Monday, November 16, 2009


I vaguely remember what it was like to live in a carefree world. Where every day brought the potential for excitement and the promise of tomorrow brought hope for an enchanting future. A world where dreams could come true if you just wished on a star. Where you could put on a pair of Nikes and JUST DO IT, whatever "it" was. A world where the bogeyman didn't lurk behind every corner.

Then I opened the paper and turned on the TV and it all went to heck. Thank you, global media, for not allowing me one sleep-filled night of carefree abandon and optimism. That would just be silly.

So by now it should be clear to us all that the H1N1 virus is out to destroy the human race. Yes, it won't be long until the only residents of Planet Earth will be germs and toxins and ragtag gangs of bloodthirsty survivors with inexplicable Australian accents who occasionally meet in the middle of deserts to listen to Tina Turner sing songs about Thunderdome.

Okay, maybe it won't bring on the Apocalypse, but you can't pick up a newspaper or turn on a television these days without being haunted by the spectre of swine flu. With such massive media coverage of our new microscopic visitors, it sure would be nice if everyone got their stories straight. CNN tells us that H1N1 is now the world's dominant influenza virus around the globe, yet just a couple weeks ago CBS News was reporting that only an estimated 20% of the folks who think they have H1N1 actually DO (the rest, presumably, have either a particularly nasty seasonal flu or a particularly active imagination.)

Either way, there's one clear message to take home from the media about H1N1: Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. And if there's one thing I'm super good at, it's cowering in fear.

As a long-standing, card-carrying germophobe, an invisible menace like H1N1 is super fun to have around. As I type this, my fingers are cracked raw from the constant application of Purell ("moisturing formula," my fanny.) My desire to write a good newspaper column is trumped only by my desire to be sure not to touch my nose, mouth, or eyes at any cost. Those little menacing buggers could be on my hand right now. Or maybe on the very newspaper and/or computer mouse that you're touching this second. Shh, listen -- I'm pretty sure I heard some of them plotting against mankind as we speak.

But surely I'm over-reacting, right? They say that the flu virus can only live for a few hours outside of the human body, and everybody's been reading the papers and watching TV and following the advice of healthcare professionals, right? Well, let's just say that I pay attention in public restrooms (in a 100% non-perverted way) and I know which of my co-workers do their lavatorial duties WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS (you know who you are.)

So I think until the menace of H1N1 recedes from our headlines, the best coping mechanism is to assume that every one of you are tainted, toxic, and covered in a thin layer of contagious mucus. The truth is, my immune system is comprised mostly of the nutritional elements of the Taco Bell menu, so I'm fighting a battle that I'm destined to lose -- but I'm not going out without a fight.

I love my colleagues at the newspaper, I really do. All of them. But this month? They kinda suck. It all started some three weeks ago when one of my co-workers mentioned that her stepkids were sick with the flu. Gulp. A week later, that co-worker was sick herself - but not before showing up to work for an hour and presumably spreading her cooties around the office all willy-nilly. A few days later, her nearest cubicle dweller came down with the flu. The week after that, MY nearest cubicle dweller got it... and decided that rather than keep her germs to herself, it would be more fun to sit some ten feet away from me, sounding like an alien from Close Encounters of the Phlegmy Kind, reassuring all of us by repeating, "Don't worry, I'b DOT sick!"

I'm now on the shortlist of flu survivors. No-one's been tested, so we don't know if it's H1N1 that's been going around, but I don't want to take my chances. I feel really bad for my co-workers and friends who've come down with this yuckiness, I really do. But I'm also horribly shallow and selfish and don't exactly want to experience the fun for myself if I don't have to. But here's where it gets dicey.

About a month ago, I came down with a whopper of a head cold. The kind that debilitates for a few days and then lingers for a few weeks. I've still got a gnarly cough from it. And when I was at the height of sick, my caring and loving girlfriend doted on me like a trooper. I never had to move a muscle or worry about a thing, because she was constantly by my side armed with soup and love.

So last week, when my girlfriend told me that she suddenly wasn't feeling well, I knew what I had to do:

"Ewww! Seriously?!?! GO HOME! Don't touch anything!" Oh, and then I sprayed down my entire living space, up to and almost including my cats, with a liquid inch of Lysol.

