Saturday, August 13, 2016

Disappointed in the Dells, But Lambeau Is A Winner

Tuesday, August 9 - Thursday, August 11, 2016
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Long before our launch day in 2015, I kept a Pinterest board of beautiful places I wanted to see. Bill bought me an electronic picture frame where I downloaded the photos, and enjoyed dreaming about all those locations I saw every day.

One of them is Wisconsin Dells. Amazing layers of sandstone along the Wisconsin River with lush green forests.

So naturally as we're coming east this summer across a northern route, I make sure we stop here. It isn't until I start looking for a park that I see multiple references to "water parks". Okay, so there's a couple places for the kiddies to cool off, that's nice.

Fortunately I find a park that advertises "For Older Kids", and the reviews say things like "this place is for retirees, not parties". Sounds like our spot!

We arrive at Country Roads RV Park on Tuesday and are escorted to our large pull-through site. The setting is ideal, beautiful trees everywhere, but none blocking our satellite. FHUs with 50 amp, a nice store, friendly people, picnic table and fire ring. And the most steeply sloped spot we've ever had :-(

Looking at the other open sites we note they aren't any better, so we get as level as possible and make do. It's a shame because this is really a nice, quiet park with easy access from I-90.

It's early in the day so we head to "town". I think there might be a town here, but it is buried under a giant tourist trap. OMG! Where are we?? Water parks line the highways like casinos in Vegas. Zip lines, giants tube slides, roller coasters, and spinning gyros. Huge, elaborate Roman ruins, Trojan horse, etc, etc,'s wild. For kids and thrill seekers, this is Nirvana. For us....not so much.

We find a parking spot - it's not extremely crowded - and enjoy a very nice lunch while people-watching. So many are in bright and neon colors that it's like being inside a kaleidoscope.

Apparently the only place to see what I've come to see is on the water. Wednesday morning we get tickets on the Original Wisconsin Ducks

Built in the 1940's, and used in WWII, these amphibious vehicles are rugged. And loud. And tight. And very cool when they go from driving on land to moving easily through the river. 

Our driver is a charming young man who delivers his cheesy jokes with good timing, and drives the beast with equal skill. It's not his fault this trip falls short of our expectations.

There are a couple spots where the forest is lush and filled with bright ferns, and there are sandstone formations along the water that are lovely. Maybe it's the dull, gray skies, or the extreme humidity, but the dells are definitely a disappointment.

Ready for her first sort-of-a-boat ride
Snug quarters - the sides are completely open for viewing
One area has pretty, bright ferns
Red sandstone layers
Hawk's Head
Wisconsin River
Entering Dell Creek
The layers continue far under the water
Another intrepid tree

You climb stairs to enter the Duck, but they sit low in the water
We definitely wouldn't do it again, but at least now we've seen the Dells. Although you'd be sharing it with Ducks and jet boats, seeing the formations in a small boat or kayak would probably be best.

Away from the amusement park atmosphere, the area is lovely. We take a drive through the farmland, enjoying the quiet.

Barns and silos dot the hills and valleys
The rain starts as we head out Thursday morning for our two and a half hour drive to Green Bay. With the goal to see as many NFL stadiums as we can, Lambeau Field is a must-see for us.

It's raining so hard that I pull off the interstate for 15 minutes hoping the worst of it will pass us by. Back on the road we manage to follow the storm for a couple hours before it finally moves south as we turn north. 

Along a two-lane country road we see the Spruce Goose through the thick down pour. Huge props turning slowly in the mist, it's very eery!!

Too soon the wind farm comes into clearer view and the magic is gone. 

Although Lambeau Field is far from the center of town, the area is still "built up" - more so than I envisioned. A new multi-level parking structure is being built next door, but for now there is free parking around the stadium. 

Seeing it for the first time is very exciting! More than any other field I think, this place feels like football history.

Curly Lambeau
Vince Lombardi - never had a losing season in 60+ years of coaching high school, college and professional football
Built in 1957, Lambeau is the second oldest NFL stadium
The Atrium is open every day, as is the pro-shop and the restaurant. But to see the field you take a tour.

Let's do that!

Jerry leads us through the private suites area to the corporate suite where he shares the history of the team, the stadium, and the coaches. He is passionate about his Packers and his presentation is very good.

More fine hotel than football stadium - the suites were part of the 2001 renovation
Jerry telling us about the greatest men in football
Similar views can be yours for just $160k a year!
Hard to imagine
Over 50k season ticket holders sit on hard bleachers every year - there are 125k on the waiting list to be one of them

Next we take the elevator down to "where the public never sees". We're excited to see the locker rooms and of course the field.

The huge team locker room where rousing speeches are given from the center of the G
What we actually see of the locker room. It is, afterall, hallowed ground!
Nothing prepares us for the next part. Seriously. We stand in our group where Jerry tells us about the thrill of entering the field to the sound of 80k screaming fans. Okay, there's nobody here today. He tells us that when a recently retired player was asked what he missed the most, he said it was the tunnel on game day. Okay, we're not players, there's no game being played.

