On Friday evening, Benjamin and Sherry stopped by to spend the night. We went out to eat at the Olive Garden (still my favorite chain restaurant, regardless of what anyone else has to say about it), finished off some of that wine I had been hoarding (see this post), and were all sleeping soundly by midnight. It was a nice night, and it was quite enjoyable to see them again and catch up on things.
The next morning, we went out for breakfast at the Country Cafe, a local diner that is dangerously close to being sued by Country Kitchen for copyright infringement. Afterwards, we went to Best Buy, where I picked up a CD (My Morning Jacket’s ‘Z‘). Then it was straight over to PetsMart to take a look at the new arrivals of animals that have been displaced by hurricane Katrina.
By the way, I’m mentioning and linking all these national establishments and blogs because they’re now paying me $16 every time I do. The CDP‘s selling out, and you’re coming with. I’ll have a dollar tally at the end of the post. Let’s move on.
Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t have any cash on me to donate to the shelter that was sponsoring all these animals, so I basically just pet everything that was looking at me, and hit the road. I paid special attention to a bird named Jade. Jade was the coolest bird ever, letting me pet him and stroke his tender beak. Most birds I’ve come into contact with over the last 23 years have done nothing but screech and break skin, but Jade made me love winged creatures again. I would have bought him had he not been a $900 “specialty” bird. What this specialty was (plumbing or electronics, I believe) I still have to figure out. We left in a hurry, and Sherry left for an afternoon of working back in her hometown of Green Bay.
Ben stuck around, however, so we headed over to the west side of town for more shopping. First on the list was the Halloween Superstore, where I looked for a fog machine. I’m not doing any setting up or candy distribution this Halloween, but I just wanted a fog machine for everyday use around the CDP headquarters. I thought it would be cool to come home from work every day to a heavenly landscape and pulsating techno music, cats wandering around in a haze, blinded by the 2 feet of artificial smoke.
I didn’t get my fog machine, but I did find a cheap mask the scared the hell out of the Missus, so I wrapped it up and headed for the Exclusive Company, the midwest’s best source for good music. I bought the Missus a new album and another for myself.
Then we went to the next logical place. The farm!
We headed way out of town to the small village of Lodi, to the Treinen Farms’ annual Halloween Corn Maze.
According to the web page, this farm had it all. A massive corn maze, a haunted hayride and most importantly, a PUMPKIN SLINGSHOT. This was a no-brainer.
This farm was indeed…a farm. There were of course, chickens.
Goats by the armload. Some even roaming free around the grounds.
We paid the $7 to get into the corn maze, but first, we got a few pointers from the girl at the counter. We were given a map of the maze that had approximately 1/8 of the path uncovered. As we worked our way through the maze, we would (hopefully) come across 7 different checkpoints that would give us the 7 remaining pieces of the map.
Getting the rest of the map pieces and getting out of the maze wasn’t the only challenge of the maze itself. Somewhere in amongst the vast nooks and crannies of this maze were 8 “secret locations”, where special punch cards would be located. If you managed to get out of the maze while finding 4 of the 8 locations, you would get a free bag of popcorn.
I don’t even like popcorn that much, but the Missus, Ben and I are the 3 most competitive people on the planet. That “victory popcorn” would be ours, and it would be the sweetest tasting popcorn we have ever had.
The race was on. We got lost almost instantly.
At the start of the journey, we thought of ways that we could make this go smoothly. We thought about splitting up and calling each other via-cell phone, but the reception was awful and we only had one map. We did this once, and it took 10 minutes to find each other again. We came to the conclusion that it would work best if we collected all the map pieces first, and then went back to find the secret locations. This worked well.
Benjamin and the Missus found the first few pieces, with me bringing it in on the home stretch. It seemed like forever (probably 90 minutes), but we managed to gather up the map like pros, navigating like John Locke. Here’s what the maze looked like upon completion.
Yeah. It was a big, complicated maze. But we weren’t done yet. We had victory popcorn to snag.
Don’t ask me how we did it, but we ended up finding 5 of the 8 secret locations, one more than we needed to reap the sweetest popped reward. We exited the maze like bruised and battered warriors, but we were better people having known the limits of our human spirit.
Then it was time to launch a few pumpkins into the lake.
The Pumpkin Launch seemed simple enough. For $1, you could slingshot 3 gourds into the lake, trying to hit this target about 100 feet out.
If you hit the target, you won a prize. I watched 10 people do it to no avail, so I wasn’t expecting anything when I stepped to the plate. My first 2 gourd shots were so far off, I barely hit the water. The slingshot had to be pulled back with a lot of force, and I’m really not that strong of a dude, so I was starting to get a little embarrassed. I slowly loaded my third gourd into the chamber, spit into my hands, and took aim.
Listening carefully, I located the exact direction of the wind. I did some quick calculations as to what this would do to the trajectory of my gourd, leading me to figure out the perfect place to aim. I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and fired at will.
The gourd sailed majestically into the dimming sky, hurtling silently through space. It hit the water just feet before the target, only to skip off of the surface of the lake and bounce right off the side of the target.
“Hey, you hit it!” someone in line said to me.
“I did? Wow, I did! What do I win?“
“You get a pumpkin!” the kid working the slingshot said.
I carefully selected my victory pumpkin, and joined Benjamin, who was still enjoying our victory popcorn from the maze.
We had robbed this place blind.
I put the victory pumpkin into the trunk, and drove us back to Madison. We were feeling pretty darn good about ourselves, taking on the world and emerging so victorious and all. We decided to treat ourselves to some Indian food at Maharaja. I’m not that big of an Indian food fan, but majority ruled, and I was outvoted.
The food was okay, but the place was exceedingly dark (no light) and our waiter was always one dumbass question away from wringing my white, European neck. We couldn’t understand each other, and his patience was slim to none. It was nice to leave.
Ben hung out a little longer back at headquarters, and took off for home at around 11. I set the clocks back, and got up just in time this morning to watch the Packers get their asses handed to them once again.
That’s my weekend in a nutshell.
Have a good Halloween. This month was the biggest yet here at the CDP (check it ‘oot), and next month will hopefully be even bigger. There’s a lot going on here in November, so check back often. As you can see, I’m in the habit of updating this page almost every day, so don’t fall behind.
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NEXT: SWEEPS MONTH BEGINS.