Okay, so Boyfriend-of-the-Year I ain't. But flu-free I remain for the time being (knock on wood.) And I wasn't entirely without caring: I made her a delightful care package, which I placed at her doorstep while maintaining a minimum distance of six feet. I bought her soup and water and a vaporizer and Vitamin C and anything I could think of to make her visit with the swine flu as short as possible. She even complained about being bored so I got her this great High School Musical 3 Activity & Coloring Book. Strangely, she didn't find it as funny as I did.

Happily, she's much better now. Happier still, she continues inexplicably to like me. I've allowed her back into the apartment and might even kiss her in a few days. I, meanwhile, am putting my faith in a regimen of vitamin supplements and elderberry syrup. Little did I know, though, that the answer to flu avoidance may be staring us all in the face. If, that is, you're currently staring at the severed liver of a duck. More on that next week.

COLUMN: Door County Pt. 4

Seeing as how this is the big finale column detailing my recent trip to northeast Wisconsin, it needs some kind of a heady name, like "Door County 4: The Reckoning." Or maybe "Door Countier With A Vengeance of the Sith Takes Manhattan: The Deathly Hallows of the Ring."

So what can I say about our trip to Door County that I didn't mention in the past three columns? Truth is, not much. And trust me, when your trip begins with a horse-drawn carriage wherein we risked life, limb, and fecal contamination... and is topped off by a stranger asking me for a tampon while simultaneously inquiring about my cocaine connections... well, in that case, "not much" is kind of a blessing.

The whole point of our trip was to see some fall foliage and maybe take in one of those legendary Door County fish boils. Well, truth be told, my prime motivator for the trip was to earn some brownie points with the girlfriend by going someplace all uber-romantic and mega-girly.

Take the word "foliage," for example. This is a word that I've never said in my life. I'm pretty sure that my brute machismo prevents it from coming out of my lips. Don't get me wrong - I like my share of girly foo-foo things. I own an alarming amount of romantic comedies on DVD. I think "Incomplete" by the Backstreet Boys is a great song. Heck, my car comes standard with a FLOWER HOLDER. I'm down with my wussy feminine side. But I've never looked at a tree in autumn and gone, "Aww, pretty."

Down here, trees turn a couple boring shades of yellowish-brown. Call it pretty if you want. To me, it's just an annual arbor snuff film, and a boring one at that. But in Door County, fall looks like the kind of thing you only see in movies or, well, travel brochures to Door County.

Instead of five or six exciting variants of yellow, it's a cacophony of color. Vibrant orange, red, and green hues leap out of the landscape like nature's own firework display. Without sounding too cheezy, it was a magnificent sight, and made it kinda tough to keep your eyes on the road. This may explain what happened next.

Wisconsin is called the Badger State. I assumed until recently this meant the state was crawling with indigenous badgers. It turns out that Wisconsin miners of yore would live in their mines throughout the bitter winter, which reminded somebody with apparant state-nicknaming privileges of a badger. While Wisconsin does have its occasional badger, they're not exactly running amok.

But I swear to you all, at that moment I saw a badger. Or possibly a small bear. Either way, it was lying in the middle of the road and was considerably less than alive. I nudged my girlfriend who was driving at the time. "Umm, mind the roadkill." This was my effort to have her perhaps move the car to avoid the mystery animal carcass. And I think that was what she TRIED to do. Instead, she corrected course to immediately aim right for it. I'd make some joke about women drivers here, but I know your e-mailing capabilities, ladies, and I'm not going there.

Regardless, next thing I heard was "WHUMP! WHUMP!" as our left tires ensured that the mystery badger/bear/chupacabra was good and properly extra dead. "Ewwww," I said with extreme brute machismo. "Oops," said Amy as we toodled off in search of more adventure.

Door County, if you've never been, is a huge peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan like a 50-mile long finger. At the very end of the finger lies Washington Island, a community that's only accessible by ferry ride. We didn't drive six hours to only see PART of Door County, so we hopped the ferry to check it out.

And it turns out that Washington Island is a pretty cool place. Chock full of ancient lore and famed shipwrecks, it was an impressively mystical place, especially in the hazy cold and accurately-forecasted "wintry mix" we were traversing through that day. We'd made it 50 miles up the peninsula without finding a single Monday fish boil, so my hopes were dim on finding good food.

Boy, was I wrong. The KK Fiske, "Home of the Fish Mortician." My kinda place. I'll admit, I was thrown a bit by the sign out front that said, "Fresh Lawyers!" Sadly, it was NOT a reference to sexually-harassing attorneys, but instead a rather ugly freshwater fish. The KK Fiske was the only Door County restaurant we found that had a Monday fish boil (yessss!) But sadly, it didn't start until 6 p.m., and the last ferry to the mainland was at 5.

