A Grand Tour Of The Entire Midwest, But Mostly Wisconsin If you’ve opened up this trip report, it’s probably for one of the following reasons: · You followed me here from one of my previous trip reports, and you’re hoping to see some more amazing sights like we’ve seen on our previous trips: Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone. · You’re a glutton for punishment. · You clicked on the link by accident. · You’re really bored at work. · Some combination of the latter two. For the 3% of you who fall under the first category, I have to issue a warning right off the bat. In our family’s quest to visit all 50 states, we’ve visited many spectacular places in this country, mostly in the western U.S. Part of the reason we visited those areas was because we were dragging a baby around with us. With a family of 6, we had decided to knock out some of the longer/more expensive flights while we still only had to pay for 5 tickets. Now that our youngest is 2 years old, we have to buy him a seat as well. This means shorter, cheaper flights. And this summer, that meant we were visiting the Great Plains. No mountains. No canyons. No oceans. Just endless long, straight highways and flat farm fields, as far as the eye can see. For two weeks. Who’s ready for an adventure??? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Well, for the two of you who are still left (i.e. the gluttons for punishment), I’ll try and spice this up as best as I can. As it turns out, the American Midwest has plenty of attractions and interesting sights to offer. There are just a lot of long drives in between them. Still not interested? Well, there’s one more piece of information I can offer to try and hook you. Early on, we learned that we had a spy in our midst. A saboteur. Yes, even in this close-knit family, one of us was hiding a deep, dark secret. One of us was a mole. No, not that kind of a mole. No. Don’t be ridiculous. There you go. One person in this family had a secret mission. And we wouldn’t be able to unmask the culprit until it would be—perhaps—too late. The suspects: Mark (a.k.a. “Dad”, a.k.a. “Daddy”, a.k.a. “Captain_Oblivious”, a.k.a. “Scooter”): age 41. Height: 5’11”. Weight: 175 lbs. Ok, fine. 185 lbs. Brown hair, quickly receding. Blue eyes. Strengths: Navigational skills, vacation planning, bacon & donut consumption, movie quotes, belching, farting, Dad jokes. Weaknesses: Attention to detail, wildlife identification, brunettes, belching, farting, Dad jokes. Julie (a.k.a. “Mom”, a.k.a. “Mommy”, a.k.a. “Muddy Mae Suggins”): age suspended indefinitely. Height: 5’8”. Weight: You’re kidding, right? Our marriage hasn’t lasted 18 years by making rookie mistakes like that. Brown hair, luxurious and resplendent. Brown eyes that look deep into your soul. Strengths: Pie-making, luggage packing, child-rearing, entertaining toddlers, rolling eyes at husband. Weaknesses: Absolutely none whatsoever.* *My couch is really not comfortable at all, especially for overnight stays. Sarah (a.k.a. “Sarahbug”, a.k.a. “Harry Potter’s #1 Fan”): age 14. Height: 5’6”. Weight: can’t remember. Brown hair. Blue eyes. Strengths: Art, Crafts, Field Hockey, reading, movie quotes, texting, sarcasm. Weaknesses: Severe underappreciation of pie, 80’s music, and Dad jokes. David (a.k.a. “Big Dave”): age 12. Height: um…5’0”? I can’t remember the last time they got measured. Weight: beats me. Blond hair. Blue eyes. Strengths: Math, sports, Rubik’s cubes, memorization of obscure baseball statistics and technical specifications for cars and technology. Weaknesses: Inability to clean room. Scotty (a.k.a. “Scott”): age 10. Height: see David. Weight: see David. Brown hair. Brown eyes (weirdo). Strengths: Reading, video games, golf, performance arts, ability to “happen”. Weaknesses: inability to find any of his own possessions. Andrew (a.k.a. “Drewbie”, a.k.a. “Baby Drew”, a.k.a. “The Dark Lord”): age 2. Height: 2’0”. Weight: 35 lbs. Blond hair, blue eyes. Strengths: Cuteness. Vocal performance, especially Bon Jovi’s “Have A Nice Day”. Weaknesses: Screaming. Irrational demands. Lack of bladder/bowel control. Picking his nose in photos. Repeated demands for his own kids meal, followed by taking two bites and then declaring himself “all done”. Those are the suspects. Which one is the spy? Coming Up Next: The vacation is almost over before it begins. TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1: False Start (Or, Everything You Hate About Airlines All Wrapped Up Into One Chapter) Chapter 2: Two Roads Diverged In A Wood, And I...I Was Stuck In Delaware Chapter 3: This Place Is The Wurst. Chapter 4: The Rough Riders Chapter 5: Rope Drop or Bust. Chapter 6: Let's Play Global Thermonuclear War. Chapter 7: Ten Thousand Years In A Cave Of Wonders Ought To Chill Him Out. Chapter 8: George Washington. One: The Father of Our Country. Two: Born on Presidents Day. Three: The Dollar-Bill Guy. Chapter 9: A Mighty Wind Chapter 10: A Tribute To All Nations, But Mostly America. Chapter 11: And Now For Something Completely Different. Chapter 12: Why Don't You Make Like A Tree...And Get Outta Here. (Disney's HHIR) Chapter 13: It's Only An Island If You Look At It From The Water. (Disney's HHIR) Chapter 14: I Have Just Met You, And I Love You. (Disney's HHIR) Chapter 15: Scoop Of Chocolate, Scoop Of Vanilla. Don't Waste My Time. (Disney's HHIR) Chapter 16: Is This Heaven? No...It's Iowa. Chapter 17: I Keep Forgetting I'm Not In Kansas! Chapter 18: You Came Here In That Thing? You're Braver Than I Thought. Chapter 19: Do You Ever Have Deja Vu? Chapter 20: I'm Not Going Home. I'm Going To Wisconsin. Chapter 21: They Don't Gain Another Yard. You Blitz All Night! Chapter 22: This Time John Wayne Does Not Walk Off Into The Sunset With Grace Kelly. Chapter 23: The Final Countdown Bonus Texas TR Chapter 1: It's Like A Whole Other Country. Chapter 2: To The Bat Cave! Chapter 3: Easter in the Middle of Nowhere. Chapter 4: Just Around The Riverbend. Chapter 5: They'll Never Think To Look For Us Here. Chapter 6: Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It. Chapter 7: Beef. It's What's For Dinner. And Lunch.