It was my **th birthday this past weekend – fine, my 50th – and my daughter Erin and her boyfriend Nick flew in from Milwaukee to spend the weekend. As usual, my kids tell me every year “we’ll do whatever you want to do Mom.” Well this year I wanted them to come on a Hike and Slice with us.
Let me give you some context…Erin does not like physical activity and has no qualms about letting you know that. So for her to agree to this was a big deal and a birthday gift onto itself. On Easter a few years ago (she was in college) I placed filled Easter eggs on the lawn and on Easter morning the girls ran outside to collect them. I have a side lawn that’s maybe five yards long. Within minutes, Erin was out of breath from running around to get them. To this day we still recount that story whenever we can.
So we decided to take it easy on them and go to Cheesequake State Park because 1) it’s close and 2) the trails are easy. If we took them to one of the trails where we had to scale rocks we’d just be setting ourselves up to suffer by way of complaints.
We get there and luckily find a parking spot at the trailhead. Because of Alan’s OCD we have to take the longest trail (three miles) because in his brain the hike has to be 3.1 miles (equivalent to a 5K). <Heavy sigh and huge eye roll> Not to mention it’s MY birthday so we should take the trail I want to take, but whatever.
We start the hike going down a wide set of steps and quickly approach an incline. I am waiting for complaints right away but I was just met with panting (from all of us) at the top. We all continue talking in various little conversations while taking in the scenery. Which honestly isn’t that great considering it’s the beginning of March and still winter. Everything is brown and dead with the exception of the evergreen and one holly bush that stands out like a sore thumb.
The weather is cool but not cold, we’re not bundled up. Well except for Alan who wears three layers anytime it’s under 65 degrees. The trail isn’t crowded. There’s a few hikers here and there but we pretty much have the place to ourselves. Nick and Lauren are loving it as they both like the outdoors. But by mile marker 1, Erin starts to turn. She asks when the pizza part comes and makes long, drawn-out sighs. Which is typical of her and actually very entertaining. She knows this, which prompts her to continue. She’s hilarious and dramatic and I love it. Nick is so patient with her and I can see from in front of me that he starts to cajole her and even rubs her back to comfort her. Did I mention we’re only a mile in?
We take video and pictures along the way. Erin suddenly takes a break and poses for the camera when she sees a bench. Another one of her MOs. She can turn the dramatics on and off like a faucet.
We trudge on through the mud since it rained for a few days before. Lauren is wearing converse sneakers (I know, I know) so she makes her way around the mud on an off trail. The rest of us are in hiking shoes. Erin borrowed a pair of mine but not without first making fun of how ugly they are. But guess what? They kept her feet dry!
The trail is well-marked about every tenth of a mile and accurate too (as per Alan’s Garmin). The mile markers look new so I’m thinking a Scout troop must have taken on that project within the last year or so. We zig and zag, and climb stairs, and cross wooden bridges and enjoy the outdoors and look at the budding plants in what will be covered in water once the spring hits. We even pass by a baby waterfall which is really just a stream of water with a small drop off.
Nick points out certain things and I can’t hear what Erin’s response is because they’re in front of me but at some point she gets tired and he picks her up. We snap a picture and continue on.
We complete the Green three-mile loop trail and it places us back in the parking lot. We took a group selfie and headed to the car because we were all starving. But where’s Alan? Oh there he is walking around the parking lot because his watch didn’t reach 3.1 miles yet. He was .03 short so it didn’t take a whole lap around the parking lot to reach HIS goal. The rest of us just wanted to eat.
We head to Denino’s in Aberdeen in the Strathmore Shopping Center. Alan and I have been here before but the kids haven’t. It’s your typical pizza place with the glass counter at the front and a small dining area in the back. It’s usually crowded but we lucked out for the second time today. The service is always friendly and an added bonus this time was the server was a Marist University Red Fox alum like myself (she commented on my hat). We ordered a large plain pie with extra sauce, like we always do and Erin and Nick ordered slices-pepperoni and Margarita.
We worked hard and expended a lot of calories and here’s the reward. The part Erin couldn’t wait for. We dive in when the pizza comes. Erin & Nick comment that there’s no pizza like this in Milwaukee. The sauce is sweet and there’s no grease dripping from the slices. It’s soooooo good. There’s one slice left when we are all done and we decide to take it home. And…they give us one of those individual triangular take home pizza boxes NOT a piece of aluminum foil like another place did (see other Hike & Slice story by yours truly).
By the time we finish it’s around 3 p.m. A family Hike & Slice on a Sunday to conclude my birthday weekend. Who’s better than me? No one.