I know this is coming before the ending to our trip to California, but I thought it might be better to squeeze in things as close as I can to when they actually happened. With that in mind, here are the tales from our crazy weekend.
On Saturday, November 9th, I picked up my friend Jacob from his house and we were quickly on our way to Wisconsin to meet another friend of mine, Ryan, who lives in Wisconsin. Both of them are Packers fans so I would be the lone Carolina fan in the area for the game. Fortunately, the two teams don’t really have anything remotely like a rivalry, so I was hoping I wouldn’t get picked on too much over the weekend.
As I live in Louisville and we had to go north to Wisconsin, the first major city we passed through was Indianapolis. This city happens to be the home of one my (and my wife’s [and also Jacob’s]) favorite places to eat–Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles.
When I first discovered this place many years ago I didn’t even know that chicken and waffles was a thing. But I quickly found that it was amazing! Every time I go through Indianapolis now I have to make a stop there. Their main meal is so good that I’ve never tried anything else.
The waffles are always great and they make the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. The yellowish looking stuff on the waffles is peach butter. It may sound weird but it is awesome as well.
Anyway, after filling our bellies, it was time to get back on the road again. A few hours north of Indianapolis there is something that might surprise most people. In the midst of all of the real farms there is a wind farm with giant windmills for miles around!
Shortly after that we made it to Chicago, which is another place I love to go to. The rather large building on the left is the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. At one point, it was the tallest building in the United States. Now it is “only” the third tallest.
Then maybe an hour or so later we were finally in Wisconsin!
This was my first time in the state and what better way to do it than to see a Green Bay Packers game, right? I mean, that is about all they are known for. Oh yeah, that and cows. I kid, of course.
The highway happened to take us through Milwaukee as well, which was cool to see. The downtown area looked a bit on the old side though. I still want to come back and check out the city at some point. And to go to a baseball game.
Sometime north of Milwaukee we were taken off the highway so we could make it to our destination of Kewaunee where the hotel that Jacob booked was at. We drove through many county roads that seemed to have nothing but farms around them. Finally, at about 6 or 7pm Central time, we made it to our destination.
Kewaunee is a small town of only about 3,000 people, which is somehow smaller than my hometown of Vine Grove, Kentucky. But it is right next to Lake Michigan so it has that going for it. The hotel, Karstens Nest Hotel, wasn’t far from the lake either. It was, however, a really old building that was quite cold, much like the temperature outside of the building. Here it is in the daylight from a picture I took the next day.
Ryan was already there waiting for us and had checked us in. We later found out that not only was this hotel supposedly the most haunted hotel in Wisconsin, it was also the 10th most haunted hotel in all of the United States! Why were here again? Oh yeah, because Jacob stayed before and had fond memories of the place. And how exactly does one quantify how haunted a place is? At any rate, we were stuck here for the night.
We quickly found a place to eat that was actually open in this small town and took the few minute walk to get there. It was on the harbor and called “Port O’Call”. With a name like that I should have ordered the fish, but I ended up going with a chicken sandwich since it was a lot cheaper and was just OK. The appetizers that we ordered were really good though. Ryan, since he had been living in Wisconsin for a while now, recommended that we try the fried cheese curds. That ended up being a great choice. I love cheese anyway and they were really good. We also ordered some pretzel bites with beer cheese that were quite good too.
After dinner, we went back to the room to pick up the board games that I brought along and hopefully find a place to play them. The next block over had a few places that were open. We settled on what was the smallest bowling alley I have ever been in, Kewaunee Bowl. It only had eight lanes!
When we walked in there was no one bowling at all. There were, however, a bunch of people at the bar. When we said we were going to bowl they kind of gave us some weird looks. Maybe it was because we were obviously local and didn’t talk like them, eh?
