Monday, July 28, 2014

Wrapping Up Our 4,000 Mile Drive With A Stop at the Wisconsin Dells

Why is it that I always procrastinate when it's time to finish a project?  I'm so close, I'm almost there.  And then I stop.  Then I need to give myself a big push to get it done!  And so it goes with this post for the final leg of my trip with Lizz.  After a week in Milwaukee, here's the final 338 miles that got me here.
The landscape changed again as we crossed the border into Wisconsin, where the farms took on the look of the old red barns and silos I was so used to seeing in the outlying areas growing up here.  That sweet nostalgic feeling started creeping in, and my midwestern accent came back over me like a cold front.  We stopped in the small town of Hixton, known for its charming antique shops and suggested by my brother as a possible place to find mermaids, which I am always on the lookout for.  Unfortunately I only had one close call.  When I asked the owner if she had any mermaids, she exclaimed "Yes, I have one!", but it turned out to be a false alarm, when the mermaid turned out to be a hula girl!  Oh, please!  Thanks, but no thanks.  On the way out the door, I noticed this cute cafe across the street proclaiming the promise of BEER.  For sure I am now in Wisconsin.
Our next stop was the Wisconsin Dells, a very popular Midwestern vacation destination that I have visited myself many times since I was a kid.  The Dells have grown and changed over time (what hasn't, for that matter) and now are known as much for their large hotels with indoor waterparks as for their scenery and host of restaurants and gift shops.  You can find old fashioned amusement rides like this wooden roller coaster,
and this long arm that shoots you in a big circle while you spin in your little flippy seat.  I'm sure this ride has an official name, but for me the name would simply be "you couldn't pay me to go on this".
In a quest to find out why this turned into such a huge resort area in the first place, we decided to take a boat ride so we could actually see "the dells".  Boat rides began here in one form or another as early as 1856, when city dwellers discovered this was a beautiful area to relax and get away from it all.  The Dells now offer a one hour boat ride, a two hour boat ride, and a "duck" ride to get an up close view of the sandstone formations of this glacially formed gorge on the Wisconsin River.  Since we were just passing through, we opted for the one hour tour, purchased our tickets, and walked the few blocks down to the boat dock.  I saw some pretty local flowers,
a nice view of the Wisconsin River,
 and the boat dock.
I also saw our boat leaving!  Yes, that 2:30 ship had sailed, and we discovered when we reached the bottom that the next one was not leaving until 4:30.  This was a little disconcerting, as the ticket sales lady assured us that the boats left every 30 to 45 minutes.  Had we known that we would have to wait 2 hours for the next boat, we would have taken the 2 hour tour (which leaves from another location).  But it was what it was, and we decided to just relax and wait for the next boat.  And once we were finally on the water, it was a really nice trip.  We passed a lot of inner-tubers,
a popular pastime here on the river, which of course includes renting a separate inner tube for your beer cooler.  This particular group actually had TWO beer coolers.  That empty tube to the right represents the guy who tipped over trying to wave to us, and is now under water.  We also saw "The Ducks" which are vintage military vehicles used to give tours of the area, capable of traveling on both land and water,
and some gorgeous views of the sandstone formations that give this area its name.
We passed some geese,
and some campers!  These were the only people we saw camped on this part of the river, and I don't know how in the world they got down there, but it sure was a pretty spot to spend the night (since I have this new-found camping enthusiasm).
We finished the tour around 5:30 pm and bid farewell to the Dells, taking the scenic route for the remainder of the 130 miles to Milwaukee.  We took Hwy 16 past many large, pristine farms and then transitioned to Hwy 33, which took us right through Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.  The geese were so abundant there that they were literally sitting on the sides of the road,
and the land was thick with cattails.
This spectacular area was formed during the Ice Age, and now provides a nesting area for waterfowl and a resting area for migratory birds, including over 200,000 Canadian geese yearly.
We made one last stop, at Dairy Queen, for our final treat before reaching my dad's house, where we arrived shortly before 8:30 pm.  We'd made it, traveling about 4,000 miles total together!  Lizz got to work that night studying the map and planning her next move, on to New York to visit her own dad.
We would part company in the morning, and each begin our own individual adventure on the next leg of our trip.

That catches you up to my current location in Milwaukee, which is the area I'll share with you next.  So put on your Liederhosen, grab a mug of beer and a cheese curd, and stay tuned! But for now, thanks for following, and to all a good night!

xoxo Linda

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