Summer vacation: Day 7

Our vacation continues!

Saturday night we took in another movie -- “Eye for an Eye,” it was more grisly than I remembered it being. Sunday we attended the small country church down the road. We hiked up to the top of the bluff overlooking The Farm. We capped our stay at The Farm by grilling hot dogs and s’mores over the charcoal grill for supper.

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We headed for my parents’ home Sunday night. Monday we woke up there to a gorgeous Fourth of July. And Phoebe took joy in running, jumping and singing from one end of my parents’ long living room to the other.

We spent the majority of Monday at the town’s Fourth of July festival. Phoebe played on the playground, slid down the inflatable slide multiple times and she got to ride a pony.

Dad and I broke away for a little while to share one of our favorite past times, looking at classic cars. …

Back at the house, Phoebe played some wiffle ball with Grandpa and I. But later she refused to take an afternoon nap and thus turned into a monster that night. … Once we finally got her settled in bed, Kates and I joined my parents to watch the Brewers game on TV. They lost. … Kates and I stayed up to watch The Late Show and turned in for the night.

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Tuesday was a full day of fun in Madison. First, we ventured to the Henry Vilas Zoo, a place where Kates and I have many cherished childhood memories.

When we arrived, we gave Phoebe a choice of whether she wanted to play on the playground first or tour the zoo first. Of course, she picked the playground, with the same nursery rhyme shoe slide that Kates and I probably slid down when were kids playing in the same playground.

By the time we passed through the gates of the zoo, it was after 12:30. We stopped for some snacks -- Phoebe and I shared a corn dog, her new favorite food -- and then we started our round to see the animals. Phoebe took the most interest in the giraffes -- especially when one came right up to us at the fence -- and the turtles and snakes.

She wanted to and succeeded in doing it all. The train tour of the zoo grounds. The carousel. She fed goats. And climbed up and down the jungle-themed playground.

By mid-afternoon we were off to another iconic family spot in Madison: Ella’s Deli. Kates suggested it thinking Phoebe would be fascinated by all of the toys and robots that clutter and create the restaurant’s charm. … We dined on appetizers and then some ice cream concoctions to finish us off. We could have put Phoebe on the carousel there, too, but decided Phoebe had taken enough carousel rides for one day.

Back at my parents’ place, Grandma had Candy Land -- the 1979 version that was given to me as a Christmas gift around age 4 or 5 -- out and ready for a rousing game. The whole day had a vintage theme to it, so why not. It was my first board game and remains a simple, good one all these years later. Watching Phoebe play it -- and play it well -- with Kates and my mother was something special.

After some Pizza Hut pizza for dinner, we got Phoebe to sleep far easier than the night before -- she was tired -- and took in another Brewers loss on the TV.

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And that brings us to today. Our return to Miller Park for a Milwaukee Brewers game, baby!

We dressed in our blue and gold -- Phoebe in her Ryan Braun No. 8 T-shirt -- and headed for Milwaukee, where we’re spending the rest of our stay in the grand ol’ Cheese State.

We made grand time to the city, even making time for a pit stop to take care of some things at Kates’ parents place in the suburbs, and we hit up a Chipotle for lunch. So good.

We arrived at the stadium around 12:30 and took our time traveling to our seats -- because we knew exactly where we were heading. Section 217, our favorite spot in the ballpark. I’ve sat high and low in that park and was convinced long ago, there’s not a bad seat in the place. But if you simply want to enjoy the game -- and not the alcohol or rowdy fans -- the view and family-friendly environment in 217 offer the best bang for your buck.

We got seated just in time for the first pitch, only to see Yovanni Gallardo give up a home run to Diamondbacks leadoff hitter Kelly Johnson to start the game. It looked like we were in for a repeat of the games we watched Monday and Tuesday.

But that was all the D-Backs would get. The game turned into a pitcher’s duel with some great defensive plays, too. Rickie Weeks made a diving catch on a line drive up the middle by Johnson in the third.

Finally in the bottom of the seventh, after two pitching changes by the Diamondbacks and with two Brewers on base courtesy of a pair of singles, Casey McGehee came in to pinch-hit for Gallardo. McGehee drove a pitch to deep center that just cleared the fence for a home run giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead.

The crowd went nuts. Fireworks erupted from the top of the stadium. And Bernie Brewer took his trip down the slide from his hut above left field.

On a day when we were sad we couldn't see Braun in action -- he was resting a strained calf muscle --McGehee's home run was the indelible moment of the game. Phoebe had started to get antsy and was nearing a breaking point. We’d explained to her before the game the history of Bernie and his slide, which led to her asking during seemingly every other at-bat, “Is Bernie going to slide down the slide yet?” … McGehee’s home run created the perfect diversion. Kates lifted Phoebe to her shoulders so Phoebe could see above the standing, cheering crowd -- and a huge smile broke over Phoebe’s face.

The Brewers won the game, 3-1, capped by closer John Axford striking out the side in the top of the ninth.

As we drove away from the stadium, I asked Phoebe if she had a fun day.

She replied, “Yeah, it was a fun day because the Brewers were good winners today!”

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