madison, wisconsin

I only wish we’d had more time to spend in Madison – our two nights and one day wasn’t enough to get it done. But from what we did see, it’s a great town, typical of a lot of college towns. Home to the University of Wisconsin and also the state capital, it’s got a great mix of people, and even though we were there before the fall session had started, there were still a lot of young folks around. It’s that kind of town.

Downtown is situated between two lakes: Lake Mendota on its north side and Lake Monona on the south, and smack dab in the middle of the two lakes is the State Capital building.

Madison is a bit of a nightmare for driving in, with its one-way streets, so the best plan is to park the car and get out on foot. Which is what we do our first night in town. Our first stop is State Street – a pedestrian mall full of boutique shops, bars, pubs and restaurants, and we head into one of them for a beer and a bite to eat while we watch a bit of the Olympics on the big screen. And that takes care of our first night in town.

In the morning, Dexy gets a good overhaul – oil and lube job and four new tires – and she’s ready to go, running like a dream. I drop Bridget off downtown on State Street for a couple of hours of busking on the street corner while I head off to explore bits and pieces around town. First stop is James Madison Park on Lake Mendota, watching the kids swimming in the lake and the boaters out on the water.

Then it’s down to the shore of Lake Monona to see the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938. It’s Friday afternoon and up on the terrace a band is setting up for the evening’s entertainment. I won’t be staying for the party; I’ve just come for a look-see.

Back up to State Street to see how Bridget’s doing. Not too bad, it seems. She’s called it quits on busking for the day and I find her outside the Irish pub, quenching her thirst in the mid-day sun. We cool off our insides until Bridget’s friend Chris arrives.

Chris just moved to Madison a few days ago, and he starts his new job on Monday. But today is Friday, so there are a couple of play days on his schedule before he has to think about work. We head over to his new digs, which he’s sharing with fellow worker Danny, who just happens to play keyboard; and before long he and Bridget are jamming away. Kind of like the warmup act for the evening’s entertainment over on King Street. The Majestic on King hosts a free summer concert series and tonight Mat Kearney is playing. We wander over in that direction, get our wrist bands, and worm our way through the crowd nearer to the front.

A fine show; Mat’s a great entertainer and obviously a crowd favorite. I’d not heard of this young fellow before, but he’s got a few hits to his name – the one I remember is “Nothing Left To Lose,” which has the crowd on its feet. Well, we’re all on our feet to start with, what with it being standing room only. But we’re standing and singing with gusto on a hot Friday night.

A great way to end our short stay in Madison. We’ll just have to come back.

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