Sep 242022

Hello from the second half of our ultra fun day Great America! It was just Labor Day Weekend but they were already setting up for their haunt. I made Henry stand in this tunnel thing so I could photograph him like one of my french bitches.

I think he’s actually opening his little packet of aspirin in these pictures, lol. Can’t ride more than two coasters without it.

For Snack Time, I had this Dole Whip swirl. It was mango and strawberry. It was fine but like, why so much hype for Dole Whip though? Henry got a pretzel for his Snack Time and I had regertz so I gave him the rest of my Dole Whip in exchange for like 3/4 of said pretzel.

In line for the Flash – Henry dislikes Intamin Impulse coasters but I super-love them and he was my riding buddy on this day so SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.

I always get extremely nervous waiting for the launch but guess what?? It was actually really weak. So weak that I thought they were having an issue but no, it was nervous I guess. Nowhere near as thrilling as my beloved Wicked Twister (RIP baby).

I always enjoy a good fling on the Batman clones! This one looked like it had a really long line but it wasn’t long at all. Really none of the lines were bad all day except for Joker (low capacity) and MaxxForce (this is just problematic and I feel like the line would be long no matter what).

I didn’t get anything from here but thought it was cute, OK.

At some point in the day, Chooch rode his 250th coaster and actually had one of his friends take a picture because I told him MAKE SURE YOU GET A PICTURE because you know me and my obsessive need to document every little moment of his life for the future MOMMY LOVES YOU scrapbook that I’ll be sure to present to him in front of a crowd someday.

OK, I was extremely excited to ride American Eagle! It was Intamin’s first foray into a wooden coaster and all I knew from coaster vlogs is that it is a legit HIKE through this queue, and boy they weren’t wrong. You just keep walking and walking, up and down and up and down, across a ROAD, until you finally reach the station. If that entire queue is ever actually filled, I would be horrified.

Halfway through our leisurely Sunday stroll through the American Eagle queue.

The line didn’t even actually begin until we reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the station. Then we played musical rows because I couldn’t settle on one – we started in the middle row because the only way Henry would agree to ride any of the wooden coasters was if I agreed to sit in the middle and not my beloved back row. But in the end, I had maneuvered my way to the front row and that’s where we stayed. It was right next to the ride op’s room and there were various rubber ducks lining the edges of it which was entertaining to look at it while waiting for the slow AF ops – it’s supposed to be a racing coaster but they were only running one train on one side, which was annoying  but I swear this seems to be the new norm anymore – King’s Dominion, Cedar Point – maybe King’s Island but I can’t remember now? – were all running one side only on their racing coasters the last few times we were there.

Our thoughts on American Eagle:

Henry – it wasn’t that bad, I’ve ridden worse wooden coasters.

Me – I FUCKING LOVED IT. It made me laugh my effing ugly face off so hard, it was ridiculous. Not nearly as rough as it looks like it would be, and the HELIX, YO. THE HELIX. Do not skip this if you go to Great America.


WHIZZER!!! Holy shit, Great America – you got a super weirdly-rounded coaster collection! This Schwartzkopf (I am NOT looking up the spelling, sorry imaginary journalism degree) oddity was so unique and felt like something the Brady Bunch would have ridden together and Alice would have been screaming into a kerchief while Marsha was making eyes at the muttonchopped ride op.

It’s a toboggan-style coaster where two people sit front to back on one long seat so I would have had to try and sit between Henry’s legs without jamming my knees into the seat in front of me.  I was super worried that Henry and I wouldn’t fit in one car together so we had to ride separately because I wanted to spare us from the trauma of being fat-shamed.  This was definitely made for two children or a parent and child and I noticed other adult couples were also riding stag so that is what we did too, sorry Henry, I know you were looking forward to squeezing your thighs against my saddle bags. Much erotic.

After this, we passed Chooch and his SQUAD GIRLS! The girls happily waved hello to us like normal functioning humans while Chooch looked like he wanted the earth to open up and engulf him whole. I can’t remember where Henry and I were headed, but we ended up changing our minds and going back to finally face the MaxxForce line which was hovering between 60-90 minutes all day.

GUESS WHO HAD THE SAME IDEA??? Chooch and his squad girls! WOO!! So much to Chooch’s chagrin, he ended up having to live the waking nightmare of standing in the same line with his PARENTS and GIRL FRIENDS for NINETY MINUTES. Yeah, I didn’t even realize we were in for 90 minutes until Chooch was bitching about it later and I was like “There is no way we were in that line for that long?” but he argued that we were, so I checked my phone for receipts because I texted Corey the moment we got in line with them and then I took that picture down there of Chooch right when we were next in line, and yep.

Ninety fucking minutes.

The big TO DO of this line was the fact that Chooch was wearing the same shirt as that guy behind us. His girl friends (Anna and Lexi) were dying over this and I said, “That’s his Dad Shirt” and that made them lose it all over again and Chooch kept making INSANE ORCHESTRAL CONDUCTOR hands motions next to his head like he was willing to swallow a stick a dynamite in order to escape the pain of his Mexico world colliding with MOMMY.

I was super engrossed in what they were talking about, too, but Henry kept gently pulling me back by my shoulders and making a subtle, “Give them space” eye blinks.


They were totally talking about CIEE people and I wanted to know!!

At one point, Chooch made eye contact with Anna and then turned and made eye contact with me, and screamed, “STOP LOOKING AT ME!!” and the anguish on his face you guys, the wet glint of agony in his eyes. It was hilarious. Anna was laughing so hard and squealed, “Why do you get so upset when people look at you?!”

Oh, the trials and tribs of Riley J.

(Speaking of, we were very good about calling him RILEY in front of his friends although Anna found my Insta and knows about “Chooch” now so he was like, “And I would like to thank you for that.” LOL.)


We did not ride Little Dipper for absolutely no good reason. Apparently, Chooch didn’t either and he was pretty salty about it because it’s all about the COASTER CREDS. Guess we’ll just have to go back!?

Somewhere after MaxxForce, we rode Superman and it was excellent (Henry hates flying coasters but admitted it was OK) and whatever their indoor wild mouse is. Gotham something. It was about a 25 minute wait and also the only time all day that I got mad at Henry because I was trying to tell him a really important story and he kept looking past me and I HATE THAT because it makes me feel like he’s not listening to me so then I gave him the silent treatment and he cried and begged me to be his friend again.

Then on the ride, he caught the hat of the guy in front of us and it was probably the most heroic he’s felt since he was IN THE SERVICE.

That ride was actually good too! I think Great Adventure is where we rode the clone and I don’t remember thinking that one was any good because the theming was shit, but this one was SO GOOD. The theming was there and the ride itself was actually really intense and I nearly got whiplash.

Then I demanded Henry buy me a Six Flags sweatshirt because I was legit freezing in a t-shirt and shorts all day. So now I have red Six Flags sweatshirt which was actually a hassle to buy because some asshole family was hogging the whole rack and then I had to ask an employee if they had Mediums and she had to forage “in the back” for one. At that point, I was locked in. Had to buy it.

I have to say though, while Six Flags can generally be so hit or miss (they have major issues, I’m not even exaggerating, basically the Walmart of theme park chains at this point) their gift shop employees have always been EXCEPTIONALLY FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL. Literally every single park.

Anyway, this sweatshirt was a game-changer. Or, mood-changer really. Because I was really getting cranky but now that I was warm and cozy, I felt like I was given a do-over and was ready to get back out there and have fun again.

