|Saturday, August 13, 2016: We loaded up Jill and her two sleepy children and were on the road while it was still dark out. We had decorated Kelly's view with stickers and a mirror so we could see her face when we looked back.
|We were passing the windmills on I-65 when the sun came up.
|When we got to Chicago, ...
|... we had two sleeping tots in the back seat. Kelly was not quite two years old, and her little brother, Johnny, was five months old.
|We arrived in Wisconsin around 10:00 AM and stopped at the rest area just inside the state.
|Kelly was ready to get her wiggles out and had a blast on the playground.
|Let's go again!
|One more time?
|So much fun!
|Two hours later, the tots were napping again. Nine-hour long car rides are definitely more fun for adults when the kids are asleep.
|Kelly had just started potty training the week before, so we made a lot of stops early in the trip. She refused to go in the potty chair in the van, but was successful in the rest area.
|Kelly says, "Hi, Gram Gram!"
|This historical marker told us all about Coulee Country, which is the part of Wisconsin that Debbie's grandmother and grandfather are from.
|We got to the La Crosse area, then checked in at Stony Creek Hotel, where we scrambled to get five people ready for a wedding while cousins stopped by to say hello.
|Off we go! We headed to French Island, where the wedding and reception were being held at Celebrations on the River.
|By 4:30 PM, we were seated toward the back.
|Kelly was looking especially adorable in her party frock and party hair.
|Jill stood in the back with Cory, trying to keep both kids quietly entertained during the service.
|Grandpa Tom joined them to help out.
|Here comes cousin Rachel, ...
|... and cousin Sarah, ...
|... and the bride, cousin Megan, ...
|... with her proud father, Ron.
|Wedding stuff happened here.
|Megan and Craig are married! Time to start the party!
|Here's cousin Rachel again, smiling at her BFF, Kayla, ...
|... and here's cousin Sarah again.
|While we waited for Megan's extended family to be rounded up for a group photo, Kelly looked out at Richmond Bay.
|Here's Megan's huge family, including all eight of Debbie's cousins plus four of the Eights (her aunts and uncles).
|Inside the reception hall, the bride had made place cards for everyone, ...
|... incuding the littlest guests.
|Debbie's aunt Carol had a little present for us: ...
|... a six-pack of delicious Elmaro wine.
|Most photogenic members of the family? Discuss.
|Cory showed off a custom C+W wedding Instagram filter ...
|... and his beer from La Crosse-based Pearl Street Brewery: Me, Myself, and IPA.
|During dinner inside, a slide show was playing.
|Here are the newlyweds.
|After dinner, Kelly got to play in the arcade for a little while.
|Here is the entire membership of Schilling Women with Sons-in-Law Named Craig.
|Ralph's sons, Andy and David, were good sports about posing for a picture with their bossy older step-cousin.
|Hey, how did Kelly get in there?
|Cory is too tall for Instagram, says Rachel.
|Kayla and Kyle were less than a year away from their own wedding.
|On a quick trip to the van, Tom discovered this excellent bumper sticker in the parking lot. Perhaps this car belongs to someone in our family?
|Speaking of family, a large selection of Debbie's female relatives had joined her on the dance floor.
|Kelly was very busy pushing Johnny around the reception hall in "Bumble," our little yellow-and-black striped stroller, ...
|... and dispensing rubber ducks.
|Cory dutifully held onto the ducks he was entrusted with until Kelly returned.
|Time to give them back, Cory.
|We all got some fantastic beer koozies to bring home. #WurzMyBeer
|There was more dancing, ...
|... and more posing for photos, ...
|... and even more.
|Time for some reception shenanigans.
|Johnny wasn't in the mood for posing when it was his turn with the Instagram frame.
|By now it was after 9:00 PM, but Kelly was still going strong. There were lights to play with ...
|... and papers to draw on. A few minutes later, we loaded up the tots and brought them back to the hotel to go to bed.
|Sunday, August 14, 2016: Good morning, Wisconsin!
|The tots had slept in our suite, ...
|... which looked like a suitcase had exploded in it, since this was the room that all five of us had used to get ready the day before, despite having two rooms.
|We were on the road by 8:30 AM, because we had another long drive ahead of us ...
|... especially if we were going to stop at rest areas every hour or so for Kelly, who had decided that she was definitely done with diapers.
|Along the way, Debbie watched her Swedish cousin, Edvin, play floorball for a Swiss team in the Czech Open, courtesy of the Internet, an unlimited data plan, and an entire day of free time.
|We had to stop at Cornellier Superstore as usual. Kelly got out to see the gigantic cow.
|Of course, Gram Gram bought her a cheesehead hat in the store so she modelled that as well.
|A package of delicious sticks-n-curds may have ended up in the cooler too.
|It's always nice to see Irene Road on the Illinois Tollroad.
|An entertained child is a quiet child.
|After being in the car for so long all weekend, Kelly deserved to get a fix of Harry the Bunny during an oasis stop somewhere in Illinois.
|Oh, Indiana, it's good to see you!
** THE END **
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy