Sunday, August 09, 2009

Madison and beyond

Greetings Bloggerville. Sorry for my absence from this space for the last couple of months. Blame it on my increased work load and Facebook, which has made communicating with the virtual world far more convenient and immediate through my iPhone.

Nonetheless, some of you have asked - no, begged - for me to resurrect my blog. So here we go.

First stop - Cheeseland.
Tim and I headed to Chicago last weekend to visit friends and take part in the Northalsted Market Days festival in Boys Town. But before we did that, we headed from Midway airport by bus to Madison, Wis., to visit my best friend from back home - Russell - and his wife, Wendy, and brand new baby, Dylan.

The pic above was typical once we crossed over from the Illinois border. This place epitomizes rural agricultural American life, but more on that later.
Madison, of course, is the state capital. And what center of government would be complete without a neoclassical Capitol . . .
Or a great big university, for that matter. It's a habit of mine to visit football stadiums any time I'm in a big college town. It's especially fun to see a stadium with as storied a history as Camp Randall, located on the downtown campus of the University of Wisconsin.

I've learned over the years that summertime offers the best opportunities to actually get inside college stadiums because gates are often open as maintenance crews ready the facilities for the upcoming football season.

That wasn't the case at Camp Randall. However, the athletic department cleverly built the gift shop into the corner of the stadium with glass doors that open onto a field level patio. I grabbed this shot of the stadium's interior using Pano, a nifty iPhone app that lets you take amazing panoramic shots.

Madison seems like a great college town along the lines of Austin, Texas, Athens, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio. The city even has some interesting modern architecture, like this glass-skinned tower, mixed in with early 20th century stuff in the square surrounding the Capitol.
We spent a good bit of our day and a half in Wisconsin exploring the surrounding countryside, including a lunch stop in New Glarus, a town settled by Swiss Germans that epitomizes all things Wisconsin.

We dined at a downtown restaurant that specializes in authentic German dishes, where we had schnitzel, sauer kraut and fried cheese curds. The food was the best I've had outside the motherland.

We also sampled some great local beers crafted by the New Glarus Brewery. (Watch for an upcoming blog post on our visit to the brewery.)
Back on the road we encountered mile after mile of bucolic scenes like this one.
And with each mile came more cows and corn. Make no mistake, this state is all about cows and corn.

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