• Chapter 89- Hubbard Park Beer Garden (in two parts)


    Last week, we went to Hubbard Park twice and had a blast both times.   On our first adventure, we met some friends and friends of friends on a weekday and threw rocks in the water, played in mud, and watched the salmon swim up stream.


    Since it’s the end of the beer garden season, we went on a day that no beer was being served.  No matter, though, because we kept ourselves very busy with new and old friends.


    And mud.  Did I mention mud?

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    The biggest kid in our group was brave (and tall) enough to wade out to the middle of the river to check out the mysterious things we saw jumping and floundering in the river.  Our initial guesses were: a duck trapped by a rock, an otter, a beaver, and finally it was confirmed that it was just a GIANT fish swimming up stream.

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    And speaking of fish going upstream, after our weekday adventure, we came back on Saturday for the Fish & Feather Festival.


    There was live music, beer a plenty, and tables, activities and booths by The Urban Ecology Center, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Riveredge Nature Center, Trout Unlimited, and music by Sigmond Snopek (some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a while).

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    Baby S enjoyed the celery that came with my bloody mary (I didn’t know I could get one at a beer garden!  I tried one, and then switched to an Oktoberfest beer, which suited the afternoon much better).


    The kids got a pretty much hands-on viewing of a turtle from Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and had lots to say about the turtle’s diet of worms (which they got to see in action).

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    We all had a pretty good time horsing around and rolling down hills and painting pumpkins and snacking on pretzels.


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    And while uploading these photos, I realized I could dedicate a specific space to Baby S making this smiling face.

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    The river was a great source of fun for the kids, and we did a great job of getting as wet and dirty as possible.

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    Kayakers were on the river, and the kids were exited to say hi and wave to such a fun sight!

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    We had cuddles in spades that day.

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    In all, we had two wonderful trips to Hubbard Park.  The folks at the beer garden were friendly, we got to be outside and play, and now that fish fry season is coming up, we’ll have another reason to head back to Hubbard Lodge.

    Hope you’re all enjoying the fall weather, and a beer to go with it ;)

    A. Storm





  • Chapter 88- NEWaukee Night Market


    What are you doing tonight night, people?  You should work in NEWaukee’s Night Market (open from 5-10pm, and final of the season!).  Last month I went to September’s market, and had a great time.  Here’s my recap:


    My friend Kate and I arrived like 30 minutes before it shut down for the evening, but quickly ran into people we knew.  I stopped to talk with Christina Ward of Kick Out The Jams (also a contributor to Edible Milwaukee) left with a jar of grape pie filling.  What is grape pie filling, you ask?  Wait till the bottom of this post to find out.

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    Kate and friends and I walked around a little and met Michael and Laurie from Hometown Established: A General Store.  They have a newer business in the Third Ward, and sell some really delicious/hip/local/pretty/good-smelling products.  Check them out here and here!

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    We found our way to the Cedar Teeth booth, where we sampled some delicious pizza and chatted with Hannah Roland (owner and pizza maker extrodinaire).  We tasted a smashed potato pizza as well as a delicious sweet apple one.  Read Molly Snyder’s review for a professional’s point of view.  And if you can, check out their food, which you can find at Beans & Barley, Groppi’s and a few other locations around town.


    And because there’s a dancer inside of me that wants someday to get out, I quickly scarfed down my pizza in order to get to the dance party a few booths away.  And because of said need to dance, I enlisted a (very awesome) woman I had just met to join me in the middle of the dance mob.  Two DJs were spinning and I heard the likes of Lauryn Hill and Notorious B.I.G.  For a moment I didn’t feel 34 with four children at home.


    Soon after, the market closed up shop and Kate took me to the butcher shop pictured below.


    Then we walked around back to this alley.


    And made our way into a bar behind that butcher shop.  And that’s all I’ll say about the rest of the night!


