After our China trip we only had about a week before we left for our US home leave visit. For me it was a month-long trip while Sandy had to stay ten extra days for a review in San Diego. For Shannon it was her move back to the US. The week before she left Singapore I mailed three boxes back to the US for her. She fit everything else she was taking back in two large suitcases. At least she didn't have to worry about furniture. Pretty efficient for a major move although I did discover when I got back to Singapore that there was quite a bit of stuff like books, posters and CD's that she didn't want anymore left in her room.
We flew to Madison via Hong Kong and Denver. I stayed just one night at my in-laws. It was good to see Laney again. Then the next morning I caught the bus to Milwaukee to meet up with Mickey. A few days before I94 had been closed because of flooding but it was open again. Mickey was flying in the same day from Boise and we were both going to stay at my parents house.
Usually the bus between Madison and Milwaukee works pretty well. It leaves every few hours, is comfortable and is not too expensive. I can just sit and read for the hour and a half or so it takes. But this time about 15 minutes out of Madison the bus just quit. And the driver could not get it to start up again. Normally this would have been a real hassle. They would have to call another driver. He would have to go pick up another bus and then come and get us. I suspect it would take a couple of hours. Luckily Saturday morning is usually busy so they were running two buses instead of one. There second bus was right behind us. When ours quit it pulled off behind us. Everyone from our bus transfered to the other bus. We ended up with a lot of people standing or sitting in the aisle but we did get to Milwaukee only twenty minutes late. Now I know how boat people feel. But hey, we got there.
My dad and I went to pick up Mickey at the airport. It was easy to spot him getting off the plane. I think he was the tallest person on it. Each time I see him he seems to be taller. He isn't quite as tall as his brother yet but he certainly has me beat.
The next day was the last day the Brewers were in town before a long road trip so it was our only chance to go to a game at Miller Park. Sandy and Shannon drove from Madison to meet up with Mickey, my dad and me to go to the game. They played the Orioles and it started out very badly. The bad guys got two runs in the first inning on a couple of hits and an error. But they only got one more for the rest of the game. Meanwhile the Brewers came from behind on four home runs - by Corey Hart, Bill Hall and two by Prince Fielder. So it was an exciting game.
It got even more exciting after the game. The ladies stopped to visit the ladies room which of course was quite crowded right after the game ended. My dad didn't want to wait for us since he was afraid he would walk too slowly for us, so he decided to start for the car by himself. I advised against splitting up in the crowd but he went for it anyway. Well when the rest of us finally got to the exit it was pouring rain about as hard as I have ever seen in my life. And living in Singapore I see some pretty good tropical downpours. But since we couldn't find my dad waiting near the exit we were afraid that he was standing out by the car in the rain. I had the car keys. Mickey did volunteer to run out to let him in but we decided not to split up. So all of us ran out to the car through the rain. By the time we got there I don't think I could have gotten wetter by jumping into a swimming pool. And he wasn't there. About fifteen minutes later it stopped raining and Mickey went out and found him. He had been half way to the car when the rain started so he had ducked into a nearby bus shelter. So at least one of us was dry. When he finally got to the car we told him how glad we were to see him.
Sandy and Shannon stopped by my parents house to try some Ned's pizza for dinner. They were planning to stay overnight in Milwaukee and leave early the next morning for Purdue University. They were checking out Purdue, along with Butler University the following day, as possible colleges for Shannon next year after she finishes high school. But that meant that they had their suitcases with them. They were able to change into dry clothes as soon as we got to my parents' house. So none of us had to have dinner in soaking wet clothes.
They both really liked Ned's pizza. As always, food is an important part of a visit to Milwaukee for Mickey and me. In the week that we were there we had Ned's pizza twice and Polish Spaghetti three times for dinner. And for lunch we were able to hit Noodles and Company and George Webb twice as well as bratwurst at Miller Park. The only spot we missed was Barbierie's.
Mickey had graduated from high school a few weeks before. Now he only had a few weeks before he went into the army. So he was enjoying his freedom. We had a pretty relaxed week. One day we spent shopping for a new laptop that was his graduation present. The one he got was very nice - made mine look pretty old and crummy. (Technology envy? Moi?) We checked out the one game store that I found in Milwaukee although their wargames were pretty limited. One day we went to the UWM campus - my old alma mater. It was a nice day and we drove along Lake Shore Drive. It looked really pretty. And the campus looked nice as well. We went to the bookstore in the student union (which Mickey noticed was a LOT bigger than the SUB at BSU). We both got UWM tshirts. I even found a UWM Hockey tshirt. Of course we hit the mall at Southridge and checked out the local bookstores too.
A lot of the time we just stayed at my parents house and visited with everyone there. Lorri and Keith were over a lot. And we got to see all the Brewer games that week on tv. Mickey even went to Oconomowoc to visit his aunt and uncle overnight.
Our last big event at the end of the week was to go to Summerfest. I hadn't been there for twenty years and it has really grown. It now claims to be the largest music festival in the world (certified by the Guiness Book of World Records) and attracts a million people. It lasts for eleven days and every single night they had a big name band. And they had lots of other smaller stages with some pretty well known bands too. The concert that we wanted to see was Rush. They have been a favorite of mine since the early eighties. I saw them twice before in Boise, once in 1982 and again in 1997. The second time Tim and Mickey came along. Mickey was only six and since the concert went late he fell asleep towards the end. I was impressed - sleeping through a rock concert is not easy!
It wasn't looking good on the afternoon of the concert. A really nasty thunderstorm came through Milwaukee about 4:00. We were planning to go early and listen to some other music, but the rain didn't stop until about 5:30. We still got there in time to wander around the grounds, and of course get our Rush tshirts, before the concert started. It sprinkled lightly for about three minutes just before the music started, but after that it cleared up and was a beautiful evening. The concert was great. Mickey especially enjoyed watching the crowd. Rush draws a lot of "older folks" and he thought it was hilarious to see a lot of old people jumping up and down and dancing around. One fifty-something guy was standing on his seat and doing air guitar for over two hours (no, it wasn't me). At least there wasn't a mosh pit. I did really enjoy the concert. And afterwards we stopped by and listened to the end of Flobots, a new band that Mickey really likes and a little bit of Sevendust. After going to Summerfest I think Mickey was ready to move to Milwaukee.
I usually don't worry about checking in online ahead of time but my dad decided to do it for Mickey. Good thing he did as his flight was cancelled. I suspect that is going to happen more now as the airlines are in financial trouble and don't want to fly if the plane isn't full. He did get rescheduled and we both got a ride to the airport. He caught his flight back to Boise and I caught a bus to Madison. We were going to meet up again a week later when Sandy, Shannon and I went to Boise for a visit.