Monday, August 07, 2006

The Cream City

Which is evidently Milwaukee. How about that. Having lived in Chicago for one year, I finally got up and went somewhere else (that isn't Pittsburgh). I've been kind of limited on that front by two complications. The first is that I don't have a car. Living in Chicago, I don't actually need one, as the CTA runs everywhere that I've needed to go in the first year of living here, however slowly it does it. The second, of course, is that there aren't many places I'd want to go in the Midwest. Perhaps that will change and Des Moines will become impossible to resist. The trip to Milwaukee allowed me to try out Megabus, which takes the same amount of time as an Amtrak train but at one quarter of the price. The catch, it seems, is that while Amtrak trains depart Chicago at Union station at defined points and are affiliated with a truckload of information personnel who will gladly point you to the proper platform, Megabus shows up on Jackson Street with no sign to indicate that it's going to do so. Fortunately, if you just walk around Union Station long enough, you catch on to the fact that the forty-ish people standing outside against the wall are seasoned Megabus veterans (or were bright enough to click on the link that explains precisely where the bus actually shows up) are waiting for exactly the same big blue vehicle that goes to Milwaukee (or Cincinnati, Minneapolis and St. Louis, among others.)

Following the erratic boarding procedure (more commonly known as shoving one's way the hell on to the bus) and the two hour trip (much of which was spent trying to stay awake long enough to finish this damned Fountainhead thing), I arrived at the beautiful Milwaukee Amtrak station, complete with some seats, a vending machine and lots and lots of construction. I eventually found Internet Person #1 (Heidi, a forum member and moderator at Rum and Monkey,) who was heading out to try to meet Internet Person #2 and had offered a ride.

Problematically, Internet Person #2 had not actually gotten around to contacting either of us with the address at which he was staying in Eagle, WI (which is evidently a town containing a village by the same name, according to Wikipedia), leaving us to look for a "trailer" (which turned out to be an actual trailer, not a trailer home, which was in the driveway of a very nice residence) or happening upon a bearded Australian man either on a motorcycle or holding a kitten. As those were the only things we knew him to do.

Oh yes. IP2 (Gregor) is Australian, in the States initially for covering the World Series of Poker for ZOO Weekly Australia, which appears to be analogous to, say, FHM or Maxim, so beware that that link is probably NSFW. He's also the Gregor of this link that's been on the side of my blog for ages. This all complicated things, as you can't just dial an Australian number on a Verizon cell phone. You need to buy a phone card. So Gregor, if you read this, you owe us each $5.

Following the trip out, a genuinely weird experience of hanging out with people I know from a forum who were both actually very cool people, eating a delicious dip provided by Gregor's sister (who lives in Eagle, which explains why one would go to Wisconsin after spending one's time in Vegas for a few days), being attacked by bees, learning how to perform a tracheotomy on Gregor should he be stung by the bees and heading home in the early evening as the last mode of transportation that goes from Milwaukee to Chicago does so at 7:30pm. However, finding out that the trip is this simple, I now have no excuse not to make it to a Brewers game.

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