Monday, June 29, 2009

Mama and The Dad Do Madison

This past weekend, The Dad and I had the wonderful opportunity (thanks Grandma Texas!) to get away for a weekend without The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot. The occasion was our 10th wedding anniversary, which actually falls over Father's Day each year, but I'm willing to slip the date a bit if it means a weekend with my husband without the kids. We had originally planned to celebrate the occasion in early June, with a combined business/anniversary trip to San Francisco for Java One. Unfortunately for all of us (me, The Dad, and Grandma Texas, who had already booked our flights), The Dad's company, with its acquisition by Oracle pending, canceled his trip.

So we set our sights closer to home: Madison, Wisconsin. A town (technically a small city, but after Chicago and San Francisco, it feels like a town) where neither of us had ever been, despite our combined 52 years' Illinois residency. The Dad's been to Milwaukee many times, however; the only place I'd ever really been in Wisconsin was Kenosha, just over the Illinois border.

It turns out, Madison is pretty cute. The New York Times covered Madison recently in its Travel section, although its reporter was much more interested in the varied pursuits of the town's residents. The Dad and I, on the other hand, were not that ambitious. We didn't bother with the university, Frank Lloyd Wright (although having recently read Loving Frank, I was mildly interested in checking out Taliesin -- until I found out a visit would require reservations and getting in the car), or Lake Mendota.

Our interests were much more basic: eating, drinking, walking, and light entertainment. Like the NYT reporter, we dined at both Harvest (a localvore foodie's dream) and the Old-Fashioned, the latter of which really is a microcosm of Wisconsin (The Dad got a shot of beer to go with his bloody Mary). We also ate at a less-than-stellar Ethopian restaurant on State Street (although it passed the people test with flying colors), grabbed coffee at Espresso Royale (which brought me back to my own college days, where I went to Espresso Royale in Urbana on a daily basis [except on Saturdays; then I went to Gypsy in Champaign for beer]), and shared a communal table in the crowded, but excellent (and on-par with its Yelp reviews) Sophia's Bakery Cafe. I bought myself a pile of books to read from A Room of One's Own bookstore (The Dad had a stash from home). We also saw Star Trek at a theater with horrible sound on State Street. And slept at our hotel, the Doubletree (a quick walk to both the university and the central shopping/Capitol area). And read. And walked lazily around the Capitol Square on Saturday morning, buying (and eating) loads of fresh pastry and freshly shelled peas and strawberries and maple syrup from the vendors at the Dane County Farmer's Market.

On our last day, we took the long way home - via the Elkhorn Flea Market, one of the Midwest's biggest and well-known flea and antiques markets. We got there late and weren't charged the $4 pp entrance fee. I did manage to find a sweet occasional chair for our living room, which just fit in our Toyota Corolla rental car.

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