(all times are CDT)
I got up at 6:15am (half an hour early than weekdays), packed the cooler and the car and I was on the road by 7:10am. I drove straight through to Madison, WI without stopping. I called Heather around 9:00am, and although I kept losing and then regaining signal, we talked pretty much the entire time 'til I got off route 90 in Madison at 10:40. I was trying to find my hotel (I couldn't check in 'til around 2pm, but I wanted to find it before I headed downtown) and I was reading all the signs and things to Heather on the phone. I think she was amusingly confused. :-) It was fun.
Finally managed to hang up with Heather (there are just some people that it is so hard for me to say goodbye to. :-P ) and find the hotel. I don't remember which happened first. I think I found the hotel before I hung up with Heather. Either way. Best Western. Looked a little less nice on the outside, but turned out that the inside was wonderful, so no worries.
Drove downtown and found a parking garage close to Capital Square. Only a block away. Small blocks, too. The city is set up very nicely. The Capitol Building sits on 4 city blocks, and the farmers market was set up the whole way around the Capitol! So many vendors! A lot of vendors with plants that were really good prices -- but I a) didn't want to carry them around and b) they would have not been happy driving around in my car. I did get some cheese curds for lunch. And a stick of summer sausage. There was a vendor with Ostrich meat, another one with Buffalo/Bison meat and a couple of other vendors with "organic" beef/pork/chicken. I don't know what in-organic beef tastes like... whatever. I really wished that they had been cooking up som Ostrich Burgers, but they were only selling frozen and large quantities, so it was not conducive to trying it. Oh, well, I would have liked to. They were saying that it is really lean and tender. Interestingly, I saw no venison. I guess that's not a midwestern thing. :-P
After I walked the whole way around, I went into the Capitol building to a) find a bathroom and b) see when the tours were. The next tour wasn't 'til 1pm, and I didn't feel like hanging around that long... I think it was about noon at this point. Line at the bathroom, of course. Headed back outside, and attempted to walk to the water front -- too far, turned around... ended up on the corner where there was an Episcopalian Church holding a fund raiser. They were selling snacks, brownies, and "pop" and taking donations. In order to draw attention to themselves (the farmers market was just across the street from here) they had a bubble machine set up on the front steps of the church. It looked so cool to have all these bubbles coming out of this old brownstone church. :-) It made a lot of little kids absolutely delighted, and everyone that saw a bubble floating through the air had a smile on their face. What at wonderful way to make everyone's day. :-) I donated 50cents. :-)
Walked a bit further down the block on the same side of the street and went into what looked like a little bookstore from the outside. It was in what used to be an old townhouse, and the lady at the desk handed me a map and told me that there was a floor downstairs and that they housed a quarter of a million used/rare books. Wow! Very cool. The place was called Shakespeare's and I kept the map. Some of the books were just tattered paperbacks that looked like they had been read and enjoyed many times. Other books were locked behind glass with prices set at $75 and above (highest I saw was $590)... a lot of first additions, signed first additions, rare, etc. Very cool. The place had a really neat feeling to it, too. The building reminded me of Pop-pop's house -- like the building had seen a lot through it's times, almost magical, really. Very cool.
Pried myself out of there realizing there wasn't really anything in my price range. :-P All of the art vendors of the Farmers market had been annexed to north-eastern side of the capitol on the other side of the street from everyone else and there was a construction zone, so it wasn't easy to get over there. But I checked it out, because that's what I was there to do! Almost got a tote bag that said Madison Farmers' Market on it, but the straps weren't long enough to go over my shoulder, and it hurts my wrist to just carry a bag. There was a lady that had a really funky painting style and she painted all kinds of things -- big bird houses, little bird houses, light switch plates, coasters, and a bunch of other random things. All really bright colors with funky shapes and geometric patterns. Cool. Another lady had a interesting photographic style. She took pictures with polaroid film, and while it was developing, she pressed on the film and made different patterns in it - made it look like it was a painting. Then she "digitized it" and printed them out on to canvas for a result that looked like very realistic painting. Very nifty. It's always cool when the artists are willing to share how they do things.
Other things that I saw at the farmers' market:
A Massage-A-Thon. Lots of people getting massages outside. Looked really funny.
Many musicians playing. A violinist, a guy playing a pan flute, a trombone/violin duet, and a guitarist. Very cool. Madison is just bursting at the seems with the Arts. Why couldn't IBM be there? Oh well.
People selling so many different varieties of potatoes that I didn't know existed.
People selling strawberries that were so small and CUTE!