Got a late night black bean burger at some place in the Raging Bull area of the park. It was OK but they apparently didn’t have the sauce that was supposed to come with it and I get really mad about stuff like that because I LOVE ME SOME CONDIMENTS. The waffle fries were surprisingly good, but the pretzel bun was very dry and didn’t really do much for me. I would have preferred whatever bun Henry had on his meat sandwich.

Running back to try and get one last ride on Goliath before park closed. I LOVE the feeling of being in a park when it’s nearly ready to close. It’s like, romantic or something, I dunno.

We made it in line for Goliath and GUESS WHO ELSE DID TOO? LOL. They were behind us a bit. I let Chooch know we were aware of his location by texting him a picture I took of him from my spot in line, because I read the Creepy Mom Handbook when I was pregnant and it’s gotten me this far without causing a complete and utter relationship severance, so why stop now.

They ended up getting on the train right after us and I tried to get a picture of them coming onto the brake run but I stupidly moved before it was done so it was just one big blur. :(

We talked to them for a little bit after they got off Goliath, while watching the fireworks. Chooch was sure to point out that his night ride was better than my night ride because the fireworks started when they went up the lift hill.

“I don’t know if you guys realized this about him, but he is VERY competitive,” I said to Lexi and Anna, rolling my eyes, and they cracked up because OF COURSE THEY KNOW THIS. Everyone who spends even a few minutes with my kid knows this.


Oh also so that ride up there? Fiddler’s Fling? HENRY WOULDN’T RIDE IT WITH ME. Actually, HENRY WOULDN’T RIDE ANY FLAT RIDES. And this park actually had a pretty unique flat ride collection so I was super sad. I definitely need to go back – with someone else!!

The (weak) Flash.

Oh yeah! We rode this earlier too. It was Henry’s first ever 4d Free Spin and he didn’t hate it as much as he anticipated. I was scream-yelling the whole time. I hated this ride the first time I rode it in New Jersey, acquired a newfound appreciation for it in Massachusetts, and changed our status to IN A RELATIONSHIP in Illinois. You and me, Joker. 4 lyfe.

Oh look another ride he wouldn’t ride with me.

Literally one of the most beautiful amusement park landmarks.

Before we left, I blurted out, “CAN I TAKE A PICTURE OF YOU GUYS” and the girls said ABSOLUTELY while Chooch was quickly looking for a vampire to turn him so he wouldn’t appear in the picture.

I don’t know what else to say – I loved this day so much. I loved the whole weekend. It was weird not being with Chooch all day but I also so happy that we were able to arrange this reunion for him and ugh, sometimes I really am such a mom! See?? I do have the maternal stuffs in me. It’s just sometimes buried by my Forever 16 personality traits.


Sep 222022

Yoooo, there was no way I was leaving this Great America without a carouselfie on their majestic double-decker carousel! Originally, I had wanted to get one of us PLUS Chooch and his SQUAD GIRLS but he was like, “We are never ever ever ever ever doing that together and if you don’t stop asking, I’m going to start singing that in the tune of Taylor Swift.”

He did not actually say that because he’s NOT AS FUNNY AS ME, THIS WAS ALL ME, I MADE THAT UP.

He did say something similar not in so many words, probably something like, “Nah, I’m good.” I’m honestly still sizzling about this though because the Friday before we left for this Labor Day trip, Chooch texted me at 6:30AM on a morning that I was planning on “going for a walk later” rather than at the exact moment I wake up inside of the 6AM hour. But nope, here comes  Chooch, foiling mommy’s plans AS USUAL.

He wanted me to walk to the Potomac trolley station to see if his wallet was there because he suddenly didn’t have it when he was on the T. He said he was almost certain it fell out of his pockets on the shorts that Henry bought him that don’t fit right so this, in case you were wondering how he was going to work it, was how he was able to twist it into being someone else’s fault.

Anyway, I angry-stomped my way to the station and there was his stupid Pokemon wallet, laying face down on the platform under the bench. No one even tried to steal it or turn it into the fare booth guy.

That motherfucker is so lucky because, while he only had a dollar in there (lol, that unemployed life), all of his amusement park membership cards / season passes are in there in spite of the fact that Henry keeps trying to confiscate them. Well, the confiscation was successful this time!

Yeah so I told him that for my reward, I wanted a group carouselfie and I feel like a GOOD BOY would have obliged but no, I got stuck with this bullheaded jerk.

So it was just Henry and me, and ew why does he look so sleazy?!

Quick carousel review: for as lovely and bitchin’ as this merry-go-round is on the outside, the actual ride was very lackluster. In lieu of traditional calliope tunes, some ride operator was up on the top deck, screaming Six Flags trivia questions over a speaker and it was just very disconcerting. Bro, I don’t play games, I want to believe I’m living in Mary Poppins times with a whimsical rabbit squeezed between my thighs.

Um, OK, unclear what sort of vibe he’s going for here but I feel violated somehow.

I think it’s weird when some carousels require you to actual fasten the seatbelt. Like, for what reason? In case it needs to brake real hard?

This was my feeble attempt to get a mirror carouselfie.

Well, that’s my account of our 5 minutes on the carousel. We’re actually in the process of redoing the carouselfie wall (it’s done, we just have to rehang the pictures and haven’t had time because this week is all Pie Party Prep, All the Time) and I’m really excited to include one of these. The exclamatory nature of that last sentence is implied.

Sep 192022

Hi guys! It’s me checking in from yet another amusement park. I tried to get Henry to guest-blog in order to mix things up but nope.

You’re stuck with me.

Six Flags Great America is located in Gurnee, Illinois, which is not Chicago, but kind of close to Chicago? I don’t know my Illinois geography AT ALL aside from where Chicago is located on a map and that’s only from flying in and out from there when we went to Korea.

As I mentioned previously, some other day in a different post, two of Chooch’s Mexico Squad friends live about an hour away from the park so they were game to meet up! Of course, Henry and I didn’t tag along, no matter how badly I wanted to, but we stayed with Chooch inside the entrance until they arrived, and he let me take one (1) selfie with him before they arrive. Everyone says that Chooch and I don’t look alike but LOOK AT OUR FORCED SMILES. They are carbon copies of fake affection.

Um, can I just say I love that he became friends with these kids?  The two girls who met him there were so cute and seem just, I dunno, good. One of them asked to take a picture of them with her phone and I was like GLADLY while Chooch squirmed uncomfortably, lol.

I won’t post the stalker-mom TMZ shot of Chooch and his pals through some shrubbery after we left them to it but you can believe that I immediately texted this to a laundry list of peeps who had been following along with the CIEE Yucatan Instagram posts, trying to figure out if THERE WAS A LOVE CONNECTION between Chooch and anyone there.

I had seen this carousel / pool set-up so many times in YouTube videos but it was really extra magnificent in person. I mean, Six Flags is not really known for its landscaping and aesthetic appeal. Granted, the rest of the park was questionable – lots of weeds and asphalt – but I will always associate it with this gorgeous entrance eye candy.

You guys, Henry and I were riding partners for the whole entire day! I was so nervous about this because he’s such a cock when it comes to:

  1. old woodies
  2. 4d free spins
  3. almost all flat rides
  4. Arrow loopers

So I anticipated that I would be skipping a lot or riding alone. But he was actually a good sport! Except for the flat rides. He was still a motherfucker about those.

We hit up the B&M hyper, Raging Bull,  immediately and it was a station wait! It was still pretty early – we got there about 30 minutes after the park opened – and the day was super dreary so we didn’t encounter very long lines until later in the afternoon, but even then the wait times were in flux. The only ride that was consistently LONG AF all day was MaxxForce but that’s because it’s right by the entrance, it’s still pretty new and novel, it runs one train ops, and it breaks down a lot.