    Ok, back to the grape pie filling.  Christina’s instructions included a package of Nutter Butters and an oven.  I did my best, but you guys, I’m NOT a baker.  While the color was incredible, the end product wasn’t quite as pretty.


    I didn’t bake it long enough, but pulled it out of the oven because I had to leave the house.  And then the next day when I was going to serve it to my family, I put it back in the oven because the filling was still jiggly.  I’m told that’s not traditionally how you bake a pie…baking it, then cooling it in the fridge overnight, then baking it again.  It’s no wonder that my family was politely uninterested in my creation.


    Next time I’ll do your creations justice, Christina, next time.  Or I’ll just stick to one of the many options that require no preparation other than putting it on a cracker.

    So anyway, check out Christina at a market near you.  And head to the Night Market tonight.  And keep exploring!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 87- Mitchell Boulevard Park & Story Hill BKC


    Because life is busy and I can’t manage to get my kids out of the house as often as I’d like, I made myself fit in a park/picnic date yesterday.  We found ourselves at the Mitchell Boulevard Park with hummus and cheese sandwiches on a sunny and breezy day.  The picture above is for my mother-in-law, as she pointed out to me recently that in most photos of Little A, neither of her feet are touching the ground.

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    The kids ate lunch and practiced the art of hopping on one foot while eating yogurt and holding hands.  I must say they got pretty good at it!

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    They had enough open swings for everyone who wanted to swing (rarely happens with four kids) and we promptly got everyone going as high as they could go.  I should mention that the building behind the kids is Central Greens, a place I’ve been wanting to check out for a while.  Has anyone out there done so yet?

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    Because nobody fought or peed in their pants or threw a temper tantrum, we got a special treat.  We walked across the street to Story Hill BKC to get some hot chocolate.


    (And stopped to roll down a hill on the way of course)

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    Once we got to the restaurant, I chatted with the girl behind the counter about hot chocolate prices.  She was gracious enough to work out splitting up one drink into three cups, because all I had was the change in my car.  What?  Me forget my wallet?  Never.

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    We walked back to the park to sit in the grass and enjoy (spill) our drinks.


    And then back to the playground!  Little T was perfecting her big sister skillz by taking Baby S down the slide.  I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it.  And yes, if it were my first (or second or third) kid, I probably wouldn’t have been all “sure, take the baby down a slide and I won’t even catch you guys at the bottom, I’ll just take pictures and assume you’ll be ok”.   And they were.

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    J made me some pickles and hot dogs and charged me $100.  I refused to pay $100 so we settled on $5.


    And while I was eating my imaginary pickles, Baby S decided she’s over being a baby and tried to climb up the play structure.

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    It was a great park with lots of open space to run.  Bathrooms were open and clean, and it’s proximity to hot chocolate will probably keep my kids asking to go back.

    And as a side, I’m eating breakfast at Story Hill BKC right now.  And yes I’m paying a babysitter to watch my kids while I go out for breakfast.  I had some delicious egg and green chili meal, and am enjoying the coffee I gave up for good last week.  Anyway, the food is good AND you can buy growlers of beer to go.  So yeah, pretty much a great place.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 86- The Landing (Tosa’s Beer Garden)


    This post is to remind you that the beer gardens in the Milwaukee County Parks are still open!  Raise your steins and let your kids play in the dirt/grass/rocks, and dance a bit if you time it right.


    We headed to The Landing at Hoyt Park a few weeks ago, and promptly set up shop playing in the rocks.  Theo and I got some delicious beer, and the kids ate some basic food of hot dogs and popcorn (dinner of champions, I know).  Soon after eating, The Minor Five started playing and the kids made their own dance floor.

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    After dancing, we moved over to the large grassy area to climb over Uncle Wow and catch popcorn in our mouths.


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    After getting our fill of popcorn, my kids followed the many other kids playing in the trees.  It brought me back…ducking under the branches to get to the trunk of a tree…feeling like you’re in a teepee.