My lunch included: Cheese curds (Yummy!), a stick of summer (beef) sausage, and the most delicious apple fritter that I have ever had that was made by the nicest people. I couldn't not for the life of me figure out where they were from. Maybe they were Greek. *shrug*
Left the Farmers' market around 1pm. When I was leaving the parking garage, I realized there were no posted prices. The web site for the farmers' market had said $3. It was only $1!! Booyah! :-D
Drove back to the hotel and checked in. I brought some things to my room and took pictures of the room. Sat down for a bit and figured out where the MATC(Madison Area Technical College?? or something) parking for the shuttle to the Rhythm and Booms site (Warner Park) was. Got things reorganized to go to Warner Park. I was very prepared. But I decided not to bring my umbrella. Moron. :-P
Drove to the parking lot, paid my $3 to park and then another $3 to ride the shuttle. It was actually a fundraiser for some children's hospital. So that was cool. Felt less lame for not trying to find parking near Warner Park. I carried: My Lucent bag, my newly purchased chair, my cooler, and a bag with my tossed-flags blanket in it. I was set. :-) I haven't rode a bus in a while. :-P It was cool. Chatted with the people around me. That was nifty. Cutest little baby ever -- she reminded me of me. :-D She was so happy and excited to be on a bus! Very "talk"ative, too. Her name was Amina. :-)
Got there and walked around a little bit -- the cooler was heavy and I couldn't carry it any other way than just in my hand (wrist = strained). So I didn't get to walk around as much as I would have liked. Set up my things in the Oldies stage area. They had live bands scheduled for all night. When I got there (I guess it was around 2:30) Road Trip was on the stage... cover band. They were doing all kinds of different pop music from different eras. It was fun. :-) I sat pretty far back because it was LOUD! And I kept wanting to use my cell phone. :-P Around 3 Road Trip left the stage and they were just playing the radio station that was sponsoring the groups. Oldies 94.9 -- good stuff. I brought my book with me and I was reading. I also did a lot of very productive people watching. :-) It was interesting to say the least. :-P
One thing that amazed me the most was the amount of people smoking just wherever. There were no rules about where you couldn't smoke (except inside the food tent). I forgot how spoiled I'd gotten living in NY with all the laws. :-P
The sky started spitting at us around 3:15-3:30ish. Nothing to worry about right? It's going to pass, right? HAHA. at about 3:45, we were told that this was supposed to turn into an electrical storm and we were either supposed to retreat to our cars (which I couldn't easily do) or go under the food tent. Luckily, I was close to the tent and quickly moved my things there. Got a good spot. :-) Then it started POURING! Insane rain. Crazy, insane rain. Whoa. Not much thunder/lightning, but crazy rain. I got a lot of rain watching in. If you could ignore the people freaking out about being wet and the people complaining about the weather and such, the sound of the rain on the tent was very relaxing. I got a lot of reading done. :-) This was all not so bad except for the fact that the port-a-potties were on the other side of the football field. Luckily, I only had to make one trip through the rain and it had lightened up at that point. :-P
They (the people in charge and the people on the radio who were broadcasting from just across the field) kept saying that the fireworks were NOT cancelled and that the storm was supposed to pass. They kept saying that 'til about 6pm when they stopped saying anything. :-P Huh. Then at 6:30 a rumor went through the tent that the fireworks were cancelled. I didn't quite believe it as fast as other people did, so I turned on my walkman and listened for a report on the radio. In fact the rumor was true. I was kinda sad, but at the same time, glad to have a very good reason to leave. :-P Packed up my stuff. Put a garbage bag around my lucent bag and pushed the straps through so that I could wear it as a backpack. It looked pretty cool, actually. Like a garbage bag backpack. :-P It was easier to carry the cooler 'cuz I'd been drinking soda out of it and it was lighter. But the rain wasn't exactly light at this point, but I left anyway. Went to get on a bus and prayed there would be one there. Lucky for me there were three there. :-) Got to my car and then went back to the hotel. Brought the rest of my stuff into the room.
Got changed because I was sopping. *yea* for preparedness. Had brought and extra set of clothes with me. :-) So it was around 7 and I wasn't going to sit in the hotel room all night, so I went to a little strip mall down a few blocks from the hotel. There was a clothing store called Catherine's (closed) and a store called Half-Priced Books. :-D I spent a good 45 minutes in there. :-D There will be a separate post to follow this one with all of my newest purchases. :-) The cool thing about the store was that it wasn't just books. They also had CDs, DVDs, and Cassettes. There was a sign by the cassettes that said "Cassettes are cool! They are easy to use and made of PLASTIC!!!!" I think they don't sell very many cassettes. :-P They had CDs for under $3 and for $1. :-D I got 8 CDs for under $20. :-D Go me! Go them! Go everyone! :-D Also got quite a few books... again, will be iterated in next post.
