2014 Road Trip Photos #6: Shiny Happy Madison

Wisconsin State Capitol!

As you drive southwest on Washington Avenue, the Wisconsin State Capitol dome is kind of hard to miss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

After dinner at Ella’s Deli, we headed straight to downtown Madison, and I do mean straight. Our hotel was on the northeast end of Washington Avenue; downtown is on its southwest end; and Ella’s Deli is likewise on Washington Avenue, somewhere near the middle. Navigating was a snap. Unfortunately, downtown parking on a Saturday night wasn’t. We just so happened to be in Madison the same weekend as an annual art festival held all around the city square. Though the festival itself was shut down for the evening, all the parallel-parking spaces were still taken. Since most non-food businesses were surely closed by now anyway, we retreated back to the hotel and planned a do-over on the morning of Day Two…

…after one compulsory roadside attraction photo stop.

Octopus Car Wash!

After our disappointing dinner, we played it safe for Day Two breakfast and simply walked over to the Perkins next door to our hotel. No muss, no fuss, no foodie-pic intent on our minds. Then we journeyed back to downtown, which was much sunnier and bluer than the looming clouds of the night before.

Hans Christian Heg!

The Wisconsin State Capitol in downtown Madison. Sculptures around it include this tribute to Hans Christian Heg — Norwegian immigrant, veteran, Forty-Niner, elected Prison Commissioner, and anti-slavery activist. Very busy man.

Atop the Capitol dome is a 1920 statue called “Wisconsin”. Straightforward enough, I suppose.


We’d arrived an hour or so before the festival reopened, so we wandered here and there. Southeast of the Capitol is Lake Monona, the place of Otis Reddings’s tragic plane crash of December 10, 1967. (Most MCC followers are likely seeing this on the 47th anniversary, in fact. I was 100% unaware of the coincidence till I switched tabs for fact-checking. Spookity.)

Lake Monona!

Online sources had alerted us to the existence of a plaque commemorating Redding’s passing, somewhere atop the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Accessing the roof was simple for observant strangers like us, but we searched in vain for at least a half-hour for that alleged plaque. Great vantage point, lovely outdoor lounge area, no luck.

Monona Terrace Rooftop Fountain!

We could still see the Capitol from the roof. I haven’t posted every Madison pic we took, but the Capitol photo-bombed a lot of them.

No, this is not the Redding marker, either.

Blue Art!

One daring member of our party, who shall remain nameless for security reasons, even tried searching for the plaque in sections that were out of bounds. Alas, her flagrant disregard for posted signage was all for naught.

Private Function!

“NOPE!” yells a cute, anonymous relic hunter from the distance.

By the time we finished our rooftop expedition, the art festival had begun showing signs of life. We viewed the pieces for sale, we saw snacks, we bypassed all tents containing Direct Sales Consultants, and we enjoyed the sights Madison had to offer on an artful Sunday morning.

Animal art!

These metalwork animals are permanent fixtures on the Capitol grounds, not super-sized items for sale.


More Art!

Street Signs!

This is presumably a trap to make lost tourists cry.

We also found another marquee to add to my marquee collection. Those are always fun to find.

Bartell Theatre!

We couldn’t do much more in town because we had a busy day ahead of us, several hours of driving to go, and one special event in mind elsewhere. Thus after our stroll we departed the fair city of Madison, but I wouldn’t mind visiting again someday.

On our way northwest, we stopped in the town of DeForest at a gas station that had weapons and survival gear for sale. Tempting to some travelers, I’m sure…

Gas Station Armory!

…but even with generous discounts, we had other uses in mind for our vacation budget. But we appreciated the offers.

Gas Mask Sale!

Clearing the shelf for the incoming 2015 models, probably.

To be continued!

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]

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