06 August 2009

A Few Days in Madison

After our week in Green Bay and Door County, we headed down to Madison to visit more friends and see more sights. We stayed at the home of Dr. Don and Nancy Field. Dr. Field is a very successful rural sociologist and a professor at the University of Madison. He'll be retiring in the next year. Nan is a writer and publisher and runs Dog-Eared Publications. Both are very involved in nature conservation. They are dear friends of my husband's family, and Nan greeted us as if Cuddly Hubby were her own son.

Nan and I had some interesting conversations about writing and publishing. She kindly gave us copies of her books and stickers. She goes to great lengths to be sure the information in her books is correct. For my friends who are home schooling, I can definitely recommend her work. The books contain interesting and fun activities while teaching scientifically accurate information about the animals and habitats. And she has been careful that the artwork for the stickers is scientifically accurate as well.

One of the great things about staying with friends is that they know the area. Nan took us out to Baraboo, about an hour's drive from Madison, so we could visit the International Crane Foundation. This is the only facility in the world that houses all fifteen species of cranes. For an animal lover like me, this was a major treat! In the picture above, a male whooping crane practically runs on water.

The following day we visited the House on the Rock. Alas, the visitor information doesn't really explain who Alex Jordan was, how he built the house, or why he made the design decisions that he did. The architecture is sort of Frank Lloyd Wright meets nautical shipbuilding. Several friends and family had recommended it, and it is definitely an interesting place to visit. I think it would be even more fun to have House on the Rock bingo cards -- gridded screen, fireplace, couch, ship model, Chinese doll, creepy instrument that plays itself, indoor fountain, bronze statue, bookshelf, skylight, amaryllis. The photo above is the Infinity Room, which was added after the fact. It cantilevers off the rock in a way that does not at all inspire confidence. But the view is nice.

Later that evening, Dr. Field took us on a tour of the University of Wisconsin. We walked down State Street and stopped for dinner. We ate bratwurst -- compare and contrast red and white brats. And we drank good beer. Fortunately, a lot of the stores were closed by the time we went strolling. But the window shopping was fun. And we got this great picture of the Cuddly Hubby and I with a statue of a badger mom with baby badgers! (For you knitwear folk, the scarf I'm wearing is Bootkicked, one of my not-yet-published patterns. The yarn is Noro Silk Garden sock.)

On Wednesday we took at tour at Taliesin. My advisor at Penn State was a specialist in Chicago School architecture, so I'm sure he would approve of this outing. Frank Lloyd Wright was quite a personality in his own right. Cuddly Hubby and I had a lot of fun on the tour both looking at the architecture as well as swapping snarky comments between ourselves. And the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and also had a sense of humor about the myth and legend of Frank Lloyd Wright. Here's a silly posed shot of me in ecstasy over a window detail. (For the knitters -- the shawl is Reynolds Fusion and the pattern is yet another not-yet-published original design. Fusion is a discontinued yarn.)

That evening we had dinner with a friend of the Cuddly Hubby. She was also in the One, the Only, the Truly Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. She and her husband have children who like pandas -- clearly these are smart people. We also went out for ice cream after dinner. Again, more proof these are good people.

Thursday was our last day in Wisconsin. We took a side trip to Cave of the Mounds before we headed out to Chicago for the night. I'm not a big fan of caves. In fact, I think the last time Cuddly Hubby and I toured a cave was on our honeymoon almost fifteen years ago. But this one was nice enough -- lots of the usual formations. Some of the formations had unusual colors due to the minerals in the surrounding rock. And the tour does feature a few moments of total darkness. This is funny, because in the gift shop you can buy a post card that is all black with the notation: Total Darkness -- Cave of the Mounds. Kudos to the clever person who came up with that. And I should mention that the gift shop has lots of rocks at very good prices. It was tempting to buy a few polished rocks or fossils to use as props in the Dungeons & Dragons game.

All in all, Wisconsin was a fine place to visit. We sadly bid it goodbye as we headed for the congested chaos of Chicago.

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