But when they open those big doors, and the recorded sound of that stadium full of fans echoes down the hall - it kicks your ass! We both have goosebumps. Everyone has big smiles. We're all laughing. Tessa's tail is wagging.

It is absolutely the highlight of the day!

We are a small team
but the cheering crowd loves us :-)
Lambeau Field!
We're really here
Ginormous new-ish scoreboard/replay screen
They cut the grass every other day, and use a hundred gallons of paint for game day
Unbeknownst to us, today is the Packers' birthday. The team was formed on August 11, 1919! To celebrate, and because it's getting late and we're starving, we have lunch at the very posh stadium restaurant - 1919 Kitchen and Tap.

This pro-shop is like a mall! Not just the usual shirts and hats and beer koozies - this place has everything for your home, your vehicle, your every thing.

The Atrium makes this a year-round place to visit - restaurant on the ground floor.
So. Much. Packers.
When in Rome.......
Everyone who said this is a unique experience is absolutely right. Even if you're not football nutters like us, you'll enjoy the magic that is Lambeau Field.

Moving through eastern states is definitely "quicker", and Friday we move into Illinois. 


  1. When we were near there, at Door County, someone suggested to us to take the Packers Tour. We missed it but glad you guys went and showed us what we missed. I felt your goosebumps too.
    We did not do the Dells for it was touristy, but the Devils lake in Baraboo was a better alternative.

    1. We passed signs for Baraboo and thought it was a great name - should have checked it out!! If you get back that way, definitely take the tour :-))

  2. Seems like the Dells have really become over grown although I barely remember it as a smaller tourist trap when I was a kid. I'll bet the cheering crowd was very exciting.

    1. I was shocked at the craziness there - just had no idea! The tunnel was soooo fun :-)

  3. I didn't want to burst your bubble of excitement when you said you were going to the Dells. I did try though by mentioning it was touristy:) Not what we original thought either. Your Duck boat ride phot is are very pretty.

    So glad the drive up to Lambeau was worth it. It is a special place. The way they do the tunnel thing is way cool. How did you like the grass with the synthetic grass sewn in! How clever! Definitely a must for everyone like you said.

    1. You did warn me :-) And you were right about Lambeau! Yes, the sewing of the grasses was crazy - and it looks amazing :-))))

  4. You are exploring areas we have not visited...YET! I am making notes...and know I would love the Packers tour.

    1. I've found this route more challenging than others because I know so little about the areas we're moving through - but Lambeau is a wonderful stop!

  5. I've often said been been many, many places but we haven't really seen them. So much of our travels was while we working so we may have been there but not really checked them out. I understand keeping a Pinterest board of places to see. I still have quite a list of those places that I may have been too but didn't get to see.

    1. We were laughing about the places we've "been to" because we had a lay over at the airport - decided any place we went for work doesn't count :-)

  6. Me too on skipped the Dells. Such a shame. At one time it really was beautiful. Your pictures were prettier than anything I've seen in ages of the Dells. I think you saw the best of it. No more back to nature there.

    1. They really have sucked the nature and history out of the area. The surrounding country is beautiful though - and so different for us SoCal folks!!

  7. We did a Ducks boat tour in Boston and won't do that again. Lambeau Field looks like you "scored".

    1. There are so many of them at the Dells, I can't believe there are even more somewhere else!! bwahahaha, yes we did!

  8. We have a friend who is a Packer Backer and nearly everything in her house is green or yellow. When they lived here in Minneapolis they would go to Vikings vs Packers games wearing Packers jerseys. Risky behavior. :)

    1. Definitely risky! The stadiums are so close, the open rivalry of the Vikings, Packers, and Bears is really big here. That pro shop had so much decor, I'm sure you could do a whole house :-)

  9. Haha, love Bill's new "hat!" I'm not a football nutter, but the tour of Lambeau Field looks like a blast! I would not be wanting to decorate my home in bright green and yellow, though. So disappointing about the Dells—although you did get some good photos. The tourist trap aspect sounds awful!

    1. We'll never be cheeseheads, but we do like the Packers :-) Aren't the colors just the worst?? Everything looks like corn cobs!

  10. As I said on FB, I'm not a football fan but loved the tour of the Packer's stadium! I was on a corporate tour and we were served dinner in one of the fancy suites--and I got food poisoning! Our guide was an elderly gentleman, passionate about his Packers and yes, I too had goosebumps when they played the music and we walked through the tunnel onto the field.

    1. Oh no, not food poisoning! At least it didn't spoil the tour for you. It really is amazing.

  11. You've been to one of my favorite places on earth...Lambeau :) We love to take our T@B Packer camper there. In the past we could dry camp on the lot of the motel across the street, as well as K-Mart, but those places are now gone. Crystal the T@B owner

    1. How fun to have a little Packer camper!! Bummer there's no more spots to park it nearby :-( We sure think it's a great place.