The chronicles of my trip to Wisconsin
Wow, this is a few days overdue. Well, when I got home, chronicling the trip was the last thing on my mind. Coupled with the fact I tend to procrastinate more often than not, and you got me not wanting to write about it. But I must get this done otherwise it’s gonna eat at me. Lingering things do that to me.
So, I had never been to Wisconsin before. This was more of a family bonding trip for my dad, he had known many of the people since his youth, and I didn’t remember any of these people. I will say they’re all very nice. Well, except for my aunt Theresa, who we stayed with. I have nothing against her, she’s a nice and friendly woman, reminding me of my late grandma on my mom’s side. But she has the sort of vitriol of poking fun at me for the sake of humor. To be honest, this always bothers me. I know it’s to be taken in jest, but with how my mind works, I cannot easily separate satire for seriousness, so I automatically think everything is true. Theresa also has a very large Elvis Presley collection, complete with clocks, memorabilia, you name it. Every room had Elvis in there somewhere, except the bathroom. Kinda funny when you dedicate every room in the house to Elvis except the one type of room where he died in. Also, a broken clock of 50’s-era Elvis was watching me sleep the whole week. It stopped being kinda creepy after the second day.
On Friday (7/16), we got up at 4AM to catch a flight from Portland International Airport (PDX) to Denver International Airport (DEN), then another flight from DEN to Austin Straubel Airport (GRB). Despite a hangup at PDX where they had to clarify that there were two people on the same flight with the same name and that it wasn’t a computer error, we got through both airports fine. The flight from PDX to DEN even had TV. Only problem is that it cost $6 after takeoff, and you couldn’t even watch the Navigation channel to see how far we were in the flight.
Friday was basically a “sleep in” day, I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and I was severely drowsy once we landed in Green Bay. We later went to a restaurant, which I’ll cover in the following blog, and met some of the family. After we ate, we went back to my aunt’s place and stayed the night as we got everybody settled in.
Saturday (7/17) was meeting families in person, talking and reminiscing. Well, for my parents anyway, I was doing the “sleep on the side of couches since I was up until 4 in the morning” thing. One of the families had a small plant collection, with some African Violets and Summer cacti. My dad did a lot of gardening, not so much anymore, but we still have a bunch of roses outside our house.
Later on, they decided to visit another family, but I was still wiped out from travel and not getting much sleep, so I opted out, instead deciding to watch a baseball game of Yankees vs. Rays and the Yankees lost 10-5. At around 6:30, a cousin decided to call Theresa’s place and ask if she was there. It turns out she was mentally handicapped and kinda gave me a bit of her life story. Unfortunately I’m too timid to cut somebody off, especially of a mentally challenged person; so I heard her story, and conveniently the phone died. She supposedly called again a few times, all through the course of the week.
Sunday started out with a trip to a car show with an Uncle and my dad. Unfortunately I’m not a “car guy,” although I do appreciate older cars. Lots of cars from the 1930s to a few 1990s-era cars. They even had a dude with an Isetta, Steve Urkel’s car. I know it more for being a prize on a 1950’s episode of The Price Is Right I have on tape somewhere, but hey.
Afterwards, we headed back and met with the family member who called in yesterday. Nice lady, but she unfortunately lives in a residential home where she has to be checked upon hourly. It’s sad to see that happen to someone, and as a result, it made the whole visit all awkward.
On Monday, I woke up to find out we’re going to a baseball game. Granted, it was a minor league game between the Great Lakes Loons and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, but hey, it’s better than nothing. I haven’t gone to a sporting event since the TrailBlazers played years ago, but I forgot how much crowd interaction there is between innings. T-shirts, mini games on the field for small prizes (one was a boxing game with massively huge gloves, set to the movie theme of MORTAL KOMBAT! That amused the hell out of me), even people getting free bratwurst and such. I might have to visit more sporting events like that, it was kinda fun.
