We flew into Madison on Saturday night and picked up our fun rental car, a Pontiac Bonneville. As Luke Skywalker once said, “What a piece of junk.” I think it’s supposed to be a luxury car but it rode bumpy and seemed noisy. We drove up to Baraboo to the Ho-Chunk Casino and Convention Center where my event was being held.
Sunday was a free during the day so we went to the Circus World Musuem which was fabulously cheesy. My family is, among other things, circus people and I went to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus pretty much every year from tot to teen. We parked the car and could see the park across the river and the “big top” and I thought it was the coolest sight ever. There is a museum with endless historical artifacts and the out buildings from where the circus wintered way back at the turn of the century (1900) and then the park has a parade and various shows like the juggling workshop and then we saw the big top show. We ended up spending almost the whole day there.
In the evening the Ho-Chunks hosted a welcome feast and we tasted traditional foods and enjoyed traditional dancing. Monday the convention began. Bob went back to Circus World to visit the research library and pull up some stuff on Circus Renz and I attended rah-rah sessions on Tribal Employment. Bob got the slot machine fever — he needed some change to buy a paper and I suggested he put a few bills in a machine and he came back upstairs a half hour later and said, “I won $18.” I, of course, lost everything I put in the machines in about 2 seconds.
Meanwhile, the World Cup Soccer freak was hoping to see the USA v. Mexico game in an ideal setting, hopefully in the bar on one of the numerous screens they had devoted to sports. “What game?” was the reply to my inquiry. They didn’t know about the game — they were planning on being closed. The Casino main floor wasn’t much help either, “The TVs stay on the channel they’re on,” I was told. “But it’s the World Cup,” I repeated several times. No World Cup Fever in Wisconsin. I ended up waking up at 1:40am courtesy of the unusual traditional feast foods and thought “well, I’ll just check the score,” and USA was up 1-0 and I was glued to the screen until 3:40am. Then I had to try to sleep after the win.
Tuesday I attended more sessions while Bob went off to the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin all day tour. He could not stop talking about this tour. “We put on little booties and walked around the house!” he gushed. Tuesday night there was social dance in the bar in the casino and we ended up sitting next to these ladies. “Where are you from?” one of them asked. “Washington,” I said. “Oh, we’re from a little town in Northern California on the Klamath River,” she told me. “I’m Karuk,” I said. We were sitting with three members of the Karuk tribe. We had a fun time partying with them.
Wednesday I left the convention early and we headed into Wisconsin Dells which, unless you’re from around there, must be seen to be believed. It’s an endless strip of gigantic water parks, indoor and out, go-karts, miniature golf, upper River tours, lower River tours, water shows, salt water taffy outlets — it goes on and on. We were driving along and I kept saying, “I can’t friggin believe this place.” We ended up visiting the H.H. Bennett Historical Museum — he was a photographer in the late 1800’s. We talked about going to a water park but those places cost $30 for day pass and I wasn’t up for it.
From there we drove back to Madison and wandered around the University district with shops and some atmosphere and also the State Capitol. Our flight home left at 6am Thursday which means a 4am wake up call which means 2am Pacific Time — it took me two days to get my clock back on schedule. But overall, I can’t say enough nice things about Wisconsin. It is pretty with lots of green and nice people and easy to get around. And lots of cheese.