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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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The sun sets over Lake Delton.
The sun sets over Lake Delton. (Photo: Jeff Dase)

My little piece of paradise

LAKE DELTON – I hear it all the time...

"What's the deal with your obsession with the Dells," my friends often ask me.

Well, I think I might have finally figured it out.

I'm sitting here on the deck outside my room, watching the sun setting over Lake Delton and listen to Bob Uecker and Cory Provus call the final innings of the Brewers-Marlins game and I don't think I've ever been more at peace.

As part of an ongoing series of stories this summer at OnMilwaukee.com about the natural wonders of Wisconsin, I'm up here in the Dells to learn more about the natural aspect of this Midwest tourism hotspot and Devil's Lake State Park, not far down the road in Baraboo.

I brought my roommate along for the ride as he's never been to the Dells, despite 15 years passing since he left his home state of Alabama to attend Marquette University.

We spent the day exploring the area, hiking a good five miles up and down the bluffs of Devil's Lake, taking in the history at the H.H. Bennett Museum and tomorrow, we'll take a tour on the Ducks (one of my all-time favorite Wisconsin traditions).

As I explained all the various things to do and see here, it started to dawn on me that my love for this area has little to do with things to do – of which there are plenty. But more than the scenery, the natural wonders, the waterparks and the bars, the Dells for me is also about memories and tradition.

Sharing stories of previous trips here with either my family (my father and I came up here together 19 years ago this weekend to celebrate my 8th Grade graduation), my friends (I've written many times about my annual "winter retreat" with my guys) or even for work assignments brought a smile to my face.

I've had friends fall in love here (two of my friends have married girls they met during Dells trips), I've had friends break up here (seriously, guys, you have to get your stories straight before you go) and I've seen friends become friends again during trips here.

Through the years, I've also been fortunate to meet some great people. My friend Terry is one of the most loyal and knowledgeable Brewers fans I've ever met. Her roommate, George, is hilarious and never seems to mind a couple of people hanging out to drink his beer after the bars close. The folks I've met behind the various bars we frequent and even the hotel owners/managers/staff ... just a bunch of great people who only add to the fun.

That's why I love it here. It's far enough away from home that it feels like a vacation and it's close enough to home to make a quick day trip incredibly feasible. And whether it's spending three days trying to ride on every slide, putting on every mini golf hole or drinking the city out of Blackberry Brandy (another story for another day), the memories I take back each time are what make the Dells so special to me. 

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