Thursday, 29 October 2015

Madison Autumn Adventures

I have been given a fantastic opportunity to work in Madison and as Victoria and Jasmin have never been there we planned a family holiday so that they could take in sights of Madison and the surrounding area of Wisconsin.

I did not have a lot of leave remaining so we could only be away for seven nights before I had to be back at work, so on Tuesday evening I shut down the laptop, said my goodbyes to my colleagues and drove home. Victoria, Jasmin and I had tea then we loaded the car up and drove to the Travelodge Macclesfield Adlington  -with some trepidation after our previous Travelodge stay - to be greeted by a lovely chap in reception who was super friendly and helpful.

We settled down for the  night and it was soon 0530 and the alarms were going off. Following the receptionists suggestion we were soon at Jet Parks 3 and on the bus to the terminal. System problems meant that the queue for check-in and baggage drop took well over an hour but after a very quick pass through security, the only problem being Jasmin's expensive bra setting off the alarms, we were soon air-side and having a light breakfast.

Boarding the old 767 that American Airlines use for the Manchester-Chicago run we got settled down to not enjoy the in-flight entertainment. I had warned Victoria and Jasmin that American Airlines run this route like it is the 1980's and a small TV screen between 20 seats is not really up to par these days for a long haul. Fortunately, we had loaded up on films and books on our tablets.

Despite the poor in-flight entertainment, the flight was very smooth and the vegetarian meals very nice. After about 8 hours we made a bumpy landing in Chicago and were soon through security although we did have some extra questions to answer at bio-security.

Catching the courtesy bus we were dropped off at Hertz to pick up our Ford Focus. A Ford Focus would have been good, after ten minutes wrangling where they tried to fob us off with a Ford Fiesta or a Mazda 2 "It's a compact", "Yeah right!" we settled for a Hyundai Accent. What a complete bag of shit this is a cheaply built piece of junk. If any of my friends in the future hear me mention that I may buy an Hyundai please remind me of this episode and call me a twat!

More shenanigans from Hertz as they try to get me to add an IPass at $5.00 per day plus tolls. Yeah right! I pay you $30.00 plus $10.00 in tolls just so that I don't have to pay $20.00 in tolls. After the shitty Chrysler Sonic they palmed me off with in August and this episode I think I'll be hiring my cars elsewhere in future.

So eventually we are on our way and after just over a couple of hours of freeway driving we arrive at our AirBnB apartment in Madison. Sean checks us in and it's absolutely lovely, spacious, two bedroomed, spotlessly clean with a well equipped kitchen and garage parking at about £300 for five nights.

We are in need of supplies so we drive about a mile up Cottage Grove Road to the Metro Market a lovely supermarket with loads of organic and healthy choices. We pick up some groceries and are also checking out what we can get hold of if we do move next year. They stock Heinz Baked Beans and Birds Custard so that is two things off the list!

With the Horrible Hyundai at Metro Markets

Driving back down we pass The Great Dane and having already scoped the place out on the internet decide that we will unpack the car and walk back up there. It's about a mile walk but well worth it, I had a delicious Mac & Cheese, Victoria had the Peanut Stew while Jasmin had the Mozzarella and Tomato Panzanella. We washed them down with a round of tasty micro-brews.

It was only just getting dark and we walked along Cottage Grove admiring the Halloween decorations and were back at the apartment by about 1830, having been up since the equivalent of midnight we soon crashed out and went to bed.

Of course this early night had a knock-on effect in the morning and we were up by 0330! We read and lounged for a few hours and then breakfasted on bagels and cream cheese washed down with orange juice, going native already!

The weather was lovely, retrieving the Horrible Hyundai from the parting garage we picked up the highway and then turned west on the Rustic Roads to the lovely little town of Baraboo. Once through Baraboo we entered the lovely golden road into Devils Lake State Park. Driving through autumn woodland, the floor is covered in leaves and above a canopy of gold, it really is 'take your breath away'.

Paying the $10.00 admission we parked up and made our way to the Chateau where we purchased apple ciders and coffees to drink by the lake before heading off up the buffs eastern side of the lake. We steadily climbed up the rocky buffs, with not a little moaning from young Jasmin, taking many opportunities to take photographs out over the lake.

We were even investigated by an inquisitive little chipmunk.

At the top we turned left and make our way back down through the woods, again stopping for many a photo opportunity before buying postcards to send home at the Chateau.

Leaving Devils Lake we headed back into Baraboo, but this time took the road out to Wisconsin Dells and stopped at the Outlets. It was getting quite late and we had not eaten since breakfast so we shared some pretzels and dip from Auntie Annies before doing a little outlet shopping. Quite a lot of our Christmas presents are now sorted.

We headed back to Madison along pretty much the way we had come and stopped off at Metro Market again to get some supper. I suggested that I buy some fare to cook for us, a regular at home is potatoes, veggie sausage and baked beans. Let's just say it was not my finest culinary moment, the real lowlight being the baked beans. What on earth are they doing to them? Give me Heinz Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce any day!

With the early start it was again time for an early night.

To be continued.

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