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    I looked up to find this.  There were at least three kids climbing this tree!


    The sun set and mosquitos came out, so we made our way back to our gear by the band.  They were still going strong, and had the audience enjoying the beautiful night.


    By the end, we were tired and full and happy.


    Most of the beer gardens are open through the month of October, so check out the Milwaukee County Parks website to plan out your next adventure.


    A. Storm



  • Chapter 85- ROM at Anodyne Coffee Roasters & Quarters


    Alright, get ready for a slew of pictures of my kids dancing.  I took them to Anodyne Coffee Roasters to see the band ROM from Washington DC last week, and the kids were incredibly excited to see some music by the band…and to dance.  The girls really wanted to wear dresses (and arm warmers for Little T) to enhance the awesomeness of the experience.  Or really to facilitate twirling and jumping.


    We got to Anodyne and hung out in the entrance for a while, because the music was super loud.  And here’s where the dancing (jumping) began.

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    While the twins were warming up to the idea of entering the building, Little A found a lady bug and J stood outside and pretended to talk on his pretend cell phone.  As a side note, the dude lighting his cigarette behind J leaned in to tell me that I was a “cool mom” for taking my kids to a show.  Ha!

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    ROM played out their hearts and even dedicated a song to Little T.  She was more than impressed.  Someone who knows something about music wrote this review, if you’d like to get a better idea of the band.

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    We saddled up to the bar and the kids shared a fizzy juice and we proceeded to spill THREE times.  Luckily the staff at Anodyne were really gracious and not too bothered by the huge mess we made.  Thanks folks!


    And this might be my new favorite picture of the kids.


    To document that I was actually there…


    Dancing turned into break-dancing of course, and because I’ve pretty much given up on any sense of keeping things (kids) clean, I gave the ok to dance/lie/drag their bodies across/swim on the floor.

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    More dancing, more jumping.

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    And we got a picture with the band!  Now when ROM is famous and touring across the world, we can prove that we knew them from the beginning.


    And because Anodyne is such a cool venue, we took some band shots.

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    And THEN!  Later that night I headed to Quarters bar in Riverwest to see them jam out again.


    I’m no music critic, as I’ve stated before.  But when I heard ROM’s second performance of the day, I decided their music would fit really well on a soundtrack to a movie.  A movie about regular people and the heartache they experience.


    I stayed for just a few songs of the next band, Literature, which I liked as well.  And it was then that I decided I’m going to try and start my own garage band.  Because the idea of practicing something with other people on a regular basis is something I crave.

    It was a jam-packed day and my ears were ringing with punk tunes by the end of the night.  Thanks for coming to Milwaukee, guys.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part III)


    Welcome to your third and final installment of the Doors Open Milwaukee weekend!  After an easy and really enjoyable time volunteering, and an in-depth tour of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, I took Sunday to explore.


    Remember how in my first post, I told you that when I volunteered I got to meet great people, get a sneak peak at the projection room at the Public Museum, and generally have a great morning?  Well another perk of volunteering is that you get a special badge that lets you in a separate line for busy locations (see photo above).  You just have to pass by all the people waiting in the rain respectfully, and tell them that they can skip ahead next year if they volunteer too!

    Anyway, first stop was a Frank Lloyd Wright model home, and it was amazing.   The house was under 900 sq. feet, and felt much bigger.  We learned all about the lines and light and useable space.  I couldn’t take any photos of the home inside, so you’ll just have to check it out yourself to see.


    Next, we headed to the Modjeska Theater.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t open because it didn’t look like much from outside, but I was wrong.  We headed in and gave the nice volunteer our zip codes, and made our way into the theater.



    A nice gentleman was telling us all about the renovation efforts, and it was fun to imagine the potential of this community theater.  A lot of work still needs to be done, but even with paint peeling and chairs broken, you can feel the rich history and opportunity for something great.

