Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Travelblog episode 2b: Done with the train...on to the bus!

So we got to Minneapolis at around 9 AM on Thursday the 19th, roughly 2 hours late. We, and the rest of the people on the train, piled in to the waiting area and listened to the Amtrak people yell at us to get in various lines. Well, technically they were just talking loudly, and the only people they were interested in at first were those who had connections to make in Chicago. We were off the hook and stood aside. Eventually (probably 45 minutes later) they called those of us heading to Milwaukee and points between (La Crosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage and Columbus).

The bus was nice, as busses go. The AC worked, there was space overhead for our bags, it wasn't too crowded, and the seats reclined. We took off and drove down along the Mississippi for a while, then crossed the river and stopped in La Crosse, WI. At this point (about 12:30 PM) we changed drivers and someone had the smarts to ask the driver "hey, will there be a lunch stop?"

"Nope. You can get a quick sandwich here if you want..."

Gee, thanks for telling us. See, back in Edmonds the guy said they would cater in some food for us. And while the bus did have several dozen donuts and some water that wasn't going to keep the Chicken children (or adults) sane for more than an hour or two. So off the bus we got, and in to the restaurant we piled. At which point the driver realized he'd made a grave error, 'cause there were six or seven of us looking for food and we were messing up his schedule. What schedule, you ask? I have no idea. He had it in his head that he "had to be in Milwaukee by 5", but we couldn't find anyone who cared. Maybe he was meeting his mistress or something.

Anyhoo, 10 minutes and $30 later we had some barbecue sandwiches for the kids and clubs for me, Paige and Mom and we were back on the bus and headed for Tomah. Tomah, a town of around 9,000 people, ain't much to talk about. The only reason I AM talking about it is that in Tomah we had to get the guy in the wheelchair off the bus. Which proved to be a Herculean effort because the new driver didn't know how to operate the lift. Even with the help of several passengers it just wouldn't go up. He finally used his "Phone a Friend" lifeline and learned how to do it and, 20 minutes after we arrived, we were on our way again.

The next highlight was driving through the Wisconsin Dells. You've heard of Wisconsin Cheese, right? Well, I'm guessing you didn't know that the cheese they refer to isn't the kind you eat, it's the kind you find in the Dells. You want water parks? They've got a bajillion of 'em. You want a wedding chapel? Done. Torture museum? Sure thing. And did we mention water parks? As Paige put it, it was like the Oregon Coast in Wisconsin. Awww yeah.

Finally, at about 6 or 6:30 we pulled in to Milwaukee where Apple Jim picked us up and hauled us off to the Lake House in Oconomowoc where we were greeted by cousins, cousins and more cousins. And spaghetti. And, more importantly, beds that didn't move!

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