T R I P   J O U R N A L

W E E K   # 9

CARR VALLEY CHEESE & HOUSE ON THE ROCK - Monday, August 30, 2004

Today I'll be experiencing a thin slice of Wisconsin. On my agenda is a visit to a cheese factory followed by a museum tour of sorts. Having slept in rather late, my sightseeing day is slow coming out of the gates. After a breakfast of oatmeal and eggs, I drive to Carr Valley Cheese factory for the factory tour. Unfortunately, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the cheese curd. I'm informed the tour is given in the early morning. Oh well, I make the best of things, and still manage to capture a worthwile slice of my cheese factory experience.

After my abbreviated tour comes to an end, I head south to my next point of interest, the House on the Rock. From what I've read, it's a museum that houses an odd assortment of supposedly just about everything. I tour the place for many hours, all the while rushing against the clock due to my late arrival. Eventually the attraction closes and I get unceremoniously booted. As I walk back to the parking lot I find myself all dizzy from the experience. I must say, the House on the Rock is incredible. A person could literally spend days touring the facility. Too bad I got such a late start.

On the road once again, I head to the Chicago area for my overnight. Upon arrival I immediately find an internet signal so I park for a bit to catch up on things. I then decide to look for another spot to van-camp. It's now 1am in the morning and I creep my way around a neighborhood in search of a perfect spot. I finally hit paydirt, park the van, and quickly retire for the evening.

5 minues go by and guess what? I get busted by the cops! Geeze Louise! After being interrogated by flashlight on somebody's front lawn, they let me go but kick me out of the neighborhood. So, I spend another 30 minutes looking for another spot. I finally settle on a parking lot in a commercial section and turn in for the night.

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CHICAGO BLUES - Tuesday, August 31, 2004

After a crummy night's sleep I wake to an empty parking lot in the back of a supermarket. Surely I've sunk to my lowest of lows in van-camping sites. To brighten my mood, I drive to a nearby park to formulate my next move. I had wanted to tour Chicago, but, given last evening's events, I decide to leave the area before nightfall. In the interim, I just relax and work in the travel site.

I eventually make my way out of Illinois and set up camp in Indiana, at Indiana Dune National Lakeshore. I'll be hanging here for a couple of days to catch-up on my travel writing.

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INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

I spend the entire morning travel writing. Early afternoon soon arrives and I break away for a little sightseeing. Since I'm camping at Indiana Dune National Lakeshore, it would only seem proper to check out what this place has to offer.

My tour turns out to be short but sweet. Open year round, the park comprises 25 miles of shoreline and is chocked full of sand dunes, beaches, wetlands, bog, and woodland forests. Some of the sand dunes are just massive and require a bit of effort to surmount. The ever present Lake Michigan is the watery backdrop to the sandy scenery. Today the lake it is calm and placid.

After my tour I return to the campsite and continue on with my travel writing into the late evening hours.

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TRAVEL WRITING DAY - Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

I spend the entire day/evening travel writing. No traveling or sightseeing today.

TRAVEL WRITING DAY - Friday, September 3, 2004

I spend the entire morning and afternoon travel writing. Evening arrives and the little kid in me decides to pay a visit to Cedar Point Amusement Park sometime tomorrow. The park is located in the next state over in Sandusky, OH, so I wrap things up at the campsite then hit the road. After a bit of driving I stop and overnight at an Interstate Service Area near Sandusky.

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CEDAR POINT AMUSEMENT PARK - Saturday, September 4, 2004

Having parked overnight at an Interstate Service Area, I wake to the sound of traffic. Luckily, it is now morning, and it's time to get all pumped up for my day at Cedar Point, probably the worlds best amusement park. It doesn't take long for my ethusiam to spill over, and I quickly find myself in the driver's seat, rushing to the park's entrance gates.

I arrive a little early and end up having to wait a while before being admitted to the rides. While waiting I spy in the distance a massive tubular steel tower. What could it possibly be? My interest really piques. When the gates finally open, many of the folks literally run to their favorite ride. Having already targeted my ride, I maintained a quick walk to the towering attraction.

Well, it turns out the ride is a relatively new addition to the park. Called the "Top Thrill Dragster", the ride boasts a vertical drop of 420 feet and a launch speed of 120 mph in 4 seconds. Yes, this is indeed one scary coaster. Being my first ride of the day, the coaster is so good it literally upstages all other rides. I spend the rest of my day competing with the masses, trying to ride all the other coasters in the park. For each ride experienced I provide a barf bag rating to give you a sense of the ride's tummy twisting affect.

Understandably, I'm all coastered-out by the time the park's 10pm closing arrives. Funny thing is I didn't ride all the coasters, I ran out of time! So many coasters, so little time. That's what Cedar Point is all about in my mind, it's the coasters.

After getting booted from the park I decide to drive all the way to Western New York. The drive seems to go on forever and ever but I manage to reach my destination at 3am in the morning. I park in front of my friend Dan's house and immediately go to bed.

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DAY OF REST - Sunday, September 5, 2004

I'm in Western NY visiting family and friends. No traveling or sightseeing today. However, I am pleased to introduce to you my good friend Dan.

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Delicious post-hike meal at Canyon Village, Yellowstone
Paul on his Big Honkin’ Motorcycle, Denver, CO
Rose Parade, Pasadena, CA
Snow Leopard, San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA
Badlands Sunset
Mallard Duck at the World War II Memorial, Washington, DC
USS Constitution, Boston, MA
Clouds over Wisconsin
Space Shuttle Center Control Console, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Monica braving the Stone Wall of Torture
Fish in a Fish, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
Houston Control Center, Circa 1970s, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, MA
Grand Canyon, AZ