Our week with the Paeper/Jones' continues. It was back in the car for us. We were getting out of town and headed for the woods for a couple days.
Drive 2.5 hours northwest of Milwaukee and you will find a little place called Devil's Lake. This splendid spot is very dear to my heart as I grew up coming to this place. This time I was blessed enough to show it to my great friends.
The first afternoon was spent getting supplies, acquiring fishing lisences for the boys, getting owned in Bag-O, cooking a fantastic camp meal, making and eating the best s'more of my life, and drinking a few beers around a blazing campfire... Perfect!!
The next day brought yet another bright sun-shiny day. A splendid day for a 3 hour hike for Rachel and I, and a nice long morning fishing session for the boys. Adrian made out with a few catches and Liam was robbed at least that many times. Liam resigned to call it quits for the time being and try his hand again later that evening for a bit of redemption.
We grabbed some lunch at the adorable camp grill and made a quick run to town for a couple more supplies and a vital piece for our temporarily out-of-service campstove.
After returning, it was straight to the lake for fun, sun, beers, Bag-O, and dips in the lake. As the sun was fading, the boys once again grabbed their fishing rods, while us ladies grabbed the wine, music, and snacks and found a large rocks aside the lake.
We passed the next hour and half chatting, laughing, sipping wine, eating veggies, crackers, and cheese, lakeside as Sam Cook sang the sun to bed for the evening. Once again... Perfect.
In the morning, we hit the trail for another hike. This one took us up and over the west bluff for a 1.5-2 hour jaunt. It was a beautiful day and the views of the lake from above was stunning.
After finishing up, we packed it in and were heading to the Wisconsin Dells for some tacky, cheesy, tourist-trap goodness. Our first stop was lunch. We dined on Pizza and Beer at Moosejaw, a Wisconsin Dells instutution. The beer tasted a bit off, but it was liquid and it wad cold, so it worked for us.
We checked out a number of sketchy looking, run-down roadside motels for the evening, but settled on the International Motel. What makes this place 'International' escaped us all, but they did have a pool (which was essential for this nearly 10th consecutive 100 degree day), cable, A/C, AND a pretty badass Game room.
Our afternoon was lazily spent rotating from lounge chair, to pool, to regular games of poolside Bag-O. Just the relaxation we were looking for.
That evening we ventured out into the heart of the Dells passing fudge shops, moccasin stores, old time photos, and amusements of every description, before reaching another Dells institution; The Showboat Saloon.
Cracked peanut shells on the floor, On Stage Karaoke, Free Shuffle board... This is my kind of place! I was a bit lucky to have made it in as I haven't thought about bringing my license out for nearly a year, but the kind tender of bar overlooked this detail and poured Rachel and I a stiff vodka & soda anyway.
After getting smoked for my last time by Rachel in 'pub sports' I was ready to call it for a while. We ventured out to roam the streets for a late dinner. By this time of night the Old-Time Photos and street caricature sketches were almost impossible to refuse. Luckily we found a place to eat before things got 'too crazy'. We settled on a place called High Rock. We dined on the late night small plates and had a few drinks.
Soon the night caps were out and the eyelids (for some of us) were getting a bit heavy. We somehow managed to talk Liam back to the splendid International Motel. Soon we were all whisked away to alcohol-infused sleep.
We awoke with the heavy sinking feeling of realizing it's out last day together. The boys went for a swim and together we packed up (the yet to be named) VW wagon that will be serving as both mode of transport & home for Rachel and Liam over the coming weeks as they embark on an epic west coast roadie.
Pulling out of the International Motel with heavy hearts we knew only one thing could brighten our spirits now... Denny's breakfast.
It has got to be 15 years at least since I have stepped into a Denny's. Other than a few menu additions, I don't think much has changed in that time... God Bless it. This particular location was heaving with families... Maybe they all are, who knows??!
The bottomless coffee was a thing of magic, and all these different options to create your own 'Slam', just wow! We wanted to show Liam the true definition of America... only, all he ordered was two pieces of white toast and an iced tea!!! We were going to have to show him how it was done!
Moons over My Hamy for Ado, Blueberry Pancakes Slam for Rachel, and my Slam consisted of an English muffin w/ egg and fruit w/ yogurt. That's how it's done, my friend.
Back in the car and heading out. We quickly pulled out of the Dells and waved goodbye to the tacky goodness that brought us so many laughs. Something tells me we may be back, after all there are go-carts that need riding, water-slides that need sliding, fudge that needs eating, mini-golf that needs playing, and we will ride that terribly dangerous looking 'sky-needle thingy', mark my words.
So off we went, but not before a stop at the ooooooollllllleeeee, Circus World Museum. Rachel and I somehow managed to convince the boys to do this, and boy am I glad we did! To think the epicenter of all Circus lay here in this unassuming small town of Baraboo, WI!
It is the home of the Ringling Bros circus, who later acquired Barnum & Bailey's (I did not know that!). We learned all about the brothers and the history of the circus, played 'make believe' while trying on some of the circus clothes, viewed all the crazy elaborate circus wagons, and even stopped at the freak-show tent, complete with Jo-Jo the Dog Boy. Just incredible!
We finished up and escaped the blazing heat back to the sanctuary of the VW Wagon a/c. Our last destination was Madison. We arrived an hour or so later, and cruised State Street for a bit of shopping and lunch.
Before long it was time to say our goodbyes. We were getting a lift back to Milwaukee with my Pops who happened to be in the area, and Rachel and Liam had a 5 hour car ride back to Minneapolis ahead of them.
It had been an incredibly fun week showing such wonderful friends from Oz my ole stomping grounds. It was So-Long for now. We will see them again in the fall, hopefully as neighbors in SF!!
Love you guys! Thanks for the incredible trip!!