Friday, August 5, 2011

Mad About Madison

We moved to Lake Farm County Park near Madison, Wisconsin's capital and home to the university. It is a great little city built on an isthmus between Lake Medota and Lake Monona. It has much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast because of all the water and also has excellent bike routes throughout the city and surrounding area. There is quite a bit to do in the city such as visiting the capitol, museums, used book stores and neat little shops, just to name a few. It is a pretty compact city so if you don't mind doing a little walking much is accessible on foot.

Since we were here, I decided to stop by the university to try and see a high school classmate, Barry Alvarez, who I have not seen in 47 years. Barry is now the Wisconsin athletic director after 16 years as the head football coach who returned the Badgers to national prominence. Unfortunately, he was out of the office when we stopped. He is obviously very well respected here as you can see by the banner and the statue. I'm sure he is the only 1964 Union High School grad who has a statue of himself right outside his office. This is another one of the things about fulltiming that is so neat, you can just drop in on people you have not seen in years as you travel the country.
We have been to several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in our travels and we can now add Monona Terrace to the list. The terrace was built in the 1990's using the exterior plans Wisconsin native Wright had originally drawn in 1938 as a cultural, governmental, and recreational building and which he reworked several times before signing off on the final design just before his death in 1959. The state of the art interior was redesigned by Taliesin architect, Tony Puttman, as a community and convention center. Included in the new design is a bike elevator so cyclists can get from the trail by the lake to the street level above. Wright's quote says it all. The building does tie them together as it is built over the highway and railroad that separates the city from the beautiful lake. We enjoyed lunch at the rooftop restaurant overlooking the water.

The Wisconsin Capitol from the terrace.

One thing we wish we had started doing sooner in our travels is touring state capitol buildings. They are usually very beautiful and always have interesting bits of history about the state. Bottom left is the Supreme court and right is the Senate chamber. Top left is in the rotunda and on the right is a painting in the Assembly chamber. We were peeking through the door at the painting when a worker saw us and took us in and gave us a little local history. Click to enlarge the picture and you will see the ghost in the mural just above the badger located in the left of the photo.

Wisconsin is at the center of the attack on middle class workers by Republican controlled state governments across the nation. I wanted to check out what is happening with the teachers and other public employees who had their bargaining RIGHTS taken away by newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin became the center of this struggle when thousands protested the new law at the capitol this past winter. Wisconsin has a recall law and next week there will be nine recall elections that union members hope will give them power in at least one house of the legislature. There are also plans to recall Walker next January after he has the required one year in office. For the upcoming election one dirty trick that was in the news was a flyer sent by a group backed by the Koch brothers (Oklahomans who were Walker's biggest financial supporters) that told people the election was being held on the eleventh when it is really being held on the ninth. Hopefully the workers of Wisconsin will show the rest of the country how to stand up against these attacks on the middle class.

Madison may be the most bike friendly city we have ever been in. There are miles of bike only trails and wide well marked bike paths on many streets. The red bikes are available throughout the city for people to use and leave at another stop. One bike shop where we did a little shopping has four shops within about six blocks of the university.

Of course when in Wisconsin you must purchase cheese which we did at a store called Fromagination. When we entered the store a photographer was taking pictures for the Madison visitors bureau and asked us to be models. We were so thrilled that we failed to take any pictures ourselves. So if you are in Madison and see our pictures in an ad please let us know so we can get a copy. We purchased several varieties of cheese and they are wonderful. There were many things we didn't get to do while in Madison so we have put it on our list as a place we will definitely return to.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Hmmm, never thought of stopping in Madison.

greg and jean said...

Mad Town is a great place !!!! Can't wait to get back there to watch Barry Alvarez' former team the Cornhuskers....yes he played for the REAL BIG RED.....whoop it up on the Badgers.

I was told that I had a bunch of great times in that city back in the 'old days' but I can't remember