Vonada Web Site
This year's family trip was a week-long trek to Wisconsin. My wife and I both wanted to go. I have heard how nice Madison is plus this was a chance to go the EAA AirVenture museum at Oshkosh. My wife has family from the area and used to vacation there as a child so she was game. As it turned out it was a nice trip but quite a drive at 1700 miles.
The plan was to drive to Dayton (to drop the dog off with my parents) then to Madison via Indianapolis and Chicago. Except for the hellhole that is Chicago it was a nice drive. We stayed right downtown in Madison within walking distance of the very impressive statehouse. At right is an artsy-fartsy shot I took of the Statehouse reflected in a building.
We spent some time people watching on the State Street Mall which sort of runs between the University of Wisconsin campus and the Capitol. It is closed to most traffic and is full of shops, bars, restaurants, and all sorts of people doing all kinds of things. We also hit the Henry Villas Zoo which was small but very nice (and free!). In the park that surrounds the zoo we saw our first speed-skating track (a pond in summer) and Maria spotted a wild river otter.
The next day we toured the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. The museum was very nice but too dark for good photos. After lunch we took a tour of the statehouse. I am not sure what happened but according to the guide there are usually ten or so people on the tour. We had more than 60 and it seemed we had more than the usual number of rude people and idiots. Whoever said there is "no such thing as a stupid question" should have been on the tour. However our guide did the best she could to keep things together and convince some moron that a lady in a wheelchair really did have to wait for the elevator (seriously!). The Statehouse itself is a really impressive building. One sign said that it was the 4th largest free-standing dome in the world. I can believe that. This picture was taken by my 7-year old laying on her back under the center of the dome. What you see is actually the INNER dome. The outer dome is a good deal higher. To give a sense of scale that gold ring around the painting at the top of the dome is actually a balcony and railing.
The entire place was decorated with different types of artwork. Marble from all over the world covered the walls. Very impressive! At right is one of the mosaics that surround the bottom of the dome. According to the tour guide the place is insured for 1 billion dollars. I bet that could not cover the cost of replacement. Ironically this statehouse was built because the last one burned down after the legislature canceled their insurance policy.
After visiting Maria's sister and her brother in Chicago we drove back to Dayton just in time for a 4th of July party hosted by some college friends we have not seen in way too long. We are older but not necessarily smarter...