Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Madison, Wisconsin - A Really Nice Town

Back to Wisconsin, the state I was born and raised in.  Not my favorite place to travel but the Captain wanted to see some sights so here we are. 

Our GPS "Betty" gave us this wonderful direction heading toward the RV park we were registered to stay at.  This is the second time we've seen this comment and the last time we were in the cornfields of  New York.  We have several maps and travel books we use to supplement  Betty.  If that doesn't work we call the park and ask for directions!

We stayed at Viking Village Campground which is right outside the town of Stoughton and about 20 minutes from Madison.  

The entranceway was beautiful and we learned this place had been a children's home many, many years ago.

The site had beautiful acres of grass and this duck head designed from an old tree trunk. 
One of the older buildings on the site.

Stoughton is a city in Dane County known for its Norwegian heritage.  It straddles the Yahara River and hosts a citywide celebration of Syttende Mai, the Norwegian constitution day.  Stoughton's sister city is Gjovik, Norway.  

The coffee break is said to have originated in Stoughton when the immigrant men became employed en masse at T.G. Mandt's wagon factory leaving their wives to fill the shortages at the tobacco warehouses.  The women agreed to work under the condition that they were allowed to go home every morning and afternoon to tend chores and drink coffee. Each year the town celebrates the coffee break with the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival.

Downtown Stoughton is the older part of town. Since it is in Dane County, along with Madison, it is now an up and growing suburb of the capital. 

This local bank had a Viking ship created from brick.

Stoughton has Norwegian flags flying along with U.S. flags.

The Yahara River flows through Stoughton.

Some of the buildings are quite old but still show the Norwegian design.

This church is over 100 years old.

The stained glass windows were beautiful.

There is also a Norwegian museum.

We biked through the town and saw many beautiful older homes.  This one had exceptional design around the roof line.

Dane County is recognized as one of the leading counties in the country with unleashed dog parks. There are eight separate parks scattered around the county and in the city of Madison.  We were lucky enough to have one of those dog parks directly across the street from where we were staying.

This dog park encompassed 30-40 enclosed acres with one side of the park along the Yahara River.  There are two sandy beaches for the dogs to access the river.  There are both cut grass walking trails and un-cut areas for the dogs to run around and play.  

Lucy jumping off the dock after one of her toys.  

Desi retrieving a ball.  That's a big step for him considering his vision is slowly fading.

We took the dogs to the park every day and there were always other dogs to play with.  Everyone got along just fine.
These three dogs got a hold of Lucy's water toy and all of them tried to retrieve it.   Desi is on the left trying to get it back.  Lucy decided to stay out of the way.  

Another view of the dog park.

They even have a sled there to help remove an injured dog.

Besides the dog park, there are miles and miles of paths that can be used for hiking, jogging, or biking.  

A good section of the trail is along the Jahara River.

Areas of the park are boggy with bridges to ride across.   Surprisingly, there were few mosquitoes but tiny little sweat bees could be a nuisance.

We even had wildlife visiting the RV park.  We noticed these birds enjoying a meal on the front lawn.

They would emit a loud screeching noise if anyone got too close.

We found out they are called sandhill cranes.

We spent several days touring the city of Madison.  Because it is the capital and also the home of the University of Wisconsin it is a very vibrant city.  The main downtown thoroughfare is State Street which links the University of Wisconsin campus with Capital Square.  The street is lined with restaurants and shops and only pedestrians, buses, delivery or emergency vehicles are allowed.  And, of course, bicycles. Madison has a population of 249 thousand people with many major streets having designated bike lanes.  The city is known for having one of the most extensive bike trail systems in the nation.

We parked in a garage in downtown Madison and since it was crowded we drove down to the lower level for a parking spot.  This was the sign in front of where we parked our car.

Then to the left I noticed this sign. better hope there's not too much rain when the tornadoes hit.  
The Capital building.

A view from the Capital steps with Lake Monona in the background.

The inside of  the building was magnificent.   Everything in the building, the walls, ceilings, floors, stairs were all created from marble. 

We just couldn't get over how beautiful the building was.

This side of the Capital is State Street.

A very quiet area on Sunday.  The next day, Monday, was the day when the UW students returned to their housing for the fall semester.  
The city was gearing up for the onslaught.

We walked over to the campus to the Union Terrace to have a quick lunch.

The university sits on Lake Mendota.  What a beautiful area.

The Captain got in line to buy us a beer and brats for lunch.  There were many students with their parents already on campus.

 Everyone was enjoying the warm, sunny day.

In the distance you could see boats cruising in the water.

All along the waterfront there were steps you could sit on and get your feet wet.

This little pup was learning how to retrieve. 

After lunch as we headed back to the car we passed some of the student housing.

Not a bad place to spend your college years.

Another lovely sight in Madison is the the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  We decided to tour it and see what was in bloom.

It's a little hard to see but this topiary is a mama and baby bear sitting at a picnic table.

Big hibiscus blooms were everywhere.

I wish I could grow hydrangeas like this.

This sculpture was created to look like a fallen leaf.

The foliage was so thick we couldn't find the names of many of the plants.

This one is called a Purple Prince Alternanthera.

Scarlet Curls Willow

The leaves on the tree definitely had curls.

In 2002, a Thai pavilion or sala was given as a gift to the University of Wisconsin from the government of Thailand. It is one of only four sala outside of Thailand and one of two in the United States (the other is located in Hawaii).

You were allowed to walk inside the pavilion to take pictures but they asked you to not touch any part of the building.
The pavilion is painted with gold leaf which is thinner than paper.

It can be worn away by the simple touch of human hands.

The plants in the garden were selected to give a tropical appearance in the summer but also be capable of surviving Wisconsin winters. 

A very beautiful place to visit.  

Finally, on our last day in Madison we stopped at the Great Dane Brew Pub which is another highlight of the city.
The original Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company opened one block off the capitol square in 1994 and became the first brewery in the city since the closing of the Fauerbach Brewery in 1966.  In 1996, the brewery expanded to a larger facility to expand the number of beer styles available at any time.  We tried a few!

And then for dessert (oink oink) we stopped at the local Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company.

Doesn't matter what we ordered.....the sign says it all.  Peace!!!

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