Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Wisconsin Dells - What a Zoo

The Wisconsin River

We left Madison and drove 90 miles up the state to the Wisconsin Dells.  I remember going to the Dells on a one day trip when I was around 10 years old with my family and relatives from Pennsylvania.  We took a boat ride on the Wisconsin River in the afternoon and in the evening we watched a Native American ceremony performed around a campfire in a Menomonee Indian village. Boy, has this area changed and, yes, I can hear you snickering in the background!

Today, the Wisconsin Dells is a popular tourist destination proclaiming itself the "Waterpark Capital of the World".  Other attractions include boat tours, ziplining, go-kart tracks, water sports, amusement parks, the Ho-Chunk Gaming Casino,  golf courses, and entertainment shows.

The main strip is called the Wisconsin Dells Parkway.

The most obvious theme park with indoor and outdoor water parks is called Mt Olympus.  It's presence on the main strip is everywhere.  Depending on where you stay, the rates can go as high as $1,499 per night but you do get free tickets to the Mt Olympus Parks.

The buildings are all in blue and white and each Mt Olympus building has numbered sections.  That's so guests staying at the resort know which building to drive to.  There are 300 acres of outdoor parks and 120,000 sq ft of indoor space with Greek-themed amusement center lodgings.

And if you stay at one of the Mt Olympus facilities remember you do get free tickets into their parks! 

People of all ages love to come to the Dells.

Although the weather was quite warm the water parks were not as crowded as we expected.  I think it was because the summer was almost over and families were getting ready to send their children back to school.  The establishments were offering many discounts.

We arrived there on a Tuesday and they were offering theme park tickets for $10 per day.  By that weekend the tickets were down to $6.   So, actually, you could stay at any hotel you chose and still be able to use the Mt Olympus water parks.  I'm not sure if this is the case in the height of the tourist season.

We skipped the water parks and enjoyed some other entertainment.  We bought tickets for a dinner and show at the Palace Theater.  They were performing the musical, Million Dollar Quartet, which is set in December, 1956, at Sun Records in Memphis.  The show represents an impromptu jam session involving Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins along with Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records.

We had a nice dinner and great seats right near the stage. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures during the show.

Near the end of the show all the singer impersonators came up to the front of the stage and sang a few of their best known songs.   I  noticed Elvis was carrying a scarf and after he performed he motioned me up to the stage and wrapped it around my neck.  Woohee!!!  What a thrill.  I won't mention this Elvis was young enough to be my grandson!!!   

The next day we rented a pontoon boat and drove around Castle Rock Lake with the pups.  Between the movement of the walkway ramp and Desi's inability to see well, he was so scared he could barely get down to the boat.    

Once on board the Captain was in control.

The lake was very clean and once again there weren't many people on it so we were able to go all over.

Out in the middle of the lake was an island that many boaters anchored near.  The water was only a few feet deep so you could walk out of the boat and meet others.

The pups loved that.  They were also glad to get up onto the island and some dry land for a few minutes.

Desi getting his sea legs?

The Captain getting a sunburn.

My first time driving a boat.  Although it was a large lake, in some areas the water was quite shallow.  The depth finder on the boat would show it was no more than five feet deep even though you were in the middle of the lake.  That was a little scary.

Lovely large lake homes on the shore.

The next day was raining and overcast so we took in a few wineries and a cheese factory.

The Captain 'riding' a wild plastic cow........

This was a nice winery with good tastings.

This one is called the Wollersheim Winery and dates back to the early 1840's and was built by a Hungarian immigrant.  The current owners have a background from the Beaujolais region of France.  The wine was okay but not as good as the first one.

Close to the Wisconsin Dells is Devil's Lake State Park, a beautiful spot with hiking trails on a mountainous climb.  We decided to give it a try.  We enjoyed the first day so much we went back and hiked the other side of the lake the next day.  That was a mistake because the Captain's left leg and feet were put to the test.

The weather was a little cooler so we dressed appropriately.

The climb was over rugged rocks as we worked our way to the top.

Once on top we saw magnificent views.

Many young people were rock climbing.  The park has a disclaimer stating anyone climbing is on their own.  

The rock has a pinkish tone and many cracks but it didn't stop the climbers.

It was difficult to walk through in places.

But we really enjoyed the views.

On our second day of hiking the final journey was along the lake through a trail of broken boulders.  You definitely had to watch your step.


So after two days of hiking we decided to take it a little easier and give the Captain a chance to recuperate.

We also took a Duck Tour while in the Dells.

The driver had us zipping along back roads in the woods at a pretty good speed. I was hanging on tight because I thought we were going to tip over.  All the males thought it was a blast.

Hitting the water was fun.

Part of the trip took us on the Wisconsin River.

We also went onto a local lake with many new houses being built.

Finally, while in the Dells we decided to eat at this local pizza and brewing company called the Moose Jaw.

They were also ecology conscious.

But this shot was my favorite.  What a way to advertise.  Peace!

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