I always get the jitters when someone mentions "Vacation." Something always goes wrong and it was a guarantee when I was just a wee thingy that before we reached our destination, I would be upchucking in a Folgers coffee can.
Travel did not improve as I got older, especially car trips. The Dells are only a few hours away, but I've only been there once- and that was enough for me.
Hubby and I decided to make the three hour drive for a quick week-end respite. One hour into the trip, the car started to overheat. Instead of stopping to get it fixed, hubby bought several gallon containers of water to fill the radiator whenever the needle entered the red zone. Our three hour ride dragged on to five. The car wasn't the only thing that was boiling over.
The town was fairly quiet when we finally arrived, which was understandable, since the Dells season was nearly over. We managed to wash up a bit and make it downstairs for dinner in the lovely hotel we were staying in. Just as we started to draw in our claws and relax, we heard a cry from another table. We turned to see an older woman choking and grabbing at her throat. It all happened so fast. A dinner guest got up, performed the Heimlich, then calmly went back to his table to finish his dinner. After about a minute of complete silence, everyone resumed pre-crisis positions, but we all sort of glanced out of the corners of our eyes as the elderly woman was escorted out of the room. We ate our meal and went to bed, hoping the next day would put us in a better frame of mind.
Our mood did seem brighter as the sun shone and we practically skipped into town where we then had the worst breakfast imaginable by the snottiest waitress imaginable. We both sat in silence, afraid to move in case Medusa became angry.
After all that gloom, I was still looking forward to the Mighty Duck boat tour on the Wisconsin River to see the glorious sandstone cliffs nature's wrath created.
The river tour was fabulous. It's amazing to see the tips of trees in the water that were covered by the rushing water from the glacier that formed the beautiful cliffs. Taking a hike through the sometimes very narrow passageways was wonderful, as long as you didn't have a 200 pound claustrophobic woman ahead of you.
There is a photograph by H.H.Bennet, taken in 1886, of his son Ashley, leaping on to Stand Rock. Instead of using kids, dogs were putting on a show for the masses. I wasn't crazy about that either, but I did want to see the famous spot.
Our only hope in saving the day was there, up above. There were possibly a dozen people standing below the great stand, looking up, waiting for the show to begin. We waited- then, waited some more. We could hear the dogs howling like bloodhounds nearby, and we smiled and nodded at each other, some more giddy than others with anticipation. But then the baying from the dogs seemed to be farther away. Could it be? We heard a shout. Mutiny! The dogs had decided to take this day to go on strike. One by one we left the Rock.
Tommy Bartlett and his happy, beautiful crew of water acrobats had long departed. It was just as well, since I always think of Janet Lennon as one of the so happy, so healthy, so cheery kids that entertain the smiling blobs on shore. So, that meant either going back into town... or dinner at the restaurant. Town, it was. If my memory is reliable at the telling of this tale, there was a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and hubby loved old Ripley. The old bean bank fails after that. I really hate that kind of shit, so, I may have gone 'Walter Mitty', imagining that I was back at the Rock, saving the show by my ability to talk to the animals and convincing them that the show must go on. Instead, I was looking at photos of people with lizard skin and pictures of smiling men standing next to their giant balls of twine.
I'd like to say our adventure ended on a happy note, but let's save that shit for fairy tales. Hubby and I bickered and snapped the whole awful trip back.
But, hey, don't let my experience stop you from heading there. It does have something for everyone. I guess. Keep a look-out for those dogs, won't you?
The French called it 'dalles', or in English, 'slabs' which didn't matter anyway, cause the English twisted the word to 'dells'. Oui, or as the English say, Yup.
*Photo by jmerhe of H.H. Bennett's great photo.