Usually these hypers are guaranteed to be my faves in any park but this one was just OK. I kept saying I wanted to go back later and get some re-rides on it but every time I checked the wait time, it had gone up to around 45 minutes, and when it was a walk-on, we were on the other side of the park.

We never did get our bearings! The layout was confusing.

Then we rode Viper, a woodie that looked like it was going to be a spine-fucker, but it was actually not bad at all! Henry disagreed and immediately had a headache, but I experienced no jack-hammering and I thought it had a decent layout on top of that.

Later, Chooch texted me after he and PARTIAL SQUAD rode it: “RMC Viper.”

That’s something enthusiasts say after riding a real janky woodie that they think would be a good candidate for the RMC treatment.

It was not that bad!


Great America already has an RMC…

…and it ain’t Demon, lol.

HOWEVER, to Henry’s actual disgust, Demon was my favorite ride. Before the ride started, a recording asked, “Are you ready to conquer the demon?” and Henry mumbled, “I do that every day” whatever that means. Then afterward, I yelled, “OMG I LOVED THAT DID YOU HEAR ME SCREAMING” and he somberly said, “Yes Erin. You were right next to me and we were practically the only people on it.” 😂 👹

Later, he told Chooch to guess what my favorite ride was and Chooch named every single ride in the park BUT Demon, then said, “Oh. I forgot that one even existed.” WOW JUST WOW.

It just had all the things I love: A TUNNEL, FOG, LIGHTS, A COOL SIGN, IT’S NOT WIDELY POPULAR (even with coasters, I’m a hipster).


I swear I had heard that there is even a heavy metal theme song that plays but if this is a thing, they had the stereo turned off that day, unless I’m confusing it with another coaster!

Oh, it was a total fucking walk-on too.

Oh shit, X-Flight was amazing!! I’m generally not that impressed by wing coasters, but this one was FUN and really forceful. (I am not great at using actual physic-y descriptors like true enthusiasts do. I’m just not that nerdy I guess. LOL OK fine I am, but just in other areas.)

The X-Flight crew was really energetic and funny too, I should note – this was actually an ongoing theme throughout the day and I’ll tell you what, you stick some personable people on a ride crew, and it’s going to elevate the guest experience FOR SURE.

I just asked Chooch if he agrees with and he said “Sure” before I even finished my question and left the house.

It definitely counted for something because even though this was a station wait, it still took a short while to get on the ride because of fast pass or the people with the handicapped paper, I couldn’t tell who it was that they were letting steal the backrow seats.

Well, after X-Flight, the time had finally come: we had made it to GOLIATH, my TENTH RMC!!! We didn’t run straight to this because everyone knows that RMCs need some time to warm up, le duh.

The wait for this was only 25 minutes – FOR AN RMC. Do you know how many hours of my life I have spent in line for Steel Vengeance?!

Well, it’s a lot.

Seats were being assigned but I was like CAN WE HAVE THE BACK ROW IF POSSIBLE and did my puppy-dog lip/eye combo which ALWAYS WORKS ON RIDE ATTENDANTS ESPECIALLY BOY ONES. It embarrasses Chooch but Henry is like, “That’s fine, they’re not going to be sway by my grizzled visage.”

Obviously he said that in more simpler terms, but you get it.

OK, Goliath – I see you! Not the best RMC out there but still so fun and this one goes through a small underpass twice, and there’s fog!! The second time it goes through there, it is fucking CRUISING. If you are reading this and you have not ridden an RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction), please do yourself a solid and google WHERE IS THE NEAREST RMC HYBRID and then GET YOURSELF THERE ASAP.

I mean, 9 other RMCs have preceded this one in my life, and even still I was SCREAMING! LIKE, FUCKING HOLLERING as if my RMC cherry was being popped. Just laughing myself into a coughing fit, it was truly a goddamn delight. RMC just HITS DIFFERENT. (I said that out loud for the first time ever yesterday and immediately felt like such an herb lol.)

If you’ve been on an RMC before, please tell me which one! And if you are an RMC fangirl like me, tell me your RMC bucket list coaster! I have two: Zadra and Wildfire, the latter is one I might get to ride next summer GOD WILLING.

(I will turn religious if it gets me closer to international RMCs, bet.)

I’m going to end this installment here because true to form, I’m only 1/4 of the way into the day and I’m already over 1,000 words which is just stupid. Tomorrow, I’ll continue to beg and whine until I get Henry to contribute something.

Sep 172022

The rest of the evening in the Dells was spent doing spooky stuff. Well, some might find the word “hokey” to be more accurate lol. Shockingly, the Dells is kind of like the dollar store knock off of a tourist trap town so while places like Pigeon Forge and ugh shit what is that main drag called in Niagara Falls? You know the one. CLIFTON HILL! While places like that gouge your wallet and practically start in on your organs, the Dells had a lot of really stupid attractions that were only $5! So since we had time to kill, we bit.

First, we went to the Haunted Mansion on the main drag. It was….a place. No live actors, nothing super memorable. When we came out, there was a group of people standing on the sidewalk, contemplating. “Was it any good?” they asked. I hesitated MAJORLY and I think that was all they needed, because I could see them glance at other but then I added, “I mean, there aren’t any scare actors in there or anything,” and they all collectively made a FUCK THAT air expulsion and walked away.

We made a quick stop to this river walk thing but didn’t go very far because Chooch was whining about wanting to go back to the room to charge his phone because god forbid he might some amazing message in the MEXICO SQUAD group chat, so we turned around just in time for some man to ask me, and I do mean me because he only locked eyes with me,  “Does this go down to the river?”

I shrugged stupidly and said I didn’t know, then mumbled, “WTF do I look like, the Wisconsin Dells docent??”

Oh I know what happened next – the big fight about ice cream. LOL.

Our hotel had coupons for $2 off this Ghost Outpost thing so we grabbed some and headed on over. I had seen this mentioned on various WHAT TO DO IN THE DELLS YouTube videos and had hoped it would be cool like the one in Gatlinburg.

NO! IT WAS SO STUPID! JUST LIKE THE LAST PLACE! The only good thing is that it ended up being only $3 a person with our SUPER 8 coupons lol.

I dunno what got into Henry but he was like, “Let’s do this one too” and so we walked over to the Lost Temple which…I have no idea wat the point was but it was dumb too. Super low quality but then suddenly, singing tree:

I just honestly have nothing else to say about these two places. Avoid them? There. Two word review!

Finally, it was time to check in for our 8:40 reservation on the GHOST BOAT! I can’t believe I got Henry to sign on to this because he usually like YOU TWO CAN DO IT, I’LL DROP YOU OFF. He really hates spending money on things like, Tight Wads Gonna Wad Tight, you know? But when we were at Mt. Olympus earlier that day, he was like OK FINE and this was like HOURS after I had originally suggested it, and not like right after one of my nagging sessions, so this tells me that it was on his mind of his own accord and that he secretly really must have wanted to do this.

Please note: this wasn’t like one of those $5 haunts – this was an actual river boat ride at night, with a haunted walk. I think it was around $40/pp so this was more of a splurge but when in Wisconsin Dells, amirite?!

First off, once we went inside the Ghost Boat waiting area, they took pictures of each group so I was really stoked because we don’t have many family pictures that aren’t selfies. There were long pew-like benches set up in a serpentine manner inside the room and we were told to go all the way down as far as we could and take a seat. I really liked this set-up because it was ORGANIZED and assured that you were going to get to board in order of arrival. Frequent visitors to this dumping ground of the Internet will note that I am notoriously high-strung when it comes to standing in line, getting good spots, losing my spot, dealing with line-jumpers, etc. So props to the Ghost Boat people for doing the Lord’s work on this one.