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    Next came some poor planning, and we went to St. Stanislaus church.  We didn’t read the guide to realize that the church wasn’t open until 1pm, so we took a few photos of the outside and kept on our way…

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    …to The Milwaukee Ballet!  We got a great and thorough guided tour and learned all about the building and company.  Did you know that the floor pictured above is moveable?  The company takes it (or a replica) with them to keep their dancers’ joints safe.  I’d love to see what moving and installing a huge floor looks like!


    We were granted access to the costume room.  The costumes were amazing, people.  To see racks and racks (some hanging from the ceiling) of incredible workmanship was really great.  They rent both to and from other companies, and some of the costumes have lasted upwards of 20 years.  Not THAT’S some quality craftsmanship.

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    After the ballet, we headed to the US Bank Observation deck.  I was surprised that there was no line, so we entered the building and headed right up to the freight elevator.  After a minute of being whoosed up to the 41st floor, we headed through some sort of mechanical room to the deck.

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    I was a little surprised that most of the deck was covered by the huge US Bank signs on the outside of the building, but obviously we still got a great view of the city I call home.

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    And finally, we found our way to the Best Place at Pabst Brewery.  Parking was sort of a mess, but I swear, everyone participating in Doors Open was friendly and happy to be exploring their city so it didn’t matter.  I think at one point, my husband actually said “Wow, I’m so inspired to get involved in our city”. Way to go Doors Open/Historic Milwaukee.  I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of the event.

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    Next year I’ll do some better planning (well any planning..I didn’t plan out a single thing until we got in the car).  There were so many sites I wanted to explore, like churches, but didn’t get a chance to.  It’s worth noting that some places are open only on Saturday or Sunday of the event.  The in-depth tour was great and I wish I could have gone to see the free presentation by John Gurda at St. Josaphat’s Basilica.  So I guess what I’m saying is that next year I’ll pack in more.  And do it efficiently.

    There were a lot of people who went with their kids, and it would be great to take them to some sites.  However, I was really happy that I didn’t have my four young kids with me that day.  If I’d gone to different sites, I might not feel the same.  I met a woman recently who said she took her kids to see a graphic waterfall.  Tucked in an alley.  And the guy programming the waterfall even put her kids’ names in it.  Rad, right?

    So my last thanks to Doors Open Milwaukee, I’ll see you next year.  And I’ll recruit more volunteers (ahem, I mean YOU) and explore more of the city.

    Thanks for joining in on the adventure, everyone!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part II- In-Depth Tour at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge)


    For the second installment of my Doors Open Milwaukee weekend, I went to an in-depth tour of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, hosted by Wisconsin Foodie‘s Kyle Cherek.  This tour was one of the chances to get a guided tour of one of the sites, and I should mention that members of Historic Milwaukee get first dibs on tickets.


    I met my friend Kori, of AnalogEmporium, at Bryant’s and we were immediately brought to a different world.  The space was barely lit, the cash register was plated in gold (like most of the bar actually) and walls covered with velvet wallpaper.   There is no menu.  The idea is that you talk with your bartender about what kinds of things you like, and what mood you’re in, and they’ll match you with a drink.  I’m told that they have a 99.9% success rate.


    We ordered drinks (yes, at 3pm), and headed upstairs and found a seat right in front.  Kyle Cherek and bar owner John Dye led us through the rich history of this lounge and it’s three owners since opening in 1936.

    {intermission: I ran into John while I was attending a punk-rock show with my kids at Anodyne recently, and will fill you in on that adventure soon.  But he was a really nice and gracious dude who immediately gave me a greater sense of the integrity behind Bryant’s just because he seems like a stand up guy}

    What stuck out most to me was the dedication to authenticity.  From the time of its opening, the mission seems to be roughly the same: provide a unique place where attention to detail and the craft of making delicious cocktails are valued.  There’s no standing room at Bryant’s.  You can either sit at the bar, or at a table.  And once you do, you’re encouraged to put down your damn phone and talk to someone.