As fun as it would be to call into work with "sorry, it seems that I'm trapped on an island," we had a looong drive home ahead of us and no boiled fish would stop us. Instead, I had a plate full of fried whitefish that the owner had sailed out and caught that morning. Heaven. And it was a place devoid of tourists but rife with locals in cover-alls who all looked haggard and grizzled and were all inexplicably watching "Days of Our Lives" in silence punctuated only by conversation like:

"So... get yer harvesting done?"

We had just left the restaurant when suddenly I felt a sickeningly familiar vibration under the car. NO! We'd pull over and find a shredded tire with a badger claw jutting out of it. we'd miss the last ferry, and we'd have to find some guy named Cooter who'd tell us that a replacement tire was coming on the January ferry. We'd have to leave our world behind and start life anew on Washington Island. I only hoped that the haggard and grizzled contingency needed a skilled nightclub DJ slash aspiring newspaper columnist.

Happily, though, it was just a weird stretch of pavement and the tires were fine. We made the last ferry back with eight minutes to spare. As we began the drive home, Amy looked at me and said, "When do you s'pose we'll be back in the Quad Cities?"

"11:20," I said, pulling a time completely at random.

At exactly 11:20 p.m., we rolled up my driveway, which I'm pretty sure lets me add "mystic seer" to my resume. Despite all the craziness, we made it from Washington Island to Rock Island in a car weighed down with Door County cherries and happy tummies. Thumbs up, Wisconsin. So... what'd I miss while I was gone?

COLUMN: Door County Pt. 3

It's not my intent to turn this column into a weekly travelogue for northeast Wisconsin, I promise. But our recent weekend trip up to Door County merits a few weeks of reflection. This was no mere vacation. No, it was a learning experience and nothing less than a revelatory exploration of the inherent frailty of the human condition.

Specifically, the human of ME, and the condition of my sanity.

If you've been reading along, my girlfriend and I had arrived just before sunset at our hotel in Sturgeon Bay, road-weary and mind-fogged after six hours in the car. My immediate hope to salvage the night with a romantic carriage ride turned into a terrifying ordeal of sub-freezing temperatures and the World's Most Flatulent Horse.

Upon our return, we decided simply to stay in and enjoy a thoroughly over-priced and thoroughly under-tasty dinner at the hotel restaurant. Afterwards, we moseyed into their inviting lounge before calling it a night. Inviting yet empty, as the only other patrons appeared to be off-duty employees letting off some steam. That's when the evening's entertainment walked into the bar. Well, kinda walked.

You guys know that I DJ on the weekends at a dance club in the District, right? Having worked down there for a number of years, I've got a pretty good understanding of some of the key elements of contemporary tavern-ing. This would include the warning signs that say, "Hrm, maybe I shouldn't serve any drinks to this particular customer."

A clear warning sign, for instance, is when the customer enters your lounge DANCING. Note: There was no music playing. And I don't mean a little dancing, I mean a full-on shuffle step that looked like an intoxicated cross of the Boot-Scootin' Boogie and the Stanky Legg. This dude would make a clear front-runner for "So You Think You Should Never EVER Dance In Public Again." And behind Drunken Fred Astaire staggered his equally-less-than-sober wife.

Another warning sign might be when the wife yelled to no-one in particular, "HEYYYYYWHEREZZZABAFFROOM???" Neither of these appeared to phase the bartender, who frankly looked like he would rather be at home playing Call of Duty on his X-Box. Instead, Slacker Bartender readily obliged with a sigh when Dancin' Joe asked for a round of shots. Uh oh, I thought.

Soon Mrs. Dancin' Joe came out of the restroom with an angry look in her eye. She marched to the bar, slurped down the shot, and then proceeded to tell the husband, the bartender, the two of us, and everyone else within earshot that the restroom... was out of tampons.

If only it stopped there. But no, she had to impress upon all of us her dire need for the aforementioned product, which she did with gusto, volume, and alarmingly creative graphic detail. I can't say much more in a family newspaper, but I'm pretty sure her gynecologist knows less about this woman than I now do. Hurrah.