HOWEVER!! There was OF COURSE that ONE group who decided that they were going to just waltz right up to the front when it was time to stand up and have our tickets scanned so that we could then walk down to the loading area. They completely skipped past all of the benches and tried to cut through along the side but the ticket scanner, AKA MY HERO, was like “no can do, back of the line for you” and I actually did a fist bump out in the open because I feel like more often than not, people in that position just roll over for line-jumpers! This was a fairly big group too – I feel like there were 8 or so, some extended family sitch, I dunno.

I was happy because not only were we far enough ahead in line to sit on top of the boat, we also snagged the last row of three seats in the very back. I’m a back of the boat/bus/coaster type of bitch, as you know.

The boat ride portion was really fun! Well, for everyone else. For me, I was too busy obsessing over the semi-big spider that was on the move RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I couldn’t lean back and relax like everyone else – I had to sit twisted at an angle, with my back up against Henry’s side, never taking my eyes off the railing. Some spooky recording was playing, relaying the ghostly story of the lake or whatever, but I legit missed the whole thing, my arachnid focus was *that* intense.

However, I was aware of the part of the boat ride where the engine was cut off so that we could glide between a cavern thing which Henry just told me was basically THE DELLS. It was really cool yet incredibly eerie at night. The water sloshing against  the rock walls just added to the vibe, like we were in a live action horror film, at the point where something was going to go terribly awry. To be honest, this part alone was worth the price of the Ghost Boat.

I took this picture earlier that evening when we returned to the river walk and walked the whole way down (I can now go back in time and tell that man that no, it does not actually take you all the way down next to the water). The boat went all the way straight back into the trees and then the dell stuff happened. Henry said he looked at pictures of it online, daytime pictures, and the part where the boat slipped through was “actually really cool, we should do it during the day next time.”


Anyway, the next part of the excursion had us docking and walking up a slight hill where we all gathered outside of a restroom. This bathroom break took FOREVER. It was so annoying. I also got stuck standing near the Line-Jumpers and that was annoying. They thought they were going to be FIRST but guess what? Where they were standing wasn’t actually the starting point of the trail –  it was off to the left and we had to walk down steps. So since I had been standing to the left of them, I got to go before them HA IT’S WHAT YOU DESERVE, ASSHOLES! While we were standing there talking to the guide, someone pointed out that there was a spider on some man’s back. He swept it off and then the guide STEPPED ON IT and I immediately panicked.

“What if that was my spider,” I hissed at Henry, who mumbled, “That was not your spider, wait, I thought you hated that spider?”

“I mean, yeah, but I also spent the whole boat ride trying to make sure it didn’t die and I feel horrible if I did all that just for some bitch to boot-stomp him!” I wailed.

“It wasn’t the same spider,” Henry sighed.

You guys, the actual haunted trail wasn’t exactly “scary” because our group had like 80 people, I swear to god, and the scare actors were fine and all but how scared can you really get when you’re in a group that large? We were toward the front of the group at least so that was good. Literally had no idea what was going on because it was dark, foggy, creepy blue lights were blinding us at every turn…but at some point we entered what literally felt like a cavern and I was seriously concerned about bashing my head off the side of a rock formation.

Henry was very concerned about the safety measurements of the walking portion of the Ghost Boat, as in, were there any?

“How long have they been doing these tours? It doesn’t seem very safe. I could easily see people getting seriously injured out there,” Henry said the next day in the car en route to the next destination. I mean, he’s not wrong. The couple in front of me didn’t realize there was a ramp to walk on and kept walking next to it, ground-level, which appeared to have some sort of drop-off next to it. They realized they were going the wrong way before they turned into lemmings walking off a ledge into a gorge.

I got singled out at one point as usual – no matter how big the crowd, they will always single me out. The person asked the little girl behind us if she knew me and Chooch’s names, and she said, “Um, Dylan and Elenor” and then when the ghost person asked Henry what they were, he said, “Dylan and Elenor” and the little girl was like, “OMG I WAS RIGHT??” and from that moment on, I became acutely aware of her presence and the fact that she never shut the fuck up. Lowkey hated her, especially because she kind of looked like RUTHIE from 7th Heaven.


RUTHIE was so fucking annoying!

That who show was so fucking annoying!

We had to walk back the same way we came, which meant going through the weird cavern part again. Chooch said one of the scare actors hit her head on the rock and THE WAY THAT I AM NOT SUPRISED YO.

Of course it ended with a chainsaw guy, possibly the only chainsaw guy in the history of chainsaw guys that ever failed to scare me. Probably because before he went back and grabbed his chainsaw, he was casually walking along with the front of our group, talking to everyone. Of course RUTHIE turned on the dramatics though and screamed shrilly while pushing her way through all of us.


Back on the boat. It was a different boat so I had no way of checking for my spider. This time, the very last row of seats was just a two-seater, so we had to sit in the row directly in front of that. In hindsight, I wish Chooch and I had just grabbed that last row and made Henry sit somewhere else because TWO PEOPLE FROM THE LINE-JUMPER GANG sat there and they were so very utterly annoying. Definitely in their late teens/early 20s, and part of that generation that talks just to talk. Nothing either one of them said had any weight or meaning to it. Just lots of, “Yeah”s and “Same”s and at one point, the girl part of the duo talked about her sleeping preferences while the guy interjected grunts of agreement here and there. And they both had REALLY STUPID VOICES. Like, the voices of stupid people. Sorry if you think that’s mean BUT THIS BLOG IS A SAFE SPACE FOR ME TO PLUNK OUT MY HONEST THOUGHTS. These kids were fucking STUPID. Especially when they were trying to act like astrologists and the guy was like, “I watch <some science show> and am basically a scientist now.” SIGH.

These poor stars. They had so much to say about them.

Anyway, that was the whole boat ride back, trying so hard to not listen to their basic conversations but being unable to get away from it since they were talking at a volume 5x what was appropriate for a nighttime boat ride with strangers.

Then I made Henry pay $28 for a portrait package so now we have like 12 copies of this photo. Guess some lucky people will get one tucked inside this year’s Christmas card.

I do really like this picture even though we look like 3 strangers picked at random to stand in front of the Ghost Boat backdrop. AFFECTION? WHAT IS AFFECTION? I’m actually surprised that Chooch as least smiled but Henry looks like he’s our warden, ready to break out the taser the moment one of us tries to flee. Look at that balled-up fist!

Sep 142022

The only glitch to our entire day in Wisconsin Dells was after the rootbeer museum when I had expressed a desire for ice cream. You would think that Henry and Chooch would know by now that my demands, especially ones that involve SCREAMS FOR ICE CREAM.

I had seen a sign for GELATO at one of the ice cream places on the main strip of the Dells, and had wanted to walk back and find it but CHOOCH was being a pain in the ass and peer-pressured me into going into a different ice cream place that was closer and it turns out it was just because he didn’t want to walk past this lady street performer again because she was making him uncomfortable (she was one of those statue people but didn’t do a very good job staying in character). The ice cream place was also a cafe and sandwich shop? I couldn’t tell what was going on there, but they had regular ice cream that you could get anywhere – like Hersheys or something – and then Henry said he didn’t want any and Chooch had just had a root beer float – I didn’t want to eat ice cream alone! So I left in dramatic fashion and speed-walked all the way to the parking lot. To be fair, the plan was already to go back to the hotel to rest because the next thing on our agenda didn’t start until 8:40 and we had two hours to kill.