Some people did trickle in later to bowl like this family of four with teenage kids. Their mom trash talked each time she had a strike. Then later three pairs (couples) of older people showed up and all bowled on the same lane. They would make different noises as someone’s ball rolled down the lane. All-in-all it was an entertaining time for a small town. I ended up bowling a terrible 102 in the first game and a just OK 132 in the second game and actually had the high score in the second game. Myself and Jacob used to bowl in separate leagues a long time ago, but Jacob was always the better bowler than me so I expected him to kick my butt.
After our games, we went to a table to the other side of the alley to play the board games that I brought along. Jacob and his brother own a game store in Radcliff, Kentucky called “Swords & Boards” so most of the games I have I bought from them. Ryan is an avid board gamer too, so it just seemed natural to bring some along. We settled on playing some of my favorite games, Biblios, a card game; Sagrada, a game where you try to build a stain glass window out of colored dice; Red Dragon Inn, a game where everyone has a card deck that is based on a different type of Dungeons & Dragons character/class and you try to either win everyone’s money in gambling and/or drink them under the table; and Marvel Champion’s, a game where you take over a deck of cards based on a Marvel character and work co-operatively to defeat the villain. I won Sagrada and Red Dragon Inn and then we narrowly beat Rhino in Marvel Champion’s. By this time it was almost 2am and the bowling alley was set to close soon so we went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
The next morning we had some interesting news too. I slept fine and so did Jacob. But Ryan was having a bit of insomnia and didn’t fall asleep until a few hours after us. During that time, he said that he heard some shuffling of feet just outside our door and some opening and closing of drawers in the tables. Then, across the opening in the building, he noticed the lights in another room flicker on and off. Does this mean the hotel is truly haunted? I, for one, am skeptical. I don’t believe in ghosts and all of that nonsense that comes with them. There seemed to be some odd people working at the hotel too, so I would not have been surprised if the noises and other stuff were a product of the people working there. I guess we will never know.
After showering we went downstairs to have some breakfast. Let’s just say that the pickings were slim. They had some bagels, bread, a little bit of fruit, granola bars, and mini-muffins. That was it. And the room was freezing. Oh well, it was free food. After breakfast it was finally time to head to Green Bay.
Before that we took the short walk down to Lake Michigan. You can almost see a lighthouse in the background of the photo on the left.
And, most importantly, I had to fulfill a request from my wife. She wanted me to bring home some Wisconsin cheese and I was not about to deny her that. In Kewaunee there was a cheese store for a local farm that myself and Jacob passed on our way into Kewaunee. The farm was called Wakker Farms so naturally the cheese store was called Wakker Cheese.
Being the upstanding adults that we are, we, of course, never made fun of the name at all. Ah, if only that were true.
It turns out that Wakker is a Dutch name which meant that they made Dutch style cheeses. The place had different varieties of gouda, cheddar, and the local favorite, cheese curds. I, of course, bought some of each and a few more things.
Myself and Andrea have already ate most of the cheese. I liked the gouda better than the crumbly sharp cheddar. The milk chocolate clogs are pretty good and the stroopwafels (waffle sandwiches with a syrup filling) were tasty as well.
After filling up my gas tank, we were finally off! It took us maybe 30-45 minutes to get to Green Bay. From a few miles out we could see Lambeau Field. It was gigantic and by far the largest building in all of the area. As Green Bay is also the smallest city that hosts an NFL team, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
We found a parking spot at a Buffalo Wild Wings not far from the stadium and headed over there. It truly is a large stadium that can hold upwards of 82,000 people in it.
Lambeau Field is the oldest continually operated NFL stadium having opened in 1957. It is named after one of the founders of the Packers, Earl “Curly” Lambeau who helped found the team in 1919 in addition to playing for and later coaching the team.
There was a cool place just outside of the stadium called the Johnsonville Tailgate Village (yes, it is sponsored by Johnsonville Brats) that was a nice place to get out of the cold as it was heated! Wow, what a concept! They had a live band that was playing mostly pop/rock hits from the 70’s and 80’s. There were also a plethora of tv’s showing the early game action, so that was nice since our game would not start until 3:25pm central time.
