Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Dell-lightful Day

Aug. 19, 2010

Well, we finally REALLY filled up a day with great activities, despite not getting quite as early a start as I'd hoped. But nothing was too far away, so that helped. The first thing I did, though, was book another night here at Fox Hill RV Park. It was nice to know where we'd be tonight, and made it easier to plan.

Our first stop was to track down a place where I wanted to pick up "The Original Wisconsin Dells Coupon Book." I'd seen something about it before we left home, but I had no time to do much planning for this trip and never thought twice about it. Too bad, because I would have had a Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) offer on our Circus World tickets, and half off the 2nd night here at Fox Run. However, I spent a lot of time last night researching activities and discounts in the Dells. It seems you DO need an MA to actually make sense of all the various discounts, combinations, books, discount cards, etc. which they put out around here. EVERYTHING costs a LOT of money and the discounts really help a lot.

So I hadn't gotten this book in advance, but last night I found out that 1) if we wanted to go on a zipline attraction, i could get a BOGO coupon from the book (thank you, Trip!) Since the zipline was quite pricey, saving one entire entrance fee was worth $80. The coupon book costs $19.95, but then I found a coupon in a magazine which gave me $3 off if I picked it up at their office, so that was what we did first thing. So the book cost $16.95.

We then drove another mile or so into the downtown area of the Dells, and parked Mo for free (no coupon needed for that, and that's the ONLY thing that didn't cost money!) It was the absolutely perfect place to park, because we were right around the corner from the H.H.Bennett Studio (BOGO in the coupon book). H.H.Bennett is the Ansel Adams of the Wisconsin Dells. He was a pioneer in the art of photography, taking gorgeous photos of the Dells at the end of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, and inventing new photographic techniques for both taking and developing photos. One difference between him and Adams, however, was that he took photos in order to market the Dells and attract people to come visit (and buy his photos!)

His studio was preserved by his family for decades, and recently became a Wisconsin Historical Site. The store includes a small museum which tells about Bennett, the Dells history, and has a wonderful overview of some of Bennett's photographic techniques, including that of making stereoscopic photographs, which was one of his specialties. The museum was really well done and we enjoyed it a lot.

After learning about the early history of the Dells, we stopped back at the RV and had a quick lunch, and then took the Dells Boat Tour of the Upper Dells (the coupon book deal was good for a free kid, which didn't help us--so I used a different flyer offering 20% off. This is what I mean about needing a degree to get through the coupon offers!) This was about a 2.5 hour trip up the river, where we saw the beautiful sandstone cliffs of the Dells. Twice the boat stopped so we could walk through particularly unusual and pretty areas. The first stop was the Witches Gulch, a place where the path between the two cliff walls was only a few feet wide. A stream cut through beneath the wooden walkway. It was very cool, although somewhat spoiled by the large concession stand at the end of the winding path.

The second stop was a place called Stand Rock. This is a large outcropping of rock about 5.5 feet away from the main cliff. Bennett made this site famous. He had wanted to demonstrate his new invention, a camera which allowed him to take stop-action shots. He had his teenage son repeatedly leap from the cliff to the outcrop of rock until he caught the jump in mid-air. This made both Bennett and the Dells famous, and is a very well-known image. These days, the tour company has replicated this feet with leaping German Shepherd dogs, who showed us just how it was done. (We'd had our own chance to try the leap at Bennett's studio in the morning, with the image of the rocks drawn on the floor.)

The tour was lovely, albeit a little bit low-key. So we ended our day with the distinct opposite--two hours at the Bigfoot Zipline Tours. Joe and I were suited up into our harnesses with 6 other people, then drove a short way to our first jump. There were 6 jumps altogether, adding up to 5,000 feet of zipline, four of the jumps being over water. The hard parts were: 1) walking up a total of almost 500 steps to get to the top of these towers, and 2) learning how to STOP at the bottom! The latter was hard for me, because my arms are too short, and i kept losing my grip and hence any control. Joey, on the other hand, was too good at it, and kept slowing down his speed in the middle of the "zip". It was TOTALLY fun, and we were totally hot and sweaty and tired, but exhilarated, at the end. I hadn't felt comfortable bringing a camera with me (no-duh!) but they took photos of us on the third line, and mine came out great (although it makes me look like a small elephant, due to being trussed up in the harness and sitting up all in a ball.) Joe's was good but he was using proper form, which meant that unfortunately his arm blocked his face (i'd once again had trouble reaching the line and had lost my grip for the 3rd time--but by the last two jumps I had gotten it right!) The final jump was from a really high tower which gave us a fantastic view of the Dells area, and which carried us almost 1400 feet from top to the landing point.

Since we'd taken the 5pm "tour", it was 7pm before we got finished, and like i said we were DONE for the day. So we stopped for a quick burger at Culver's (another coupon in the book ) and came back to our RV park.

As a result of such a full day, however, we've decided to move on tomorrow. We may stop at the International Crane Sanctuary before we leave (another BOGO coupon in my book, LOL!) but we will skip the Duck Boat tour--we don't have a burning need to see the Lower Dells and we've ridden Ducks before. And for the most part, the rest of the attractions are expensive and unappealing to grownups without children. So, we shall see where we end up tomorrow! Joey thinks we should head for ND and see how far we can get before we have to turn around .

1 comment:

Steve said...

How do you find all these awesome things to do?