Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 19 (PM): Put On Your Madison Blue Shoes

We do the thing we call the Madison blues
We do the Madison blues
We do the Madison blues
We do the Madison blues, baby
Rock away your blues

George Thorogood, Madison Blues (in case you hadn't guessed it already)


We are staying at The Speckled Hen, an absolutely wonderful B&B here in Madison. This morning, we had a breakfast fit for royalty. Another couple staying here were at the table with us. They are from Illinois - about 2 hours away - and had come for a quick getaway break. They had been to Madison numerous times.

He asked us why we had come to Madison. I told him I had heard great things about Madison. "Really?" he asked, in the sort of tone that leaves no doubt that he assumes I have mistaken Madison for, say, New York or Paris.

It was then that I realized that I had no idea why I had wanted to visit Madison. I still can't tell you why I had it in my mind that it would be a great place to visit. Can't even recall ever having talked to anybody about it.

I wonder now if it all dates back 40 years ago when I was at school and the universities at the center of the action (mind you, much of it not good action) were places like UC Berkeley, Columbia, Kent State, Jackson State and, yes, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Maybe it was back then that I just wished I had been at one of those places rather than little LeMoyne College in Syracuse where the biggest deal was a visit from the Berrigan brothers.

Maybe that wasn't it, but I somehow definitely developed a strong feeling that Madison was a great place to visit when we were planning our trip. Well, I held that view at the beginning of the day, anyhow.

Oh, Madison's not a bad place. Far from it. It has a beautiful university campus on the shores of Lake Mendota, which has to be one of the greatest locations ever for a campus. Of course, I am here in August and am not counting 90% of the school year from late October through early May, when the weather is probably cold enough to turn everyone's face the school color of bright red.

LK, as you probably recall, intended today to be a shopping assault. As befits her new found status as most popular blogger on 4Q, I didn't even sigh heavily when she wanted to stop at shops. Well, at least not when I thought she could hear me.

Her conclusions: These shops are for students. Total haul: 1 pair of flipflops, 1 pair of light blue tennis shoes. Damage: Under $40.

We then drove to what the local map called the best shopping district in Madison. Her conclusion: "They have seriously overstated this, or else there is no good shopping anywhere in Madison." Total haul and damage: 0.

We then decided the hotel was so nice we would just do a nosh in the room rather than go out to dinner tonight. (Her real conclusion: "If Don gets arrested for drunk driving and has his license suspended, I'm stuck here.")

I could tell you about driving all over greater Madison looking for a food store. But I won't. She can blog about it if she wishes. And yes, I know she will be more popular than me again. But I am not about to write about about an afternoon in which LK accused me of being "cranky".

Tomorrow, we're off to another famous university town, South Bend, Indiana. Home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

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