My first week at TobacCo, a coworker asked if I was interested in joining a fantasy football survivor league. I was unfamiliar with this type of office pool, but have enjoyed playing fantasy football in the past. One year, I even won the whole shebang. Plus, “Eye of the Tiger” is one of the best songs to come out of the ‘80s. I was all in.
The concept of survivor football is simple: you pick one football team to win their game for the week. You can only pick that team once per season. The last man (or woman) standing takes home the pot. That’s a helluva lot easier than drafting players and tying your long-term fortune to their performance each week.
There were teams I wanted to pick. I figured the Buffalo Bills would dominate this past weekend. Or the Chiefs. But I didn’t want to use obvious picks right off the bat, so I pored over the schedule for a few minutes and chose the Philadelphia Eagles. They were playing the Washington Commanders on the road. Seemed as good a pick as any. They ended up winning, so I knew I’d advanced to the next week and was one step closer to victory.
What I didn’t know, until I came into the office on Monday, was that I had actually already won the league. One week and the whole thing was done. Turns out the other seven participants had all picked the Los Angeles Chargers to win. What the hell?!
Aaron even accused me of going Back to the Future Marty McFly-style and grabbing a copy of a sports almanac with all football scores for the next 50 years. Ha!
I’ve never turned $10 into $80 faster. Great way to start a new week!
I was hoping for an easy transition back to work anyway. Tara and I spent the weekend up north and had a great time.
“Up north,” by the way, is Wisconsin slang for the northern portion of the state — but nobody really knows where up north begins. In fact, people debate it fiercely. At least in South Dakota, East River and West River are easily distinguished by where you are in relation to the Missouri River. Up north, Wisconsin, is more a state of mind than a physical locale. It’s woods and water, cabins and kayaking. But really, it’s a matter of perspective. Because we live in Fort Atkinson, Watertown is up north. Watertown residents would say Fond du Lac is up north. Fond du Lac peeps would point to Appleton and say that’s up north. And if you live in Beloit, on the Illinois border, the whole state is up north.
Having said all that, Rice Lake is definitely up north. We arrived at the lodge where I’d booked us a two-night stay shortly after 5 p.m. and were immediately impressed with the surroundings. It’s located right on the water and every room has a view. Very cozy and romantic.
We weren’t able to take advantage of the deck chairs or firepit or free kayaks because the weather was gloomy the whole time we were there, alternating between cloudy, foggy, drizzly, and rainy. Sometimes all four at once. Not that we were complaining; it all felt very fall-like.
Friday evening we hit up a local bar called The Bar. Lack of an original name notwithstanding, this turned out to be a great place: borderline divey and filled with locals. We settled in for a few hours, enjoying cheese curds and cold beverages. A local musician ended up performing three sets of mostly-’90s alternative rock; think Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows, and Matchbox 20. He was very good and happy to oblige the requests we occasionally shouted out. Fun night!
Saturday we decided to head even more up north. Drove 90 minutes to Pattison State Park, where we indulged in a four-mile hike that included multiple waterfalls and lots of fall foliage. It’s still a few weeks away from peak season, but was impressive nonetheless.
After hiking we’d worked up an appetite, so we stopped by a bar and grill for an appetizer. Too bad we didn’t schedule our trip a couple of weeks later.
Oh, and “bags” will forever haunt me now.
Next up, we drove up to Wisconsin Point, where we came face-to-face with Lake Superior.
I’m fascinated by the Great Lakes, probably because a majority of my life has been spent near the Pacific Ocean. They’re such a novelty to me — their sheer scope and size is astounding. Especially Lake Superior, the granddaddy of them all.
And then, because we were so close to Duluth, Minnesota, we figured, why not? I’d remembered my friend Ashley raving about some sandwich place there, so I texted her for the deets. If you ever get a chance to check out Northern Waters Smokehaus, you won’t be disappointed. We weren’t hungry yet and still had a long drive back to Rice Lake, so we grabbed our sandwiches to go. Spent the evening playing cribbage in our room and, eventually, breaking out those sandwiches. They were incredible.
Just as we were finishing up breakfast Sunday morning, the sun broke through the clouds. Figures, huh? The drive home was uneventful. We stopped at an apple orchard in Baraboo because I’d heard they sold fresh apple cider donuts. Boy howdy, do they. Warm and soft, right out of the fryer. Heaven. We also picked up a couple bags of apples.
The whole weekend just screamed fall, guys.
Tomorrow’s my Friday already. My parents are coming out for a visit, getting in Wednesday and staying until…well, we don’t know how long exactly. Monday-ish? They’ll be in a hotel within walking distance of our apartment. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen them — a year, actually — so I wanted to take a couple of days off even though I just started my new job. They’re not real familiar with Wisconsin, so we will be busy dragging their asses all over the place.
Happy weekend in advance!