A couple of years ago, Zev and I were thinking about relocating to the United States.
We were partway through the painstaking paperwork when the political climate changed, and we decided that maybe this wasn't the best time to be immigrants. As such, we shelved the plan, but it's always been in the back of our minds as a 'one day'.
One of the things that tripped us up the most about moving was where we were going to live. While Zev grew up in Philadelphia, none of his family is there, and most of his school friends have moved to other parts of the country. So we started doing some research, and the Midwest kept popping up on lists of great places to live. We thought it would definitely be worth checking out the area while we were here!
Seeing Carson and Stephanie in Milwaukee
Our first stop was Milwaukee, for a fleeting visit with Carson and Stephanie, who worked on Zev's parents' permaculture farm on Waiheke in New Zealand. We loved these guys while they were in New Zealand, and were super sad to see them heading home, so we were very excited about any opportunity to catch up. Sadly they were pretty busy while we were in the area, but we managed to squeeze in dinner with them.
We arrived in Milwaukee in the mid-afternoon, while Carson and Stephanie were still at work. At their suggestion, we spent a little time wandering the Outdoor Sculpture Gallery on Milwaukee Avenue, and detoured down the RiverWalk to check out the Bronze Fonz. We walked along the lakefront, again marvelling at how impossibly big Lake Michigan is (and wondering whether there was any possibility that Zev's wedding ring had washed up in Milwaukee...), and spent some time sitting on a park bench in Veterans Park, watching the water and a kid flying a kite.
We made our way back to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is an incredibly cool building right on the lakefront. The building is topped with what looks like two enormous cantilevered wings, which open and close with the museum, and move throughout the day to optimise the light and temperature inside. Within the building was a collection of nearly 25,000 works of art, and we spent some time wandering through, soaking it all in.
At around 4.30pm, we headed to Carson and Stephanie's house to meet their dog Esme (and see them, but mostly meet the dog). She's a beautiful and friendly rescue dog, and we hit it off straight away. With our limited time, we managed a quick dinner together at a local restaurant, and sampled the local delicacy, fried cheese curds. Back at the house, we said two sad goodbyes; one to Carson, Stephanie and Esme, and another to our trusty camping gear, that had treated us so well during this trip. We knew that we wouldn't have anyone to give it to once we made it back to New York (no one we know here has a car, so it seems unlikely they'd need a car camping set up), but Carson and Stephanie have plenty of outdoorsy friends who would make good use of our gear.
After saying goodbye, we hit the road for the hour and a half long journey to Madison. Here, we were catching up briefly with a friend of Zev's sister Anu, Kimberly, and her twin sons, Gabe and Isaac. Again, we had bad timing. We were arriving Thursday night, and they were leaving Friday morning to head to the junior club nationals for ultimate frisbee in Minneapolis. We arrived at around 9.30pm, and spent a little time catching up with them before bed.
We made sure we got up early-ish the next morning to join Kimberly on her morning neighbourhood walk. We checked out her neighbourhood, right on Lake Monona, and we fell in love with it. Everyone we walked past smiled and said good morning. It was beautiful and green, and there were dogs everywhere. People looked happy, and it was a nice place to be. She talked about cross country skiing to work in the winter... Madison needs to give her a job, because she was doing great work selling it as a place to live!
We continued our tour up to a bakery, before heading home to join Gabe and Isaac for breakfast. We even managed to squeeze in a quick throw before they packed up the car and headed off to the tournament, generously leaving us in charge of their house in their absence.
At around lunchtime, we set out to explore a little more of the neighbourhood, and went for lunch at a place called The Weary Traveller on Williamson Street (or Willy Street, as it's known locally). From there, we carried on down Willy Street until we reached the Wisconsin State Capitol Building, soaking in the atmosphere of the neighbourhoods we walked through. It was very quiet, which was nice, but apparently there's much more going on during semester time as Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
We walked home along the lake, and although it was hot, it was a beautiful day. We spent the afternoon catching up with family back home and relaxing, recovering from a fairly hectic couple of weeks of bouncing from one reunion to the next.
That evening, we struck out in search of more local fare, and found ourselves at Grampa's Pizzeria. It was delicious, and for the second time I gorged myself on brussel sprout pizza.
Farmer's Markets and frisbee
The next morning we checked out a Madison staple: the Dane County Farmer's Market. Laid out in a loop surrounding the Capitol, we wandered the stall, picking up fresh produce and some tasty looking sausages for dinner.
After dropping our goodies at home, we headed out to play some disc golf. Zev had yet again convinced me that disc golf was fun, and we even went to the store at the course and I bought a disc.
An hour later, I'd thrown it into every tree on the course, and the wheels were off. It's a stupid bloody sport, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.
Still willing to get back on the disc sport bandwagon, I agreed to go to pick up shortly after. At least ultimate was a sport I knew how to play. After some slight mishaps with the GPS, we found our way to the park and joined in with the friendly locals for a very casual game. Most of the people we met there were from out of town, had just moved to Madison, or were back home on holiday, but we had fun anyway.
We spent the evening back at the house, cooking up our farmers market treats (Zev cooked, I ate). It was nice to have access to a kitchen again, and to take a bit of a breather from catching up with people left, right and centre.
In the morning, we packed up the car to head back East, with both Milwaukee and Madison holding firm spots in our minds as possible future homes.
Lots of love,
S & Z