I acted like a big crybaby on the way back to the hotel though because gotta stay on brand.

Anyway, we ended up going back out a bit earlier because there was a stupid haunted house I wanted to go to (MORE ON THIS SEPARATELY) and Henry was like, “Hey look, you can get your gelato afterward” because the same candy shop that I originally wanted to go to had another location right across the street from the dumb haunted house!

Chooch opted to wait in the car, probably was chatting with his Mexico Squad, so Henry and I went inside like we were impersonating a COUPLE ON A DATE. I guess Henry learned his lesson because he came prepared to place his own order so that I wouldn’t have to eat my cold treat alone like the true loser that I am.

So…I knew from first sight of the case that this was not going to be anything even close to traditional gelato. But nothing could have prepared me for the truly bizarre taste of my birthday cake and…what was my other flavor? Butter pecan maybe? gelato scoops.

It was truly alarming. The texture was like moist, frozen playdoh and the taste was SUGAR. And ARTIFICIAL. And FREEZER BURN. It was all of these things with a suggestion of whatever the flavors were supposed to me. Recommended to enjoy while thinking of your chosen flavor.

Tastes best with power of suggestion.

Somehow, it started to grow on me. I mean, I would never in my life go back there for a replay, but it wasn’t so grotesque that I couldn’t eat it. Henry had similar feelings with his choices, which I can’t remember now what they were. He had originally asked to try the banana but immediately wrote it off after realizing that it tasted like “cold nothing.” I’m glad he didn’t choose it too because the way it looked in the display case, it was wet and oozy like a pile of melted yellow popsicles. Totally unappealing.

“I mean I knew it wasn’t going to taste like real gelato because WISCONSIN but this also doesn’t taste like ice cream,” I said, holding a spoonful up to the light like my tastebuds had phoned my eyeballs for help decoding this gelato mystery.

For every scoop this place sells of fake gelato, an old man in Italy crashes a Moped.

Meanwhile, I was sitting in front of GREEN M&M and that was the third time in two days that she had come up in my life! WHAT DOES IT MEAN. One of the times was because one of the characters in a book I had just read admitted to thinking she was hot.

I guess I can see it….

On the way out, there were new suckers perusing the gelato case and I heard the scooper say, “It’s more like frozen yogurt.”

OK, that’s a very generous comparison.

Right after this, we went back to the main Dells area to prepare for our RESERVATION and when we walked past this REALLY COOL ICE CREAM SHOP that I somehow missed earlier, Chooch suddenly was ready for Ice Cream Part 2 and went in for a cone.

Dude, I was so pissed! I would have much preferred an ice cream cone from this place!!!

What an asshole.

Of course he ended up with ice cream on his shirt too right before our RESERVATION (I dunno why I’m acting like there is going to be some reveal, it was just a boat ride / haunted walk thing).

OK, this has been an ice cream interlude.

Sep 132022

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but every time I sit down to recap Labor Day weekend, I start getting all wet-eyeballed and weirdly sentimental for something that JUST HAPPENED. Like, it’s barely even a memory yet?! I think time/age is really starting to terrorize me and I am hyper-aware of the fact that Chooch will soon be in college and definitely not trying to hop aboard the Oh Honestly Road Trip Express anymore. So I’m just trying to live my best life & do the most while we’re still a trio.

And sure, that means spraying dolla dolla bills into the mouths of some of the most questionable tourist traps in Wisconsin Dells! But first, food.

I sincerely don’t know what’s going on in this picture. We had just parked in a (shockingly free!) lot and had to cross over a busy street on a crosswalk with no traffic light – one of those HONOR SYSTEM pedestrian death traps where you’re supposed to step right out into oncoming traffic with all the confidence of someone who is not in a position to be pancaked onto the asphalt. I think I was probably yelling at Chooch here for not waiting for me. I HATE CROSSING STREETS!

Me: I want to kick this and break the glass.

Henry, somberly: You’d probably end up doing more time than he ever will.

Just like every other touristy town we’ve been to lately, Wisconsin Dells was chockful of disgusting Trump merch in all of the souvenir shops. So grotesque.

The first thing on our agenda was DINNER. Henry chose a bar called Monk’s because it had NOT JUST A VEGGIE BURGER, but a black bean burger as well. Hold me back.

We (and Chooch is not included in that collective, so you can hang up with CPS now thanks) rarely drink when we’re out but I felt inspired to get something so I chose this local blueberry beer and selected something that was banana-flavored for Henry even though it wasn’t what he wanted. I’m glad I chose the blueberry for myself because his tasted too beer-y. I mean, mine did too and I should have stuck with cider like I generally do but I felt like trying a BEER. It took me the whole entire meal to finish it and also I kept pouring it into the glass without angling it so the foam was overflowing and it was making Henry so uncomfortable, haha.

Chooch, meanwhile, was bitching because all he wanted a grilled cheese but they didn’t have it. C’mon, Monk’s – THIS IS WISCONSIN and you can’t make a kid a fucking grilled cheese?

So he got the veggie burger and I got the black bean burger which came on a pretzel bun and had a tortilla chip layered in it. It was pretty good. The waffle fries were good too. It was all good. Except for the asshole kids who belonged to the table next to us but instead sat at the arcade games situated IMMEDIATELY behind Henry and me. They kept pounding on the buttons and making this terrible music play and I was really pissed off. Their lazy asshole mother just sat at their booth staring off into space, periodically picking up the SIPPY CUP that the BABY BROTHER kept pelting onto the floor.

I was getting loudly passive aggressive about my dislike of this situation until the mom finally caught on and called the idiot kids back to the table. God they were so annoying. Thankfully they left before our food came but still – it was enough to put me on edge.

Chooch was mad because the parents left a really small tip too.

Oh! And the waitress had to run outside and try to catch them because of course they left the SIPPY CUP on the floor despite all the times MOM and what appeared to be GRANDPA hollered to the older boys to PICK UP YOUR BROTHER’S SIPPY CUP.

They always bond over claw machines for some reason. Chooch can be deep in the bowels of Teenaged Surly Town when suddenly he’s presented with a crisp dollar to lose in a claw machine and it’s like someone pressed a button in the nape of his neck to reanimate him.

They did not win anything.

Monk’s Bathroom Selfie.

Calling his mommy.

We went out the back exit and I was oddly excited about this.

Then we stumbled upon this little courtyard which reminded me a bit of Gatlinburg, TN crossed with Sugarcreek, OH. The cuckoo close was telling the story of the pied piper!!

Then we went to the root beer museum! Well, we didn’t actually go into the museum portion because THERE WAS AN ADMISSION FEE god forbid and none of us cared that much but I’m certain my dad would have forked over the cash for it (it was only around $5 I think) because he is OBSESSED with pop. He always had glass bottles of Barq’s stocked in a vintage soda machine when I was growing up. He probably still does!

We got a flight to share and they were all wonderful – I rarely drink soda/pop/sugary bevs but I do love me some root beer. I admittedly could not tell the difference between any of these until the SODA JERK (is that what soda jerks are!?) described them to us and when he said that one of them had honey in it, I could suddenly taste the honey.

I’m real easy like that. My mind is a whore ready to be finessed and wooed by any ol’ John.

Chooch, meanwhile, opted for a root beer float except that he doesn’t like root beer? So every time he’d get down to where there was just ice cream left, the SODA JERK would snatch his cup and refill it. Chooch was not immediately OK with this but then he went with it and kept trying to get the guy to give him a different root beer but the SODA JERK got real weirded out by this request and muttered about not usually mixing root beer.

I mean, it’s root beer, not chemicals in a beaker, but OK my guy.

