Wisconsin Ain’t No Flyover State

“Wisconsin. That’s in Michigan, right?”

Once, on my family’s annual family vacation to New Hampshire, a kid asked me where I was from. I of course responded with, Wisconsin. Without skipping a beat, he responded, that’s in Michigan, right? I never forgot the disgust I felt that someone my age (11) had no idea where Wisconsin was located. Didn’t they have social studies classes in New England? Aren’t you required to locate all the fifty states on a map at least once in your childhood? Have you not watched a single episode of Schoolhouse Rock?

They don't even serve this where you're from.

Fast forward 17 years and I’m sure that boy now has a clear idea of where Wisconsin is located. I doubt he’s ever visited, because after all, what coastie would be caught dead hanging out in a flyover state?

Consider this article, “Just Tossing Around the Old Bag of Corn” that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago. The article goes into detail about how New Yorkers are really getting into a game that we’ve been playing around these parts for decades. It’s how I imagine Columbus’s reports of the New World would have sounded to the people that he “discovered.” Dude, we’ve been saying the same thing for centuries. You didn’t discover cornhole, we did.

This is still "the beach."

My favorite is a recent post written by Wisconsin to New York transplant Megan L. Wood in The Awl called, “It’s Cute That New York is Catching Up to Wisconsin.” It expresses similar thoughts on how people in New York are now just discovering “new trends” that Wisconsinites have been setting for years.

It’s time to set the record straight. Wisconsin ain’t no flyover state, it is the real deal. You know you love us and secretly wish that you could be more like us. It’s time to put an end to that ridiculous nickname and realize that things that happen in Wisconsin are as relevant as things that happen on the coasts. Sometimes, even more so.

Since 1844!

If you still need convincing that Wisconsin ain’t all that, then I’d like to ask you a few questions. First of all, has your state been brewing Pabst Blue Ribbon since before it was an official state? Did Laura Ingalls Wilder grow up in a log cabin deep in the woods of your state which served as the inspiration for her Little House on the Prairie series which later became a hit television series starring Michael Landon? Were duck boat tours started in your state? Is America’s Largest Water Park in your neck of the woods? How many publicly owned sports teams does your state have? Can you buy alcohol on Sundays? Was America’s first kindergarten in your home state? Does your state deep fry everything and then serve it with a side of cheese? Can you host a tailgate party at all of your local sports venues? Does your state have this many breweries? When President Obama wishes us all a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays this year from the White House, will he do so against the backdrop of the White House Christmas tree, cut from the forests of your state?

Oh and did your state do this?

Wisconsin “Budget Repair Bill” Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

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Don’t Let the Weather Rain on Your Parade

Living in a cold, Midwestern climate and having lived in other cold climates, I find myself wondering why I haven’t moved to Florida or California already.  During the heart of winter, when thirty degrees feels warm and sunny days are a pleasant surprise, I like to lament about the things I could be doing it weren’t so unearthly cold outside: dining al fresco on the front porch, meeting for margaritas and chips n’ salsa on the patio of the local Mexican joint, relaxing on the beach with a good book to name a few.  I then feel envious of the people living in Southern California who probably have never owned a coat.

However, lately the weather has been miserable everywhere.  This winter it has already snowed in Florida and Texas, DC has had not one, but TWO Snowpocalypses, New England has been pounded with snow.  There really is no such place with perfect weather.  That being said, there is no point in wishing away all of these less than ideal conditions.

Moral of the story? Don’t wait let the weather rain on your parade! You don’t need to wait for the “perfect” conditions in order to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities! Simply bundle up!

Here are some events you can still enjoy in the Great (Cold) Outdoors:

The Winter Olympics. The rest of the world doesn’t seem to mind standing outside on Cypress Mountain under the cold, dim moon to catch a glimpse of downhill moguls or cross-country skiing. Anything to witness Olympic Glory.

Mardi Gras and Other Winter Parades. After attending St. Louis’s Mardi Gras parade and celebration this past weekend, it dawned on me that I don’t need to wait until June to enjoy the delights of a street festival.  Just add a pair of leggings under your outfit, a couple extra shirts, gloves, scarf, and a hat and you can still catch beads from a parade for hours while clutching a 32 oz. Hurricane.  Added bonus if you can wear winter gear in Mardi Gras colors.

Outdoor Sporting Events. It seems to be a trend that hockey teams are ditching their indoor arenas to play games at local baseball parks or football stadiums.  The Boston Bruins played in the Winter NHL Classic at Fenway Park this past New Year’s Day.  Last year, Wrigley Field hosted the tournament.  I attended a Packers game in early December in Green Bay where the temperature was 20 degrees. I felt under dressed as I had left my snowpants/hunting gear at home.  Of course, despite the cold, Packer fans were  tailgating before and after the game. 

Grill out.   If you’re feeling daring, you can even eat outside on a picnic bench with a couple of beers and enjoy the wonders of your backyard.  However, most people would want to eat their food indoors.  I would argue that a cheeseburger made on the grill tastes better in December than in the heart of summer because it’s such a rare beauty.

However you decide to spend the rest of your winter, remember that inclement weather does not have to ruin your fun!