Road Trip…

So every year, about this time, my wife and I take a little road trip. We like to get away for several days (our anniversary and her birthday) and because we travel so much for work, we prefer to drive someplace rather than fly. There’s the usual places within a couple hours drive of the cities, but we’ve done them so many times that in the last several years we’ve been driving farther to visit places we haven’t been to.

This year we sat down to plan the trip and my wife said that she wanted to go to Milwaukee (no, she had no idea) and while she would plan lodging and meals, points of interest were up to me.

So I climbed onto the computer and started googling points of interest in the Milwaukee area (wait for it…) and as I writing down different things (don’t worry, it will occur to him) it suddenly came to me that two of the biggest attraction for a model railroader were in Milwaukee. Yes, Kalmbach Publishing and Walther’s.

I didn’t come right out and tell my wife that these would be the highlights of the trip for me, but I did manage to casually bring them up as we were talking about various sights to see. It’s knowing your audience folks, she was happy to tag along and excited that I could see them.

We left last Monday morning, with the plan being to drive out and get to the hotel late Monday afternoon, have dinner and a relaxing night. Then start the sightseeing on Tuesday. As she thought about it, my wife wanted to visit Walther’s first thing Tuesday morning. And you wonder why I love this woman. So Tuesday morning, with Siri giving us directions, we headed to Walther’s. Unfortunately I missed the part where they weren’t open on Sunday, Monday OR Tuesday. Yes, I was a little bummed, but the funny part was that my wife was absolutely devastated.

From there we headed off to the Milwaukee Art Museum. This would be the top pick for my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I love museums, it’s just that I prefer the old European masters and not so much the more contemporary art that the museum is known for. First of all the museum itself is beautiful, a piece of contemporary art all by itself.

Milwaukee Art Museum.
Milwaukee Art Museum.

Yes, those are wings and yes, they open and close. They also “flap” at around noon each day.

Once inside, as I was walking around the Modern section, I did find a couple of pieces that appealed to the railroader in me. First was part of a large wall collage.

Milwaukee Art Museum - part of a full wall collage.
Milwaukee Art Museum – part of a full wall collage.

The engine was a Raymond Loewy design for the Milwaukee Road. The guy designed just about everything that screams “Americana” from the twentieth century.

Next was a steam locomotive an artist had made. It’ nice to know that the art world can appreciate the beauty of the steam loco.

Milwaukee Art Museum - Steam locomotive as art, why not.
Milwaukee Art Museum – Steam locomotive as art, why not.

As I had said earlier, my wife had picked out the hotel. We were staying at the “Iron Horse Hotel” just south of downtown. Not sure how they came up with the name, but it is along side a couple of tracks. And some of the interior décor leaned that way.

Iron Horse Hotel - in the display case.
Iron Horse Hotel – in the display case.
Iron Horse Hotel - the locomotives tender.
Iron Horse Hotel – the locomotives tender.

It is a great little boutique hotel, and I would recommend it. Their signature burger is probably one of the best I have had. However, if you plan to stay there in the late spring, summer or early fall be fore warned. It’s a block from the Harley-Davidson museum and a mecca for bikers who they happily cater to. Right down to the approximately 4 dozen bike only parking spaces in front of the hotel.

But as I had said there were a couple of tracks right under our window and I was able to do some railfanning right from the room. Mainly transfer runs from one yard to another. You would always know when one was coming by as there was a grade climbing out of the yard and you could hear the engine working to climb it. And no, they didn’t work through the night. The latest I heard was at about 9:00 pm when a heavy freight pulled by a couple of big GE’s would leave the yard.

A couple of things I learned watching them are: modern tank cars have there reporting marks stenciled along the top and crews can be creative. Saw one CP geep with a 24 bottle flat of water on the short hood outside the windows to keep it cool.

Railfanning from the room.
Railfanning from the room.

I will have I post on Walther’s and Kalmbach in the next day or so, as I have a ton of pictures to go through before I write anything.

Just wanted you to know why I hadn’t gotten anything done downstairs this week.

Till next time, Happy Railroading…



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