Madison, WI:Madison was love at first sight. It's just the perfect, livable city. This little town is nestled between two lakes and is filled with charming little homes, cool restaurants and shops (yes, including record stores) and a major university. Nearly everyone was either biking or running somewhere. Our b&b offered free bikes, so we dropped our bags and rode to the beautiful capitol building.
This is basically the only picture we took in Madison -- but Dan loved the message on the sidewalk, from when "good union people" were "taking to the streets!"
State Street, the most famous road in town, was kinda disappointing -- it seemed like a burn-out magnet more than anything else -- even with all the pro-union t-shirts and signs all around. Still, we LOVED tooling around town on two wheels and fantasized over the idea of living somewhere we could do that on a daily basis. (Dan says: if you've been to Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue, that tells you just about all you need to know about State Street.)
Spring Green, WI:
The next day in pouring rain, we ventured an hour west to Spring Green where we ditched the high-brow Frank Lloyd Wright house tour to visit the low-brow, kitschy House on the Rock, said to be Wisconsin's biggest tourist attraction. This place is insane. Basically this rich dude decided to build a house on top of / into a big rock, constructing the house around the natural environment. Trees sprout up in the middle of the room. Walls are made from ancient rock. And yet it's a totally cozy, Asian-decorated party pad. (Dan says: It's actually pretty righteous.) After building his home, this dude decided to accumulate all kinds of stuff, so we walked through his enormous collections of dollhouses, organs, guns and circus toy models -- which required warehouse-sized buildings to display. Oh yeah, there's also an actual, full-sized submarine engine, and a working, triple-decker carousel 18 feet wide for dolls. The whole thing is both astounding and a little creepy. A real American original.
The infinity room in The House on the Rock. It keeps going and going and going.
My favorite part was seeing the biggest indoor carousel in the world, which the dude commissioned to be made. It has hundreds of freaky animals on it but not a single horse. My head hurt from seeing so many things, and we didn’t even complete the entire tour! Pictures don't do it justice...you just have to see it to believe it.
Green County, WI:
When it comes to cheese, this county in Southwest Wisconsin, is the real deal. Smack in the middle of nowhere, we visited Decatur Dairy where we spent $2 a piece for a guided tour to find out how cheese is made. It was a very impressive, albeit confusing, operation but our tour guide had a lot of character and was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about cheese. This farm made cheese for Boar’s Head, so we picked up some muenster cheese, which is the farm’s specialty. SUPER good. The main impression I walked away with was that these farmers work very hard and all through the night! I have to say, the next time I pick up some cheese at the grocery store, I won't look at it the same way again.
We saw lots of farms and long winding roads from the car.
We stopped on the side of the road to take pictures and a friendly farmer let me on his property to take some close-up cow shots. People are so nice here!
Dan and our tour guide at the cheese farm. Nice look!