Then he and Henry bonded bigly over the Amish farm in Landcaster that sells really gross homemade root beer in unmarked jugs from their barn. I vaguely remember buying a small jug of this years ago and thinking it was totally poisonous.

So that was a fun pitstop! I still like root beer just the regular amount though. It wasn’t life-changing for me. I haven’t enrolled in any Dad’s secret societies or anything.


Can you believe that Henry didn’t humblebrag about moving around pallets of FAYGO ROOT BEER as his OCCUPATION?

Total missed op.

Henry gave Chooch a dollar to put in the stupid animatronic outhouse next to the TRUMP fortune teller thing. It was a total waste of money and I know you just slapped your knee and screamed in disbelief.

Stop back for PART 2 when I tell you about the haunted shit we did next. Henry was super amenable on this day for some reason and let us actually do stuff.

Sep 112022

Late Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend, we made it to one of my bucket list parks (lol so stupid), Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin! I have watched enough vlogs on this place to know that I needed to proceed with caution, that it’s truly a ride-at-your-own-risk park. But it’s home to four wooden coasters, one of them being the notorious Hades 360 which was the first wooden coaster to feature an inversion (although this revamping of the original Hades coaster debuted with the inversion in tandem with Silver Dollar City unveiling the RMC masterpiece, Outlaw Run, which was *also* taking the title for FIRST WOODIE WITH INVERSION. So Silver Dollar City modified their claim to “multiple inversions,” lol. Coaster drama.

So right off the bat, you get a true taste of how sketchy this park is as you’re walking down the entrance and can LITERALLY reach out and touch the track of Zeus. You could slap hands with people riding it, there is NOTHING STOPPING YOU from losing a hand or climbing all the way onto the track and losing your whole damn life. Presumably, this is what they’re waiting for being putting up actual safety measures.

We didn’t spent too much time here so hopefully I can give you a succinct recap with a minimal amount of typos. Let’s goooo.

The entrance to Zeus is the first thing you run into once you get your wristband and enter the park through the gift shop. We got in line for this immediately and started doing neck rotations and windmills in order to lubricate the ol’ spine-a-roo before an afternoon of body beatings. Everything here was one-train-ops, and Zeus only had one young girl operating the ride AND checking restraints, but we still somehow only had to wait for about 20 minutes. I think that most people come to Mt, Olympus for the water park (it’s like, world renown I guess, but not a water park specialist so I can’t confirm) and it was honestly pretty chilly that day (I think it only got up to 70 at one point but felt more like low-60s) so the park wasn’t very crowded.

Um, OK Zeus! Your trains are old and busted but this was a really enjoyable wooden coaster! Not too terribly rough and it had me laughing SO HARD that I was giving myself coughing fits, which was basically the theme of the whole weekend. Janky coaster-inducing coughing fits.

Oh! When Chooch and I were getting into the back seat, there was a phone and lighter sitting there, left behind by the guy who was riding before us. Luckily, he was very distinguishable because he was wearing a bright yellow hoodie, so Chooch put the lost items in the bin with our stuff, figuring the guy would probably be lingering near Zeus once he realized he left his stuff behind. BUT HE WASN’T. So now Chooch was the keeper of the lost items and refused to give up and turn them over to lost and found, determined to find the guy himself.

Thank god the park is very small, but we still walked around aimlessly for 30 minutes, looking for the damn guy. Henry kept saying that he saw him and we were like, “Bro, that’s not even close to what the dude looks like, do you even know who you’re looking for??”

Just as Chooch was about to make his concession speech, we ran into the guy who was finally heading back toward Zeus. Chooch strode right up to him and said, “Did you lose your phone?”

The guy was, “YES” and Chooch handed it over (and the lighter, lol) and dude was like, “THANK YOU!”

And that was that. No back-claps, no promise of being penpals, no “Are you on TikTok?”s.

Super anti-climatic.

But now that we got that over with, it was Hades360 time!

The line looked a lot longer than it was, but it was still the longest wait we had all day and that was still only about 30 minutes. It’s actually good that there were some people in the park because I heard that some of the coasters won’t/can’t be sent unless the train is full or almost full. So on dead days, some coasters there won’t even open.

Also, Hades360 allegedly breaks down quite often so I just wanted to get on this at least once.

Gum tree.

This picture sucks because Henry took it with his shitty broken phone, but here we are, about to ride Hades360 for the first time!

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Henry was mad because when the ride attendant asked how many we had, we said two so Chooch and I were able to snag the back row while Henry had to wait for the next cycle, lololol.

OK um…I don’t even know how to explain Hades360 but if you ever want to feel like you’re having a near-collision with death, ride this. Drive yourself to Wisconsin and wedge your ass in a seat on this carriage to Hell and you will understand. It was out of control, relentless, forceful, ROUGH, and that’s before it even gets to the absolutely terrifying PITCH BLACK tunnel UNDER THE PARKING LOT. And then you have to go back through the tunnel on the way back and there is a surround-sound ROARING throughout the underground portion that literally sounds like Satan himself is telling you to SLOW DOWN.

There are signs that tell you not to put your hands up and you better believe I obeyed those signs because that was one terrifying experience, yet TOTALLY EXHILARATING. Chooch, who was being a moody teenager most of the day up to this point, dropped the facade long enough to casually admit that this is now on his Top 10 wooden coaster list. Honestly, I was waiting for him to say something totally disparaging and shit-eating, like, “That was overrated” or “Cool mm.”

I hate “cool mm” btw. It’s his response to EVERYTHING I text him.

Anyway, here is Henry riding it in the backseat after us! As soon you leave the station, you go down that first drop and then it just gets scarier and scarier from there.

Here also is a super underrated Reel I made of Henry riding this and I don’t usually care about this stuff but I do feel like it IS VERY FUNNY and no one cared, lol poor me but seriously this was the best use of an NCT song:

We also rode Cyclops which was a fine smaller wooden coaster, actually not painful as I had anticipated, but there are no pictures because Henry is the worst Coaster Dad and sat on a bench with his back toward us the whole time instead of capturing our smiling faces on “film.”

Second to Hades360, I was most looking forward to Pegasus, which is the smallest coaster of the four BUT it has the notorious “yeet turn” as it comes onto the brake run.

I actually this was NOT  that bad of a ride?! Only because it was so odd. Like, it felt like it had legit corners. Such a weirdly engineered woodie! Chooch was like “That’s a no for me” but I honestly was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t walk away with contusions or at the very least, a bruised tailbone.

Where’s Henry.

Back to being a sullen teenager.

Henry actually came through and took a picture of us on Pegasus!

LOL, I tagged Mt Olympus and they liked it.

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Henry was not amused.

I was hoping they would have a good Hades shirt but no luck. I just got a magnet for my collection and that was fine. Also, by “Shops” at Mt. Olympus, they mean the same shop over and over again.

Weird family photo, in line for Zeus, part 2.

Tricked Chooch into smiling.

Henry wasn’t falling for it.

Also, Henry has to take his hat off on coasters and being hatless makes him look mean(er). I don’t like it. Maybe he needs bangs. That might soften his look.

I’ll suggest it.

I think we only spent about 3 hours there in total. We didn’t eat anything (Henry and Chooch both had Starbucks and complained about it and I was like, “THAT’S WHY I JUST SAY NO TO STARBUCKS.” God, follow my lead already. I didn’t even pee the whole time we were there so I can’t give you a bathroom review, but aside from that, I found Mt. Olympus to be a clean park and the staff was pretty personable. I wish that Hades at least was more than one train ops, but I thought the line still moved moderately fast. It must have broken down right around the time we left though because we waited for a good 10 minutes in the parking lot to get a video of it coming down the hill and into the tunnel, but then one finally came so we got the damn video and then left to check into our hotel.

