Wisconsin 2018: Water parks, cheese curds and the Cheese Castle

My daughter and I recently visited my best friend in Chicago.  While we were making plans for our stay, my best friend sent an email with a list of things we could do.  One of the things listed was going to one of the indoor water parks in the Wisconsin Dells.

My daughter lobbied hard for that option and my best friend agreed to it.

I was happy to go to Wisconsin.

I visited once before in 2004 for a wedding of a friend who I attended school with in England.

My cousin came up from Florida to be my guest.

We were babies.

197885_4260389522_3041_n
Madison, WI, 2004

Not many pictures exist from that trip.  And the ones that do seem to feature alcohol.

Double fisting Spaaten at the Essen Huas.

Well not really.  More like holding my beer and my cousins beer.

199677_17695707840_1182_n (1)
Madison, WI, 2004

Drinking a beer with a lemon…what was I thinking?  My taste in beers sure has evolved since 2004.

This was at the Great Dane Pub.   I remember my cousin and I talked some guys about hunting deer.

198301_17695712840_1365_n (1)
Madison, WI 2004

This last picture I look hideous.  According to my cousin’s caption, I drank a few Blue Moons at Stillwaters.

What was I doing drinking Blue Moon?

This clearly was the age before I discovered that stout, porter, cider and pumpkin beer are really the only beers worth drinking.

I remember that there was a huge fish tank and I was talking to a nice hippie guy about fish poops.  We also had a conversation about government parks affect the local tax structure and we did not see eye to eye.  We agreed more about fish poop.

I was actually trying to remember the name of this place when talking to “Uncle Greg”.  I googled it and found out it had closed in 2005.

185655_17695732840_2115_n
Madison, WI, 2004

I actually just got rid of that sweater in my closest.  Right before I went on this trip.  It was time.  I probably hadn’t worn it since the Bush Administration.

190463_17695727840_1917_n (1)
Madison, WI, 2004

Anyway, I really like Wisconsin and was excited to get to go again and bring my daughter with me.

20180323_103049
Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

While we were driving through the Illinois countryside and we passed the town of Belvidere Oasis and while it isn’t spelled the same, it got us thinking about Mr. Belvedere.

And how come more middle class American families don’t have butlers.

I could use a butler.

And then we got thinking about how much we miss TV theme songs.

Like Just the Ten of Us

And Out of this World.

Though I still don’t understand why the alien father didn’t just stay instead of just talking through that weird cube thing.

and Small Wonder.

I remember my brother and I (and I guess my Dad too) watched it every Saturday night after we went to Mass.

We talked about other theme songs but maybe I will save all of those for another post.

Eventually we made it to Wisconsin.

29096033_2162019990481532_6081640911945596928_n

We were traveling along I-90 which also runs through NY.  I was trying hard to find an I-90 sign that was near a Cheese bilboard because I wanted to get a picture and say that it was just home…with cheese.

I was unsuccessful.

We were travelling to the Wisconsin Dells and I had no idea what a Dell was except that there once was a Farmer in one who took a wife.

This is what google told me.

Screenshot_20180323-125232

We stayed at Mt. Olympus Water Park.  I wish I got more pictures but it was hard between the two girls and having to discipline all the unruly children around us.

Yes, I have become that parent.

And I am not sorry.

Seriously, there were kids that were clearly taller than the maximum height for the kiddie area and some of them were pushing the little kids out of the way.  It becomes a real safety issue.

At dinnertime, we went downtown and had dinner at a Mac and Cheese restaurant called Macs.  It was amazing.

My daughter had the L’il Mamma’s- Cheddar, Mozzarella and Fried Hot Dogs

20180323_181935 (1)
Wisconsin Dells, 2018

My friend got the Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac– Cheddar, Mozzarella, Chicken, Bacon and Ranch

20180323_181938
Wisconsin Dells, 2018

I got the Taco Mac- Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Seasoned Ground Beef, Pico De Gallo, Sour Cream and Avocado.

20180323_181959

Poor Squeakers looks longingly at the Mac and Cheese but he can’t have any.

20180323_183905

We still made room for ice cream.  I hadn’t been to Cold Stone in years.  I love that place.

I got coffee ice cream with oreos. I even got a fancy cone that I was too full to eat.

My daughter and my friends daughter were more, um, creative.  My daughter got cotton candy ice cream with M & M’s and my friends daughter got Mint Ice Cream with marshmallows.

Whatever.

It was their vacation too.

20180323_192103

The next day we went to the water park for a couple hours before heading back to Chicago.