After standing around in there for a bit we decided to make our way into the stadium and go to the Packers Hall of Fame. Both Ryan and Jacob had been to multiple games at Lambeau Field but had never been to the hall of fame, so it was an easy sell to get them to go. It did not disappoint either. Throughout the long history of the Packers there have been 157 players, coaches, and executives that the franchise felt was worthy of inducting into their hall of fame. That’s a lot of people. On top of that, 26 of those people have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
I imagined this kid staring up at the uniform parts and older footballs reliving the tales his dad and grandpa have told him of all of the Packers legends of old.
Can you imagine being able to go to a Super Bowl for only $12?!
I thought this a pretty cool display showing all of the Packers uniforms over the years.
Paul Hornung was one of the many Packers that later went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a Louisville, KY native who later went to Notre Dame, won the Heisman trophy, and was the number one pick in the NFL draft in 1957. You could say he is quite well known in these parts.
I think the trophy on the left was one of the trophies the Packers were given for winning the first or the second Super Bowl.
This was Aaron Rodgers draft card. He is currently the Packers quarterback and is a fan favorite. If you don’t watch football at all you still know who he is from all of his State Farm commercials.
I thought the ceiling of this part of the hall of fame was a nice touch. It had little featured exhibits for each of the Packers that are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The ceiling made me think of Greek mythology. According to the Greeks, a constellation was created by the gods to memorialize someone for their great deeds when they died. I imagine the designer of this had the same idea in mind.
This was the last thing you see when leaving the hall of fame: all three quarterbacks that won the Super Bowl for the Packers. On the left is Bart Starr who won the first two Super Bowls ever played. In the middle is Brett Favre. At the right is Aaron Rodgers.
After finding something to eat really quick we finally made our way into the stadium to catch the pre-game activities.
Now it was finally time for the pre-game introductions of the players. Most teams alternate between the offensive and defensive starters for the intros. For this game it was the offense.
After Aaron Rodgers was introduced he ran through a tunnel created by the rest of the team, giving everyone a low-five along the way. After the low-five the players would sprint out of the lineup. It was a cool thing to watch and I wish I would have recorded it instead of taking some pictures.
Game time temperature was 33 degrees and it was only going to get colder.
As the game was the day before Veteran’s Day, after the National Anthem a wing a F-15 fighter jets flew over the stadium. That was another awesome sight that I wish I could have recorded to share with you.
Well, the stadium was full, and rocking, and the game was ready to kickoff.
The game had a rousing start with the kickoff. After a couple of punts, Carolina was able to sustain a drive and complete a short touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel.
A short time later the game was tied up after an Aaron Jones touchdown run. He celebrated by doing the famous Lambeau Leap into the stands.
Shortly after the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Carolina went ahead again with a field goal to put the game at 10-7. But, undeterred, Green Bay came back with the below video.
This, Aaron Joneses second touchdown of the day, put Green Bay ahead 14-10 with about nine minutes left in the 2nd quarter. Carolina’s next drive ended in a punt, which lead to an exciting end to the 2nd quarter.
Some time during the 2nd quarter it started to snow quite heavily.
After driving the ball down the field for over five minutes Green Bay had the ball at the Carolina 2 yard line with 2 seconds left in the half. Ryan, Jacob, and myself all thought that Green Bay should kick the ball and take the easy field goal. But Green Bay decided to go for the touchdown. If they missed it and Carolina came back to win the game by a few points, then they would surely regret going for the touchdown in this situation. Fortunately for Carolina, Green Bay ran the ball and a few of Carolina’s defensive lineman penetrated the line and tackled Jamaal Williams behind the line of scrimmage.
That crazy ending to the half was followed up by a rousing halftime show that was most suitable for Veteran’s Day weekend. Watch the following video to see a bunch of Green Berets parachuting into the stadium.
That was pretty cool to watch in person. And I hope the guy that went into the wall didn’t hurt himself too much.
