Don't read this if you don't like detail.
All my bones are intact, except for one small chip that's loose in my elbow- and most of us, right now and including myself, have killer colds- but we also have smiles on our faces.
Place: Dells area WI
Time: July 13-18 (given a day or two either way of absence for the big deal CEO to go to downtown Chicago for a meeting and O'Hare for another- driving back and forth one extra time in his small just bough VW convertible- despite having a year's notice about the dates and also experiencing at least 7 more vacations each year than his Mother.)
Participants: 13 (all except for the absent above mentioned CEO important person who was minus almost 2 of those days- but had to come a day early to do Noah's ARK with his kids to make it up to them.) That's what he says anyway, but really it is because HE didn't want to miss out on trying that particular location after he saw the size of it.
13 people: 11 in one huge condo- 3 bedrooms total with 11 beds, full kitchen, spacious dining room, TV/ family room with spa hot tub (each bedroom had its own bathroom/tv/coffeemaker).
Two fireplaces that were beautiful and nifty- but for the fact that everytime I turned them on, someone yelled at me to turn them off- because they generated heat. A.C. which we actually turned off because the doors were open so much-ground floor- all one level too- fabulous access to the outdoor baby lazy river. (One of about 11 pools of different types on the property outside of the two main waterparks- Los Rios and the outdoor one.)
The other two (one has sleep apnea and needs to have more space)had a King tower room, and because we had the condo they gave them the cornor river view and it was stunning.)
All arrived separately but got their keys from me- all kids above 10 got a key. Everything was within short walking distance, including a good riverwalk along the WI River, which is beautiful and normal- not like Lake Delton, which was man-made and is now a sand box. In fact, the WI River found its own path, as water does, in a large rainfall and carried Lake Delton away over its dike.
The only sad thing on vacation was the sight of this now humoungous sandbox with all the piers laying on the sand, or looking into the gorges, and channel leading to Delton with all the nice homes having their piers ending into a 50 yard empty muddy ditch (was the channel).
Ducks, the definition follows: A 1/2 truck & 1/2 boat vehicle made by GM during WWII and still using this humongous 6 cycle engine and system that no one makes anymore. They are all very old- even the one we rode on- and we also saw the graveyard of about 10 rusted out Duck bodies that is a shrine to the "Duck" design. It has a flat roof, hard seats, and looks vaguely like a Hummer with no sides and just seat bars, no windows- that has hit Skid's Row level.
We were on the Ducks tour going in/out of the WI River when we saw Lake Delton close up for the first time and it really did make you gasp. They are fixing the road (washed out an entire highway) putting in a different kind of levy and it will be filled back up by Spring '09. But still, it emptied in just under 2 hours. The last police boat- couldn't even get off the lake in time trying to clear off folks who wouldn't listen, and got stuck in the mud in the middle.
Chula Vista is a resort. It is located about 3 miles from the Wisconsin Dells, Upper Dells- and is one of probably 11 or 12 monster parks in the area, most of which also hold resort lodgings. But some are just day people parks. Chula Vista has few day people- it's mostly lodgers at Chula Vista in those water parks.
Noah's Ark is billed as the biggest water park in the world. It is not a resort- but more like something in the area of size/definition like an EPCOT or larger- only wet. 40 year old "little" boy is biggest kid of all and he spent 8 hours here with his 3 kids before his wife could get up there and he had to get back for a meeting. Kids said it was way, way too big to do without parental supervision or buddy system at all times and even then- older than our ages for prime usage.
Other parks with huge followings:
Wilderness (huge and no "lake" view condos any more)
Great Wolf - my psuedo daughter's family's favorite-
Kalahari- resort- see ScarletGray's report of today.
Riverview- amusement park with it and right in town. This one is mostly motel/hotel people within walking distance and not a resort at all.
Mount Olympus- gigantic new one with a ROME hotel - has a Vegas look- almost exactly- get the picture. Only it also has a huge amusement park and also a waterpark combo with a wave pool that measures about 2 football fields- and a super surf etc. etc.
There are others, those are just the ones I happen to notice.
It's like Vegas- but with waterparks instead of casinos.
We ate in at the condo about 1/2 the time, except for my daughter's family who ate in all but once.
