Road Trip – Wisconsin

It all started when Sahil started the thread to plan a trip to Mt. Rushmore during the week of July 4. After many hours of planning Sharad and Aum walked out of the trip and Sahil was not interested in doing it with just two people. So, I was left high and just wanted to go out of the home.

My time to go back to India is near and I am just feeling a little off, just want to go back home and was in no mood of staying back at my apartment and watching TV for 3 days straight. So, I did some research and came up with a road-trip into Wisconsin and maybe even upto Niagara falls all via Road. It was an interesting trip in the end and this is how it went.

Day 0: July 1

It is Friday and I had decided to go through with trip. The first step was to go and rent the car from Hertz. Which looked like a 15 minute process took almost 2 hours come through and at a given time during these 2 hours I had decided not to rent the car. However, I was determined to make this happen and was patient to go through the process. Eventually, after 2 hours I was driving out with Sahil driving the Nissan Altima back to the place.

The next step was to prepare for other stuff – packing clothes, soda, iPods, tablet, phone wires and anything else. All went well and I finally slept around 11 to be ready to leave around 6 next day.

Day 1: July 2

I started the day early on Saturday and had plans to visit 2 places that day – Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue, Circus World and Riverside and Great Northern Railways. I never went to the Circus World and ended up being at the Medellin Park in Chicago.

From Big Cat Rescue, I had to back track a few miles to reach the Riverside and Great Northern Railways (bad planning on my part as I did not find out which was first on the route). However, from there on I decided not to go to Circus World and moved on to Chicago. A detailed description of my experiences is in another post here.

Day 2: July 3

Once I decided not to go to Niagara Falls, I had to find things I could do on Sunday. Having looked up at what all places Chicago has to offer like the Navy Pier, Sears Tower and a few museums – I decided that those are going to be redundant and not something new. Bhua suggested that we start the day by visiting to a Gurudwara and visit a Dairy Farm and decide what to be done for the second half. I have never been to a zoo in US so decided to visit Michigan City Zoo in Indiana.

The first half of the day was pretty good and especially being able to be at the Gurudwara and being able to attend the “Ardas” and have “Langar”. It felt so good, Even the experience to the Fair Oaks Dairy farm was so good – it was a new experience for me and learnt a lot on how things work in a Dairy Farm (just so many cows). The zoo was also nice and a different experience. A detailed description of my experience is in another post here.

Day 3: July 4

I woke up late on this day too and was already late for Bhua’s house. So I left the house hurriedly not knowing what was in store for me. Day brought me so many surprises – cops, lead to a deserted industrial area in Indiana, A wonderful house, an exotic trip back on my route to Plymouth and a companion on the road. You can read all of that here.

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Road Trip – Day 1

Big Cat Rescue
Image by Пероша via Flickr

This is a description of my Road Trip to Wisconsin during may last month of stay in US. During this trip on day 1, I went to a bunch of places in Wisconsin and one place in Chicago. However, the important part was that many of the places I decided to be, some of them were spontaneous and I was out there going for it.

I covered for 240 miles in around 3.5 hours to reach the Big Cat Rescue and it was a wonderful drive. During the long drive, I did have to take a couple of pit-stops. the first one was at the Three Bears Lodge. I have made several trips to Chicago and always wanted to stop here. This was not planned at all and when I saw it, I just had to stop because I didnt knew if I would ever come back to this place again. So I had to see it. And this was a good pit stop as I came to know of a lodge that has a lot within itself – indoor/outdoor water park, nice cafeteria, places to stay. I liked the place but this did not have any place for a good coffee.

My next stop was at Mauston and this was triggered by seeing a food outlet for Dunkin Donuts. I stopped at DD and ate my favorite breakfast – Bagel and Cheese. took a coffee, refueled and I was on my way to Big Cat Rescue. when I reached Big Cat rescue it was still around 10.30 in morning and there was just one other car around me. This was a nice place. They had a lot of cats including Leopards and Lions. I would have enclosures without grills that would have allowed me to take better photographs, but it was what it was. I spent almost 30 minutes taking pics and observing cats, but they were not doing much. It was hot almost 80 deg and cats just wanted to rest in shade. Three of them didnt even show up, they were just sleeping in their den. You can view some of the pictures on my facebook album. The best part of the trip was the drive from I94 to the place. It was simply awesome – it was scenic as I was driving through some villages and was winding roads at a speed of 35m/h. It was so very different. I always wanted a road-trip through grasslands and this was just a preview of that.

As soon I put the address to Riverside and Great Northern Railways, I realized that I will have to back track on I94 for about 10 miles. But, it was worth it. When I reached the place, I saw it was not a museum that I expected. I realized that people there were all volunteers and were a part of a restoration society who were doing this to keep alive a piece of history. I took a tour of the entire place and came to know of how it all evolved and how things work around there. I saw many steam engines (small ones), where they were built, the boiler room, the room where coaches were constructed. It was fun and educational. I also took the ride in their train and I was surprised to see that the train went relatively fast at a speed of 9mph. Given it is a short gauge train it was definitely faster. I took a bunch of pictures and you can view them on my facebook album here. I spent around 90 minuted at this place and it was all good. Given this place, I did feel if I would have brought Aabhya and Preeti they would have enjoyed too, but I was unable too. even if i tried it was impossible because they are closed during that time of the year when there were here last year.

Once I was done with this place, I decided to move but decided not to go to Circus World, instead thought of going to a few places in Chicago and Millennium Park was a candidate. I never liked driving through crowded downtown areas in US, but this trip I was not going to hold back to anything. So, after driving for almost 260 miles for about 3.5 hours I reached Downtown Chicago and as I expected it was scary. So many people – just way too many. I have never seen so many people in the same place in US ever. They even beat Delhi I guess. And then the driving was scary. There were roadblocks, one-way streets and cops all over. However, I managed to get myself to a parking lot and it was $25 bucks for parking. Now, living in Plymouth all I ever payed for parking close to downtown was $5 and ret everything was free. So, $25 was surprisingly expensive. I parked and hoped it was worthwhile. As I entered the park, I realized in a few minutes this was going to be dis-appointing – much like our trip last year to Sculpture Park in Minneapolis. However, this was a little better and there were some good pictures that I was able to snap. I was looking forward to going to the bridge and view Chicago’s skyline but they closed that too but not before I took some pictures. All the pictures of the park are on my facebook album.

The day was rounded up at Bhua’s place in Valparaiso, Indiana. Another 90 minutes drive to her place. And during that drive there were some showers and lightening strikes but weather cleared up and the day ended up pretty smoothly talking to her. It was very nice to catch up with her and talk to her about various things. It was there that I also decided not to go to Niagara Falls – it was just too much to travel all by myself. however, Bhua did help me plan for Sunday.