There is a LOT of history up there at Circus World ... the location is where the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus "wintered" back at the turn of the last century, and a lot of the town dates to the early 1900's. The Circus World site is on both sides of the Baraboo River, connecting to the rail yards. It is incredible to think what an amazing thing the circus was back in the pre-TV, pre-radio, etc., era! They did these huge spectaculars with hundreds of costumed extras and had immense sets and full orchestras. Even when I was growing up, the circus was sort of ho-hum, better remembered for the candy, toys, and junkfood than for the show itself, but back in the early days, it had no equal for entertainment. The museum up there has quite a collection of circus wagons, from mid-1800's horse-drawn units to big ornate railcars. Plus, in the "restoration barn" they have the incredibly loud calliope wagons that would draw a lot of attention as the circus rolled into town. We were fortunate (being, it seemed, the only paying customers there that afternoon), to have The Girls get a "behind the scenes look" at how some of these worked, being brought into the back of the biggest one to see the big paper "rolls" (they were actually stacks that looked more like brown paper towels) that played the music.
Once out of Circus World, we dallied a bit in the Baraboo city square (all turn-of-the-century buildings) checked out the restaurant that we had planned to have lunch, and eventually located our hotel. The Girls and I went swimming (while The Wife ran off for a few hours at K-Mart), and when we finally re-assembled, headed out to have some dinner. We made a point to get up early in the morning, so that we'd be on-time for the pre-check-in (we couldn't actually get into our room in The Dells until 4pm) ... to get our waterpark wristbands ... at 10:30am.
Now, I'm not sure what happened up there, in a which-fish-ate-what-fish sort of way, but the place we've been going to, the Treasure Island hotel, with the Bay of Dreams indoor waterpark, and the Family Land outdoor waterpark, is now part of the new Mt. Olympus theme park, combining with the Big Chief park that had rollercoasters and go-cart rides just down the road (ah ... just found an article about the merger!). Anyway, the place is huge ... this picture is from the new main entrace gate up by the roller coasters, the thing that looks like a little blue wishbone just below the horizon line in the lower right quadrant is the top of one of Family Land's multi-story water slides!
The reason we were up at the main entrance was that The Girls decided that they wanted to do the go-carts. Unfortunately, the full merger is not quite in place, so we had to pay to go on them (this summer, the wristband from Treasure Island will get you on all the rides), so we picked the "Trojan Horse" (their most famous track) with its cork-screw ramps. It was only $4 each for The Wife and me to do the one ride (The Girls were free because they were too small to drive), so it wasn't too bad, and it was fun.
At this point we were checked out of the room, had our stuff packed in the van, and had already spent a few hours in the Bay of Dreams (see previous posts about my various injuries), and The Wife decided that it was pretty much time for us to start heading home. On our way to get back onto I90, we stopped for gas at the "Dinosaur" Sinclair station. Back when I was a kid, Sinclair was all over the place, and marketed that dinosaur intensely. I remember one time when my Mom brought me back an inflatable Dino from a business trip, and I was thrilled. Well, while were gassing up (the mini-van we had was a gas hog ... we ended up spending like $75 in gas on the trip!), I went into the gift shop, and almost bought an inflatable Dino for The Girls. Of course, without the marketing, it wouldn't mean much to them. Unfortunately, that was just about the only "Sinclair souvenier" they had there, so I went empty-handed, except for snapping this pic of the outside of the shop! Frankly, I'm surprised that there still are Sinclair stations, as I recall back in the 70's (I think) when they "retired the dinosaur", with these sad commercials of him trudging off into the sunset, waving, with a tear in his eye. I guess whichever other company that swallowed them up back then decided that they were useful as a "brand", so have begun to bring them back!
Anyway, The Wife convinced me to let her drive home, given my bum knee/ankle/back, and I didn't fight her much on it. I took an Alleve and zonked out in the van while they had McDonalds. Once we got back on the road and I made sure that The Wife was pointed to Chicago and not Minneapolis (she is notorious for getting on the wrong on-ramp and driving for hours before realizing she's headed the opposite direction she intended), I also zoned out for about half of the trip home. Amazingly, it only took us 3 hours to get back (part due to The Wife's "lead foot" on the interstates, and part due to extremely reasonable traffic for Easter Sunday), which was good. The Girls had a great time, and are now angling for us to make a trip up to The Dells in the Summer (insert scary accent music here) ... something that The Wife and I are not quite sure we're up to (with about ten times as many people milling around than is the case in the winter!). Oh, well ... now you know where I was while you all were posting those 300+ things to my Friends List!