Lightening Strikes, Maybe Once, Maybe Twice…

Photo Diary: Wisconsin Dells

If you’ve never been to Wisconsin Dells, I highly suggest taking a trip once in your life. About three hours directly north of Chicago (literally – you don’t even have to get off of I-90), imagine say…a less expensive Vegas, if you kept the large, over-the-top hotels but traded the restaurants and nightclubs for Native American antique stores, tacky t-shirt shops all offering the exact same variety of shot glasses, beach bags and keychains, and an inordinate amount of “vintage-style” photo studios. You know the kind – Where you and your poor family wear turn-of-the-century costumes and get posed with cap guns and beer barrels while they mutter how they’ll never forgive you for this. Have I convinced you yet?!

Anyways, when us Chicagoans are looking for a good, cheap place to run away to for the weekend where the drinks are strong and the activities plentiful, Wisconsin Dells is where its at. Besides, the only thing that surpasses the main strip – Motorcycle bars interspersed between the aforementioned photo studios (I’m not kidding, there’s at least five there and they’re all within a mile of each other), a handful of haunted houses and a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, the best fudge shops you’ll ever find in the Midwest and a plethora of cheap motels that haven’t changed at all since the 1950’s within walking distance  – is the people-watching. The characters there are like nothing else in the world – What rock they all crawl from under and how they decide to all meet at once every summer in the Dells, I don’t know but they just as much add to the atmosphere as Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Meals and the giant Trojan horse at the Mt. Olympus theme park.

Everything in Wisconsin Dells is a tourist trap, yes, but it’s a damn fun one – With cheese! And I certainly can’t find a flaw in that.

From top to bottom:

1 – Giant apple in an abandoned town on the way? Sure, why not.
2 – View…Flatter than Paris Hilton.
3 – When you see a massive sign on the side of the highway with one word, and one word only – CHEESE – you know it’s time to stop.
4 – …And because the massive sign wasn’t enough, there was also a large fiberglass mouse on the roof of the cheese shop, cleverly named (I’m not even joking) “The Mousehouse Cheesehaus“. Warning – You can order directly from the website.
5 – Why WOULDN’T you have a medieval torture museum in the middle of the Midwest’s largest family-friendly water-park vacation destination? (Sidenote: My twisted ass has been in there – Ouch. Those Medieval people had a few screws loose, I think.)
6 –  Mama’s Garage Nightclub (which boasts warm beer and lousy service – If that isn’t a great marketing tactic, I don’t know what is), where you can hear the live music for blocks down the strip, conveniently located right next to the one and only Dells Bells Wedding Chapel (wedding packages start at just under $300, for those who are interested).
7 – Some of the sights on the main strip.
8 – Did we find a time warp?! Nah, that’s just the wallpaper in our motel room – Every six inches there was another hand-sketched nature scene involving some sort of evil-looking small creature atop a log in a river or hanging from a willow branch. I had nightmares our first night.
9 – If you know me, you know I love food. So much so that I tend to take photos of it (see my fried chicken blog if you don’t believe me).  Who knew you only had to go to the always-crowded, down-home pancake house in Wisconsin Dells for the best strawberry crepes outside of Paris itself?
10 – Map of our zip-lining trail. I wasn’t nervous at all. Nope, not even when we signed the disclosures and they said they wouldn’t be responsible even “in serious injury and/or death”. No way, total rock star about the whole thing.
11 – Hangin’ tough while I get geared up with our very cool instructor – This guy made us all feel about two feet tall, because he’d go last after all of the guests did, and he’d end up doing upside-down tricks and crazy spins while on the zip-line.
12 – Last zip-line of the day. Definitely got my StairMaster in walking up to each of those towers.
13 – And she’s off!
14 – I refused to start the car and drive away until Girlfriend posed with Sasquatch.
15 – …But she waited patiently to exact her revenge, knowing my weakness for lazy mornings. Also, points to my great watch dogs for just laying there!
16 – A candid shot of Girlfriend and I in our natural habitat, after the sun goes down of course.

I would also like to mention that a couple of years ago, while in a Harley bar in the Dells, there was a man who, in the middle of the afternoon, walked in and ordered a beer in a full Santa Claus costume. Head-to-toe red suit, hat, white beard, the whole works. The only thing that was a bit off, of course, was the fact that I was staring at him across the scarred dark wood of a bar and he had a lit cigarette dangling precariously from one dirt-caked hand. One false move, one small shake, and that ash was going to light that whole suit up in flames. I even took a stealthy photo:

See?! Who needs expensive commercials featuring happy, laughing children shooting down water slides when you can just pack everyone up in the car and say, “Come on, kids! We’re going to see Santa drink a Miller Lite and study the exact replicas of the devices we used to torture people in the 1500’s!”

Marketing, schmarketing.

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