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(A Super 8 but it was actually really decent?!)

If you’re interested in more Mt. Olympus content, Coaster Idiots has a really good and funny vlog about their day there last summer!

Sep 082022

Originally for Labor Day Weekend, I tossed around the idea of going to Missouri to hit up the Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks out that way. But then when Chooch was in Mexico, he made friends with a group of kids and some of them live near-ish Chicago, so I was like NO, WHAT ABOUT SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA and Henry was like “Whatever” so I told Chooch to ask his Illinois-based squad members if they wanted to meet up with him there and the two main girls were like YES DEF and now you’re like OK cool, but what does Wisconsin have to do with this.


Way back in the beginning chapters of the Erin & Henry saga, we had gone to some farm town in Wisconsin for a hard rock festival, specifically because one of my favorite bands of all time, COLD, was performing. This was one of our first road trips, pre-Chooch, back when we both worked at the shitty MEAT PLACE.

Driving back through Wisconsin on the way home, I have a VIVID memory of passing a giant Trojan horse with a go-cart track built around and through it, and then as I looked around, I saw ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS everywhere. Approx. 87 road signs were telling me that we were in WISCONSIN DELLS.

I begged Henry to stop but he was like, “ALL THIS SHIT COSTS MONEY” and kept driving so I threw an epic fit and at the next rest stop, I got out and sat in the backseat where I proceeded to hurl insults and death threats at Henry while assassinating his character in my vacation journal.

It remained a point of contention for YEARS.

Then, once we eased into our current COASTER ENTHUSIAST niche, my favorite coaster vloggers started posting MT OLYMPUS content. MT OLYMPUS is the amusement park with the TROJAN HORSE!! And not only that, but they have 4 wooden coasters that are infamous for being weird and ride-at-your-own-risk.

“Henry, hear me out,” I started after we had decided for sure that we were going to Six Flags Great America. “What if first we drive THRU Illinois and go to WISCONSIN.” Henry bristled at this suggestion, but I prevailed. I barely even have to work on him anymore, he’s like permanently worn down.

We left last Friday as soon as I was done with work at 5:30 and drove until nearly midnight, stopping for the night at an actually not so bad Baymont in FT. Wayne (I think?) Indiana. I didn’t live blog because nothing too exciting was happening – Chooch slept in the backseat and Henry and I briefly went down the screamo/post-hardcore rabbit hole on Spotify because Pierce the Veil has a new song but after about an hour, my earholes were begging for Hangul to hug on to, so I put NCT127 back on.

I can’t stray from Korea for too long!

All I remember about the hotel is that there was a gross drunk couple laughing sleazily on a bench outside of the lobby while Henry was taking forever to check in and they were making me so uncomfortable. Also, there was a weird wrap-around balcony above the lobby that I was obsessed with but Henry and Chooch thought it was dumb.

We got up super early Saturday morning to continue the drive to Wisconsin. It was about 4 hours I think. Originally, we were going to detour to Green Bay because there is a free park there that has a coaster called Zippin Pippin that was Elvis Presley’s favorite coaster. It’s a moderate bucket list coaster for me, but we ended up scrapping the idea that morning because we wouldn’t get to the Dells until that evening which seemed dumb. Also, it’s for the best, because it was raining up that way and for all we know, the coaster may not even have been running!

I got really excited when we drove past Chicago. I love that skyline so much, but then I was just instantly sad because I wish we had time to spend there. I have been in and around Chicago so many times but only really did semi-touristy stuff once so I would really like to go back with NO OTHER AGENDA – no concerts, no amusement parks. Just Chicago stuff.

FUN FACT: Did you know that back in 2001, I was considering moving to Chicago?

Then I met Henry. Sigh.



It was dreary all day in Illinois and Wisconsin! We drove through some heavy rain for a rain but luckily it wasn’t raining at all in the Dells, it was just chilly and overcast all day. I was kicking myself because I usually always bring a light jacket with me, especially to put on in the car because I’m always freezing, but I packed REALLY STUPIDLY this time around, and ended up bringing a bunch of stuff that I didn’t want to wear BUT I did stuff in one long-sleeved shirt in there, thank god. So I changed in a gas station parking lot.

Wow, such important details.

Before I changed though, we stopped at Mouse House for cheese curds and souvenirs. Henry took that terrible picture up there and we had a moderate argument about how much he sucks at taking pictures.

Then it was Mt. Olympus time! Which I will get to in a separate post, so we can just call this THE PROLOGUE.

[Also, this was a new “state credit” for Chooch, lol. I started to count all of the states he’s been to but I have an NCT127 vlog on (Fill It Up ep 2!) and it’s distracting me so I keep losing count.]

Sep 052022

While many of you are off and enjoying whatever Labor Day is, I will be over here diligently working to give future me a detailed and accurate memory of our million hour drive home to Pittsburgh.

It’s 8:58am (central time) and we’re waiting for dippy Henry to check out. The first thing that happened when I woke up around 7 was that I opened Instagram and found out one of the ex-pat vloggers living in Korea that I watch died of leukemia and even though I didn’t know her, I INSTANTLY started to cry. Her name on YouTube is HojuSara (she’s Australian and hoju means Australia in Korean) and she was sooooo full of life and love for Korean culture, spoke Korean fluently, and was one of the first channels I started watching back when I became obsessed with Korea. She and her Korean boyfriend had recently gotten engaged and had gone back to Australia last winter to visit her family when she started feeling off, and that’s basically when it was discovered that she had leukemia.

I’m just sad. I didn’t know her, obviously, but sometimes you can tell when a person is one of the good ones and that was my impression of her.

Ok wow depressing start to a live blog!

9:36am: I hate being this close to Chicago and not stopping!!

9:59am: Another embarrassing Dunkin drive thru experience because Henry is soooooooo bad at relaying our wants and wishes. Chooch and I are mocking him and now Chooch is trying to hide in the backseat. They asked what kind of donut chooch wanted and Chooch was like “any kind” so Henry was yelling, “pick the worst one!” into the window after the girl walked away, and then when she handed Henry the bag, he threw it really hard into the backseat without even looking and it was pretty funny but I guess you had to be there.

Meanwhile, Henry gaslit me and said they didn’t have croissants which is all I wanted and I said oh that’s weird because I’m pretty sure I’ve had one from there and also weird that it’s a bread choice for the breakfast sandwiches but ok, you know everything Henry. So I was pressured into getting avocado toast which held up the drive thru line and meanwhile YES SIR THEY HAVE CROISSANTS so I was crying about that and accused Henry of gaslighting and Chooch piped up from the backseat to tell me I don’t even know what that means which is REAL RICH coming from Gaslighter Jr.

11:07am: Henry brought along all these different Tupperware containers of various trail mix type stuff for car-snacking. I opened one that had granola in it and instantly recoiled as it hit my tongue.

“What is this, from the ’80s?? It tastes like it come from someone’s storm shelter.”

“First of all,” the White Knight started, adjusting his medieval jockstrap. “How many things have you eaten from a storm shelter?”

3:08pm: time changed somewhere back there and now we’re in Toledo for food and wow this place is supremely ugly no offense if you live here but I high key hate it.



I made Henry come over to the Ted Bun so I could get take his picture for Alyson and he was a big bitch baby about it because THERE WERE PPL EATING AT A TABLE 10 feet away. God, cry about it. This is literally why people come to Packo’s–for the signed hot dog experience!

