Day 3: St. Charles, Ill. – Milwaukee – Appleton, Wisconsin

So today we made our way up the Fox River Valley to the next stop of our vacation, and that is the EAA AirVenture going on in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is the second time that I have been to Oshkosh for this event; my first visit was in 1984, just after my 16th birthday, with Grandpa Country and my dad. I'll probably write more about that connection tomorrow.

Staying true to our plan, we tried to take the non-freeway route as much as possible while keeping the adventure to a reasonable timeframe. Our first stop was at Starbucks in Crystal Lake, Ill. for a little caffeine jolt in the way of the unsweetened, shaken iced green tea that we are fond of. From there, we crossed into America's Dairyland and found ourselves in Milwaukee.

I have to admit that I watched for the "Welcome Milwaukee Visitors" sign on the tower that one would see during the beginning credits of Laverne and Shirley, but we never found it. While I navigated city streets, Earl Yelped our way to Lulu's Cafe in the Bayview area of the city. The atmosphere was right up our alley with the high ceilings and the exposed brick walls in this repurposed building along a fairly busy street in the area. With Lulu's Cafe we added the "avoid chain restaurants" option to the vacation. Let's see how long that holds.

Though AirVenture is taking place in Oshkosh, we are staying in nearby Appleton, Wis. until Monday, and to get there, we decided to go around the opposite side of Lake Winnebago. It was a pretty drive that was reminiscent of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York.

Once we were beyond the drama of our hotel reservation (see the blog entry entitled Travelocity — grrrrrr in a bad way), we drove down to Oshkosh to see where we had to be tomorrow morning and then to enjoy the downtown area which had a fairly artsy vibe going on. There was a lot of music in the area and quite a few people enjoying the various taverns and the like.

Reacquainted with Oshkosh, we headed back to Appleton, where we decided to try the local theatre chain and saw "The Way Way Back" (highly recommended).

Overall the trip has been a smashing success and we are just getting started. I am definitely feeling relaxed.