day 2 of our Road America IMSA/Wisconsin adventure weekend
Admittedly, this one wasn’t on my list. Dali’s up the street was my planned breakfast stop in Manitowoc, but they were closed for an extended vacation. It worked out great though, because Manitowoc Coffee was fantastic and I would have missed it otherwise. We had omelets, french toast, smoothies, and some really excellent coffee to start our big day.
Wisconsin Maritime Museum
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum was on my list of things to do this weekend (and was literally next door to our hotel) but it was way way cooler than I expected. I was thinking it would be “videos about the Edmund Fitzgerald” vibes and it was actually more “please don’t press buttons on our fully restored and operational WW2-era submarine”.
The museum has a “can you fit through this hatch” display in their lobby like a human version of the thing you use to check if your carry-on luggage can fit under your airplane seat, so we knew we were probably safe bringing our Zachary on board.
Why a submarine in Wisconsin? Because 28 WW2 submarines were built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. They built them in Wisconsin, dumped them sideways into the Manitowoc river, sailed down Lake Michigan to Chicago, where they were dry-docked on a barge that took them down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where they could be sailed to the Pacific through the Panama Canal.
Many many other cool things about this museum, and of course Ada found the singular Titanic display.
This was Ada’s second visit to Strand, as we’d stopped there last October on the way home from a muskie fishing trip in Green Bay. They have a lot of rooms – laser tag, bounce houses, a ninja warrior training type setup, an arcade. But Ada heads straight to the climbing room.
I’m going to give you one of *my* videos instead of one of hers for this adventure – she likes to speed them up and put music over them, and I think it’s way more impressive to watch it full length and with the chaos and clatter of a dozen other kids screaming in the background while she sorts her next move. This was her first “over the nose” climb of the day, her goal as soon as she learned we were going to Strand.
Ryan’s on York
Lunch was at Ryan’s on York, where we tried their burger of the month, fries of the month, crispy tofu, and the Forbidden Naan with beef tenderloin.
I ate this naan like I was dying, like I had not eaten in months. It was wrapped in paper and I’m confident that I was eating paper without even noticing it at times. So fantastic. I will dream about it.
Ada encountered pickled carrots for the second time in as many days – we’d also bought some at Kwik Trip in East Troy. Oh Snap! sells them in a little bag and calls them “carrot cuties”.
She’s a fan, which I love. I remember fighting with my cousins for the one or two carrot sticks in the bottom of a jar of pickles when I was a kid. My great-uncle Martin briefly convinced us they were actually goldfish when I was very young. Did not deter us one bit.
“It’s been a big weekend for pickled carrots,” Ada noted.
After lunch, we buzzed over to Road America to watch practice and (mostly) go shopping.
I feel like I have not really blogged much about our Road America trips the past few years and I’ve failed you there. Road America is a 4+ mile road course in the hills and woods of one of the most beautiful parts of Wisconsin. It’s called “The National Park of Speed” and it does truly feel like you’re in a beautiful lush national park right before you get buzzed by cars going 150+mph. There’s a disc golf course weaving in between turns in the track as well. Really checks a lot of boxes for us. We were there earlier this year for IndyCar and this weekend was sports car racing with IMSA. It is close enough to home that it doesn’t really feel like a “road trip” for us. Should be a bucket list stop for any fan of motorsports or any FIB within driving distance.
Ada bought a very wet Bryant Herta Autosport cropped sweatshirt, which she absolutely had to have but they had no dry versions of it in her size because their tent blew away during the same storm that took out power to our hotel in Manitowoc.
This was my first IMSA race. I have been watching on TV for a few years, I occasionally dream about the Weathertech CupFone because I fall asleep during the Rolex 24 and listen to the ads for hours on end. But it was finally time to see it in person.
There’s this tweet I screenshot years ago that I joke about with Zach because he’s very tall and even though we’ve been together for years sometimes I still have these “oh my god, he’s so tall” jump scares and we call them “meet a cow in real life” moments.
Anyway, seeing the prototypes up close is my new “meet a cow in real life” experience. Damn them some big girls. And they growl when I expected them to have more of an IndyCar yyywhoom yyywhoom sound.
I really enjoy being new to this and figuring it out and frantically paging through the paper program that I paid $5 for because I do not know how to tell the different classes apart yet.
This is definitely the fresh newness that Zach was feeling when he was wandering around the Eldora pits saying adorable things like “who is Jac Haudenschild? Is he related to Sheldon?” The first time I saw the Wayne Taylor Racing logo, I definitely thought “Hey that’s Rodney Sandstorm’s dad!”
There’s gotta be a few of us rookies in every crowd, that’s how we grow and have new experiences. And this is the reason Ada now asks which direction the cars will go when we’re at World of Outlaws races, which is definitely not something our seat neighbors expect a kid in a vintage Doug Wolfgang t-shirt to be asking. We’re here to make your day just a little more absurd.
The Paddock Club
We did a quick outfit change in the parking lot at Road America to make our reservation at The Paddock Club in Elkhart Lake on time.
A Miata was parked in front of the restaurant with Team Fox folks selling raffle tickets to benefit Parkinson’s research. They offered Ada the option to sit in it and later, I pointed out to her how effortlessly she got in and out despite the roll cage and wraparound seat, using the top of the cage as a pullup bar to lift herself up and swing out.
“I’ve seen it done literally a thousand times, MOM,” she replied.
(Of COURSE we bought raffle tickets for the car, particularly in support of my Great Uncle Gary. I don’t know where Ada will put her Jeep Dog when they are riding in the Miata though.)
Dinner was wonderful! We had a cheese plate, a lemon roasted chicken, and rock shrimp pasta. Ada selected pasta off of the kid’s menu, which was published as “courses” and came with the tiniest most adorable wedge salad I’ve ever seen, and an ice cream sandwich.
Beerntsen’s was another stop on the list very close to our hotel. We grabbed some ice cream and I sent the photo of the raspberry and blackberry gummy candy to my mother, because memories. When I was 3ish, I fell through a set of bleachers at Bismarck Raceway (not Dacotah Speedway, the other older one, though Dacotah is where I got crashed into by a modified while I was in a port-a-john, so I can understand if there’s confusion between times I almost died at dirt tracks in the Greater Bismarck Mandan Metropolitan Region).
One minute, I was eating these gummies and enthusiastically swinging my legs and the next minute, our entire row was engineering a toddler-catching solution to help my hero mother who had caught me by one arm and was laying in an aisle trying to figure out how to pull me back up or get me to the ground.
Anyway, they only sell these at retro candy shops now and Mom and I like to re-traumatize each other every time we run across them.
Hotel Pool Time
Despite hours in the college pool every week for her swim team practice, Ada still logs as much time as possible in a hotel pool when we travel, and this one was open until 10pm.
I have an entire folder in my brain for hotels where I walked into the pool area and said “well this used to be a Baymont”.
We all slept pretty soundly this night. Whew.