Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

No shadow of a doubt? Our groundhog predicts early spring

Just for fun!, TRAVEL, Weather

As my husband and I manned the snow blowers in the driveway last night, I did think this blizzard's silver lining might be that the groundhog would NOT see his shadow Wednesday morning.

Sure enough, Wynter, the Milwaukee County Zoo groundhog did NOT see her shadow this morning! Instead, she frolicked around in the snow a bit before going back into her den. Other groundhogs predicted the same--an early spring. I am all for that!

I couldn't help notice some other winter wonderland frolickers this morning. The kids down the street were literally diving head first into the snow banks, along with their pet Golden Retriever. Glad someone is enjoying the white stuff.

Me? I am thinking warm thoughts by planning a southern New Mexico and Arizona vacation. This will be new territory for us, and of course we want to see it all. Editing is never my strong suit: So many National Parks and little time.

Feel free to share your must see southern New Mexico and Arizona sites.

In the meantime, I hope our groundhog is right and we have an early spring.

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America's National Park Service turned 94 this week

History, Government / Bureaucracy, National Parks, TRAVEL, United States

Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park

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To-Do List: Email Alderman & Mayor re: Brookfield train station, Walker rally in 3rd Ward

City of Brookfield, TAXES, TRAVEL, Special events

Monday's To-Do List:

1. Email my aldermen stating my opposition to the Obama/Doyle "high" speed train station in Brookfield. Since both* Republican candidates for Governor are against the train, why move forward on this in Brookfield?

It is also important to email Mayor Ponto at The Council will discuss the train station placement tomorrow, Aug. 17th.

From Brookfield City News: "Tax-subsidized train expansion is not popular in our conservative community. Mayor Ponto has been incredibly quiet about the whole thing." As the posting indicated, the mayor has the power to lead and influence. I would like to see Ponto take a strong stand against the train station.

You may also go to Scott Walker's to register your opposition to the "boondoggle" train.

And speaking of Scott Walker....

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Chickamauga National Military Park: A place to remember and forgive

Holidays, History, National Parks, TRAVEL, United States, War

(Written for Memorial Day but a sign in problem delayed posting.)

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No more Midwest & AirTran ranked No. 2


Yesterday came the no surprise announcement, Republic will rename Midwest, Frontier. I was privileged to fly Midwest 3 times in their grander days. Those wonderful Midwest meals and comfy wide seats vanished during the belt-tightening and take-over eras but still remain legendary. Who would have thought that in today's tightwad era, airlines would propose charging for a carry on or using the restroom!

Sadly, it was logical that the Midwest name be scrapped too, since the ammenities that branded them as something special had long since vanished. The only vestige to remain of their heyday is the chocolate chip cookie.

Also this week came the news that AirTran airlines was ranked as Number 2 in airline quality (For comparison, Frontier was ranked 7th).

This is good news because AirTran flies out of Milwaukee. In fact, AirTran announced last December that they were making Miwaukee a second hub. "AirTran Airways...announced that the airline will open both a pilot and flight attendant base in Milwaukee to support its increased operations. ... The flight bases will be opened in April 2010 and will consist initially of 50 pilots ... and a minimum of 50 flight attendants..." (My emphasis throughout)

The new AirTran Hub would add 100 jobs to start. AirTran's Marketing Senior Vice President said, "As we continue to grow our Milwaukee operation, we have reached a point where we need to add flight crew bases in Milwaukee to make our airline more efficient... These new Milwaukee jobs further demonstrate our commitment to Southeast Wisconsin."

I don't fly often - maybe once every 1 or 2 years? But I like AirTran because they offer inexpensive, nonstop flights to Orlando. They have been on time and my limited experience has always been good. Also, for people like me, who don't travel for business, they have a rewards plan to save up for a free flight. (My family flew free a few years back to Disney via their A+ Rewards program.) They also offer a credit card that offers points toward free flights. As I often say, AirTran: Great airline - Stupid radio ads!

A few years back, when Midwest spurned AirTran's take over overtures, I owned a bit of Midwest stock when there was that push for Milwaukeeans to buy stock to help the company. (It still remains my most fun venture in the stock market--ever. I am don't gamble Vegas or lottery style, but I invested a few hundred dollars when the stock was a dollar-something, held the stock for a while, and then sold it when it topped 2 digits.) At the time, I thought AirTran would be a good candidate for obtaining Midwest. They seemed committed to staying in Milwaukee.