    Regulars and long-time waitresses remain a part of the picture.  Hardship and disaster arose in the stories told, but so did the notion of rebuilding and remaining true at most any cost.  This cocktail lounge isn’t there by chance.  It’s still around because of people like John who pour thought and time and energy into a place that brings people together.


    After the presentation, Kori snapped a picture of me and Kyle and then stuck around to take a few more photos of Bryant’s.


    And the intriguing thing about this painting is that there’s really  no story behind it.  Nobody knows who the woman is, and nobody knows who painted it.  But it sure is a good conversation piece.


    A special thanks to Kyle and John for sharing the stories, and to Doors Open Milwaukee (and Historic Milwaukee, Inc) for providing the tour.  Stay tuned for my next and final installment of the weekend, and remember that the easiest way to stay in the loop is to enter your email address is the “subscribe” box at the bottom of the column to the right.

    Cheers, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part I- Volunteering at Milwaukee Public Museum)


    Welcome to part one of my Doors Open Milwaukee experience…volunteering!


    As I mentioned in my original post about Doors Open, I signed up to work a 4-hour shift at one of the MANY sites open to the public for free of charge last weekend, and I was placed at The Milwaukee Public Museum.  I’d missed participating in this amazing event in years past, so I decided to volunteer so I couldn’t miss the weekend.


    And let me tell you that it was one of the most enjoyable volunteering events I’ve done.  I was paired up with a wonderful woman named Peggy (who also volunteers at the Volunteer Legal Clinic), and our task was simply to greet visitors and give them the quick rundown (all movies playing at The Dome Theater were free!) and collect zip codes for data collection.  Everyone we met was so happy to be there, and kids were excited to get their passports stamped.


    Then I asked David, the Planetarium Educator, if the Projection Room is ever open to the public (me being “the public”).  He was gracious enough to let me take a peek inside, and then Charlie the projectionist gave me a brief tour.  It was awesome!  The film reels are over 200lbs and are miles long.  To see that enormous projector was really fascinating.  I learned that it gets so hot that they have coils of cold water running around it to keep it from overheating.

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    But back to volunteering, it was so easy and I got to chat with lots of new people.   It was such a simple way to get involved AND get a badge that let me skip to the front of the line in other Doors Open sites.  More on that in the next post…

    Oh and I wanted to mention two events coming up at the Public Museum: The Sci-Fi Film Fest starts October 23 and has some great films to see in preparation for the Alien Worlds and Androids exhibit.  Check out the schedule and head on over to have your mind blown by the Dome Theater, and get details on the new exhibit.

    Thanks to everyone at the museum and my fellow volunteer Peggy for making it such an enjoyable Saturday morning!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 83- Cross The Rock (Cyclocross Bike Race)

    In cyclocross, bikers race through laps of rough terrain, steep hills, and obstacles in a timed event.  Races generally last between 30-60 minutes depending on the course, and the season runs fall through winter (making weather a huge factor in the difficulty of the event…check out last winter’s post about some below zero action!).  I think the sport started as a way for road racers to train in the off season, and has taken off in the US as an exciting and somehow extreme AND relaxed sport.  I say that because the vibe is all-out athleticism combined with an air of casual fun.  Some racers train intensely, while others are more laid-back in their approach.


    Now that you’ve got the background…In the upcoming article for Metroparent Magazine (coming out in October), I mention attending a sport as a fun thing to do with your kids this fall.  And this is our version.  On a day with “scattered thunderstorms”, I packed up my four kids and headed to watch a Cyclocross bike race at The Rock in Franklin.


    After cheering on my brother as he tagged off to his relay partner, we walked around the sports complex and course a little, watching the other racers and asking questions about why the bikers were going so fast and up hills and getting off their bikes.  But mostly, we played with rocks.


    And cheered on uncle Chris!


    And found more rocks.


    About half way through the race, the wind picked up.  Like, really picked up.

