Friends, Family and Our Growing Tradition

From the heart…
…The Gopher Girls


This weekend marks our 26th annual Wisconsin Dells trip. The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly taken away our tradition this year. 


About 25 years ago, my family and three other families started an annual trip to the Wisconsin Dells. This group was made up of guys who played football with my husband at the University of Minnesota, their wives and kids. If you’ve never heard of the Wisconsin Dells, just think of the Vegas of waterparks. To me, it’s always been a crack up to go there. “An entire town of waterparks?” That’s crazy!” Or so I thought. As the years progressed, I learned that this crazy town is more than just water activities. It has way more to offer than I imagined. Golf. Casinos. Shopping. Spas. Restaurants and more. 


We have now grown to almost 40 people. We had more kids. Our kids now have kids. It’s all just one big family to us rather than a bunch of families. Through the years we have always stayed steady and strong friends-all of us. 


When we first started, it was just a few families and most of us only had one kid. We chose Wisconsin Dells because it was central to all of us. We were geographically distributed in about a 2½ hour radius. Some in Minneapolis, one in Green Bay, and us in Chicago. (However, leaving Chicago, with kids, after 2pm, —especially on a weekend— made the 2 ½ hours feel like days. Not a good way to start a vacation!) 


Inevitably, by the time we reached The Dells, Pete and I would be at the end of our rope with the kids AND with each other, only to have to deal with the always-inopportune-check-in-time. In our opinion, check-in was way too late in the day and so inconvenient for our schedules. Not only did we have to strategically leave to avoid the Chicago gridlock, we had kids’ meals and nap time to navigate so, once we arrived at our villa (I always booked the same four spots—102, A-B-C-D. Easy peasy!), we would stand outside and pester the clean up crew. Repeatedly I would say, “Is 102A ready yet?” I was relentless. I figured the squeaky wheel gets oiled right? I’m always the squeaky wheel and most of the time, I get oiled. 


Well, after the drama of travel and check in, the dads and kids would head over to the water park. Most of us moms would hang back, organize things, and start on dinner and cocktails. For years and years, this was our chick bonding time. We each had our own job and it became so routine for us. A couple of us would lift the heavy wooden picnic tables and line them together. A couple others would bring out all the plates from each villa. Another would grab all the flatware. Some brought the napkins from home, others brought drinks for the kids. We were perfectly synched. 


We well-synched Dells organizers call ourselves “The Gopher Girls” (derived from the University of Minnesota’s mascot the Golden Gopher). Though I’ve lived away from them for most of the years, every first weekend in August, preparing villas 102 A-B-C-D, we pick up right where we left off. These women are solid. They are the kind you can call at 3 am if you need help. I’m so thankful for these girls and the girls weekend memories we have created (even amidst the chaos). I’d say we share a bond much like our husbands shared on the gridiron...although we women are the toughest ones in the huddle. Go Gophers!


I love that you were with me today. Hope you come back soon!



Lisa A.K.A. Loopie

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