Across the parking lot from the book store was a Noodles & Company, which is a restaurant out here in the Midwest. They have all different kinds of noodles! Which means all different kinds of foods. Very interesting. Everything from lo mein to penne to rice noodles to egg noodles to macaroni. Pretty cool place. I got an italian dish with chicken - take out. :-) Went back to the hotel. Ate and watched Trading Spaces. Then found a weird movie on WE (women's entertainment) that with Lynn Redgrave. It was set in a little town in Germany so I think that made it cool. :-P Made a pot of coffee in the in-room coffeemaker. Wasn't too awful, but only drank one cup. Dad called when I was going to bed to check in on me. Told him the fireworks had been cancelled. I think he was more upset than I was. :-P
Went to bed and set my alarm for 9:30. Sleeping-in-ness! *yea*
Slept in! 'til 9:30. I was all packed up and dressed and stuff by 10. Brought most of everything out to the car in one trip. Came back in and had breakfast in the hotel "cafe". Scrammbled eggs, ham, sausage (ended up being ewwie), french toast and orange juice. Worth it. Eggs were very good. :) Collected rest of things from room and stole the soap. :-P Checked out. Tax on room was $10. stupid tax. :-P It was still over cast. *shrug* Went down town and drove around. Took lots of pictures. I have gotten extremely proficient at this skill. Taking pictures out of the window while driving and not knowing exactly where you want to go next. :-) My favourite form of fun. :-) Drove around the university and the hospital complex which were both on the southside of the lake to the north of the city (got that?). Very nice area. :-) Lots more pictures. Drove around where the convention center is on the north side of the lake to the south. :-P Lots more pictures. Drove around the bay that is to the north east of the lake to the south and that is also to the south west of the capitol. Got more pictures. Parked in front of someone's house and walked across the street to take pictures of the bay. IT WAS RIGHT THERE! I am such a tourist. People were walking their dogs and things and I am there taking millions of pictures. hehe. I am silly. :-) It was about noon when I left Madison. Hopped right onto 90W -- not difficult at all.
Got off 90W when I saw a big sign that said CHEESE! I had to, I promised Heather I would take a picture of on of the big signs that said cheese (and this was one of the nicer ones that I had seen). Ended up being Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet. Very cute. Very German/Swedish/Norwegian. They knew their cheese. I got some 4-year cheddar, some Wisconsin Havarti, a bottle of Strawberry wine (she didn't card me! =-O I am old looking already), some Apple Butter, and a very nice cheese knife that was only $2.00. Took pictures of shop and sign, just for Heather. What you couldn't see from the highway was that there was a mouse climbing up the side of the sign. Very cute. Will have to post pictures. Drove across the street to use the Culver's bathroom and then cut up some of the cheddar for the car ride. *yea* for snack containers. Found out I was in DeForest, WI. I tried to figure out where the town itself was. I think it was up on the hill behind a bunch of Maples. It was really a shame that I couldn't see DeForest through the trees.
.....HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. I crack myself up. But it's true. :-P
Got back on the highway. Got off at the Baraboo, WI exit. Baraboo is the town were the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth was founded, and there is a circus museum there. Although, I knew I wasn't going to go in the museum, I figured I should check it out 'cuz from what I had heard the town was pretty cool. It was about 13 miles off the highway, though. The town was not cool. It was actually pretty lame. But there were a few things along the way there that were cool. I took pictures of them on the way back. There was this old barn that was only a frame with a windmill still standing next to it. Actually pulled off side of road to take picture. Then a historic marker that explained how the Baraboo River carved the land and such. That was very interesting. Then there was this really really cool looking marshy wet land. Luckily there was a road to turn down to take pictures. The road looked more like the drive way to this ranch (and people's house) but it had a road sign, so I felt less weird about driving down there. There were horseys. :-) Took pictures. Got back to the highway.
Pretty much uneventful 'til I got to LaCrosse, WI. I wanted to find the brewery that my parents went to on their way home from bringing me out here. Drove around and ended up finding it, but it is closed on Sundays, so I will have to go back some time (only about an hour from Roch.). La Crosse is right on the Mississippi River so I drove around and followed some random guy to where the river was (he looked like he knew where he was going!)... took some more pictures out the window. Drove back through La Crosse and took a few pictures of Historic Downtown La Crosse. Unfortunately, the road was under construction, so it was a bit too much trouble to do much more exploring. Ah, well, another day. I had been looking for a little place to get some good hard serve locally made ice cream, but to no avail. Ended up getting a Flurry at McDonalds. *shrug*
Crossed the "Mighty Mississip" and then stopped directly on the other side at the Minnesota Vistors Center. Ahh.. .gorgeous view. Absolutely breath taking. Took lots of pictures. Read about bald eagles and the other wildlife. Saw a really small chipmunk. Walked around. Almost drove down to see the lock and the dam, but decided not to. Got back on the highway. And in about an hour, I was home. :-) Arrive home at about 4:45.
Ahh, great weekend, even if the rain was a bit annoying... it certainly wasn't overly hot or humid! :-)
AND! Tomorrow is Monday and I don't have to go to work and I can sleep in! Woohoo! :-D