Sunday, May 25, 2008

Return to Paul Bunyan's

About twenty years ago I landed a summer job at this restaurant in Wisconsin Dells to raise a little money for my final year at UW-Eau Claire.

Today was the first time ever that I've been back.

It happened mostly by accident. I had planned to take My Darling B to Wilton for a pancake breakfast and a short bike ride on the Elroy-Sparta trail.

We'd been on the road just thirty minutes or so, however, when the skies, which had been mostly clear earlier in the morning, clouded over and threatened rain.

As fortune would have it, we were only a few minutes south of Wisconsin Dells when I noticed this. I didn't want our morning out to be a complete wash, but I could feel that our original plan might not end well, so I suggested we alter it a bit and have breakfast in the Dells, maybe take a look around and then head back.

"If you wanted to do that," I pointed out, "we could have breakfast at Paul Bunyan's Logging Camp Restaurant." I've entertained B with many of my stories of waiting tables at Paul Bunyan's ("entertained" in the most generous sense of the word), but she's never had the Paul Bunyan Experience before. She enthusiastically agreed to stop.

My memory of the place is based on one summer of working there, but even my fuzzy recollections tell me the place hasn't changed much in the twenty-plus years since I waited tables there. The decor is a kitschy pioneer-like log cabin, the menu is still served "family style" in great bowls that they refill at your slightest whim, every table is jammed shoulder-to-shoulder with hungry tourists and the wait staff is still all go, Go, GO!

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