Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Frames From the Weekend in Green Bay

Linking up with Irina this week on her Frames From the Weekend series. I've got lots of photos to share!

On a side note - Adam has always been a fan of using the Bill Simmons "Sports Guy" style of timeline recap blogging. (Click here for one of my favorite examples!) Today I'm going to give this particular blog style a whirl. As Adam would say, all times Central Standard and slightly estimated.

1:20 PM - Depart for the 3.5-hour drive north to Green Bay, picking up Helen along the way.

2:45 PM - Hit the first of several road construction zones on Interstate 94 and 43. It's a sea of orange cones and signs.

I did not actually see this lovely artistic creation along the way, but I thought it was pretty funny.

3:47 PM - I learn about some Wisconsin driving etiquette. In Chicago, anytime you've got a lane reduction, everyone drives up to the exact merge point (and then some) and squeezes over at the very last minute. Some folks even go out of their way to block others from merging ahead of them. But in Wisconsin, folks change lanes as soon as they see the sign for the upcoming lane reduction. They leave the reducing lane empty.

Illinois drivers don't fare well with this mentality in Wisconsin. During one lane reduction, we watched five cars, all with Illinois plates, go zooming down to the exact merge point before veering over at the last minute. Helen tells me that once when she channeled her inner Illinois driver in Wisconsin, she got a finger wagging from another driver. Yes, a finger wagging!

5:33 PM - We see the first "Green Bay exits" signs along Interstate 43. I get my first local glimpse of the Fox River, as well as Lambeau Field from a distance.

5:40 PM - Arrive at Lambeau Field. Lots of folks are milling around. In addition to race packet pickup for the Packers 5K, the team is hosting a Kids Fun Run plus a Family Movie Night on the Jumbotron.

On the way in, Helen and I see minions taking pictures with passing kids. We wait patiently for the kids to clear out so we can get a picture with the minions, too.

From L to R: minion, Helen, me, minion

6:00 PM - Packet picked up. Time to grab some dinner.

The Lambeau Field Atrium set up for race packet pickup

7:00 PM - Helen and I arrive back at Lambeau. The stands are filled with families dressed from head to toe in Packer attire. We find seats to catch the last 30 minutes of Despicable Me. This is our view of the movie, right in between the field goal uprights:

7:45 PM - The movie has ended and Helen and I are walking the stands taking pictures. We check out the site of the famed Lambeau Leap. It's much higher in person than it looks on TV.

We joke about staying on the premises until they kick us out. A few minutes later, one of the staff tells us that it's time to clear the stands. Mission accomplished.

On the way out, at least five different staff members thank us for coming and tell us to have a good rest of the night. Everyone is so friendly!

9:30 AM - We arrive at the Don Hutson Center, where the Packers practice, for the Training Camp kickoff. The practice facility is right across the street from the stadium.

9:35 AM - I see that the Packers rolled out the red carpet for us. How gracious! I decide to take a photo to commemorate their hospitality, shrugging off the fact that we couldn't open that gate. Technical difficulties, of course.

9:37 AM - We walk past lines of bicycles in line with this tradition, as well as hordes of Packer fans lining up to catch a glimpse of the practice in progress.

9:38 AM - We head towards the stands to find a seat, and walk right up to the entrance. We get politely redirected towards the end of a line of folks who are waiting to get seated by field ushers. Oops.

Folks waiting in line to get seated by field ushers

9:50 AM - The ushers take us to some seats and we start watching the action.

10:01 AM - I notice that some of the players are doing drills with giant bouncy red fitness balls. It looks pretty comical. I try not to giggle out loud.

10:15 AM - We head towards the field exit, where we can watch the players riding kid's bicycles back to Lambeau. The crowd is growing and there are several news reporters and news cameras poised to capture the action.

10:30 AM - Players start entering the bicycle area. Some sign autographs and pose for pictures. The crowd is going wild. The players pick kids bikes and start departing. Some are basically scooting themselves along, others build pedal speed and go flying by.

Check out those cheese wheels.

11:04 AM - Helen's uncle got us tickets for a 12:00 stadium tour, so we start heading back to the stadium. On the way, we observe some in-progress setup for the 5K race later that night.

11:15 AM - We check out the pro shop, which is like Ikea for Packer fans. We even learn about the history of the cheesehead.

11:40 AM - Time to say hi to Vince and Curly.

12:00 PM - We embark on a guided tour of Lambeau Field with a passionate tour guide. She asks where all the participants are from. I get a little nervous about what everyone's reaction will be when I tell her I'm from Chicago, but it barely receives a second thought from anyone. A guy from Minneapolis, on the other hand, gets a hard time.

12:20 PM - We take a front row seat in one of the luxury suites (as part of the tour) to listen to the tour guide's stories.

I am pleasantly surprised to learn how community-oriented and down-to-earth the organization is. For example, all concessions are sold by local charitable groups, who in turn receive a portion of the proceeds. The concessions are reasonably priced, too.

12:50 PM - Down on the playing field, Helen does her best referee impression to signal "touchdown" while I do my best "kick is no good."

1:04 PM - Lunchtime at Curly's Pub, where copious portions of battered/fried cheese curds are consumed.

After lunch, we headed back to Helen's aunt/uncle's house to nap before the Packers 5K that evening.

I'll share more about the race in a separate post. In the meantime, here is a quick photo of the starting line:

Final thoughts:

  • After getting to see Green Bay up close, I can see why Packers fans are so diehard. The entire city revolves around the team. (On a related note, I was telling Adam that I think there are a LOT of similarities between Steelers fans and Packers fans. Bears fans are a little different.)
  • I found the locals to be exceptionally friendly. Although, Helen says that it helps that they don't know I am from Chicago, haha.
  • It really does seem true that the Packers-Vikings rivalry is much more bitter than the Bears-Packers rivalry. That changed my perspective.

