October 11, 2015

Green Bay's Un-Frozen Tundra

**Disclaimer** We are not Green Bay Packers fans, but rather enjoy the NFL. I'm a long time 49ers fan even through the lean years, which currently seems to be the trend. Heck, the Packers just beat the 49ers in San Francisco!!
Perfect day for football.
I enjoy the history of the game and found out last year that a co-worker's dad has season tickets to Lambeau Field and doesn't go to all the games anymore. I asked if we could buy a pair of tickets for this year to check out one of the hallowed venues in the sport. We didn't care who they were playing. As it turned out the week of Oct. 11th was available against the St. Louis Rams. Well, I've had no problem rooting against the Rams for years, so this would be easy to become a Green Bay fan for a day!

My old college roommate relocated back to Wisconsin many years ago, so this would also be a great opportunity to catch up while in the Milwaukee area.

The flight into MKE looked great for standby travel, so we made our bookings. First class was open too, so why not list on that as well. At the airport we were getting hungry and I verified that food was served on the 3+ hour flight in 1st. Unfortunately, 20 minutes prior to boarding a couple of passengers upgraded their tickets and left only 1 seat available in 1st...of course K snagged it!! At least I had an exit row. One granola bar and a handful of Reese's Pieces later I was rather hungry when we landed in MKE. It was going on 1am and it's a small airport, but thank goodness they have a 24hr Quizno's in the airport!! Refueled, we grabbed a shuttle over to the hotel for the night.

The next morning I came back to the airport to pick up the rental car from Thrifty. There were a few families all decked out in Packers gear roaming the airport. I could already feel the vibe for the game. In line for the rental car, there were two guys ahead of us trying to get upgrades. Nothing was available for them and I heard one say 'money isn't an issue', to which the response was 'sorry young man, I don't know what to tell you'. Eventually, they finished their transactions and moved on. The family behind me noted that the two guys were current Green Bay Packers players, Eddie Lacy & Randall Cobb - starting running back & wide receiver!! Funny to see them in the Thrifty rental line in the first place.

Rental car in hand we made our way out of town to meet up with my ol buddy, Korry. I hadn't seen him since '99 on a Whistler ski trip!! It was great seeing him and meeting his family. He took us over to a local hangout, Bilda's Friess Lake Pub, what a cool place. Tons of sports memorabilia, draft brews and local's beer mugs hanging on the wall. I grabbed a Karmeliten Bavarian Monk Dunkel that I rather enjoyed.
Older, wiser and less hair!!
We bid Korry adieu and made our way back to Milwaukee to retrieve a forgotten jacket!! Korry recommended we check out Lakefront Brewery downtown. After taking a peek at their website it seemed like a fun place to be. Tours were very popular and highly recommended to be reserved well in advance. We didn't have that option, so we'd at least go and have a beer or two.

The place was hopping!! I mentioned to the host that we had only heard of them 2 hours prior and were from Arizona. He asked how many were in our group. Two. He then told us 'it was our lucky day' as they only had two wristbands left for the upcoming tour in five minutes. Score! We were told to quickly grab a beer and join our group for the overview tour. We were liking this already.
The giant beer mug from County Stadium, the old home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The tour was fast-paced since it was the overview version, but full of wit from our guide and many tipsy Cubs fans!! They even had a small bar setup during the tour for a refill and more sampling!! Gotta love that.
The rest of the outfield structure from County Stadium.
Packaging area.
Sing-a-long to the Laverne & Shirley theme!
Enjoying the suds & warm weather on the bank of the Milwaukee River.
The cheese curds & garlic ranch dressing were outstanding!
Three Stooges tribute.
Some history of the Stooges artwork.
We checked in to our next hotel a little closer to Green Bay. After a good nights rest we made the couple hour drive north up I-43 to the game, catching a few glimpses of Lake Michigan along the way.

Traffic into town wasn't too bad, we found a $10 lot a few blocks from the stadium and walked up Oneida St. taking in the scene. There are neighborhoods right next to Lambeau Field, each one decked out in Packers paraphernalia, not to mention each house allowing folks to park in their yard for the game. It had almost a college atmosphere to it, super cool.
Lambeau Field from Oneida St.
Tail-gating bar.
Steady stream of fans going inside.
Tons of NFL history here, that's why it's referred to as Titletown.
No Packers gear, but we have yellow shirts!
Beautiful brick facade.
I don't think there's a bad seat in the house.
Renovated skyboxes.
Aaron Rodgers intro.
Long way to travel for a game.

First play of the game.
Wisconsin marching band entertaining the crowd.
And just like that, the Packers win!!
University of Wisconsin marching band performing during the 5th quarter. tons of people hung around inside the stadium for at least 30 minutes after the game.
 We really wish more NFL experiences could be like this. Sure, there were a few Rams fans in the crowd, that's to be expected for any visiting team. We didn't see one fight, no drunken fools, etc. Just people out enjoying a game, having a few brews and soaking up the unseasonably warm mid-October weather. We'd like to take credit for that, it was 80º during the game!! (*A week later, the home game barely reached 50º!!) Part of me would like to experience a frigid frozen tundra kind of game, but I don't think I have enough cold weather gear!

Afterwards, we walked around the rest of the stadium checking things out before heading back to the car.
Just a few of the Legends.
Vince Lombardi standing watch.
Curly Lambeau.

Fans can do their own Lambeau Leap.

Thanks, Lambeau. It was fantastic.
K & her minions.
We needed to find a place for dinner and a brew. A quick consult of the Google brought us over to Titletown Brewing, the 45 minute wait to get in was perfect. It gave us time to go across the street to the brewery for a rooftop toast.

The restaurant portion of the brewery is in the historic depot building.

Time for suds.
From the rooftop, Green Bay is visible under the I-43 bridge.
Depot from the brewery rooftop.
Bratwurst wrapped in bacon!!
Our weekend came to a close after dinner. One final night in Wisconsin then we were plane bound back to the desert early Monday morning. Such a good time, perhaps this will get us going on our NFL stadium tour.

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