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« Vacations, kids and electronics | Main | All 10 fingers, all 10 toes, redux redux »

Dells trip with the grandsons

The blog has been quiet this past week since the LWW and I have been on a road trip with grandson's Paul and Miles. As always, my primary goals was for everyone to have such a good time, we all want to take another trip next summer.

After picking Paul up from Concordia Chinese language village near Detroit Lakes (MN), we drove to Sparta WI to do a section of the Sparta-Elroy bike trail. Grandma and Paul has their own (rented) bikes from Speeds and I took (a reluctant) Miles on the trail-a-bike. 

The coolest (both figuratively and literally) part of the 11 mile ride was an old railway tunnel the trail passes through. A quarter mile long, flashlights are needed to walk the bikes through the very dark tunnel. You can't see the end when you start. A little spooky in "the tunnel of doom" as Miles called it. But we survived - both the tunnel and the trail-a-bike experience. 

After the bike ride, we checked into the old-fashioned Black Hawk motel in the Dells. We loved it - nice pool and comfortable rooms, just a few blocks off the busy, touristy downtown. The Wizard Quest adventure was a big hit with the boys one evening.

Blue slushies and motel waffles were mainstays of the trip. We all love breakfast, hitting Mr. Pancake, Paul Bunyan's Cook Shack (no bacon!), and  IHOP during the stay. 


The Original Wisconsin Ducks ride was exciting, especially when Paul took over for the driver while he took down a rain covering. Pretty scenery but no crocodile sightings.

The Big Kahuna wave pool at Noah's Ark waterpark was a big hit with both boys. Lines were long for the slides, but playing in the waves was more fun anyway. Despite sunscreen, we all wound up a little red. Fat bodies wearing multiple tatoos were in abundance. 

We enjoyed the Rick Wilcox magic show in the evening (Paul, an aspiring magician, explained the tricks) and the next morning we headed to Baraboo to visit the Circus World museum. Shows were fun, but the boys had little reference for "circus." 

But the old fun house mirrors were extremely entertaining.

From the Dells we drove to Prairie du Chien WI and McGregor IA where we briefly toured the medical museum and Villa Louis and then took a 2 hour Mississippi River boat ride, learning a lot about the history and ecology of the area - and how to make buttons out of mussel shells. This time Miles got to drive.


Our last morning was spent hiking Effigy Mounds National Monument north of Marquette IA. Paul and I did a 3 mile loop while Miles and Grandma did just two. Miles did earn his Junior Park Ranger badge so he now has authority to tell people to stay on the trails. Fantastic views of the river from the bluffs along with the mystery of old Native American moundbuilding.


After a boat ride through Spook Cave in the area, we made the long drive to Des Moines where we had supper with the boys' parents, exchanged luggage and said our good-byes. 

While I heard the expression "awesome" a few times from the boys, Grandpa probably has the best time. Now the question is - where next summer???

More photos on SmugMug

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Reader Comments (6)

What outstanding, priceless, memorable adventures, Doug--and terrific photos. Your grandkids are lucky! Some future ideas for family trips my own kids enjoyed:
- a "big stuff" tour around Minnesota (I can give you an itinerary that includes 24 large objects over 5 days)--actually finding the famous large object within each town and assembling for photos was fun every time
- buffalo and Native American artifacts in the Pipestone National Monument area of southwestern Minnesota
- a rented houseboat trip on the Mississippi (we went from Wabasha MN to Trempeleau WI--four locks--which was about right, pulling up onto sandbars to camp)
- and, of course, Mitchell/Badlands/Wall Drug/BlackHills/Mt.Rushmore/Devil'sTower

July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Adams

Sounds like a great trip. Makes me homesick for WIsconsin.

July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I always look forward to the annual trips with your grandsons.

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandra McLeroy

Hi Donna,

Thanks for the great ideas. We did find the world's largest turkey in Frazee and the biggest bicyclist and eyeball in Sparta. I'm thinking a northern Minnesota vacation might be fun. We did the Black Hills last summer and had a blast and hit Pipestone of the way there. I suggested a houseboat and got a pretty cool response. I have promised a trip to the Grand Canyon (along with a hike to the bottom with Paul) and DisneyWorld to the younger kid. Lots of great places to explore.

I suppose the kids are lucky - but so are the grandparents!


Thanks, Sandra. I hope you will be reading about them for many years!


July 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I worked for Rick and Suzan Wilcox for a couple of years. Glad that you enjoyed the show!!!

July 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

Hi Samantha,

The Wilcoxes put on a very good, very professional show. Interesting that one of their trainees did the show at Circus World - many of the same acts.


July 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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