "Cripes!" of the weekend.

*Dave was so offended that the rest of us were giving him such a hard time about his sweater, he asked a woman at Mader's what she thought. Her response: "Did someone make that for you?"

*Every pig in Wisconsin was on alert all weekend. Scott ordered a sausage platter at every stop. The rest of us helped him eat it, but only out of concern for his health.

*At one neighborhood tavern we decided it would be fun to scrounge up birthday kisses for Dane. The plan was immediately scrapped when the first two women we saw had mustaches.

*One of our final stops of the first night was Lucille's piano bar not too far from our hotel. Rick and Mike couldn't stop watching the guy in the front row that looked like Kid Rock. This flannel-wearing long-haired trucker was fighting back tears during a Billy Joel medley.

*The pianists also serenaded Dane for his *ahem* 60th birthday. Of course, since it was a piano bar, they made Dane get up on stage as they sang to him. They rewrote the lyrics to "The Sounds of Silence." The first words were; "Hello Penis, my old friend..."

*Back at the hotel bar, Rick and Jeff ordered a scotch for what they thought would be a nightcap. Instead, what they were served was more like a nightsombrero; filled with enough scotch to kill Braveheart. Of course, even Braveheart would have been smart enough not to drink all of it.

*Dave and Scott started making small talk with the people sitting at the bar, and discovered we were hanging out with the entire crew from the Monster Truck show. They were very friendly. Before long they had offered to run over Dave's sweater with a Monster Truck--free of charge.

*It wasn't until someone mentioned it was 2 am, that the intrepid road trippers finally hit the sack. Of course, at 10 am breakfast, we were no longer intrepid--we were decrepit. If Snow White was there, she would have called us "foggy", "slurry", "pukey", "gassy", "chunky" and "maybe I really am 60."

*Breakfast was eaten in almost complete silence. A few were not feeling well enough to eat. Scott ordered sausage. Dave broke the silence with a monologue featuring vivid descriptions of his bowel movements.

*At the end of breakfast, Dane asked what everybody wanted to do. The consensus was clear: Naptime.

*Dave and Scott really wanted to go to the casino after our naps, so we agreed to go for two hours maximum. While Dave and Scott sat at the poker table,  Dane found a $10 slot machine, inserted his twenty, pressed the button twice, won $100, and called it a day. (Happy 60th birthday!)

*Interesting loophole in Wisconsin law: it's illegal to smoke inside a bar or restaurant, but it's legal to smoke inside a Native American casino. We were all outraged (outraged!) at the politically incorrect joke about the reason for this loophole ("So the casino owners could send smoke signals").

*On Saturday night we went to a Packers bar to watch the Packers playoff game against the Falcons. Jeff ordered brat shots. You read that right. Brat shots. Shot glasses filled with sliced bratwurst.

*Dave made the mistake of telling one of the drunks at the next table that we were from Chicago. The drunk (then drunker, then drunkest) Packer fan spent the rest of the night coming over to our table, putting his arm around one of us, and saying "I tell you what, that Packers-Bears game is gonna be somethin'"

*On the opening kickoff, one of the Packers fans actually screamed: "SPEAR HIM!"

*The drunks at the table next to us knocked over their entire table, not once, but twice; providing a refreshing beer bath to the tables around them.

*The bar owner was feeling generous. He said there would be free shots to everyone in the house for every Packers touchdown. The Packers scored SIX touchdowns. The unidentified green and/or yellow shots may have provided a helping hand in the table knockdowns.

*After the sixth free Packer shot was passed out, we left the bar before our Packer friend passed out on us. The intrepid road trippers were back at the hotel by 10:30.

*There was a wedding in our hotel that night and one of the wedding guests rode up the elevator with us. He said: "How about that football game, huh?" Dave said, "Actually we're from Chicago." The guest said: "So am I. F*** the Packers."

*The last morning we met for breakfast again. This time, after a good night's sleep, we were almost back to normal. Jeff looked at the menu and said: "I don't think I've had a vegetable since Friday."

*The Packer hype was already reaching a fever pitch. The Milwaukee Sentinel sports headline screamed: "You want a piece of this?" The name of the writer that wrote that column? I kid you not: Mike Hunt. Look it up.

*We stopped at the Brat Stop in Kenosha on the way back to Chicago to watch the Bears-Seahawks game. How does one describe the Brat Stop? Maybe this will help paint a picture. Someone had already "lost their lunch" in a urinal, and it was noon. Mind you, this urinal was two feet away from a sink, and five feet away from an actual toilet, and someone was so loaded they lost it in the urinal. That, my friends, is the Brat Stop.

*Scott ordered the sausage sampler platter, then upon discovering how tasty one of the sausages was, ordered more sausage. One for the (burp) road.

*When we got back to Chicago we all immediately checked into rehab. We should be out in time for the Bears-Packers game on Sunday. "I tell you what, that Bears-Packers game is gonna be somethin'"