My girlfriend is a nice person. I mean, hyper-nice. Almost to a fault. If a creepy axe murderer was chasing her around, she'd be the one to stop and ask if he needed a foot massage or maybe some home-made brownies. And I believe it was this inherent niceness, or perhaps an overwhelming desire to shut this woman up at all costs, that made her stand up and go, "I've got something in the room that you could use. Let me go get it."

And before I could even say "umm," she was off... with Mrs. Dancin' Joe in tow.

I sat there dumbfounded for a couple of moments before it hit me. I was the biggest idiot on the planet. I had just let my innocent and beloved girlfriend go wandering off with some drunken stranger while I sat silently with drunken stranger #2. This wasn't just a bad move, this was a future episode of Dateline - "The Tampon Killer." For all I knew, this woman WAS an axe murderer. Eventually, Mr. Dancin' Axe Murderer Joe would either (a) kill me, or (b) run from the lounge cackling, never to be seen again. By the time I could get back to the room, my girlfriend would be robbed or hacked into wee bits and I'd have to explain to Amy's mom why I came back from Door County one passenger short.

Surely my luck wasn't THAT bad, was it? These people couldn't be criminals, they were probably pleasant folk who just had a drink or six too many, right? I'm sure they're nice people...

"Hey, buddy," said Dancin' Joe. "Lemme axe you sumthin..."

"Umm, yeah?" I said.

"Have you ever done blow?"

Omigod. That was it. Amy's dead. I wondered who would play me in the Dateline reinactment. I hoped he wouldn't be as fat as me.

"Umm... NO, man. Not at all, ever."

"Well, lemme gives you a piece of advice -- DON'T."

"Uh... okay?" was all I could muster.

I had just stood up to literally RUN to the hotel room when Amy and Mrs. Dancin' Joe returned, all smiles and laughter.

"You okay?" Amy asked as she sat down. "You look sick or something."

So, lesson learned. Kids, don't take candy from strangers. Adults, don't give tampons to strangers. In our case, we lucked out. The Dancin' Joes were actually a really nice couple (albeit with some apparant feminine hygiene and/or illicit drug issues) on vacation from Minneapolis who indeed DID have 6 drinks too many to celebrate Dancin' Joe's 37th birthday. We hung out with them for a while longer and they shared some funny stories and what turned out to be some great recommendations for the best Door County food & fun...

But that's for next week's column, which I promise will be the last one set in scenic Wisconsin for SOME time.

COLUMN: Door County, Pt. 2 defines vacation as "a period of suspension of work... usually used for rest, recreation, or travel." I now realize the importance of the word "OR" in that definition. On my recent vacation, I didn't do a whole lot of recreating, and I certainly didn't rest. But oh, did I travel.

My girlfriend and I traveled, in fact, to northeast Wisconsin's Door County. We just made the misfortune of doing so on the coldest weekend to ever grace a Midwestern October.

Door County is NOT an easy place to get to from the Quad Cities. There's no express autobahn. There's not even an interstate. There IS, however, a six-hour journey snaking up state highways past such epic Wisconsin attractions as the Troll Capitol of the World and the World Famous Mustard Museum (hint: you can not make something "world famous" just by putting "World Famous" in your name. If that were the case, I would call this Shane Brown's World Famous Newspaper Column of Global Awe-Inspiring Awesomeness.)

Still, I was in a relatively good mood upon our arrival at Sturgeon Bay, the southern-most town in Door County. As I parked the car at our hotel, there stood one of the greatest romantic brownie-point earners of our era: a horse-drawn carriage.

Now, keep in mind that the girlfriend had recently accused me of neglecting my boyfriendly duty of romantic woo-ing. This was about to change. We hadn't even brought the bags in from the car when I grabbed her hand and said, "Follow me." I took her straight to the carriage. This thing better have a seat belt, I thought to myself, 'coz girl, I'm about to rock your world. It was time to get my woo on.

The driver explained that we could choose a fifteen-minute ride through the historic district of Sturgeon Bay, or a thirty-minute ride down to the waterfront. Seeing as how I was the newly-elected Mayor of Wooington, fifteen minutes wasn't gonna cut the world-famous mustard. She was getting the full thirty minute woo-down. Next thing I knew, we were being introduced to Lucas the Horse, a seemingly charming animal with no outward appearance of being an equine killing machine. How wrong I was. But more on that later.

