Saturday’s plan was to meet the older grandkids at the Madison Saturday Market, held on Capitol Square downtown. They live downtown, so that was convenient.
However, the torrential rain early morning was not convenient. Nevertheless, we made our way downtown with CJ in tow, parked at the Terrace,, and walked through the drizzle to Starbucks. Fortunately, the rain let up long enough to tour the market. Lots of fresh vegetables, cheeses, baked goods, and meats, even though the vendors had to set up in the rain. Ashley had a shopping list, which took one circuit to fill, and CJ talked us into some spicy cheese bread, apparently his favorite…
We had time to spare before lunch, and it started to lightly rain again, so Ashley suggested we tour the Capitol. There weren’t many tourists inside yet, with the market in full sway outside, so we wandered from the base of the rotunda up many flights of stairs, peering into the locked Supreme Court and Assembly halls through the iron gates, and looking down from the galleries at each level, finally reaching as high as visitors are allowed, the outside observation deck at the base of the dome.
We had a spectacular and windy view of downtown and lakes Mendota and Monona. We really enjoyed the tour, and took in the small Capitol restoration and history museum just below the observation deck before winding back down all those flights of stairs to the street level. We departed just as the market vendors were packing up and the rain returned, so the press of Capitol visitors were starting to gather on the lower levels.
The downtown restaurants were also crowded, so we split up, Travis and Ashley to fetch Travis’s car, and we to fetch ours from the parking garage, and headed east to an Olive Garden Restaurant, where the rest were already seated and waiting for us. After lunch, we headed back west, for an afternoon and evening of movie-watching at Matt’s. Sunday promises to be sunny weather again, so we might be back on the trails with the whole family, this time.
Rain was predicted for Friday, and rain it did. We had planned for an “errand” day. First, a trip to the Group Health Cooperative clinic nearby (GHC of Southern Wisconsin, not part of our GHC HMO in Washington/Oregon/Idaho) for some lab work. Bearing a prescription from home, we had to go through the ordeal of registration and lots of paperwork, so it took much longer than the 10 minutes it takes at home.
Then, off to Costco for a few items, including a backup disk for the laptop, since we are on the road for a couple of months and not connected to the network backup system at home. Another stop at Best Buy for a portable scanner in anticipation of having photos to scan during our visits and reunions.
Of course, “some assembly required” prevails when setting up backups on a device meant for Windows and Mac: first, reformat the hard drive to the Linux ext4 file system from ntfs, then install and configure rsnapshot to back up the data directories. The backup on a fresh disk took several hours for over 300GB of data. Setting up the scanner will wait for another day–the xsane Unix utility should detect and manage it…
A late evening out for dinner: Despite temperatures predicted dropping to 12 C overnight, Wisconsinites dine outside in short sleeves and shorts whenever there is no snow on the ground. We Pacific Northwesterners, however, more used to layering, fetched jackets from the car as the sun dropped below the horizon.
Today promised to be the best weather all week–hot but dry, so we put the “Q” tandem on top of the car and headed to Middleton’s Quisling Park, the western terminus of the Pheasant Branch trail system. The short and fast paved trail meandered along the creek, first through commercial parks on the prairie, then diving and twisting down through a wooded run, ending at a nature conservancy, where the trails were crushed limestone, so we turned around.
The trip back was not as steep as it seemed, so we made good time, and took a couple of side trails a short distance. On the trail paralleling US 12 West, we were overtaken by a legless man in a racing wheelchair, who was continuing north, while we turned around at the Airport Road. Another side trail led to the Costco parking lot, but we didn’t have enough cargo space to do our shopping today, so we returned to the main trail and continued on, making a few parking lot loops at the end of the trail to reach our distance goal for the day, 16 km.
In the afternoon, we drove south to the village of Oregon, to meet our grandson after school. We went for coffee to the Firefly Coffeehouse, one of our favorite anywhere in the country. CJ was anxious to show us his computer work, after introducing us to his YouTube channel, where he posts videos of games he is working on. He’s a beta tester for a 2D game and also works on the Wiki to explain tips and tricks of the evolving game, working closely with the designer/programmer.
Somehow, we let ourselves be talked into entering the XBox360 world of Minecraft. I generally avoid video games altogether, being satisfied with a limited range of what used to be board games–cards, tiles, word and number puzzles, etc. But, it was important to him to share, so we grasped the ears of the very unfamiliar controller and got quickly sucked into the game grid. After a brief, on the move introduction, we deduced that the buttons and toggles on the controller consisted of thumb controls for tilt-and-pan and left-right-forward-back, with some sort of switch action, four mode switches, which controlled vertical jumps, switching between first-person and third-person point of view, and other functions we didn’t get. There are also four finger switches on the top of the controller that performed actions, like striking and picking up and putting down objects, which ended up in various inventory displays at the top or bottom of the screen.
Sitting close to his large monitor, first-person POV became immersive, with a feeling of moving clumsily through a strange world with a limited field of view and physics that didn’t work quite right, but could be compensated for fairly quickly. Nevertheless, our first foray into Minecraft consisted primarily of finding shelter and hunkering down, avoiding traps and pitfalls on the way. Not very exciting for a 13-year old, but he was happy that we at least tried and managed to keep our characters alive (but not without help).
Dinner out, a dog walk, and more gaming demos kept us out very late, for a school night, so we left him with a promise of more time over the weekend.
Once the rain stopped, we went downtown Madison to explore Monona Terrace, the lakeside conference center envisioned by Frank Lloyd Wright, and finally built 38 years after his death, 59 years after the first design. I have been interested in FLW’s work since attending an architecture seminar series 52 years ago by an Iowa firm schooled in his principles, so it is always exciting to have an opportunity to tour one of his designs, or, rather, to be able to take the time to do so: we have passed by several over the years, including this one, without stopping.
We had lunch at the rooftop cafe overlooking Lake Monona and the bike path we rode two years ago. The structure hangs 27.5 meters out over the lakeshore, to tie together the capitol complex and the lake.
Monona, the smaller lake to the south of the city, had a few paddle boards, kayaks, and one “pontoon porch” as the rain clouds moved off to the southeast and the temperature climbed.
The design incorporates sweeping curves, with this vaulted gallery leading from the entrance to the lake view. The exterior follows Wright’s final 1959 design, but the interior was redesigned in the Wright style to create a modern conference and community center space.
Across the isthmus, the University of Wisconsin, Madison sits on the shore of Lake Mendota. We spent part of the afternoon at the Rathskeller watching sailboats, paddleboards, kayaks, and sailboards come and go from the University docks.
Of course, the primary reason for visiting is family. Matt guided us downtown and then met us at the end of our tour of the Terrace.
To our surprise, we discovered Patricia working as a receptionist at the Terrace. We had been texting back and forth with her all morning to arrange to meet the next day, but got a bonus visit by chance.
Darice met us at the lakeshore after work, then we went to dinner. A busy day compared to yesterday’s rainy rest day.
A rainy day, ideal for rest and relaxation. We did get out in the morning for a post office, bookstore, and lunch stop, with Matt, and again this afternoon after he left for work for a few groceries and to replace the bike map we left at home. But, with everyone at work, we had a quiet afternoon and early evening.