August 24, 2004

Polar Bear Summer

For reasons beyond my control, this summer has been one of unusually cool temperatures, by which I mean I keep my ice cube trays in the porch, because that's more efficient than my freezer at this point.

I guess I could try and find a way to chalk up these cool temperatures to global warming, or the failure of the U.S. to agree to the Kyoto Protocol, or the war in Iraq, or the Plain Layne hoax but, no, I think it all comes down to Mother Nature being her finicky and unpredictable self.

Well, the cool temps wouldn't stop me from enjoying a end-of-the-summer vacation with the girlfriend, nosirree. Melissa and I were determined to take a vacation if it killed us, or at least cost me a lot of money, whichever came first.

So, we decided to both take Monday off and we travelled to Wisconsin Dells Sunday afternoon. For those not familiar with Wisconsin Dells, let me explain. The Dells is an over-the-top tourist trap that specializes primarily in water parks, but dabbles in miniature golf, theme-based motels, amusement parks and a plethora of other activities meant to cause children to go insane with "I want" vibrations until parents' duck into the nearest clinic to sterilize themselves.

I hadn't been to the Dells since I was a kid, and that was only once, for one day, at which point my parents decided to take my brother and me to Chicago instead, where at least we might actually learn something while on vacation. So, I always felt gypped that I didn't get to immerse myself in the insanity that is Wisconsin Dells.

Well, I had driven about two miles into the insanity that is Wisconsin Dells when I started to twitch in nervous anxiety. I'm not good at driving in unfamiliar territory in general, and when that unfamiliar territory is awash in flashing flourescent lights and garish theme park visual noise, I get all the more flustered. I wanted to pull over NOW! RIGHT NOW! GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NOW, NOW!

I'll pulled off of the main Dells drive and found myself in the parking lot of a place called Treasure Island. It looked expensive, and it was probably booked solid, I figured, but at least I was off that cartoonish main road. Mel went in to see about vacancies, and I was surprised when she came back and told me they had rooms available.

As luck would have it, one of the cheaper rooms had a cancellation, which meant, for just over $100, we got a room and two free, two day passes to the Treasure Island waterparks, both indoor and outdoor. What a bargain! Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic here. It was a great deal.


Whereas Sunday afternoon and evening were plenty warm, with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, Monday was considerably cooler, with temps dipping below 70.

Undaunted, Mel and I emerged Monday afternoon intent on enjoying the outdoor water park, and we were pretty much the only people in the entire state of Wisconsin willing to do so. Therefore, there was a trade-off. On the one hand, it was pretty damned cold, and making use of all of the park's waterslides was almost more work than it was fun. On the other hand, there were absolutely no lines whatsoever. We could pick and choose our slides with nary a wait.

Surprisingly, the cold didn't bother us too much. Sure, it would have been nice if the sun was out, with temps nearing 90, but we had to make do with what we had on hand, and what we had on hand was a 69 degree overcast day. And we actually managed to have fun despite the less-than ideal circumstances.


Our big mistake came when we went swimming in the wave pool, which is a standard swimming pool that generates waves. Well, if one were to guess, one might postulate that the Treasure Island wave pool was filled entirely by the melting runoff of the hotel's many ice machines. I have never in my life been in such a cold swimming pool. I'm not sure, but I thought I saw Walt Disney's cryogenically frozen body go bobbing by on one of the waves.

After roughly eight minutes of enduring the wave pool, Mel and I decided we had defied Mother Nature long enough, and that it was time to snap to reality and put on some pants and a sweatshirt, and possibly a winter coat. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing 54 holes of miniature golf, and then we hopped back in the car for the three hour drive home.

All in all, it was a pretty fun vacation, even if I did lose three toes and a pinkie to frostbite.

Posted by Ryan at August 24, 2004 02:16 PM

My SD vacation this summer was the same way--freakin' cold. There were record lows set in Rapid City two of the seven nights I was out there. One night was 34 degrees and the other 36. All the rest were in the upper 30's to mid 40's. I was camping out in a tent, so I was frozen. After this summer, I have lost all stock in the theory of global warming.

Posted by: Rick at August 24, 2004 03:18 PM

Never fear, Rick, the proponents of global warming are now trying to tell us that cooler temperatures should be expected results of global warming. You know, because whenever you go into a flowershop greenhouse, it's always really cold at first. Also, global warming was responsible for my bad breath this morning, and the hair clogging my girlfriend's sink, and the fact I'm almost out of deoderant. Damn you, global warming!!!! *shaking fist*

Posted by: Ryan at August 24, 2004 03:31 PM

NPR had a great feature a week ago on global warming. Lots of scientists from around the globe explained what happens, and yes, first it gets warm and then it gets cold. The ocean currents heat up, causing the glaciers and ice caps to melt, which puts more fresh water in the ocean, which pushes the saltier ocean currents deeper and ultimately causes them to stop, causing colder temperatures... get the cause and effect? If not from my little comment, maybe check out NPR.

Posted by: amelia at August 24, 2004 04:00 PM

So, Amelia, if I'm reading that right, we must now be in the "cold" phase of global warming, which means we must be pretty much fucked, so let's all party! Of course, that wouldn't explain our relatively mild winter last year, or last summer's boiling hot drought at the end of the season. I'm not, by the way, saying that mankind isn't affecting the climate due to pollution and flatulence and all that, but I think the matter is being overstated. Like I said, fluctuations in Minnesota temperature have been pretty much the norm for 29 years of my life. I think it speaks more to the unpredictability of Mother Nature than it does to global warming.

Posted by: Ryan at August 24, 2004 04:24 PM

Jeeze, didn't any of you people see the Day After Tommorrow? It was all about that very thing.
I love those apocolyptic movies.

Posted by: Donna at August 25, 2004 07:22 AM
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