Fitz grew up in Rhinelander (Hodag Country!) so this weekend Allison, Emily and I hit the road. ROAD TRIP! Rhinelander is a six hour drive from Chicago, but because we're leaving so late we've rented a hotel room in Stevens Point for the first night and got a room at the Holiday Acres Lodge the second. A couple things it's important to know about this little road trip. Allison is from Philly. Emily is from Kentucky. This of course means neither of them are all that familiar with the Mid West. I mean, they both live in Chicago and have been for over a year now but...Chicago is not northern Wisconsin. A time line of our adventures:
After Allison and I depart from J. Patrick's we get in the car and head to pick up Emily. Emily has far more bags than you would think necessary. Turns out it's because she's brought things like Yatzee and the questions from 90s Trivia Pursuit. Excellent.
I suggest playing trivia sooner rather than later so we still have some light to see the questions. This reminds me that, in fact, I hate Trivia Pursuit. I've always hated Trivia Pursuit. Who knows this shit and why would you need to? As you would expect, I do fairly well at a portion of the entertainment questions, but that's about it.
Some of the trivia I learned: Burger King was the first fast food chain to offer free internet to customers. The two most frequently borrowed books from the Dublin Public Library in 1999 were both written by Frank McCourt (he wrote Angela's Ashes, not sure if that was one of the books or not). That there was a limit on the number of beanie babies you could take across the border from Canada into the U.S. in 1997 and that limit was one. The writers of these questions seemed to be somewhat obsessed with the video game Donkey Kong. How to say I love you in Furbish. Remember Furbie?
10:15 Snack Break. Those golden arches are calling our names. We stop and get McFlurries. Emily gets very excited about the plethora of condiments available at McDonald's these days. Including the 'fancy' ketchup.
12:30 We arrive at the hotel in Stevens Point! And manage to watch the last 20 minutes of the Replacements with our friend Keanu.
'Greatness, no matter how brief, stays with a man' - Jimmy McGinty (played by Gene Hackman the coach).
'I wish I could say something classy and inspirational but that just wouldn't be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.' - Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves)
10:15 We stop again at McDonald's. Or rather McCafe. The coffee at the hotel was (apparently) awful. I'm taking Emily's and Allison's word for it because I don't drink coffee. And coffee must be had. Thank god for McCafe.
12:30 HODAG COUNTRY! We have arrived! Our first stop? Rhinelander Visitor Center (also the Chamber of Commerce). So, here's the important things to know about Rhinelander. Rhinelander is located in Oneida County. It has a population of around 8,000 residents. It is the heart of Hodag Country.
A Hodag - for those of you who are unfamiliar - is a fantastical creature that was supposedly discovered near Rhinelander in 1893. It has the head of a frog, the face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end. It has apparently gone extinct due to the elimination of its main food source (white bulldogs of course). So, basically it was an excellent prank concocted by a man named Eugen Shepard that has since captivated the entire town. I mean, I was only there for 24 hours and walked away with dozens of photos, a button, and a mug all proclaiming my love and appreciation of the Hodag.
We purchase mugs and beer cosies and go on our way. Which brings us to Almon County Park. We're here for a couple hours then, on Fitz's advice, head to the Logging Museum we passed on the way in so we can see more hodags.
So, it's not JUST a logging museum - there's also an old school house museum, a train museum, three or four different museums all right together. We make the rounds.
Absolutely. No. Idea.
4:30 HODAG HUNT! Now on the advice of the nice teenage boy working at the logging museum, we circle downtown in search of painted hodags. And find five. Oh yeah. And see the courthouse. It's a very pretty courthouse.
5:30 Time to check in the Holiday Acres Lodge. After our hodag hunt, we're hungry. Luckily the Holiday Acres Lodge is complete with restaurant and bar. In honor of Wisconsin, I order a New Glarus Spotted Cow and Cheese curds. Yummy.
There's an adorable little boutique at the resort so we do a little window shopping. I love shiny things...
A couple hours later we return to the Three Coins Dining Room for dinner.
And hours later for brunch the next morning.
This time they give us three coins (get it?) to make a wish in the wishing well. Which we do.
It's cold and rainy out so we don't go for a swim, but we do walk down to the lake which was lovely.
Wild animals of the woods...
Eventually it's time for us to hit the road and head back to Chicago. Our adventures on the way back:
Sunday. Closed. Bummer.
We stop in Madison to grab a bite to eat. And because I love Madison. We even manage to see our friend Sam during the two hours we're there (I texted her we were in town and she came to meet us.)
I introduce Emily and Allison to the Terrace. Sigh. How I miss the Terrace.
Two hours later we're home again home again.