[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]
Day 3: Monday, July 24th
The morning was spent alternating between packing, indulging in the hotel breakfast buffet — nothing special, but less stale and more choices than what we’d had in Milwaukee — and admiring the hotel’s cable selection, which offered unusual channels that we can’t get here at home like MTV2 and G4. We watched an entire (rerun) episode of Cheat! just because my son and I were fascinated by the idea of a TV show devoted to video game tips and cheat codes, even if the episode featured games we’re unlikely to play anytime soon (among them Batman Begins and God of War).
We checked out and drove straight to Riverview Park & Waterworld, arriving just as they opened the doors at 10 a.m. We originally wanted to be on the road to Minnesota much, much sooner, but the free passes were an unexpected boon. Given how much money we blew the previous days for so much underwhelming enjoyment in return, we were bound and determined to get our money’s worth out of Wisconsin Dells in general, in some bizarre karmic way, even though we don’t believe in capital-K Karma.
I was kinda pooled-out after the previous day’s festivities both at Mt. Olympus and the hotel pool. Since Anne hadn’t had a shot at water rides yet, she and the boy suited up and rode every single water ride on the premises while I played the role of our official bagman.
The Riverview wave pool was oddly caution-free compared to the Mt. Olympus wave pool, where warning signs surrounded the perimeter like wallpaper. The most glaring exception was a nearby doorway with a sign advising, “PLEASE DO NOT BLOCK DOORWAYS.” This sounded less like a warning for that particular doorway, more like general advice for anyone who’s new to the concept of doorways and needs practical advice. Otherwise, Riverview trusted that all its patrons were well versed in pool usage.
Our free passes only covered the water rides, which amounted to a handful of slides and a perfunctory wave pool. Since the morning was far too young to encourage long lines, one hour was enough for the two of them to ride all the water rides, go for an encore down one slide, and spend fifteen minutes in the wave pool. Our time would’ve been even briefer if it weren’t for a bit of equipment malfunction.
On one of the slides, Anne got stuck at the halfway mark. Her innertube got caught at the lip of a midstream pool and didn’t have enough momentum on its own to surmount the exit bump and move down the next chute. Other riders kept floating around her and leaving her to spin helplessly in place. For fifteen frustrating minutes no one offered her so much as a simple courtesy nudge while she spun and spun and yelled and spun.
Meanwhile, down at ground level and with no way to save her…well, maybe I shouldn’t have been laughing, considering how steamed she was. But I had assumed physics would intervene on her behalf much sooner than they eventually did. And she’s so cute when she’s ranting at top volume at anything besides me.
Thankfully she let me live and forgave me for my amusement, possibly because I had the car keys.
Once we thought we’d gotten more of a return on our overall Wisconsin Dells investment, we left Riverview, stopped for a typical lunch at Wendy’s (credit Crabby’s for taking a serious chunk out of our food budget for the week), and rejoined the open roads of Wisconsin. Yesterday’s scenery seemed less fresh to us, either because of our lingering bitterness at the Dells or because deciduous forests are only good for a finite amount of excitement.
The frequent billboards for cheese and fireworks shops broke up the monotony a tad, but Indiana now has a few of its own fireworks shops after relaxing our regulations this year. The cheese was almost a draw, but we couldn’t find a convenient cheese shop near an exit. (Maybe Indiana should consider investing in corn billboards and corn shops. Imagine the tourists’ excitement.)
We zipped down I-90 toward the direction of Highway 35, stopping once for gas and for more tire air. That blasted dashboard warning light was up in arms once again. I discovered to my regret that three of the four tires were just fine…but that the rear driver’s side tire was several pounds below what I’d aired it up to back in Indianapolis.
We were stung with a slow leak. I resolved to cope with it.
To be continued!
1. Riverview Park & Waterworld closed for business in 2011. Its former location is now home to Timbavati Wildlife Park, which kept the go-karts but now has animals instead of water rides.
2. Not until years later did our cable provider add G4 to its lineup so we could learn to take it for granted. My son occasionally watched of Attack of the Show; he and my wife developed a strange, mutual fascination with Japan’s original Ninja Warrior, which ruined the pale American version for them both; and he and I used to tune in every year for live E3 coverage.
3. I-94 through Wisconsin now has quite a few convenient, extra-large cheese shops you can easily spot from the roadside. No more exiting blindly and hoping you run across one at random.]
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]