Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wisconsin Dells: Chicago's French Riviera

Ah, the Dells. A Midwestern institution.....washed away by flooding. Actually, only a levy was washed away earlier this year by heavy rains, but that also meant Lake Delton, the central and original attraction, went with it.

No bother, the go-kart tracks and indoor swimming pools were still intact, and the Tommy Bartlett stunt show was able to cleverly alter the sign at their entrance by crossing out the 'on' in their slogan 'The best show on water.' Lucky for Tommy he also runs an 'Imaginarium', whatever that is.

In any case, Lily and I went there with all my family in July.

We spent a night near the House on the Rock, the sprawling home/warehouse begun by a man named Alex Jordan in the 40s and still growing today. I went there as a kid and the fact that Alex clearly took loads of drugs and held massive orgies on the red shag carpet in the Japanese style cave house while the automated orchestra played, giant carousel of psychotic animals whirled, and angels made of life-size mannequins flew overhead seemed to have gone right over my head. This time, that was all I got out of the visit. Here's a picture of my bro, sis, niece and nephew in the Infinity Room that hangs out over a cliff. (It doesn't actually go on for infinity, which is pretty disappointing.) If you've never heard of it, see the official site or the wiki article.

Oh! I can't remember the name of this place!!! It was classic. The lady at the front desk of our hotel suggested this as the best family restaurant in the small town we stayed in near the House on the Rock. It was a small-town bar where the music stopped when we entered with three kids. We asked if there was a patio and they led us here: the fence was falling down, bikes were rotting under scrubby pines, and someone may have contracted tetnus from the table. My chair also broke while I was in it. Buuuut, the service was great, the pizza good, and we drank a lot. Like, a real lot. I've never really drank with my family before and man, it makes it easier.

Here we all are on one of the famous Dell Ducks. The jokes told on the tour are as much antiques as the war ducks themselves. Pretty certain they were the same when I went as a kid.

The best part about the tour was getting to see where the levy broke. The Ducks were sent out to help try and prevent the breakage before it occurred and our guide was actually on the lake heading back in when the levy broke. I'm obviously cool by association. A two-lane highway used to cross the bit of land that used to be where you see the break in the trees below. Lake Delton is on the other side; we're on the river.

For two days we stayed in the Great Wolf Lodge and swam in the indoor and outdoor pools, rode thousands of water slides, and conquered the Howling Tornado slide that shoots you down a vertical slope into a huge cone that you roll around in until you come out the other end. My butt got sucked into my inner tube and hit on the slide and the friction burned a hole in my suit. It was awesome. I went 10 times. We had so much fun that I took no pictures.

On the way home my sister wanted to stop at a Shakey's she had seen along the highway. Did anyone else go to Shakey's as a kid? It's a buffet restaurant, the highlight of which is getting to make your own sundaes. 
To my sister's disappointment, we found this note in the window:

So we went to Hooter's instead.

1 comment:

Maiasaura said...

Hell yes, I remember Shakey's. That sign is awesome.

Am I the only midwesterner who hasn't been to the Dells? I feel left out.

Infinity room = frightening. No support underneath, according to the Wiki page. Yikes.