The drive up was longer than anticipated (Mapquest was smoking crack again), largely due to Friday-afternoon traffic getting out of Chicago (it took us a half hour just to get to 90/94, and pretty much two hours to get up to the Illinois/Wisconsin border). We hit the road at 3:30 and ended up getting to our hotel in Green Bay about 9pm. We'd stopped for Happy Meals at Port Washington (once we'd cleared Milwaukee and the construction on 43), which took a half hour or so ... so the Mapquest drive-time estimate was a hour and a half off.
Mapquest also was smoking crack when it came to instructions for getting us from Green Bay to the party ... the combination of county roads just didn't work ... it was overcast when we headed out, so I was unsure of our direction for most of it, and we actually spent about a half hour heading south rather than east once we gave up on their instructions (which bore no relationship to the actual roads we encountered) ... who knows where we would have ended up had the sun not broken through the clouds (in an orientation which clued me in on our directional error)? We had several hours to kill anyway on Saturday morning, so The Girls got to see a lot of farms as we spent 3 times the expected drive time getting there. The Girls enjoyed themselves, so we're likely to be making this more frequently (heck, the last time I was there, The Wife was pregnant with Daughter #2, so that has to have been six years ago).
Today, was a grind, though. I must not have slept well last night, as I was dragging and nearly-narcoleptic ... not a good thing for a long drive! This frequently happens to me on the way back from Wisconsin, which will typically result in The Wife getting to drive, but as I only had The Girls with me, we had to deal with it, resulting in a LOT of stops. We opted to take off early (about 8:30), and drove quite a while before we got breakfast, and the lack of caffeine/food certainly didn't help the first stage. As it was we got from Green Bay to Manitowoc before we found a place to eat (I was sick to death of McDonalds at this point, and we'd done Perkins the previous monring). We had to pull off in Sheboygan for me to get some water to mix up my Herbal Voltage ... but even the combination of the breakfast coffee and that didn't help much. We made it down to Grafton, when I just had to get off the road again, pulling into a Target to get some headphones for the little DVD thing that kept The Girls amused (it has OK speakers if you're sitting in a hotel room with it, but not for highway use), and a Diet Mountain Dew for me. I was able to push through Milwaukee on this, but was fading again pretty much as soon as we got back on 94. At this point it was pushing 1pm, and The Girls were interested in some lunch, so we got of at Oak Creek, fed them some KFC, and let me actually nod off for a few minutes in the booth while they ate. I got a large fountain Mountain Dew there, and we got back on the expressway.
My Dad is buried in Kenosha (along with his first wife) and we were planning on swinging by the grave site, so we had that for another get-off-the-highway stop. Daughter #1 has been there a couple of times with me, but this might be #2's first visit. Anyway, we were there about a half hour, then gassed up the car (again ... I probably put in $60 over the three days!), and go back to driving. We made one other small side-trip, which was to see the set-up for the Bristol Ren Fest, which we'd thought about going to at some point. It was quite a long detour for very little data, but at least I know where it is now. Once we worked our way back from there we continued on until we got to the Lake Forest Oasis. They've been re-doing these over the past couple of years, and the new format is awesome ... it feels like being in an airport, which is a big improvement over feeling like you're in a Greyhound station! I was able to get an iced coffee from the Starbucks there, and that finally seemed like "enough caffeine" for me to be fit to drive! We ended up getting home about 4:30, which means we were on the road for 8 hours today. Of course, once I got The Girls and all our various luggage out of the car, I still had a good half hour of driving to do to find a parking spot, but that doesn't count, does it?
Although I have been nodding off a lot while trying to catch up on my L.J. reading, I suspect that I'm going to have "iffy" sleep tonight as all that stuff that wasn't keeping me awake at the wheel is probably going to wait to "kick in" when I actually try to go to bed! The Wife thinks I might have some funky allergy thing that hits me when I go up there, since I don't have a problem driving TO Wisconsin, but always struggle with the drive back. Bleh. ... who knows? At least we got home without incident.