Preston and I have been toying with the idea of buying a small house and spending regular time traveling rather than in extra square footage. He has every other Friday off, giving us a great opportunity to explore.
I called him one day at work and said, "I have a great idea! Let's head out for a fun harvest getaway to celebrate the onset of autumn. We will ride a train, take a boat tour, and do all things rustic and quaint!"
So we planned a weekend trip. To the Wisconsin Dells. Water park capital of the world. We forget, obviously, that we moved away from New England.
It was only a weekend, so we would not need much stuff (read: everything our girls own). We did not have a long drive, with little to prep, so we could for sure leave on time (read: 45 minutes late). Our kids would sit peacefully in the back (read: cry the whole time) since we care for them so well (read: forget to feed them).
We pulled onto Main Street of the Dells at dinner time and our eyes grew wide. I turned to Preston and said, "The Wisconsin Dells is the age appropriate, riverfront version of Las Vegas." Trade out casinos for water parks, alcohol for mac 'n cheese, and spray tans for zinc oxide, and you've got the Dells.
As we drove past bright pink, blue, and green shops and shuffling feet dressed in Keens and Reefs, I felt a bit smug: we had booked a really nice cabin resort for two nights a little ways from downtown.
Cabin it was. Resort it was not.
I looked at Preston and laughed. The beginnings of this trip were quickly humbling us. I told him all we needed to do was pretend we were bloggers by profession. We'd take nice photos with plenty of bokeh and suddenly those bright shops became adorable and our lives enviable. He countered that we just needed to shift out perspective. We were high-level camping instead of low-level hoteling. Problem was, I didn't pack for camping. I packed a Nic & Zoe cardigan.
Our tasteful dinner of risotto with sweet corn and scallops came with the Wisconsin stamp: cheese on cheese. Good cheese, yes. The best cheese, in fact. But the enemy to our efforts not to look like we enjoy too much of America's Dairyland.
I had imagined our kids tucked snugly in bed in the cabin while Preston and I enjoyed our books on the front porch, holding hands and eating chocolate. Fool me once...
Preston slept with Halle in the loft where she chatted happily for two hours, finally fell asleep, then fell off the bed. I laid below in the master bedroom on what felt like a glorified air mattress. The dog moved from the couch to the bed to the couch and whined because he couldn't climb the metal spiral stairs to the loft. The baby, bless her soul, slept through it all.
Are you wondering how long we'd been on this trip by this point? Because yeah, it felt like forever to us, too.
In the early morning (curse the skylight--"Dad, it's morning time!") we sat on the front porch enjoying the cool air for five minutes before the glorious 90 degree autumn weather set in. Good thing our cabin did not have any air conditioning, or we might have gotten cocky.
To garnish our laughable experience to that point, Preston's Adirondack chair decided to take our high-level camping down a notch, reminding us we had moved very far from the Adirondacks.
As Preston laid on the porch tangled up in a broken chair, both of us belly laughing at the ridiculousness of our whole situation, we looked at each other sharing the same thought: "Maybe we just buy the square footage."
And now, if you ignore everything I wrote above, "Look at this fun weekend we had!"
We brought our whole apartment except the baby seat.
Burgers with Brie, Cake Batter ice cream (size "Love It," thanks), Belgian waffle sandwiches with strawberries and Nutella and whipped cream and eggs and sausage... (Yes, I vacation for the food. Ask not where do you want to visit, but where do you want to eat. In that vein, we moved to a pretty great location.)
We even ended up going to a water park, where Preston and I took turns playing with the girls while the other giggled and splashed down the big slides. One benefit to the Dells: this type of behavior by an adult is totally normal.
Halle, Preston, and Sonny Boy took a very early morning trip to the river to let the baby and me sleep. Halle, bless her heart, just can't quite figure out "sleep in."
(Halle is like, "Guys, this Duck Tour is weird." Halle, the whole weekend was weird.)