Back to da Old Country - Madison

Dan and I enjoy a beer at the UW student union patio

After spending the weekend with Shannon in downtown Chicago we went to Madison, the last of the three stops on our midwest tour. We figured that the drive would be easy since there wouldn't be much traffic on a Sunday afternoon. We did get out of Chicago ok although I was surprised at just how busy it was. We made a stop in the western suburbs to visit Games Plus. It's a really good game store that I had visited the past two times that I had been to Illinois to visit my brother in St. Charles. They probably have the most extensive selection of wargames of any brick and mortar store I know. It's amazing that it is still in existence. And just like an old time wargame store, they had some games that must have been on their shelves for years. I saw several games by 3W. They went out of business in the 1990's. You just don't find places that keep stock around that long any more. As I had hoped, I found a particular GMT game, Ardennes 44 Second Edition, that is out of print but I was hoping they would have. I grabbed it right away. I also bought an Osprey book from their extensive selection. It was on the Battle of Blenheim. I have been playing No Peace Without Spain a lot with a friend lately. It's a game on the War of the Spanish Succession and I figured I needed to study up on the history. So our first stop was wildly successful. I did show some discipline and only stayed about fifteen minutes. I could have spent an hour there without even noticing the time. Sandy was hoping that we could make it to a quilt shop in Janesville before it closed so we had to get going again.

The Wisconsin capitol building

It wasn't to be though. There was construction on the interstate west of Chicago for thirty five miles. The two lanes were reduced to one and traffic was very, very slow. Then there was an accident and traffic virtually stopped for half an hour. In all we were probably delayed over an hour. For the privelege of sitting in a traffic jam on a highway in horrible condition, the state of Illinois charged us nine dollars in tolls. As a westerner who is used to free use of highways, I thought it very tacky at best to charge us an arm and a leg for driving on a miserable stretch of road. What a ripoff. But it turns out the delay didn't matter anyway. When we got to Janesville we had the wrong address for the quilt shop. Instead we the GPS directed us to a nursery. Since we didn't really want to carry garden supplies back on the plane with us that didn't work. And we didn't have time to find the right address. We also made a quick stop at another game store in Janesville, Noble Knight Games. I have bought stuff on ebay from them but it turns out their business is oriented towards online sales. There was virtually nothing (ha ha)in their store. So our Janesville stop was a bust.

Diorama showing the Iron Brigade at the Battle of Antietam

But the story had a happy ending. We went to Sandy's parents place and they had lots of snacks and good wine. Later they made a nice dinner. It was good to see them again. Colleen and Devin drove down to join us since their parents had gone to an Eagles concert at Summerfest. Sounded like fun even if it couldn't compare with when we had seen Rush.

The next day Dan and I went to check out the Wisconsin Veterans Museum which is right across from the state capitol. But when we got there it turned out that it was closed on Mondays! Since we had come all the way downtown we decided to just take a walk along State Street. We checked out the UW bookstore and ended up at the Student Union. It was a hot day so we had a cold beer and sat in the shade on the patio looking out over Lake Mendota. We timed it so that we got back to our car just in time to drive two blocks to Paisan's. We met everyone there for dinner which we ate on the patio looking out over Lake Monona. Dan's brother and his wife, Pat and Barb, were there too. Since they had just done a trip to Machu Piccu last year we asked them all kinds of questions. It's been on our list for a long time and we have been thinking about doing it next year. They had a great time and convinced us that we really need to do the trip. More blog fodder for next year!

A display of civil war rifles at the Veterans Museum

Dan and I are both stubborn, er...I mean persistent. There was stuff planned for Tuesday but we wanted to go back to the Veterans Museum. We didn't have much time so we dashed downtown for a quick visit. It was well worth the extra effort. The museum had a lot of interesting displays. There was information on Wisconsin units and veterans and the part that they played in wars from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They had several dioramas set up to commemorate famous actions, like the charge by the Wisconsin Iron Brigade at the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War. There were also a lot of artifacts, especially old weapons, from all of the wars through the years. Then it was back home to meet up with our wives for a trip to New Glarus and a visit to the brewery there. I managed to get us lost briefly and the brewery turned out to be quite hard to find. But we got there eventually. Sandy and I are more wine than beer people but we enjoyed trying out one of their brews. It was good. They had a nice gift shop and we both found cool tshirts.

At New Glarus Brewing Company

Afterwards we all went back to Oregon (Wisconsin) for dinner with Sandy's parents at a local restaurant, Mason's. Their special was wahoo. Whenever we did tropical trips that was always my favorite fish. It's called wahoo in the Caribbean and ono in the Pacific. You don't find it that often in the US so it had been a long time since I'd had it. It was absolutely fabulous. Another excellent dinner capped off a short but fun visit back to Madison.

The next day we had plenty of time to drive to Milwaukee to catch our 6pm flight home. There were no problems until we got to Denver. Then our flight to Boise was delayed because the plane coming in was three hours late. Pretty much just what we have come to expect from United Air Lines. So instead of getting in a little before midnight, we didn't land until 3am. By the time we got our luggage and got a taxi and got home it was very late and we were very tired. Good thing we didn't have to go to work the next day. Laney was glad to see us though, although she had been well cared for by a friend, Sara, who stayed in our house with Laney while we were gone.

A busy trip.