Green Bay, Wis. to Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
Our last full day of vacation had arrived. As usual, I checked the weather while he made coffee. So, you know all that rain we’d been having throughout the trip? Yeah, it was nothing compared to the splotches of yellow, orange and red all over the radar. The storms were large, strong and everywhere!
Although we had been looking forward to a stop on the day’s itinerary, we whole-heartedly agreed on a more direct route to our destination. I consulted my trusty iPad mini (the ideal size for saddlebags) and hastily scribbled our new directions on the back of the day’s original plan. Messy, but effective.
The bags were loaded, and we were off in a flash. We dodged rain drops through Appleton and Oshkosh. Our luck would not last long. Noting an ever-ominous sky, I snuck a look at the radar while at slower speeds in Ripon. The truth was undeniable: We were going to get very wet! But, we were in for the long haul and continued west.
A couple towns later, we stopped for gas, and I obsessively checked the radar again — only minutes now. The storms were back building, so there was no waiting them out. They’d just keep coming, and we’d have to face them eventually. I told Wally that the best thing for us would be to get south as quickly as possible.
Pulling out of the station, I looked up and had a quick chat with my dad. I knew we needed help, and I knew my newest angel would be there for me. (That’s a story for another time.) A few miles down the road, I heard these sweet, sweet words: “There’s a detour ahead; we have to turn south.” (Thanks, Dad.)
That turn took us exactly where we needed to be, outside the storm’s reach. We weren’t quite sure where we were for a while and finally made our way to I-39 and the final stretch into Wisconsin Dells. And right into the heart of another storm.
Those 20 miles took FOREVER. Nervous as hell, I asked him what we’d do in case of hail or worse. He told me we just had to keep moving and assured me we’d be OK. I counted down the miles, growing more anxious with every crack of lightning. There really wasn’t much in the way of shelter along the way, only sparse trees, minimal houses and absolutely no overpasses.
Imagine my sigh of relief when I saw the city limits sign. Then, I heard it: Ting. Ting. Tingting. TING!
Our hotel, of course, was on the other side of town. The hail intensified, yet we pushed on. Finally, we arrived at our hotel, and I — in all my sopping wetness — went to check in. Oh, did I mentioned it only was 10:30 in the morning? Yep, we’d made such good time, we arrived before check-out. I actually had to wait for a guy to pay his bill before having the most positive hotel experience ever.
Dripping all over the floor and with helmet in hand, I asked to check in early, offering to pay for an additional day since it was well before normal arrival time. Completely sympathetic, she said our room was ready and we did not have to pay extra. She even called housekeeping to let them know we were coming, so they didn’t bother us. Wally heard the entire conversation through the helmet intercom, and I heard him cheer when she let us in. Thank you, Best Western Ambassador Inn & Suites in Wisconsin Dells. You gave the cold, wet and slightly freaked out a warm, dry, comforting place to relax and begin to enjoy her last day of vacation. If we ever return, you bet we’ll be staying there!
Rejuvenated after a hot shower, we were ready for lunch. Since it was still a bit rainy out, we opted to grab a cab into downtown and soon found ourselves at the then-new Dells Distillery. (So new, they weren’t even distilling yet.) Over a couple beers, we debriefed on the morning’s craziness and fantasized about the food to come. The menu had a whole section of entrees dedicated to tater tot-based concoctions. Think horseshoe but with tots and tasty toppings, for options like Philly Tots and Tot-chos.
I ordered the Cajun Shrimp Tots, which come with a side of slaw on top. He had the Torta Tots with pork. Perfectly prepared tots made the ideal base for our meals. Unfortunately, I was too tired and hungry to think to take a picture (I know, right?!), but trust me, it all was tasty.
About the time we finished lunch, it had completely cleared up outside. Apparently, the storm front moved through faster than the weather app had foretold. Wasn’t the first time it fooled us this trip … nor the last.
Despite my lunchtime failing, the camera was charged and ready for our next adventure, which happened to be the primary reason for our stay in the Dells: Ducks. Now, I’m not talking ducks, like quack quack, but Ducks as in an amphibious truck developed for use in WWII. Based on the multiple tour outfits around town, the six-wheeled, propeller-operated vehicle has to be a staple of the city’s tourism.
The Duck ride took about an hour, tugging across multiple bodies of water and rolling down some coaster-y roads through the woods. The scenery was cool, and our guide was entertaining. The experience was definitely worth the price of admission.
Exhausted, we had an early dinner on the courtyard patio at Taste of New Orleans. I went for the Boiled Crawfish (1 lb. with an ear of corn, a potato and a sausage) and he the Crawfish Étouffée. All the food was amazing, and we were too stuffed to consider dessert no matter how much I love Biegnets. (Note: The Internet tells me Taste of New Orleans has closed permanently since our visit.)
Since we were seated on the outer edges of the Bavarian Village, we even managed to catch the 6:00 performance of the giant Glockenspiel, which puts the Pied Piper legend to music. How could you not love that?
Buzzed and thrilled we had left the bike parked safely back at the hotel, we opted against a cab and instead hoofed it back to the room. It was fun to take one last hazy look around the bustling streets before calling it a night. The distance passed quickly, and before I knew it, I dove into the bed and faded off. One more long ride, then we’d be home.