29572977_10160411021080436_1283154842883048537_n

As I mentioned in last weeks Good Vibrations Gratitude Post, we stopped to see “Uncle Greg” and his girlfriend and Uncle Greg gave the girls their own cheesehead hat.

20180324_132026
“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We were having lunch by the Capital so I felt that we had to take our picture in front of the Wisconsin Capital with the cheesehead hat.

20180324_134618
Madison, WI, 2018

We found this cool cow but couldn’t get the girls to look at the camera.

20180324_135359
Madison, WI, 2018

We had lunch at The Old Fashioned because I told the Wisconsonites that I wanted fried cheese curds and this is the best.  And they did not disappoint.

20180324_141508
The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I took a picture of my Wisconsin Burger on SnapChat but sent it before I remembered to save it.  So no pic of that but it was delicious.

Here is a pic of my daughters chicken fingers.

20180324_144428
The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

We said our good-byes because we had one more Wisconsin stop.

We drove to Kenosha (by way of Milwaukee) to stop at the CHEESE CASTLE.

My best friend said she always wanted to stop there but her husband never wanted to.

I told her this was the trip where dreams come true.

Because that whole YOLO thing.

It was awesome.

So much cheese.

I bought a lot of cheese curds to bring home.

They are in my fridge.

And before we knew it, we were back in Illinois.

20180324_175802
Wisconsin-Illinois Border, 2018

The end.

 

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #16

It’s Friday!

You know what that means!  Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

download
These are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. Seeing my bestie

    Last weekend my daughter and traveled to Chicago to see my best friend.  We also took a side trip to Wisconsin.  Travel post will be coming.

    It was great to see my friend.  We met at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 2006.  She was sitting in front of me on the bus ride back to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

    We wouldn’t become close until later that year.

    We both pretty much have retired from politics but we usually try to see each other once or twice a year.

    It’s always great to see each other and catch up.

    20180323_103049
    Wisconsin Road Trip, 2018

2.  Lunch with “Uncle Greg”

On our return trip from Wisconsin, we stopped to visit a close friend of mine.  Greg was one of Bryon’s best friends and he has been so good to our daughter.  You can see his kindness demonstrated below as he gave the girls their own cheesehead hats.

(I don’t usually use people’s names but I can’t think of a proper blog name for Greg.  Though I am sure Bryon would have suggested a few inappropriate ones).

Pro-Tip when visiting Wisconsin: make sure you leave some space in your luggage because those cheesehead hats take up a lot of room.  Though I guess she could have worn it on the plane…

20180324_132026
“Uncle Greg” and the mini-cheeseheads

We had an amazing lunch complete with Wisconsin cheese curds.

20180324_141508
The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI. 2018.

I also got to meet Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend.

I don’t give my stamp of approval to just anyone.  I am not Marshall Erickson.

But I am happy to say that Uncle Greg’s new girlfriend has my stamp of approval.  I can’t wait for him to bring her to Albany so everyone can meet her.

Stamp-of-Approval-Act-On-Achieves-Built-for-NetSuite-Verification-300x300
3. Making it home in time for our favorite community helper’s birthday

We made it back in time on Monday for a special birthday.  Another one of Maddy’s “uncles”, who I refer to as “our favorite community helper”, was celebrating his birthday.  I took my daughter out for dinner and our favorite community helper and his fiancee (a.k.a. Carter’s parents) met up with us.  I didn’t get a picture with our favorite community helper, but here is a picture of my daughter being silly.  I was tired and probably not the best company, but these two are family to me and it was important to see our favorite community helper on his birthday.

20180326_190449
McGeary’s. 2018.

4.  A night at the museum

This week was the opening of Canstruction.  A good friend (I will call her “the architect”) has done this event for 8 years.  Canstruction collects cans and other non-perishable food and builds structures to raise money for food banks in the region.

I am so proud of my friend.

On Wednesday, there was a reception that I was lucky enough to attend.

The event took place at the New York State Museum on Empire Plaza.

20180328_210719

There was a taco bar.

20180328_194554

There was toasting with friends.

11340

My speech got a standing ovation.

We’ll just ignore the fact that Kimmy Gibbler was the only one listening…

20180328_210626

I didn’t get any carousel pics but we rode on it and it was awesome.

Here are a few pictures of some of the structures.

5.  Surviving

Two years ago yesterday was when my life completely fell apart.

I am still here.

I survived and I am grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

Best-29-Positive-Quotes-Vibes-11