June 13: Stardust Twin Drive-In Theater, Chetek WI

It’s Day 164 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I had another short- to medium-sized drive again, just an hour and a half from Lake Elmo MN across the border to the Stardust Twin Drive-In Theater, just northwest of Chetek WI.

The Stardust is one of those modern, 21st century drive-ins with a retro vibe. It opened in May 2008, owned by Paul and Marlys Javener. Paul Javener told the Wausau Daily Herald in 2015, “We wanted to give people an experience they and their kids are going to remember. Everyone who has ever gone to the drive-in as a kid fondly remembers it, including myself, so we wanted to keep that going.”

Some drive-in owners may want to skip to the next paragraph. Javener also said, “One of the perks of the drive-in is you can bring in a lot of your own treats and snacks, so we serve items that are more like a complete meal or that people can’t easily bring in on their own, like pizzas, burgers and breadsticks.”

The Stardust has a little bit of everything. There’s a shaded deck, a tractor-pulled train for kids, a playground, and lots of fun space-themed kitsch. There’s even a second screen, added about the time it converted to digital projection in 2011.

What a great time it was for me to visit. There was a new YouTube video (embedded above) posted just two days earlier. The second screen started with a blockbuster that had previously eluded me, The Mummy. Chicken taquitos from the concession stand filled me up, and hot fudge coffee kept me awake. Good times!

Miles Today / Total:  89 / 21396 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: The Mummy / 80

Nearby Restaurant: The day before I was off by a letter in thinking that Gorman’s Restaurant might be a German restaurant. This day I was reward with the little Chetek Cafe. It was so German it even offered German coffee. (When I think of German coffee, I think of the Munich train station with a stand offering “Coffee To Go” in those English words. But I digress.) I had the Jaeger Schnitzel with mushroom gravy for lunch. Wunderbar!

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are at least a dozen resorts on Prairie Lake next to Chetek, but for just one night, I thought it would be more appropriate to stay at a mom and pop motel. Or maybe that’s just mom, since it’s called Mamma’s Cottage. This is a humble, vintage, wood-themed (formerly the Oaks Motel) place, but my room had a mini-fridge, a microwave, and wifi, plus a very low price.

Only in Chetek: Every summer around the Fourth of July, Chetek holds its Liberty Fest. The celebration includes a softball tournament, helicopter rides, a horse pull, and of course, fireworks.

Next stop: Moonlight Outdoor Drive In, Shawano WI.

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