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    And before we knew it, it was downpouring.  We ran to our car and huddled inside and tried to dry off with a teeny tiny towel I just happen to have in my sweet ride.  It’s times like this I’m glad we have a minivan to more or less play in while the weather sucks.  I should mention that people KEPT RACING in this weather.  Remember the hard-core parts I described above?


    Though we didn’t tough it out to watch the rest of my brother’s race, we caught up with him afterwards.  The kids yelled things like “good job!” and “I’m cold!” and “why is it so wet outside?” to him as we drove away (to Kopp’s, because my kids were champs and deserved some custard).


    There are lots of free upcoming races that anyone is welcome to attend.  Find a spot near some obstacles so you can see the racers either master or fail the hurdles, sand/mud pits, stairs, and wood chips.  Because both falling and being extremely agile aren’t uncommon.

    And if you’re looking for a few other ideas of things to do this fall, get your hands on Metroparent’s October issue to read my article.  OR, tune in to The Morning Blend tomorrow morning at 9am to see me chat with the ladies about the article.  Wish me luck, all!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 82- East Troy Electric Railroad


    This picture is was taken after a frantic car-unloading session and mad dash to the train that was waiting on us.  I was late to meet my friends at The Elegant Farmer to catch the East Troy electric train.  You see, there’s a Bermuda Triangle that exists for me.  It’s the highway system just south of Milwaukee.  I’m generally on top of things when it comes to navigation.  Ask any of my friends, they’ll confirm that I’d be a pretty good taxi driver. But I don’t travel on 894 very often, and when I do, I apparently drive around the entire city to get to East Troy.


    But back to the adventure.  I met four friends with their seven children (that makes 5 adults and 11 children total) and we hopped on the train.  It started down the track and my kids sat wide-eyed because it was such a whirlwind getting boarded, that they didn’t really know what was happening.  I spent the 15 minutes or so that it took to get to the East Troy Depot talking with my friend Kate who I hadn’t really seen all summer (how did it fly by so quickly?!).


    When we got to the depot, we unloaded and set up shop outside on the lawn and ate each other’s packed lunches and ran around.

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    We ate cheese curds and ran some more.  We had grand plans of touring the depot, but the kids preferred to run up and down the giant grassy hills.  So unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about the depot.  Before we knew it, the train was heading back to The Elegant Farmer and we needed to try and snap a pic of all the kids.


    Good effort, at least.


    All sixteen of us got back on the train, after some confusion about purchasing tickets inside the depot while part of our crew snuck onto the train.  I’ll say that it was much more expensive than I thought it would be, but luckily for me I had most of my kids under age three which made a difference.  I guess the saving factor in the ticket price is that you can get unlimited rides all day.  We didn’t have the luxury of having much time before naps/meltdowns, so it was just the one roundtrip ride for us.


    I don’t have too many photos from the actual train ride because it was pretty hectic, as you can imagine with that many kids sharing like two seats.  rr25 rr12 rr16

    A nice gentleman attempted to bestow some knowledge upon us about the rich history and landscape, but 11 kids don’t really facilitate a good listening situation.


    When we got back to the Elegant Farmer, we decided to splurge and get a treat for the kids because they were so awesome and it was summer.  I went inside to get a few cookies while the kids played with sticks and looked for bugs and followed around the big kid of the group.

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    While I was inside, I drooled over these pies baked in a paper bag.  If you get the chance, these pies are amazing.  And their GIANT cookies aren’t bad either!

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    After saying goodbye to the next departing train, we studied some more bugs, had some serious face-to-face conversations (see second pic below) and hung out as long as we could before kids started to lose it.

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    The railroad has regularly schedule weekend trips through November 2, and offers special dining and holiday train rides as well.  We’ll pair it up with an apple or pumpkin picking adventure at the Elegant Farmer next time, and skip naps so we can spend all day riding the train.  I’m sure the conductors are looking forward to our return.

    A. Storm