Here's two things I learned right away about Sturgeon Bay. (1) Our hotel was indeed within trotting distance of the waterfront. But inbetween hotel and waterfront was a 3-block stretch of one of the more unpleasant warehouse districts you could imagine. That equals 10 minutes of waterfront sandwiched between 20 minutes of creepy industrial wasteland. (2) When it's already unnaturally cold out, the best place to go is NOT the scenic waterfront. By the time we saw water, my concerns had turned from wooing to frostbite. I hope that my girlfriend didn't realize that my best "aww-let's-cuddle" moment was more "aww-please-let-us-huddle-together-so-that-feeling-may-return-to-my-ears."

But it was tough to focus on the cold. No, not with the smell. It turns out that Lucas was having a touch of gastro-in-horse-inal distress. Let's just say the sound effects were as such: Cloppity, clop, clop, stop... splat. Yes, nothing says romance quite like a horse in dire need of Kaopectate. And in case you were concerned, Lucas wasn't leaving unsightly presents on the streets as we clomped. Instead, Lucas had a little bag under his nether-regions, making us passengers in a mobile equine outhouse -- with all of the rich fond aromas you can imagine.

We looked up to the porch of a nearby upstairs apartment, where a little yip dog was parading around in all kinds of fluster, barking with all its wee yippy might as if to say, "Omigosh, horsey, horsey, WOW, a horsey, OMIGOSH!" We laughed at how cute it was... but not for long.

"It ain't funny," said Kenny the Carriage Driver, "Lucas would kill that dog."

That's when Kenny added that extra touch of romance lacking thus far on our voyage. For the next ten minutes, we heard charming stories about how Lucas hated small animals and would take it upon himself to stomp the life out of any critter that dared venture near him.

"I tell people with dogs all the time to stay away," Kenny said. "Some folks listen, but others..." and he trailed off, leading us to believe that Lucas had smited a countless number of hapless beloved Sturgeon Bay pets.

"One time, this little farm cat wandered over to check him out," said Kenny with what I'm pretty sure was a chuckle. "Lucas kicked that cat so hard he musta flew about thirty feet in the air. We naturally assumed it was dead, but when we went to get the body, it was gone. Sure enough, a couple months later, we saw that same cat good as new. Of course, his neck was a touch crooked and he done walked funny ever since, heh heh."

Greeeat. So our fate was in the hands of Flatulent Lucas the Death Horse. As we stopped for Lucas to do his business yet again (and oh, yes, business was good,) I'm pretty sure I heard the horse mutter a Satanic chant. Or maybe it just whinnied. Either way, I'm pretty sure it took us to the waterfront because Lucas preferred his human-meat slightly chilled. We headed back towards the hotel and passed a yuppie couple out walking their dog, noticably giving the horse a wide berth. They knew. Or maybe we just smelled THAT bad.

"Get away, doggie," I muttered under my breath, "I think Lucas just spotted dinner."

Amazingly, Kenny heard me, spun around with a deadly serious look in his eye, and proceeded to lecture to me as though I were the stupidest man alive.

"Lucas doesn't EAT the dogs," he said with a deliberate grade-school-teacher voice, "he just KILLS them."

Ahh, yes. Good to know. Thanks, Kenny, because we don't have horses in Illinois. Lucas doesn't kill for food, simply for SPORT. Refreshing.

Eventually, we made it back to the hotel and disembarked from Lucas the Devil Horse. Bravely, my girlfriend even posed for photos. As for me, I held the camera far away from kicking distance, bravely surviving the icy cold stare of Lucasatan.

Our vacation was off to a riveting start. Now all we needed was a quick change and a visit to the local pub to bond with the locals. It couldn't go wrong, right? How wrong it went -- next week.

COLUMN: Door County Pt. 1

I often sit back and wonder what it would be like to be a normal person with a normal life who does normal activities normally. How do you do it, normal people? I'd love to be one of you someday.

If normal people were to tell you stories of their normal lives, they might go something like, "Today, I went to the gas station. I pumped gas, I paid for it, and I left." I try to be one of the normal people. But why can I not have a normal activity without undue amounts of insanity and/or stress? My stories are more like, "Today I went to the gas station. That's when the ninjas attacked." What is it about myself and my luck that draws the abnormal into my daily planner like a magnet?

It all started with a normal dream. The girlfriend had been throwing some not-so-subtle reminders my way that, as a woefully underpaid education professional, she had a gaping hole in her work calendar named Columbus Day. So I took the day off to match hers and was faced with the "what-do-you-do-with -a-3-day-weekend" debacle. I love you, Quad Cities, I really do. But sometimes what I love the most is leaving you behind in a trail of dust and a quest for adventure. It was time for a road trip.

