My big idea was instead of driving an 11 hour marathon and getting home Wednesday night, driving 7 hours to Wisconsin Dells and spending the night at Great Wolf Lodge. Everyone was fully on board. We were in the Dells last year for the 4th and LOVED being in the middle of several fireworks shows put on by all the big resorts. We had hoped to repeat that experience, but alas, fireworks were banned this year due to the dry conditions and risk of forest fire. So THAT's why we were able to book a room! Oh, well.
We made it to the water park by 4:30. I took the kids and swam while Gene napped and got our room set up. He brought us a pizza around 7:30 and then stayed with the kids. I left the water park at 8:15 with the plan to shower and relax a bit before the water park closed at 9. We were then going to go to the arcade and to a light parade the Lodge was having in place of fireworks. Well, I got out of the shower and instead of playing around on my computer, was so tired I went to bed and fell asleep. I don't know where the kids found their energy, but they did close the water park, go to the light parade and still play at the arcade before bed. I don't know what time they got back to the room because I was completely zonked out.
Thursday morning I had considered driving up to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, but I was so tired and so tired of driving it didn't make sense to drive an hour each way to stay for an hour. If I hadn't just been there two weeks ago, I might have felt differently, but this time it just wasn't worth it. We hit the breakfast buffet, went to the arcade for a bit and then the kids swam from 9:30 to 11. They were both VERY sad to leave, but Kaylin wanted to go to the Disney Store at the outlet mall next door and Logan wanted to go to the Cheese Store. I wanted to be on the road by noon so we could be home in time to pick up the pets from boarding. It was weird and kind of sad to be in Wisconsin Dells for such a short time. We agreed to try to go back for a 3 day weekend sometime before school starts.
We stopped at Fuddrucker's in Janesville for lunch and made it home with plenty of time to pick up the pets. Scout came snooping out, not paying attention as usual, and when he finally looked up and saw us was incredibly excited and leaping on me to be picked up. As usual, his little peanut brain got over the trauma of being boarded in about one second and he's happy to be home with the family. The cats were happy to be home and back together (they are boarded in separate kennels.) They were really cute, laying together all evening. I think we'll use the rest of our weekend before returning to work/camp to catch up on sleep and just rest.
Overall, the vacation was fun and we all enjoyed it. The excessive heat put a damper on things and really reduced the time we spent in the Black Hills. The kids considered Badlands National Park a giant playground and would love to go back, but weren't that thrilled with Mt. Rushmore or anything in or around that area. I would have loved to have done many other things, but it was too hot to spend much time out of the car and too boring to spend so much time in the car. I doubt we'll ever repeat this trip, but I'm glad we did it once. I'm also glad I didn't have to work this hot, hot week!