Normally, February means Mardi Gras for my family, but this year we traveled to Wisconsin to visit family and friends. My kids had never seen snow before, so we used our Mardi Gras break to visit and play (even if our relatives thought we were bonkers for coming up north in the middle of winter!).
Well, we didn’t entirely skip Mardi Gras parades, especially with friends in town from Philly.
We took the train from New Orleans to Chicago, an overall pleasant experience–more spacious than a plane, and less stressful than driving–though we rattled around much more than I remembered, and none of us slept in our coach seats despite the 19-hour trip (plus 5 for a freight-train accident ahead of us).
When we finally arrived in Wisconsin, the kids had their first snowball fight and built a “snow child.” We went sledding with my cousin, her kids, and my niece, a blast even if climbing back up the hill was rough!
On Mardi Gras day, we brought a taste of New Orleans to Wisconsin: gumbo, a homemade king cake (courtesy of my 13-year-old), and WWOZ. My mom and cousin brought paczki, a Polish donut eaten during Mardi Gras. I never thought I’d love something filled with prunes so much (the cherry, raspberry, and cream were also fantastic).
We hadn’t seen my mom, brothers, nieces, or cousins since before Covid, so we had a wonderful reunion. Several, actually!
An ice storm kept us inside for the next day and a half watching movies and drinking cocoa. Once it cleared, we met dear friends who make me laugh so hard my belly hurts. We went to Organ Piper Pizza Palace, a delightful Wisconsin oddity with good food and a guy who plays requests on the Wurlitzer. Stairway to Heaven, anyone?
For our last day in Wisconsin, we visited the Rock Snowpark for tubing and an outdoor fire pit (and more hot cocoa). Maybe next time we’ll try skiing…or snowboarding. On our last night, fresh snow fell. As my son said, in just a week we experienced a a whole charcuterie board of snow.
After lunch with my mom and her husband on Saturday, we drove to Chicago to meet friends from college we hadn’t seen in ages. The time flew by, and we raced to catch our train.
This time we had bunk beds, a big improvement for sleeping. Even if the kids napped in the car.
Before we knew it, we were back home where it was 78 degrees with azaleas already in bloom (the closest we get to snow down here). It’s always hard to say goodbye, but I hope we can see everyone again soon. Maybe down this way next Mardi Gras (bring paczki!).
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