Freedom's Just Another Word For....

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
Trip End Aug 26, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Friday, August 24, 2012

"Don't bother with this drive-in." More on this anon.

Travel day today. Headed down to the Green Bay area where there is a drive-in movie theatre.  It's not quite 300 miles from Copper Harbor to the Green Bay suburb where the hotel is, so most of the day was just spent driving.  The amount of fall color which has developed in the last week was astonishing--not only for the fact that there was so much of it (and no sign of fall last Monday when we made this drive), but also because it's August 24th!  I posted a few pictures; these were taken from the window of a moving car, so they are not great, but they show you how extensive the color is in the Sugar Maples and even some of the oaks.

En route to Green Bay we saw some Sandhill Cranes—two, right by the side of the highway.  They hung around long enough for some photos, then took off.  We saw a few more later, also near the road.  That's a treat; the last time we saw those was when we were in Texas at Christmas time with my brother a few years ago and did the junket down to the south where the migratory birds gather in winter.

We got to Green Bay about 1:30, so we stopped off at the National Railroad Museum.  This place offers the best AAA discount ever—buy one get one free.  Saved us 9 bucks.  We ended up staying for two and a half hours.  Tim went through the whole museum, looking at all the trains, while I spent the entire time in a special exhibit consisting of one man’s collection of railroad china—or at least 600 pieces of it.  They handed us a scavenger hunt when we came in the door:  9 photos of bits of china with the challenge to find them.  This was harder than it sounds; often the photographed bit was a tiny portion of a much larger design, for example, and had been blown up to be much larger than actual size.  I found eight of the nine, and gave up trying to find number 9.  When the lady gave me the answer key, however, I discovered what the problem was:  the ninth piece is not on display.  She insisted that it was, but she was wrong. 

The china is displayed in cases arranged by railroad, so I was able to double check my recollection by the simple expedient of going to the right case and checking the paper against the dishes in the case.  This was not really necessary, though, as the plate in question was highly individual, completely unlike anything else in the case, and, furthermore, would have been the easiest design to find of the nine, had the plate been on display, because it was the one image which was the only image on the plate and filled up the entire center of it on a white background.  Easy as pie.  I had looked at every piece of china in that collection at least 8 or 10 times by the time I got the answer key and I knew immediately that I had not seen this one. (See photos to see what I mean.) When Tim got back, I got him to double-check so that we could verify to the lady in charge that I am not crazy, but I don’t think she was impressed.

In Being Wrong, Katherine Schulz talks about how we all like to be right, and how we really like to be right about being right.  This accounts for my having a good time this afternoon:  I was right about the eight pieces I correctly identified, and I was right about the ninth one being missing.  I was even right about the other lady being wrong—and what could be better than that?

We checked into the hotel, one of a very small Midwestern chain called Settle Inn.  Quite inexpensive and turns out to be very nice.  King-sized bed with pillow-top mattress, WiFi, microwave and fridge, big room, big breakfast buffet included—the whole nine yards.

The drive-in was not nearly as good an experience.  This one, Field of Scenes, in Freedom, WI, is relatively new; I think it opened in 2005.  We’ve now been to something like 20 drive-ins in six or seven states, and this is the first one we’ve encountered that serves alcohol.  They don’t just serve alcohol—they make a religion out of it.  There are three different to buy food, and all three sell booze.  One of the three is a huge sports bar that sells mostly booze.  While we were waiting to try to get some service for hot dogs (two girls behind the bar randomly selecting customers—we got passed over four times for people who came in after we did before we left and tried another stand altogether), I personally witnessed one girl serving a giant Gin and Tonic in a large sized Pepsi cup (this must have been the equivalent of at least four drinks), and then, when the customer decided that wasn’t enough, she poured him a beer in another equally giant cup.  There is one sign (partially hidden behind a trash can) on the lot that announces that you can’t take alcohol into the drive-in area, but if they’re pouring in Pepsi cups, no one could possibly police that.  I personally do not care for the idea that people driving cars in tight spaces with a lot of children around can be drinking as much alcohol as they want.

The management clearly is not interested in ensuring that the movie-going experience is a good one; dozens of SUVs were parked rear end to screen with their tailgates up all the way, which blocks the view of anyone behind them.  Every drive-in I’ve been to up to now deals with this—either they insist that the gates be tied down to roof level OR they isolate SUV’s in rows at the back of the theater (or both).  Every other drive-in we’ve been to has also had a very visible security team ensuring that people don’t take up two spaces, keep their tailgates down, and don’t have beer.  This one has a little cart that says "Field of Screens Police," but there were no actual police (or other employees) in sight, outside of those selling the food and booze. 

Our experience has generally been that the modern incarnation of the drive-in is family oriented.  The movies are G or PG, and everyone has to behave.  This place adheres to the family-oriented movies, but beyond that, apparently doesn’t care.  My feeling is that they actually operate to sell alcohol, and the movies are a merely decorative feature.  I would not go back there if we lived in the area.

The movies were fine; we saw Brave and The Avengers.  Neither one was great, but neither one was horrible, either. I suspect that The Avengers is better if you have seen all of the other comic book hero movies that led up to it.  Since we have seen only Thor, we were rather out of the loop.  We didn’t even recognize all the heroes:  who’s the guy with the arrows?
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