Days 76-77: Minnesota & Wisconsin

by | August 2014 | 8 comments

Day 76 (8/15/14): Prior Lake, MN | Mukwonago, WI

From Minnesota, we headed southeast and reached Wisconsin, the 24th of the 48 states we’re seeing on our trip! We are now officially halfway done! One of my friends asked me how I felt about our trip being halfway over. After I gave her question some thought, I realized that I have mixed emotions about it.

Halfway done! These are the states we've visited so far.

Halfway done! These are the states we’ve visited so far.

In one sense, I’m excited and somewhat anxious to find our next place to settle down. On the other hand though, it’s kind of scary. When our journey is complete, we’ll have to face reality and figure out what to do for work. Also, traveling has become second nature and a way of life. We’re really enjoying being on the road and seeing America. As of right now, these are the places we’re most interested in moving to:


1) Seattle, WA

  • Pros: no state income tax, great downtown and suburbs, mild weather, lots of outdoor activities, proximity to mountains and water (ocean, rivers and lakes)
  • Cons: cost of housing, traffic, grey weather, dead grass in the summer (too expensive to water)


2) Minneapolis, MN

  • Pros: great downtown and suburbs, affordable housing, mild summers, good job market (4.5% unemployment rate), ranked 3rd most liveable city in the US
  • Cons: brutal winters, some traffic, style of homes (newer but mostly track homes with little to no character)


3) Chicago, IL

  • Pros: great downtown, beach on Lake Michigan
  • Cons: traffic, toll roads, cost of living, brutal winters


4) Portland, OR

  • Pros: no sales tax, eclectic downtown, lots of outdoor activities, proximity to mountains and water (ocean, rivers and lakes)
  • Cons: traffic


5) Oklahoma City, OK

  • Pros: nice downtown and suburbs, minimal traffic
  • Cons: small downtown, tornadoes


However, we’re not sold on any of the above locations and still have no idea when, where or how this trip is going to end. The unknown is still a little unnerving to the planner in me. In all honesty, there are times when I miss the familiarity of being settled, but that’s just because I’m not a spontaneous person by nature and this journey is forcing me to ignore my comfort zone. It’s a good thing though! Routine isn’t living. I don’t want to just get by, I want to experience life and all it has to offer.

Okay…enough ranting, more on Wisconsin. Even though we knew that Wisconsin is the cheese capital, we were still shocked at the number of cheese signs as we approached Milwaukee. There was even a Shell gas station billboard advertising cheese and beer! Apparently there are cheese options everywhere in Wisconsin! It can be a bit overwhelming. Haha!

Our campground was in the small town of Mukwonago right by a farm. There were fire-pits but no WiFi or cable, forcing us to relax by the campfire. I randomly asked Justin when we’d start seeing fireflies, and as if on cue, we suddenly saw fireflies twinkling throughout the camp! Talk about good timing! It was surreal!


Day 77 (8/16/14): Milwaukee, WI

The main place we wanted to visit in Wisconsin was Milwaukee, so that’s where we went today. I was curious to see it since I was pleasantly surprised by Chicago, and Milwaukee is also located on Lake Michigan only about 90 miles north of Chicago. We started off at the Comet Cafe, an edgy Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives spot. The area on the way to the cafe was a little sketchy, but as soon as we reached it and saw it’s hip, artsy interior, we knew it was where we wanted to eat.

The brunch menu mainly consisted of breakfast items and sandwiches, so we went with one of each – the Comet Benedict and the Cheesy Roast Beef sandwich. The benedict was on a thick, buttery, flaky biscuit which happened to be the best biscuit I’ve ever had! And the sandwich was melty, cheesy goodness served with tasty fries. The service wasn’t stellar, and the food took forever. I suppose that had something to do with their signs advertising “slow food” versus fast food. However, the food was definitely worth it! For dessert, we took a piece of Cheddar Bacon Apple Pie to go since we were in Wisconsin after all and still needed some cheddar.  🙂

Bradford Beach

Bradford Beach

Next, we drove a couple of blocks east over to Lake Michigan. We took the dogs for a walk at one of the several parks nearby and were impressed with the large beach area lining the lake at Bradford Beach. Lake Michigan is so unbelievably massive that you can’t see across it to the other side. While gazing out at the body of water, it’s easy to forget that it’s a lake and not an ocean. Plus, with the nearby sandy beaches and multitudes of sunbathers and volleyball players, one can almost imagine they’re in Southern California instead of Wisconsin.

As we continued heading north from Bradford Beach, we ended up in the classy village of Shorewood. We enjoyed driving through the well-maintained older neighborhood.   After gawking at the palatial brick homes along the tree-lined streets, we finished our tour of the area by driving through downtown Milwaukee.

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Behind the Blog

Hey there! I’m Briana, a blogger, hiker, traveller, RVer, photo-taker, and National Parks lover who is passionate about exploring the great outdoors while practicing clean living for a healthier lifestyle to continue doing the things I live for. My goal is to inspire others to live a life focused on wellbeing and wandering. Join me!


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  1. Caren

    I have to say, I’m loving this journey you guys are on!! I was just talking to my hubby last night about moving somewhere less big and nutty. I could totally get down with minniapolis or denver. We almost moved to austin for a job opportunity. I can’t recall if you’ve been there yet or not, but if you haven’t – it’s such a great city and still affordable. THat said, it looks like you guys are allergic to traffic, and that’s the biggest complaint there right now. That said, I experienced their traffic and it’s NOTHING like the 405.

    I would totally do a smaller, up and coming city in the carolinas or the midwest, but i’m just not sure I could EVER do winter again. that would suck too badly.

    Have you guys hit florida yet???

    *Caren Magill* Founder, ProCakes Blogger, The Fit Habit

    [image: [image: [image: [image: [image:

    • nextdestinationunknown

      Yay! Thanks so much, Caren! Glad you’re following along and keeping in touch! 🙂 We actually did visit Austin during a different trip (, which was one of the reasons we ended up doing this extensive journey. While we loved the city of Austin, it wasn’t what we were looking for in our next place to live. We need greenery, and we did run into traffic there, which was a deterrent. As much as we’re trying to forgo traffic, I’m also trying avoid winter. Unfortunately, Minneapolis was awesome, but it has traffic AND brutal winters. I’m sure we’ll have to compromise on something though, so I might have to deal with a little snow (as long as I don’t have to survive blizzards…haha). I’ll admit, we are missing SoCal weather. However, we still need to see the Carolinas and pretty much the whole East Coast, including Florida. Fingers crossed we find the perfect location! Stay tuned! 🙂

  2. Jim & Linda

    As you named your top 5 picks some of the cons was cost of housing. Remember, the further you get away from a major city the less expensive housing is. Lots of really nice and neat small towns close to Seattle!!

    • nextdestinationunknown

      Daddio & Linda – Seattle is definitely the top choice for our next place to live! We loved the nearby Bellevue and Kirkland areas and would even be willing to look further out to find more affordable housing. I’m sure you could give us some good suggestions for other suburbs. 😉 We’ll have to find two houses close by though since you’ll be moving to the Seattle area if we do! Hint, Hint! Haha!

  3. Kat

    I LOVE SEEING ALL the states you’ve visited up on the board. I can’t even believe you are halfway done 🙂 no matter where you end up you and justin will be just fine because you are hard workers, motivated, and love each other:) xoxoxo miss u

    • nextdestinationunknown

      Thanks so much, Kat! It’s comforting to know that you have faith in us. 🙂 It also means a lot that you’re following along and keeping track of us. Miss you too!

  4. Caren

    Hey there Briana,

    Just checking in to see where you’re at these days. I was thinking about you this morning as even though we moved back up to the bay area, I still entertain the idea of moving to TX or FL just because it’s easier to live there from a cost perspective. (sooooo happy to be out of LA!)

    I know you guys are still on the go, but I’m curious, of all the places you’ve been to so far, do you have a destination in mind for the ideal landing spot after this is done? I’m really curious to know what places have resonated with you.

    Hope you both are well!

    Cheers Caren

    *Caren Magill* Founder, ProCakes

    [image: [image: [image: [image: [image:

    • nextdestinationunknown

      Hi Caren,

      It’s so good to hear from you! I’m glad you finally made it out of LA! 🙂 We’re back in SoCal for the moment while we get our business up and running (I’m still about 2 months behind on the blog), but we’re planning on going back on the road sometime in the near future. Alaska is the last state that we haven’t been to, so we definitely want to venture up there at some point.

      Plus, we’re still not 100% sure where our permanent home will be. You’d think after seeing all 48 contiguous states and countless cities, we’d have it figured out. But as much as we despise the traffic and high cost of living in SoCal, we discovered that most places worth living have just as much traffic and are just as expensive as California. This made our decision much more complicated. Every place has its pros and cons.

      We’re strongly considering the state of Washington as it’s one of the 7 states with no state income tax, and that would be nice if/when we start making a profit with our upcoming business. Also, Washington is on the coast while still having mountains, greenery and National Parks. We LOVED Seattle, but the traffic and expense there are both high. We also really liked the neighboring suburbs of Bellevue & Kirkland. On our way up to Alaska, we want to spend some more time in Washington to really explore different areas for a potential home.

      Texas and Florida are also great options! Both have a much lower cost of living than California, and they also have no state income tax. We’re not really fans of the Texas landscape, but Texas is booming business-wise, so we don’t want to write it off. We visited my friend in Houston and were surprised at the amount of traffic, but my friend really enjoys living there. We’ve also been to Austin and San Antonio, both of which we enjoyed. We haven’t been to Dallas yet. But of the cities we’ve been to, if we were going to live in Texas, it would probably be Austin.

      As for Florida, we visited a lot of different places including Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key West, Naples, Tampa, Orlando and Pensacola. Out of all of them, my favorite was Pensacola (great beach and a quaint downtown). I don’t think we could live in Florida though due to the bugs and hurricanes. Plus, when we were in Orlando, there was a tornado warning! Crazy, right?! Stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts about Florida to get all the details! 😉

      Hope you, your hubby, your pups and your biz are doing great in the Bay Area!




  1. Days 106-108: Ohio, Pennsylvania & New York – Next Destination Unknown - […] had already seen Lake Michigan several times: in Milwaukee, Chicago and while driving through Michigan.  We had also seen…
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