Family Safari in the Dells
At first, I was apprehensive about the trip, having never been before. If you don't like being places where there are a lot of people, it isn't exactly an upgrade to go places where there are a lot of people without shirts on. Add to that the fact that I realized I would actually have to be in a public place without a shirt on, which I'm pretty sure I hadn't done since birth. (When shortly thereafter, my dad slapped a "Baby for Sale" t-shirt on me.)
After checking in, my kids immediately wanted to hit the water park. Right away, I noticed that there was a channel on the resort TV station that allowed you to watch the water park live from your room. Basically, a channel for lazy parents and perverts. Me being the former, I tried to beg out of going down to the park, but my wife exercised her substantial veto power (still constitutional, FYI) and made me go.
And I have to admit, I was glad she did. It really was a lot of fun. I decided to suck it up (or in, as the case may be) and go shirtless. I just tried not to look down at myself and to stand as close as I could to people fatter than me to make myself look slim by comparison.
Of course, finding large people in there wasn't exactly like finding a polar bear in the Serengeti. The Kalahari water park is a sea of pale, cellulosic, heavily tattooed flesh that should never see the light of day. Obese people with swim trunks clinging on for dear life. Teenage girls with tattoos that might as well say "UNEMPLOYABLE." We actually saw some 12 and 13-year old girls with press-on tattoos on their lower backs. Starter tramp stamps, if you will.
Then again, I count myself among those that could probably stand to lose a few. It's pretty clear that the reason most of the people there can afford the hefty water park fee is because they haven't wasted their money on Jenny Craig.
In any event, my daughter demanded to go on all the scariest water rides. At four years old, she is fearless. When I screamed all the way through one of the rides, she lectured me on how I shouldn't be such a sissy.
My son greatly enjoyed stepping on the little fountains that spray out of the ground. My sister-in-law's boyfriend explained to me that when he was a lifeguard, it was common for kids to actually sit down on those fountains, unknowingly giving themselves an enema. They would then proceed to poop in the pool, as they couldn't control their bowels. Honest to God - he said they had to close the pool at least once a week when this happened.
I was able to sneak off occasionally to catch the Packers' draft - fortunately, I was able to see enough to recognize that the Packers are now set at the quarterback and wide receiver positions for the next 263 years.
My favorite ride had to be the one we affectionately called the "toilet bowl," where you shoot directly down into this giant bowl and spin around a few times before it dumps you head first into the water 10 feet below. It's kind of like experiencing birth all over again.
At night, we toured the inside of the resort a little bit. I can say that the Kalahari isn't exactly the place you want to go if you're looking for decorative nuance. Every inch of that place is covered with paintings of elephants, cheetahs, giant tusks, and so on. The only thing missing is the malaria.
For some reason my son is absolutely enthralled by elevators, and the glass elevator there was his favorite yet. He loves pressing the buttons and getting in and out. So for him, the whole trip was going to visit the elevator, and there just happened to be a water park attached.
The biggest kick of the weekend that I got was in our hotel bathroom, where a small sign on the wall lectures you to re-use your towel, in order to conserve water and save the environment. This from a resort that cranks out hundreds of millions of gallons of chlorinated water for people's amusement, using up enough electricity to power Waukesha. That place's carbon footprint is probably the size of Nebraska. So pardon me if I would like a fresh towel. Thank you.
All in all, a successful trip. Got to spend my birthday with the whole family and have a good time doing so. Naturally, at times it seemed like my family was playing the "who wants to be strangled first by daddy" game, but fortunately nobody won.