Route 66: Chicago-ish, IL to Milwaukee, WI
Day 9 – 2575 Miles from Home
??, IL to MILWAUKEE, WI – 66 Miles
We made it to our final destination! Milwaukee Wisconsin! There’s something kinda cool about rolling into Harley’s founding town on a Harley-Davidson.
Since we ended up just 40 miles outside of Milwaukee the night before in whatever town we stayed in, we decided to take the scenic route along the lake into town instead of the Interstate. 66 miles (yes 66…) that took us five hours.
First, I googled “good breakfast restaurants” and found a place just two miles from our hotel… but the wait was WAY too long. No worries. We’d find breakfast along the way. I did get to see this lovely ’49 Ford and met a nice couple who confirmed our decision to take the lake road and also told us to eat at AJ Bombers in Milwaukee (the guy complemented our Sportsters and said he rode his Sportster to Sturgis… Go Sportsters!).
Highway 32 in Wisconsin is much like route 66, a scenic two-laner that cuts through historic neighborhoods. Instead of searching out the brown signs to keep us on path we kept a lookout for the black and white 32 as we navigated our way around the lake into downtown.
So what took us so long to go so few miles?
Still in search of breakfast, we turned off into a cool old downtown (which we later figured out was Kenosha). When I passed Franks Diner on the left, I knew it was the place for us. Kind of dive-ish on the outside but clearly packed and very quirky.
When we joined the line waiting to go up the steps a guy came out and started yelling for us to come inside and move to the back of the car. Yes… It was an old train car, pulled to this spot in 1926 by horses! The specialty of this restaurant? Abuse. Entertaining as hell and such a cool environment.
We hit the road again and a short bit later, the sky opened up and dumped bucket loads of rain, so we pulled off at a pretty seedy pay-inside-only gas station and waited it out. Mind you, we don’t mind riding in the rain, but our boots had finally dried out from the previous deluge and neither of us liked the idea of sightseeing around Milwaukee in wet boots.
When it calmed a bit, we got back out there, but it started again in earnest so we took cover again and met a super nice guy at the pumps who works in the design department at Harley-Davidson. We chatted it up with him until the downpour reduced to a sprinkle then got moving and had no more big rain the rest of the way, although the sky remained dark.
Another slow factor? Speed limit! Much of 32 is a 35 MPH road, and considering we had a cop behind us for miles, we behaved, but even at the slow pace, the route was worth it. The landscape along the lake is lovely and we like seeing the historic parts of town (good and bad)
so this suited us just fine.
Then we rolled into Milwaukee. Wow! What a place! We navigated through the highly visual Historic 3rd Ward to our hotel on the river.
Dealers from around the world will be here for the dealer meeting, but we were the first to arrive at our hotel on motorcycles. A short bit later, the bigger bikes rolled in from Missouri and Illinois. I felt quite proud of our little windshieldless Sportys for making the journey!
We did as the couple suggested and ate at AJ Bombers and had terrific grassfed burgers then later went to the Safe House, a secret hidden bar that requires a password to get in or else you’re forced to make a fool of yourselves in the lobby, which is then broadcast on monitors throughout the bar. We got to do seventies/eighties dance. And when the bookcase spun, we entered the place to applause from the other, already humiliated patrons. I’d like to show you pictures, but I can’t. It’s secret. Instead, I’ll share this lovely random picture.
So Maw and Paw… I’m going to take a blogging break for the next couple of days here in Milwaukee, but because you asked so nicely, I’ll chronicle the journey home. Be sure to stop by Brian’s blog too!