That's when I turned to the world's worst vacation planner ever: Google Maps. When you look at their website, the world is your oyster. Why? Because the whole world can fit compactly on a 26" computer monitor. And when you're looking at a 26" map of the continental United States, ANYTHING looks like a good and possible weekend drive. Texas? Look, it's only 2 inches away from Illinois. Ohio? We could be there in minutes, right? And that's when my eyes spotted it.

Door County, Wisconsin. One of the Top 10 Vacation Destinations in North America, their website proudly announces. And when I saw that Door County had been proclaimed a top fall foliage destination by none other than NBC's "Today" show, I knew I had my destination. (Because, when it comes to travel plans, the #1 mantra in everyone's head is clearly "WWMLD: What Would Matt Lauer Do?")

For the uninitiated, the Door Peninsula is the little part of northeastern Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan like a finger, essentially creating Green Bay, the Packers, Vince Lombardi, and weird people who wear cheese on their heads. The Door Peninsula is known far and wide for its wineries, cherry orchards, and tree-laden state parks. And if you know anything about me, you know that the three things I live for are booze, fruit, and outdoor activities of any kind. Oh, wait, that's Bizarro Shane.

Still, I was down for seeing some pretty fall foliage -- and if Al Roker says it's pretty, then it's pretty, dang it. And two things kind of excited me about Door Peninsula.

For one, it boasts the most lighthouses of any county in the United States. Now, I've never been super keen on lighthouses. At least I don't think I am. They're kind of outmoded, right? Nobody needs a little light beacon to guide their vessel when you've got GPS and some shrill computer voice in a British accent telling you, "Rock ahead. Turn left in one - point - five miles. Recalculating!" And I've never really thought that lighthouses were particularly pretty or anything. Yet every time I go on vacation anywhere near a body of water, I come home with about 18 photos of every lighthouse I pass. It's sort of inexplicable, really. Maybe I don't fancy lighthouses, maybe I just like taking photos of 'em. I made sure to pack the camera.

For another, I had talked to some of my co-workers about the trip, and before I could say, "We're going to Door Co--," those who had been all started shrieking "FISH BOILS!"

At first, I was assuming they were placing a pox on my family. But, as it turns out, fish boils are the culinary rage of Door County. And since it immediately sounded completely disgusting, of course I was fascinated. After doing some intense research, here is, apparantly, how one properly performs a legendary Door County fish boil:

Step One: Catch some fish.
Step Two: Boil them.

Enthralling, right? But wait, there's more. I know because I watched a video of it on Youtube. First off, in order to boil fish, you first need to look like a grizzled old fisherman with worn-out suspenders and the craziest set of sideburns you can muster. Then you need to find the scariest-looking kettle in the history of the world - think Shakespearean witches but with the added bonus crust of 1000 fish boils of yore. You toss in a pile of whitefish, a pile of potatoes, and a pile of onions. Garnish with - I kid you not - a HALF POUND OF SALT.

Bring to a boil. This is done by placing the kettle o' fish 'n' brine over a campfire. But, since that's kinda boring and all, the "boilmasters" (yes, that's what they're called) decide to liven things up by dumping what appears to be a gallon or two of kerosene onto the fire. This creates an immediate and raging vertical bonfire that alerts the tenants of the International Space Station that soup's on in Door County. Actually, the salt changes the specific gravity of the water, causing the fish oils to rise to the top of the kettle, and the kerosene causes the oils to boil over the side (and you thought I didn't actually DO any research, right?) What you're left with is heaven, if your idea of heaven is boiled fish and taters. I needed to try this.

So that was my mindset when I booked the trip, and that was my mindset last weekend when we left for northern Wisconsin. On the record-setting coldest day of October. In the snow. To a town 6.5 hours away and further north than Toronto. Using all county highways (thanks, Mapquest.) Just your average normal person vacation, right?

Normalcy, thy name is NOT Shane. If you'd care to learn more about how we spent a weekend traversing Door County with flatulent back-alley killer horses and strangers inquiring about our current inventories of cocaine and feminine hygiene products, then join me here next week. You'll discover the answers to such pressing questions as: "How dead can a badger get?" and "How many cherries can the human body safely intake in one setting?" Needless to say, we made it up and down Door County without seeing one lighthouse or a single boiled fish. Stay tuned.