We tried and I give marks to (bread/circuses):
Crabby's 8/4 -Man, did they lose money on my sons, SO, and son-in-law! But gained on the kids too, I guess. The crab legs were better than good and not overcooked. The drinks were better than average as well. They gave us our own room. Decore, table, set-up etc. not so hot- and we missed the pirate show in the bigger room.
Mexicali Rose's: 8/6 For lunch with my SO, and just us two. Excellent food, slow service, but we had the dam overflow and all the river traffic to look at and it was a great lunch treat- different than most WI food on this trip. (In other words, not as good as Chicago- LOL). Sorry, I'm jaded.
Moose Jaw: 5/7 -Food average, beer and moose hats etc. and crowd good for the kids. I didn't go but got the review from son #1.
Paul Bunyan: 7/7- Good service, large and fresh portions, numerous choices and this review is from the only real foodie amongst us and his girlfriend.
Das Boot-Essen House: 9/9 Best pork tenderloin and shnitzel since Little Europe on Ogden Ave. Best kid entertainment category for the town "clock show, Hamlin tale in action, and rats etc. with mechanics every hour in the "town square"- this was a 10 for the kids. Even my vegetarian daughter loved the spaetle kase- vegetable heavy. Now we are going to make some rat pretzels with the little boys.
We all brought tons of food with us from home, and ate in for breakfasts and most of us ate in for all the lunches if they came back for lunch. One morning my youngest son cooked us all omelets with many, many choices of ingredients before we all went on the Ducks together.
HEY! We fill a Duck. There was only room for a 4 person family on ours and they were from AZ.
Ducks are not as they were 20 years ago, the liability has changed the routes. But we did enjoy seeing Cow Butt and Eagle and all those cliffs again. But they don't do the drops or any of the jolting and fun stuff anymore at all. 50 minutes and it's expensive.
Seeing Lake Delton over the channel was mind-boggling. We did see an Eagle.
Some of us did the Booze Cruise and some of us did the Jetboats through to Stand Rock. I didn't, as I've been there before.
Downtown we walked the length and its the same old t-shirt, antiques, and candy stores, just as its always been.
It's all about the water parks.
They have slides beyond description. Some are shaped like U's and you go back and forth over and over. My 13 year old Granddaughter hit the top on one of those. Some go straight down. Some go like rollercoasters. Some go like towel bowls and you get flushed. Some are like surf spray or dumping buckets the size of a room, and some are lazy rivers with surprises, and some are just lazy rivers. And some are towers with 1000 water guns or hoses to aim or defend your position. And some are hot tubs grown to the size of tennis courts. And some really are basketball courts IN the water, and some are water polo or volleyball IN the water. And some are just plain shuffleboard (outside of the water). That last we held a tournament on for 2 consequetive nights and my son's girl friend won on a real hard clutch shot with a tied score. And I still can't believe she made it.
We played Pigmania again after about 10 years. We played cards and my 9 year old granddaughter plays a wicked game of spoons. She can beat anyone.
We all had a ball, and now everyone is emailing memories.
I went down about 4 hard waterslides. Not the steepest and not the worst, but they were bad enough. My SO went on a 25 mile bike ride out to no man's land all by himself and got caught in a huge electrical thunderstorm.
We only had that 1 hour of bad weather and the kids never missed a beat.
One grandson is still crying that he had to leave, and it isn't the youngest one.
Wisconsin is SO much more groomed and neat and civilized than my wild MI. There is no garbage to speak of anywhere in the country. And there is uniform acceptance and compliance with signs and usage nearly everywhere. Service is slower and manners are nicer than in urban IL as a norm. Especially to personal conversation or questions from the servers.
But the real physical beauty of Southern WI and this particular area to me, just gets dwarfed by the other side of the lake. Always has, to me. It's green with a picket fence "neat", corn and crops bordered like a farm in Europe would be- with edges, and lots of buildings when there ARE towns.
This present WI in this area looks prosperous, numerous Cheese houses and lots of Corporate headquarters or distribution centers (I think I saw three different Pepsi ones that were 2 blocks long each.)
Forgot one highlight:
Smack dab in the middle of this vacation I went to Ho-Chunk and won about $250. I sure am glad I did because this vacation was not cheap.
I hope my Mother is cognitive somewhere and knows that her money was well spent.
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Don't read this if you don't like detail.