Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday, 1 August

Today we did the full-blown tourist thing. We did it so well that we were too tired to write up the day, so I'm writing it on Thursday morning. Here's what we did:

Got up bright and early (for us) and took YumYum to the Pampered Pet, a highly recommended doggie day care just outside of town. It is simply too hot to even think of leaving him in the motorhome. A quick breakfast at a bakery downtown then off to Wisconsin Dells.

Wisconsin Dells  is the tourist trap center of the world, with an unparalleled collection of water-slides, roller coasters, fake Euroean stuff, and who knows what all else. We weren't interested in that. What  brought us there is what brought the first tourists there over a century ago, the Dells. In the Dells, the Wisconsin River flows through an area of rock that consists of many thin layers, some hard some soft. This results in unique shapes.

Unlike most canyons, the gorge was not created slowly over many thousands of years. The Dells were formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about 14,000 years ago, when a huge ice dam broke and released a giant lake (Glacial Lake Wisconsin) which roared down the course of the Wisconsin River and created the Dells in a period of just days. So while the exposed rock is some of the oldest in the world, the gorge is relatively recent.

The Dells basically belongs to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, so it should remain in its natural state indefinitely.

The tour takes about two hours and makes two stops, one at Witches Gulch (don't you love those names?). This is a very narrow gorge which you enter on a boardwalk. It reminded Gene of the slot canyons out in Arizona.

The other stop is at Stand Rock, a little ways off the river.
This is probably the most photgraphed f'ormation in the Dells. To amuse the tourists, they have a trained German Shepard that jumps the 15-foot gap onto the rock and back again. Gene tried to shoot it but wasn't fast enough to catch the dog in mid-air.

After a lunch on a deck overlooking the river, we made our way back toward Baraboo on the most tourist-trap section of the road to the village of Lake Delton. Gene had lived there briefly when he was 10.  We found the old school he had gone to, or at least the modern school building that replaced the one he had attended. Then he was able to find the house he lived in. It was still standing because it is on a back street and away from the commercial section.

Back in Baraboo, we went to the Circus World Museum. This museum is mainly about the Ringling family and their amazing rise from a back-yard tent show by the brothers as children to the biggest and most famous circus ever.

It being a hot day, we went to mostly indoor exhibits. One of the most interesting was the builinding full of circus wagons. We had no idea how ornate and fancy some of those wagons could be.

The museum also includes a number of circus acts. We caught a one-hour show in a building that resembled a tent.

 And, of course, no circus is complete without an elephant.

 We ended the day by picking up YumYum and driving back out to Rock Springs to fill the, now almost empty, fresh water tank with cold, delicious artesian water from Gene's cousin's well. Got back to Baraboo just before dark and fell into bed, tired but happy.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no! Not the circus elephants. I love the photos so far. Have been having fun reading along and catching up on all this today. Have to check out the Dells some day. Will probably pass on the circus museum.