May Break 2010 – On Wisconsin

Really it should be “To Wisconsin” but “On Wisconsin” is more recognizable.

We already had our spring break trip to Idaho, and we have our summer trip planned and booked. But both of those involve visiting other families. When would we get a chance to go on a vacation with just our own family?

In the middle of May, during school, of course.

Alpha’s in kindergarten. No one is going to notice if he misses a couple of days. It is not going to affect his graduation or choice of college, so we told the school that he will be gone for a little bit and we went to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Dells, to be specific – very high on the list of top tourist-traps in the nation.

We left early in the morning, which in our house is about 9:30 AM. Our route went through Chicago, and we were prepared for the toll roads – we had dimes and quarters and dollar bills. We went through a couple of toll booths with no problems.

Then we came to one that said “Cars: $.50” I know we were in a minivan, but I consider that a car. It was an unattended tollbooth, and I thought it was taking a while. “Do those people not know how to put coins in a slot?” I wondered to myself. “And why are they gesturing at the machine? Just pay the toll and go on.” I got my $0.50 (pronounced “fitty cent”) ready, so I wouldn’t be that guy went it was my turn.

Note: if you ever catch yourself thinking that, you should really consider switching lanes to find a different machine. Or, preferably, a real live person to collect your toll. If you’re wondering: yes, that was foreshadowing.

Finally, after a very slow progress down the toll lane, we made it to the booth. “4 axles” the display read. “$1.50

Now it was my turn to gesture at the machine (no, it was a questioning-type gesture).

The tollbooth had a weight sensor and thought the car behind me was just the second half of a long vehicle. My first thought was to try to back up so it would change its mind. I leaned my head out the window and looked back and saw a long line of cars. No room for that. I also thought I should try to wave the guy behind me back, but he wouldn’t be able to go anywhere either.

How rude of him to be right on my tail. He should have stopped earlier and allowed me some room.” were my thoughts. Then I recalled that I did the same thing to the person in front of me (although I did allow some room, so he was charged for only 3 axles). “This is going to be a bad day for a lot of people,” I thought, since I could see that this was going to happen to just about everyone in this lane.

So I bit the bullet and paid my $1.50 (in dimes!) and waited for the gate to lift. “Wow, that machine counts slowly. Why does it say I paid only $1.20?

I waited a couple seconds and then figured, “The way things are going, I am going to have to bite the bullet again.” I put three more dimes in the slot.

$1.40

More gesturing, so the people behind me have something to watch. They need to know that I am frustrated with the machine. They’ll understand when it’s their turn.

One more dime, and the gate finally lifted.

At the next tollbooth, I swiped the credit card. Much easier. I was sure to stay back from the vehicle in front of me at that next tollbooth, so as not to cause them to be overcharged. I also looked for signs that said “Stop here” or some indication of where the tollbooth started checking for axles, but I couldn’t find any.

Tip O’ the Day: When driving through Chicago, if there is a lot of traffic, be sure to choose the “Cash” lanes and not the “self-pay” lanes. “Self-pay” means automated and “cash” means a person who will not overcharge you.

In the grand scheme of things, being out 50 cents is meaningless, considering how much a few nights of hotel and restaurants cost. But how many cars go through that tollbooth a day? How many extra dollars is the toll company collecting because of a poor system? I like Indiana’s 80-90 system much better – collect a ticket when you enter, pay a person when you leave. Not stop every few miles on the tollway.


Wow, look at that. I spent a long blog post telling you about a tollbooth stop on the trip to start our vacation. I’m getting the feeling this is going to be a long series. More about the trip, including pictures, next week. I need some time to go through the 497 photos from the trip.

The men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Abimelech.

Judges 9:25

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This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 9:04 pm and has been carefully placed in the Travel category.

4 Responses to “May Break 2010 – On Wisconsin”

  1. Arby Says:

    Ah, Chicago. It’s a good place to be from.

  2. Charity Says:

    When we went to New Jersey for a wedding, all the people there have their Skypass, which is read by something overhead when they zoom through the tolls. I assume linked to a credit card or maybe they get billed? Anyway, live and learn. We Michiganders are kinda ignorant when it comes to tolls.

  3. Some Guy Says:

    Chicago’s not too bad, unless you’re in a car.

  4. May Break – Day 1 •• Some Blog Site Says:

    […] Continuation of a previous post […]

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