Green Bay’s failure at the end of the 1st half must have motivated them to score with their first drive of the 2nd half though. Not even four minutes after the kickoff, and with some big plays from Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones, the Packers scored again with yet another touchdown run from Aaron Jones. That was his third of the day! Now Green Bay was up by a score of 21-10.
Carolina was not scared though. They had a great drive going to follow up and made it in the red zone pretty quickly. That was when the bad luck struck. Quarterback Kyle Allen threw a pass towards a receiver in the end zone. One of the Packers defenders deflected the ball and it somehow ended up in the hands of another Packer right before it hit the ground.
Green Bay’s next drive began the Jamaal Williams show as he had long run after long run. But, the Carolina defense finally held Green Bay to a field goal. Now the score was 24-10 late in the 3rd quarter.
By the time the 4th quarter had started, the temperature had dropped low enough that the snow was starting to stick.
A few minutes later, Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey was in the end zone with a touchdown of his own! But, after wrongly going for a 2-point conversion, and not converting the attempt, the score was only at 24-16. Carolina still had some work to do.
After a few punts, Carolina had their chance to tie the game up. Kyle Allen along with D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen, and the aforementioned Christian McCaffrey drove the team down the field. With not much time left in the game, and on 4th down, D.J. Moore caught this pass to keep Carolina’s hopes alive.
Soon after that, Carolina was on Green Bay’s 4 yard line with less than 10 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for me, they decided to end the game with the same play that Green Bay ran to end the 1st half: a run. It was stuffed just as easily as theirs was and the game was over. Green Bay won. It was still one of the most exciting endings to a game that I have been to.
And here is the obligatory selfie. Bleh. What a red nose. And look at all the snow!
Anyway, my night was far from over after that. Jacob had to get back home that night. Under normal conditions it would be a nine hour or so drive. But getting out of a small city with close to 80,000 people trying to leave at the same time, and with snow on the roads on top of that made it a difficult proposition. We sat in the parking lot for probably more than a half hour before we even moved. And then Google tried to make it worse.
Google maps tried to help us avoid all of the slow going traffic heading south on I-43. All it did was take us on a 30 mile or so detour through snow covered county back roads before getting back to the interstate highway that was still backed up and slow from all the traffic and snow. We went a max of 40 mph for at least 100 miles all the way to Milwaukee. That makes for a long, slow drive. When we finally made it to Illinois a few hours later it was still snowing. This was probably sometime after midnight. Eventually it turned into rain, but that stuck with us until well into Indiana. Jacob took some short naps on the way so when it finally came time that I felt like I could no longer stay awake we pulled over at a rest stop in northern Indiana and I let him take over driving. By then, the rain had mercifully stopped and the roads were dry. It took me a little while to fall asleep, but I did get some, off and on until we were in southern Indiana not far from Jacob’s house. After dropping him off it was another half hour to my house. I pulled in probably after 7:30 am, almost a full 12 hours from initially getting to my car the night before. And the sad thing was that I wasn’t even tired enough to sleep! Oh well. I did finally get some sleep a few hours later.
I bought tickets for the game back in the summer. This probably ended up being a good thing since the Packers had a great record going into this game, 7-2. If we had bought tickets closer to the date of the game they probably would have been more expensive. This might be the best way to go for the future too.
Next time, though, we are definitely staying the night after the game. The drive back afterwards was awful, and probably would have been even without the snow. Staying up for, basically, almost 24 hours, and driving for half of that, is not a good way to go.
And I probably shouldn’t let Jacob choose a hotel again later. haha
Packers games at Lambeau are an awesome experience! If you love the NFL and/or just football in general I highly recommend going to a game there. I would really like to go another one at some point. Just not in the winter. 🙂 I’m more of a spring/summer guy and prefer the warmth.
Also, getting to hang out with Jacob and Ryan was a blast. I haven’t had a guys weekend in such a long time that it took me awhile to get back into the groove. I love hanging out with my wife and acting silly with her. But with them I could be as rude and crude as I wanted to and they could give it right back to me. So, all-in-all, it was a great weekend to get away from the world and have some fun like old times!