Many, many thanks go out to Helen and her aunt and uncle for being such fantastic hosts over the weekend!


  1. Looks like a great time! Love the break down. Vikings-Packers is pretty bitter. I don't know that I will be doing any Lambeau tours anytime soon (not that I want to haha) although I will say it does seem like a very well run team. Go Vikes :)

    1. Thanks so much, Kayla! I was thinking about you over the weekend since I know you like the Vikings! I can understand why you wouldn't plan on doing any Lambeau Field tours from that perspective. =) The Steelers and the Ravens have an extremely bitter rivalry, and likewise, I certainly don't plan on doing any tours of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore!!!

  2. I told you! Ha! Now I know, don't admit you're from MN in Lambeau. :-)

    The zipper merge is a huge problem in MN, too. So much so that they're doing psa's about them now. I must be an IL reincarnate because I always bomb the left lane and cut over. Ain't nobody got time to wait in a 2 mile right lane backup!!

    1. You were so right! Your comment regarding your MN background but going to school in Madison really resonated with me. That must have been a REAL conflict of interest for you!

      Yes, I would agree that it's probably best not to admit you're from MN when in Green Bay. Maybe you can just mention that you're a UW-Madison alum? =)

      No kidding about the zipper merge in MN! HAHAHAHAHA on you being an IL reincarnate. You are absolutely right, though, that right lane backup can add hours or even days to your travels!!! Holy cow!

  3. Hahahaha love the referee impressions. The NFL clearly doesn't know what it's missing out on, not having you hired to ref games ;)

    1. Thanks Bethany! May I send a note to the NFL using your words as my own personal letter of recommendation? ;-)

  4. Wow I can't imagine a more bitter rivalry than Bears/Packers. The Caveman makes a pilgrimmage to Bears training camp in Boubonais. Good times.

    1. I am curious what the atmosphere would be like at a Packers-Vikings game! Actually, I'm curious about the atmosphere at a Bears-Packers game, too, having never been to one. I remember you saying that you had family that braved the REALLY extreme elements to go to a Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field!!!

      So cool about the Caveman's pilgrammage! Have you or the kids ever gone with him? My friend Rose and I are actually going to go there on August 10. It'll be the first pilgrammage for both of us!

  5. I have a friend who is obsessed with Green Bay. Like, went on her honeymoon there obsessed. Is on vacation there right now obsessed. Haha! I don't think it's for me, but I know how fun it is to live somewhere with local pride, which it seems like GB has in spades.

    I'm also intrigued by the different states' driving etiquette. It's not something I ever considered before. I guess it's because Texas is so big that there isn't much of a state consensus on the rules of the road and situations like the one you described. Interesting observation!

    1. OMG. That is CRAZY! Does she have Green Bay roots? Or where did the obsession come from? I am really curious! She must be a diehard Packers fan (there's really nothing else up there to do other than root for the Packers. I am not even exaggerating.)

      Interesting about the big open Texas driving mentality! I have heard many folks joke about that before but I think there is some truth behind it. Let me ask you this - did you see any differences in the driving when you lived in Germany? (Other than the speedsters on the autobahn, of course)

  6. Aww, that tradition with riding the bikes is so fun! How cool you got to see all this! And I love the Minions pic!

    I would like to hear more about Packers and Steelers fans being the same and Bears fans being different!

    And that merging thing. Ha ha. Steven and I discuss that a lot. We feel like people all getting in one lane early backs things up, but people think you are an ass if you get over and go around! Use both lanes until they end!

    1. Thanks Kim!!! It's very interesting to learn about some of these local traditions. This one in particular as pretty humble roots, from what I understand. Now it's legendary. Glad you like the minions pic, I was considering using it as my Facebook profile picture! LOL

      In short, Packers and Steelers fans are both EXTREMELY devoted. The fan bases are pretty blue-collar. The entire cities of Pittsburgh and Green Bay pretty much shut down when their teams are playing. Bear fans, in comparison, are devoted, of course. But Chicago is such a melting pot with so much diversity and stuff to do, and so many transplants from other cities. So I think that Bears fandom is not as "standard" in Chicago, so to speak.

      Regarding the lane merging thing, all I can say is that I am an Illinois driver. Born and raised. ;-)

  7. Thanks for linking up!! I am the farthest thing from being a sports fan so I never truly felt that "obsession" and dedication to a team, but I can see how one city can completely revolve around their sports team. Chicago seems to be the same way but NYC...not so much (at all).

    P.S. - I've been meaning to tell you this for forever already but you look great!!! Those runner's legs ;) Sorry I hope that's not creepy haha


    1. Thank you for hosting these link-ups, Irina! Happy birthday again, by the way. =) I read your recap about your celebration with your family and haven't commented yet, but I thought it sounded wonderful!

      I agree with you - I think NYC has so much activity and diversity, that pro sports are just one of zillions of things competing for the locals' attention. While Chicago does have its fair share of diehards, there are plenty of folks who don't pay attention, too!

      Over the past year I have been working really, really hard on trying to improve my diet and tone up - so THANK YOU for the kind words and for noticing! That makes me feel really good! And on that note, you always, ALWAYS look fabulous, yourself. =)

  8. I would like to do this next year! Let me know. I've never been to Green Bay. The driving etiquette cracks me up. I also drive up to the merge point and usually some nice driver will let me in the lane.

    1. It definitely helps to be a football fan if you go to Green Bay since the entire city literally revolves around the Packers. We'll have to talk more about maintaining Chicago neutrality up there if we go. =)

      Yes, on the way back home, I drove right up to the merge points! I have Illinois plates so I am sure nobody was surprised, LOL. It's all about efficiency!!!