I mean, I’m guessing! We totally came just for the Ted Bun! (Well, I did, anyway.)

Chooch: I don’t know who any of these hot dog bun people are because I’m not over the age of 70.



Chooch got a veggie dog with vegan chili and I had slight ordering remorse.

I made Henry order the paprikas dumplings as his side even though that’s not what he wanted lol.

The food was fine but the ambiance was exactly what I had hoped. I love restaurants that look like this, while also offering some kind of road side attraction schtick to reel you in. I’m here for it every single time.


It was decent! I have Yugoslavian and Austrian heritage though so I grew up eating some of the best apple strudel in the world, HUMBLE BRAG. So most strudel I have at restaurants is still delicious but not like the kind served at a local fire hall baby shower, if you know what I mean.

Also there wasn’t enough of it!

Packo Bathroom Selfie!

Then we bought some shit at the gift shop – Chooch got a pickle pen (apparently Packo’s is famous for their pickles and Henry said they’re even sold at our local Giant Eagles which I wouldn’t know because I probably go to a grocery store maybe 5x a year). I got a magnet, obviously.


On the way out, crybaby Henry saw that chocolate chip cookies were for sale near the bar and he sulked because he wanted them but didn’t want to put $2.50 on the credit card so he came back to the car and cried some more but then Chooch said he had a $10 bill so Henry said, “GIMME IT” and legit snatched it from him and ran back in to get his fucking cookies, so Chooch kept saying, “COOKIE!!!” in a Cookie Monster / caveman voice and it was especially funny when he was saying it as I watched in the rear view mirror as Henry stormed back to the car with cookies in hand, like some fucking war hero.

Anyway, you’re welcome as usual, Henry and Chooch, for having the novel idea to eat there. I always have the best ideas.

5:05pm: Packo’s has a bunch of M.A.S.H. memorabilia because of the Toledo connection I guess – I actually had to ask Henry because I didn’t actively watch that show since I was YOUNG but my dad watched it so I know some stuff, like the basic gist of it and various actors who were on it. This pushed me down the rabbit hole because I was like WASNT ONE OF THEM THE DAD ON PROVIDENCE and Henry was like I DID NOT WATCH THAT but Mike Farrel was the second name he offered up as an answer and I was like THATS IT so I started reading the Providence wiki until I landed on the PICKET FENCES page because holy shit I forgot that was a show!?

I never watched it. Henry said he sort of did whatever that means.

Ugh it’s 6:49pm and we still have an hour to go because we’ve stopped so many times for pee breaks etc. All you’ve missed is shitty Starbucks and my obligatory once-a-road-trip rant about BTS’s mediocrity. I guess I will just post this now because who cares bye.

Sep 042022

One of my favorite things to do before going on a road trip is look for restaurants in the area. I have a very particular set of requirements so it’s good to be proactive. If we’re going to a bigger city, I will for sure look for vegan joints but small towns have me looking for the greasy spoon time capsules. If a review is bad because the place is outdated, it goes on the list.

If it’s quirky or novel, borderlining on roadside attraction, here comes Erin. (See: Mr. Happy and Pal’s!)

These are the very important duties I task myself with, in case you were wondering what I do when I’m not getting yelled at by attorneys at work or walking my feet off because I’m a slave to my step goal.

So when I came across Mr. Pancake, housed in a structure shaped like a river boat and family-owned dating back to the 60s, I refused to leave Wisconsin Dells until we ate there.

Especially after watching some local news story from 12 years ago highlighting the breakfast spot loved by tourists and locals alike.

That clip of the food-faced bitch getting floaters all up in her apple juice made me dry heave though.

But I was otherwise reminding Henry by way of FACE-SCREAM that we were going to eat at Mr. Pancake and he was like “ok” while pushing past me to finish his chores and Chooch would just curtly say, “I don’t know what that means” and then acted like it was NEWS TO HIM when we drove past it yesterday while going to our hotel.

Anyway, we almost had to scrap the plan because they’re only open until noon so we would have had to go Sunday morning except that we still need to drive to Chicago-ish to go to Six Flags and prefer to get to new-to-us parks when they open because we’re always on a mission, you know.

I’m sure Henry and Chooch were less then thrilled with my declaration that we’d just have to leave the hotel earlier than intended and get to Mr. Pancake as soon as they opened at 7.

We were the first ones here! We arrived at 6:53 and Henry was like I AM NOT SITTING IN THIS PARKING LOT IT WILL MAKE THE WAITSTAFF NERVOUS so we had to drive around the still-sleeping Dells. When we got back at 6:58, the lot was still empty and I told Henry to park right next to the door and he was like I AM NOT PARKING THERE I WILL PARK OVER HERE AWAY FROM THE BUILDING. What a weirdo.

Then I got out and ran over to the door but the CLOSED sign was still up even though it was now exactly 7 so I got nervous but JUST THEN the hostess came over and flipped the sign while smiling at me through the window of the door.

I ran back down the steps and yelled, “SHE CHANGED THE SIGN TO OPEN!” to Chooch who was like “yes I know I’m standing right here, I saw, you’re so annoying.”

MR PANCAKE SELFIE! WE WERE THE FIRST PATRONS! Our waitress’s name was Paula and she was amazing and really helped us navigate the tricky menu.

(It was not tricky but she still held our hands and promised us that we would never walk alone while in her care.)

(Fine. She didn’t hold our hands but her soothing tone implied that was spiritually braiding her fingers into ours while leading us down a path of tulip petals and housemade maple cinnamon syrup.)


Chooch is in the Blocking His Face From Mommy’s Camera stage of his life.

You guys!! I got a blueberry waffle which came with lemon butter! When Paula checked in on us later, I blurted out with such urgency that her face flashed with alarm, “I didn’t know the butter was going to be lemony!” But then I gushed, “I love it!” so her face relaxed into her standard cheerful Wisconsin visage and she proudly declared that it’s made in house. JUST LIKE THE SYRUP.

A few years, two bitches from some local supper club took the reins of Mr. Pancake from the family who had been running it since the 60s. The history on the website says that they kept the OG recipes but added some stuff to the menu and I told Henry I bet the BARISTA section of the menu and the fancy house made butters and syrups were their doing. But for some reason I said it is a disparaging, snippy tone like these uppity supper club broads were really leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth for literally no concrete reason that I can give you to back up my intentions. Sometimes I JUST BE LIKE THAT.

Anyway, I also had my eyes on the Iowa Corn Pancakes (?!?!?!) because they were filled with corn and corn meal!! But I cannot eat three pancakes and there was no down-sizing option. However, Henry got an omelet which came with two pancakes and Paula said that he could substitute any of the specialty pancakes for a small upcharge so I told him to get the corn ones and he did and they were SO GOOD. Actual corn kernels plopped out when he cut into them. I mean, it wasn’t like a pouch of corn cooked into the cakes but more so just interspersed throughout. I love corn stuff, especially when it’s surprise corn like in Korea, where they love to sneak handfuls of kernels in where you’d least suspect it, like pizza and lattes.

음ㅁㅁㅁㅁ, 옥수수 🌽.

By the time we left, Mr. Pancake had filled up with patrons filling up on carbs before a day of water-parking, including a family with a really fucking bratty toddler that proceeded to scream its face off immediately upon being seated and at one point the mom yelled YOURE BEING BAD and I am going to start publicly calling Chooch out for being bad too. It’s what he deserves.

Mr. Pancake gets an A- from me though because I didn’t like their souvenir T-shirts and they didn’t have coffee cups for sale!! I would have bought one for sure. They should make white ones with a red outline of the Mr. Pancake river boat thing.