I wonder if the former Midwest employees would agree?

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Watch Ken Burns' National Parks: America's Best Idea series on PBS or online

History, National Parks, TRAVEL, United States

Last night, the first in a series of 6 programs on America's National Parks aired on PBS. The remaining programs will be shown this week.

In case you missed last night's, or are unable to see them all, they are also available to view online the day after they appear on TV until October 9th.

Being avid National Parks fans at our house, we watched Episode 1. It highlighted the early history of the National Parks concept and our nations first 2 National Parks: Yosemite and Yellowstone*. Yosemite was the first land set aside by an act of congress; it was put under the jurisdiction of the state of California.

But the program raised an interesting question: had Wyoming been a state at the time Yellowstone's 2 million acres were designated as a park in 1872, would it be just another state park like Yosemite or National Park?

In any event, I am grateful it was set aside for the enjoyment of the people--we sure enjoy it! Pictured is Beehive geyser, a name given to the dome shaped cone by the 1870 Washburn expedition mentioned in the program.

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The Spam Museum celebrates all things pork

Interesting places, Just for fun!, TRAVEL

No, this isn't a commentary on Obama's $timulus bill that we just found out included $20.5 million dollars worth of pork and ham purchases. Instead, I am talking about the REAL Spam capitol of the world located in Austin, Minnesota, home of Hormel's SPAM MUSEUM.

Yes, there really is a SPAM MUSEUM! Although it is not a destination in itself, it certainly is a fun drive-by attraction. Located just off I-90, it is easy to find and well worth the hour or two visit.

We happened upon it several years ago* on a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. There it was in all it's glory, complete with bronze statue of a farmer and 2 pigs.

Attractions include a computer Q & A Cafe of Spam facts. (Photo) They cleverly placed the computer controls on breakfast plates of Spam and eggs! Just roll the egg yolk track ball and click the butter pat to select the answer. The facts appear on the specials of the day menu. Cute.

Historical exhibits include a few full sized scenes of WW2 camps, complete with soldiers. After all, Spam was a major component of a soldier's chow, as my dad would refer to military dining fare. (Surprisingly, he still enjoyed the occasional meal of baked Spam when we were growing up.)

There is a Monty Python section, with wacky clips from the show--evidently Spam was a popular topic of the program. On the more serious side, there is a Spam movie and lots of  interactive things for kids to do too.

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To vacation or not, that is the question


Grandma always said, "Travel while you can." She knew first hand that waiting to take those dream trips until the retirement years sometimes never happens. She always encouraged us to go, and go, we did. My parents packed up the stationwagon with our camping gear, and we hit the road. Any mention of the places we saw still evokes fond memories.

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Yosemite: Can't go back to that cabin!

National Parks, Socialism / Marxism, TRAVEL, Unintended consequences


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Yosemite Nat. Park: Can't go back to that cabin!

National Parks, Socialism / Marxism, TRAVEL, Unintended consequences


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Yikes! Oil at $60-something/barrel, Gasoline at $2.69

Energy, McCain 2008, Obama 2008, Politics, THE ECONOMY, TRAVEL

Tuesday I got a tank full of gas for $2.69 a gallon. Sure wish gas prices were that low in August when we went to Yellowstone! Our trip cost us $549 in gasoline for 3,188 miles. If we made that trip now, we would have saved about $200. (Of course, Old Faithful Lodge is now closed for the winter season.)

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Weekend retreat to Elkhart Lake



Short trips: Out and about in West Bend

Just for fun!, Short trips, TRAVEL

The weather promises to be beautiful this weekend. How about a short trip to the north?

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Typically, gas prices are lower in August than May

Energy, Just for fun!, Living well on less $, National Parks, THE ECONOMY, TRAVEL

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You Can Make 2009 National Park Reservations Now

National Parks, TRAVEL

As I mentioned yesterday, I made my 2008 Yellowstone reservations too late in the season. (I never dreamed mid September 2007 was too late!)

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Will gas prices affect your summer vacation?


Like most people, I am watching the gasoline prices rise and wondering how high they will go by summer travel time.

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Make reservations now for summer 2008

National Parks, TRAVEL

Although summer 2008 seems a long way off, it is already getting late in the season for making National Park lodging reservations! Popular parks fill up faster than the lesser known parks.

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Journey from the center of the earth


OK, maybe we didn't go to the center, but it sure felt like it!  This is a travel piece.

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