Fri. Aug. 19, 2016:
Toronto flying to Minneapolis, MN, driving to Chetek, WI
We had to leave the house at 5:45am, the subway was not yet running and I highly doubted that there would be an available Uber driver so we took a cab to Pearson airport. It’s really too bad that Porter doesn’t fly to Minneapolis. Red Bull was not the best choice of morning drink, it was just not as satisfying as a nice cup of coffee.
Once again there was an incredibly long line-up at security at Pearson. You would think we had learned our lesson last year when we flew to Seattle. It was much the same kind of mess. There were at least three different lines all bottle-necking. We saw a basketball player (insert name) in line, it was funny to see his head bobbing above the crowd. We managed to catch up to him at customs and we got ahead of some people who had been in front of us at security.
The carrot orange muffin I had for breakfast an odd flavour combination. And because I had eaten it when we first got in line, by the time we cleared customs I was hungry again. Once again our gate was in the far-away-from-everything-else section of Terminal 1, where you pass signs saying it’s still a 10 minute walk to your gate, that you are passing the last convenience store, etc. Once again the waiting area was crammed because that space is too small for how many gates they have crammed in there. It was giving me flashbacks to our Hartford nightmare.
Thankfully our flight was on time with no delays. During the flight I had fallen asleep and been scared awake by the drink service, when he asked me what I would like I mumbled coffee. He laughed and said that was exactly what he thought I would order. He told me to flag him down at any time for more refills. I downed the coffee and went right back to sleep. All was well until we landed, we found out that Brent’s card had been frozen when we tried to get our rental car- thankfully I had mine. Check-in at our hotel was not until 3pm and it was only 10:30am, we had a lot of time to kill. As we drove to Chetek, Wisconsin we made a few pit stops along the way.
We stopped at Wal-Mart to stock up on snacks (weird cucumber lime Gatorade, chocolate chip cookie dough Oreos, French vanilla Milky Way, sweet & sour Haribo gummy worms) as well as some smores Pop Tarts for our day trips. I found some of my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, even though it was a flavour I had tried before: caramel coffee cake. The French vanilla Milky Way may very well be the best chocolate bar in existence and I later regretted not having grabbed them all.
It was nice to listen to the Josh & Chuck of Stuff You Should Know talk about mammoths as we drove. As per usual, we cheered when we crossed the state line: Wisconsin!!
We decided to have Taco Bell for lunch because a podcaster Brent listens to is obsessed with it, maybe it is different in the States and not as bad? It is, it is just as bad. It is a contender for one of the worst lunches I have ever had. And all I had were the beef nachos. If you can call them that, the beef was rubbery and had a very weird consistency. I mostly ate around it. I had a bite of Brent’s two burritos/tacos/whatever –they-were and I was not impressed. It was mostly bland and flavourless. Needless to say I was left hungry, and it was not even noon yet. We drove across the street and I went in to McDonald’s for a second attempt at lunch. The hot and spicy McChicken was ok, but it was not that spicy. I had ordered a caramel mocha latte and was instead handed a caramel mocha frappe, but in the end it’s all about the caffeine.
The sky was grey and threatening to rain. As we drove we passed through really small towns with populations of less than 500 people, some of the towns weren’t even incorporated. We tried to stop at an IGA but it had shut down. I saw a billboard for Valkyrie Brewery and I kept an eye out for it. They had quite a few beers available and the brochure listed a cider and of course that was the one product not currently available. I did have a sip of the hot chocolate beer, it was not to my liking. I grabbed a brochure on the way out about the nearby craft breweries, except they were all south of us. On the map though I could see Chetek and so I knew we were at least close to our destination. Hopefully the rain would stop by then.
On the way to the resort, Canoe Bay, we drove through seemingly the middle of nowhere and just farmland, trees and a few deer. I was looking forward to relaxing, especially because this resort did not allow kids, therefore it would be nothing but peace and quiet. And hopefully no rain. Upon check-in we found out we had gotten a free room upgrade! This place just kept getting better. We were now staying in a small lodge with a fireplace, deck, whirlpool tub and complimentary sodas in the fridge and trail mix! Icing on the cake: we had a great view of the lake and the wi-fi from the main lodge reached us.
Looking around it was very obvious that the architect of the resort had been a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. We went for a walk around the grounds, the rain had finally stopped. We walked through the garden and on some of the trails. The lake had higher than normal water levels and you could see the submerged bridge to the island. There were frogs hanging around the edge of the island and the water. On the trails we passed two small lakes, one was teeming with turtles who could hear us from really far away and would jump off the log and swim away. The forest was full of bugs, constantly buzzing in my ears.
By the time we were on our way back to our lodge the weather had cleared up, the sun came out and it was warm, perfect for a canoe ride on the lake. I am not very good at canoeing and I have terrible balance. Things were only made worse by the fact that my left arm was killing me where I had gotten a tetanus shot a few days ago, and because Brent was sitting backwards in the canoe (i.e.: facing me) I had to paddle backwards which was an unnatural movement. Even still we managed to circle the lake and take in the views and relax. We passed by a loon and some guys fishing. Before heading back in we pulled up to the floating dock and Brent jumped into the lake while I tried to keep the canoe from drifting away.
I had to shower before dinner, but why shower when there is a whirlpool tub? I would have been silly not to. I also resolved to eat all the trail mix and drink all the soda. I still had time before dinner so I cracked a soda and grabbed my book, Spring Chicken, and headed for the deck. It had started raining but there was a roof over part of the deck. Top if off with a delicious chocolate chip Oreo cookie and I was in heaven.
I had high hopes for dinner, so far the resort had been amazing. We already knew what would be for dinner, they display the menu at the front desk because it is a price fixe. On the way to dinner we saw three more deer, one of which was still young. It also made me realize that all of the deer we had seen thus far were female.
Dinner was alright, nothing outstanding. I did enjoy the roasted red pepper corn chowder, so much so that I ate Brent’s as well (he hates soup). The salmon was tasty, but there were so many veggies on the side that I did not like. The real standouts of the dinner were the red wine and the port wine, followed closely by the carrot cake for dessert. It lost points for having pineapple in it. We were surrounded by weirdos at dinner. One lady kept talking to the server about her hair. She later asked for a fork, saying she could not eat her dessert with a spoon. The guy at the other table was talking to the server about upstate New York. He had asked her where she was from. When she mentioned attending the Culinary Institute of America, he started talking about places that were not that close to there. He then proceeded to expound copious knowledge about wine to his partner, even though she did not seem to care much. At dinner Brent joined the ranks of the weirdos when he asked me if he had ordered a beer, a beer and a wine and called himself a BBW, what I would do. I dryly said I would leave him, making him laugh.
By the end of the evening I was so tired and achy that I was in bed before 10pm. Adding to the tiredness was knowing that I would have to be up before 9am, as breakfast was to be delivered to our room between 9 and 9:30am.