Erich and I spent last weekend in the Kenosha, WI/Gurnee, IL area with my brother and had a great time. Erich has some family up there and we try to go once or twice a year but haven't had a lot of time recently so it was nice to make it back up that way.
The main reason for the trip was a run to Mars' Cheese Castle- one of my husband's favorite places for good Wisconsin cheese and other goodies. Erich's aunt in Wisconsin recently sent us a clipping from the paper that the highway Mars' sits on may be expanding and they may have to close up and move so Erich wanted at least one more trip before they move. Then we decided to invite my brother along because he's never been to Wisconsin and we thought we could have some fun with him. So we traded the dog for my brother and headed up to Kenosha on Friday night.
My brother thought the hotel was awesome because we actually had 2 TV's in our room. It was a suite with a living room and TV #1 separated from the bedroom and TV #2 by a bathroom. We were in a good location too, close to the highway and in the middle of everywhere we wanted to go. We didn't do a whole lot on Friday night except sit around and watch TV since we got there so late.
Saturday was a whole different story though. We walked and played til we dropped!
We started out early and went to the Jelly Belly warehouse down the road from our hotel. We were a little disappointed because we thought the tour was of the actual factory but turned out to be a little train ride through the warehouse while listening to the guide explain the process and watching short videos on movie screens hung on the walls. The free jelly beans and the gift shop made the trip worth it though:) We got all sorts of flavors not available locally including a soda pop collection (7UP, Crush, rootbeer, etc), garlic (just had to try it), and jalapeno. We were also able to get Belly Flops at a great price. These are the irregular beans, they taste just fine but are not shaped right. Here's Adam and me out in front of the Jelly Belly gift shop with the Jelly Belly Bugs:
From there we headed to an outlet mall near our hotel and browsed the stores for awhile. I was able to get a great deal on some Yankee Candles and the boys looked at shoes. Then we drove out to Dave & Buster's for a little lunch and some video games. Adam had a blast, I think it was his favorite part of the trip and probably Erich's second favorite part next to Mars':) We spent a couple hours in the arcade and played both the regular video games and the ones that give out tickets. We redeemed ours for a hat and t-shirt for Adam and a pub glass for Erich. He joked that his glass was probably the most expensive he's bought so far and that probably isn't too far from the truth but we all had fun so it was worth it.
Next stop was the Harley dealership down the road from Mars' and my brother was in heaven there as well. I think that was the first time he's really seen that many motorcycles up close and in person so we let him browse and dream and walked away with a t-shirt for him.
Mars' was just down the road so we stopped there too and bought mostly non-refrigerated items since they'd have to sit in the car most of Sunday. We did talk to them about shipping though and Erich will be having some of the perishable items shipped in the near future. We picked up a few favorites though- Kringle of course, some cheese curds, and Big Bear Black Cherry soda. I was impressed that Adam tried so many new foods that day, cheese curds being one of them.
Dinner was a whole new experience for my brother. After stopping back at the hotel for a bit we headed out to Little Europe for dinner. Little Europe is a small, family-owned restaurant that boasts authentic Bohemian cuisine. Our dinner choices included items such as schnitzel, sauerbraten, sauerkraut soup, and liver dumpling soup. I was surprised but Adam tried both types of soup and actually ate almost a whole serving of the sauerkraut soup which was quite good. We will definitely dine there again.
Sunday turned out to be cloudy, cool, and a little rainy. We had been planning on taking Adam out to Lake Michigan since we were so close and he had never seen it before and decided to chance it even though the weather was crappy. I'm glad we did because the water was rough and he was fascinated by the waves crashing into the rocks near the shore. Erich was brave and stood out at the tourist lookout point to get a few pics:
He got a little wet for his efforts but got some neat shots. We wanted to take Adam to Rainforest Cafe for lunch at Gurnee Mills before stopping to visit Erich's aunt for awhile so we headed there next and had fun spending the last of our fun money. We had a snack and an impromptu birthday party with one of Erich's cousins at his aunts' house and finally made it back to my parents' around 9. We were curious how Leland would handle the weekend but it turns out that he was just fine. He probably got spoiled but he'll never tell. He was happy to see us though-he didn't just wag his tail, his whole butt wagged!