Sweet Summertime in the USA

It’s been a hot minute since I have posted, I know.  Unfortunately, part of the reason is that I haven’t been traveling a ton since I posted last….at least not my “normal” traveling.  Since February {2017}, I’ve done a solo trip to Toulouse and Carcassonne, France (more about that soon!), some trips within the UK, and the fam and I spent a few weeks in the states visiting family during the summer.  [Clearly, it has been awhile since I even wrote this post– since I’ve written this, we have done some more traveling, which I PROMISE I will play catch up soon!]

For now, I just want to introduce you to some sweet things to do and places to go in the cities we visited in the states.

We were a bit nervous to fly back to the states, as this was the first time we had been back since we’ve had kids.  Luckily, they did amazing on every flight and even in the car—and let me tell you, we spend a lot of time in planes and cars!  We flew into Baltimore from London, then had a quick layover before making our way to Chicago.  B’s family is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so we were planning on renting a car in Chicago and driving up because it was cheaper.  Lucky for us, I have several really good friends in Chicago, one of whom invited us to stay the night since we got in in the evening.  It worked out perfectly–she picked us up from the airport and we ate pizza, drank some beers, and caught up–one of my other friends joined us as well.  We even got to see some fireworks from where she lives!  It was a really fantastic way to start off our extensive travel adventure, especially after spending 7+ hours on planes!  The following morning we had a delicious breakfast and wandered around Millennium Park for a bit, even taking a few touristy photos in “the bean“.  The park is gorgeous and had some super awesome playgrounds for the kiddos.  We were so not prepared for the American summer heat.  In the UK it rarely gets above 75 degrees, so we were dripping sweat in late June!  After a brief car rental fiasco, we picked up a car and got on the road.

We drove about an hour and a half to B’s mom’s house in Milwaukee.  This was my first time visiting Milwaukee (and Wisconsin in general).  It was a wonderful visit; we got to spend lots of time with family and everyone was super excited to see/meet the kiddos.  Some of our highlights included frozen custard at both Leon’s and Kopp’s (had to cool ourselves down in the midwest heat!), Summerfest, Lakefront Brewery, flying kites at the Bradford Beach/Veteran’s park area, and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.

After our time in Milwaukee, we drove to Port Clinton, where my parents have a cottage up on Lake Erie.  We stayed there for the Fourth of July weekend, enjoying too much good food, too many cold beverages, and had way too much fun on the boat and with family.  It was so nice to not have to be in and out of the car nonstop.  Benjamin loved the boat and even took a several rides on the wave runner with me and my dad!  [By the way, if you are ever in that area, GO TO CEDAR POINT….the BEST. AMUSEMENT. PARK. EVER. for reals.]  After the holiday weekend, we made our way down to my parent’s house and sister’s house (both just outside of Columbus), where we spent our last week in the states.  Again, it was so nice to see family (and meet my nephew, Lincoln!).  We had lots of fun visiting the Columbus Zoo, COSI, and just relaxing out in the country.  The zoo is one of the best in the country–and it did not disappoint the day we went!  Even though we were only there for a short time, we saw giraffes munching their lunch, brown bears wrestling, polar bears swimming, and a cheetah run.  My sister has a family pass and is able to bring guests, so it was a fabulous few free hours before a huge storm rolled in.  COSI is also amazing– it is basically an interactive science museum, perfect for kiddos.  We spent quite awhile there and I’m not even sure we saw everything!!  I loved this place as a child, and it has only gotten even more amazing!  I actually just purchased a membership for my sister for Christmas!

While I miss my family dearly, I honestly did not feel much of a pull to the states–it didn’t feel like “home” anymore.  In fact, it was a little overwhelming at times.  I felt like there were so many lights, sounds, and things going on all the time.  It was like sensory overload.  Where we live in the UK, most things are shut down in the evening, and I had forgotten that much of the US runs on 24/7 time.  I think my favorite parts about the visit (other than seeing people, of course) were eating alllllllll of the amazing food and going to Target {and spending a small fortune}.  Target was even overwhelming though–I felt like a kid in a candy shop for the first time, there were so many options and brands and items and…I could just go on and on!

Anyway.  It’s safe to say that, while we certainly enjoyed our time in the states, we were all eager to get back to our home and get back on a schedule.  Flying back to the UK went seamlessly; we had a flight from Columbus to Baltimore, then on to London.  There is a pretty good USO in Baltimore, so we spent a good deal of time there during our layover.