Friday, July 4, 2008


Vacations are not stress free. Not even close. All the planning. All the packing. All the spending. Although it is a good kind of anticipation, I always leave for a long trip feeling queasy and with a dull headache. As we hit the road, thoughts run through my mind about what I forgot to pack and what I forgot to do. It always takes me a little bit to relax, but once I do, it feels so good to be far from the responsibilites of day to day life.

Our most recent trip was to Wisconsin Dells. It was our first trip to that area. Rather than plan out an itinerary, we just set off planning to spend some time in the water and see what else the area had to offer. There was more to do there than we anticipated and we ended up adding an extra night to our stay at the Wilderness Resort, which had a total of 8 outdoor and indoor water parks as part of the properties.

It was a trip the kids really enjoyed and I did, too, partly because there was no itinerary to follow. Because I do a lot of travel writing, I always have a notepad and pen in hand, taking notes at every stop. Much of this trip I didn't have to take notes because I was lounging on a lazy river with a kid in my lap or on a raft battling a wave pool. We did manage to hit several attractions as well, though, where my pen was getting a workout. It really is a cool, kid-friendly destination. The kids are used to me dragging them to museums and historical sites that aren't always particularly interesting to young boys, so this was a nice change.

Because I had never been there, I couldn't comprehend the reports I'd heard about Lake Delton draining. As a tour guide explained to us, a levy break caused the water that was in the man-made lake to flow out into the Wisconsin River. It was quite strange to look down into this big hole of sand with a few puddles, knowing that just a few weeks ago it was an actual lake. The ramps from the Tommy Bartlett water show sat in the sand. Although a few attractions have been affected, most tourist spots are up and running. The Tommy Bartlett water show has obviously ceased, but the stage show is still going. We took a tour on one of the military-produced amphibious vechicles known as Ducks, which had to forego the part of the tour on Lake Delton, but still took us on a nice tour of the area and the Wisconsin River.

One of our spontaneous stops was at a little fishing hole called B&H Trout Fishing and Tackle Shop. It was just north of downtown Wisconsin Dells. For $4 a person, they supplied the nets and poles (perfect for me and the little kids - bamboo sticks with fishing line that were low-tech with no reels) Then you bought what you caught. I've never done serious fishing. I think the last time I caught something was in high school ~ a little sunfish at Wampum Lake. It was thrilling to feel a tug on my line and pull out a 14-inch bass. The boys each caught at least one fish. We're back at home now and as I'm typing this, I'm looking out the back window to see the boys playing with the decapitated fishheads. YUK!

It was nice to come home and then have a holiday weekend, which kind of extends the vacation. There are times we come home from a trip feeling like we need another vacation because of all the driving and rushing from place to place. This time I came home feeling the way I should - rejuvinated and relaxed. Earlier today we enjoyed a nearby parade and the food is now cooking on the grill. We'll end the day by watching fireworks. Happy 4th of July! Enjoy the day! Relax! And say thanks to a veteran!

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