Tuesday was more family visiting, and such. Not much more I can say there, except we tried to find a family’s lake house since one of the uncles offered us a chance to visit it. We ended up missing the first turn it was on. When we got there, we find out he wasn’t even there! We met with them at their place, and I finally got to access the internet from their laptop for the first time. I had like a dozen emails.
On Wednesday, however, we got to see a lake house nearby Lily Lake, near Wausau, WI. It’s a really nice place despite a musty smell due to someone thinking putting plywood on wet concrete was a good idea. My dad has considered staying up there for a few days if we go next year. I wouldn’t mind, really.
On our way back, we stopped by the Potawatomi Casino down near Wausau, WI. After we ate there, we decided to do some gambling. Paulie, the guy who took us to see the Lake House, got a little money, while dad and I ate through $100 through slot machines. After that, dad made a comment that people lose money just as fast as we just did, and I decided to give this Joker’s Wild slot machine a chance, this time with my own money. It was a penny machine, and by penny machine we mean “It costs 40 cents for one pull.” I had to continually put in dollar bills because I’d have insufficient credits needed to spin. But after I decided to risk a 160 credit spin, I got three jokers and a wild on the slots. Thus began my climb into snagging some bonus cash. A bonus that’s like Beat the Devil from the TV show started playing. Every time I hit credits, I got closer to hitting a bonus threshold. I eventually got to the bronze level, and once a devil came up, the bonus stopped. I then looked at my credits: $43.80. I had made $40 out of $3, proving my dad wrong. After one botched $2 spin, I cashed out, $41 richer. Gambling is fun and fascinating, but only when you win.
On the last day of the trip, Thursday, we saw some family members for the last time. We got to have a nice lunch at one of the families we met on Saturday, which consisted of many corn-on-the-cobs and one sloppy joe. Which I found out are also called “Spanish Hamburgers.” News to me. Other than that, not much happened on the last day.
On Friday, we packed up ready to go. We first stopped at a nearby coffee shop were some of the family members resided, and everybody but me had a few cups of coffee and such. Eventually we had to make a slight dash to the airport, and then we had one of the worst airline experiences I’ve seen. Keep in mind I can easily recall the last times I’ve flown somewhere in reverse chronological order: PAX 2009, meeting with my dying Grandma in 2008, going to Vegas that same year, and before that was probably Disneyland and Vegas in 1996.
First, the airline (Frontier, for anybody who’s curious) was going through a merger with Midwest, and also had their computers down. It took them about half an hour to decide that they were going to handwrite the passes instead.
Second, We then went through TSA security and found out my snow globe (from a Rattlers game my aunt didn’t go to) and a tube of toothpaste couldn’t go into the carry-on, thus resulting in me rushing to the front desk, and getting them in the other bags. The line was STILL backed up, longer than any other airline there, plus I was in a panic because I thought the plane was gonna take off in twenty minutes. Then I was told that the plane was delayed, which caused my panic to immediately dissipate. After the delay, we eventually got proper boarding passes for the GRB to DEN flight.
Third, since it was delayed, we got into DEN a little later than usual. The tanned woman who was our stewardess on the flight said that the Portland gate was “two gates away” when we were at gate 50 (It wasn’t, it was at gate 32), and that we actually MISSED the flight to Portland due to the delayed flight. My dad was furious, he complained to customer service and thankfully got us on the next flight to Portland, but since it was at-the-last-moment, all three of us were spread out on different seats. Other than my PSP’s battery being on the brink of death, the flight back was problem-free.
Regardless, I think this story gave us two lessons: Don’t book your airline tickets at “Cheapoair.com,” and don’t fly Frontier Airlines. We didn’t even get anything like free TV out of the deal for the changed flight arrangements and putting us through trouble of being briefly stuck in Denver. I think that if we miss a connecting flight due to some problem on your end, we should be compensated as such.
Even with that last speed bump, I’d have to actually say that the trip was a fun one. I wouldn’t mind going next year. Dad said he wanted to drive to Green Bay and see the Packers Hall of Fame, visit a few other locations, hell, we were even considering driving to Minnesota to see the Mall of America! This was before dad realized that all the family visits would take up the week’s time. Maybe next year.