Thursday, 5 November 2015

Autumnal Madison Adventures

So, following on from where we last left off.

It is Friday and I was still suffering really badly from jet-lag so am awake well before 0300 and don't feel like I have had any sleep at all - uuurgh!

Today I have a meeting in the Madison office with my prospective new manager and then will be meeting up with the team members for their quarterly review, this is really quite exciting and even though I have met them all before I am really quite nervous.

We had been warned that the it can take a good 45 minutes from where we are staying to get to the office as it is the other side of town and roadworks on the Beltline are causing lots of delays so we set out with plenty of time to spare and of course arrive well too early. So, we stop for a while to kill time then I drop Victoria and Jasmin off at a Classic McDonalds and I drove to the office to meet Ben.

I have a really good couple of meetings in the office and Jeff sorts out my Illinois Tolls before driving back to meet Victoria and Jasmin at Starbucks. They have had a great time, spending a good couple of hours browsing art and craft supplies in Michaels after their breakfast and then doing a bit more shopping at Greenway Station. After meeting the girls we drive into the centre of Middleton to take a look around. It really is lovely, very reminiscent of old films. We espied a new apartment complex in Middleton Station and as they have a viewing board out and we decide to take a look, these are really lovely, but a bit pricey.

There are also some lovely apartments to rent a short walk from the office so we go back to Deer Creek and make an appointment for a viewing on Monday. We have one final set of apartments to check out but they are unimpressive and the agent is a disinterested arse-hole. I cannot name and shame as I have forgotten the name of the complex!

We make our way back to our AirBnB stopping for a not-shopping session at Target. The idea being to get an idea of what we can buy that we usually buy at home. Of course we have to pick up some goodies, including speciality M&Ms and a 1l bottle of Sailor Jerry for about £10.00.

Back at the apartment I take the opportunity for a couple of hours kip before we go out that evening. We ready ourselves for the evening entertainment and I drive down-town for the first time. I get completely lost going around the Capitol so dump the car in the first available parking garage.

It is chucking it down as we meet colleague Jeff and his son Ogden in the Coopers Tavern, it is packed in there so without getting a drink we regroup in a bus-shelter as we decide where to go next. The Heritage Tavern is a few minutes walk away and actually right next door to where we parked our car, we head in there, it will be a good hours wait for a table so we settle down at the bar for some cocktails. After the first round we are joined by Debra, Jeff's wife.

After another round of drinks we are seated and orders dinner. I have a fantastic gnocchi with wild mushrooms from the specials board, as do Jeff and Debra. Jasmin has the Hickory Nut Pesto Soba and Victoria the Market Green Bean Risotto. Ogden, the only non-veggie had the Pork Schnitzel. It was unanimously agreed that the meals were all lovely and we found the company excellent. After some fantastic deserts and more drinks we say our goodbyes, head out into the rain and find the car for the drive back to our AirBnB.

Having had late night and a little sleep this afternoon I managed a lie in and did not wake until about six am, yes, that constitutes a lie in. We have a packed day today starting with another trip back into the centre of Madison.

We park the car at the same place as yesterday evening and visit the must see farmers market that is set out around the Capitol. This is great, lots of stores selling delicious fresh local produce, street entertainers, political agitators and what not. We have a great time browsing the stores and purchase pastries for tomorrows breakfast and some Wisconsin maple syrup to take home for our porridge and pancakes (not at the same time). After our lap of the Capitol we headed down State Street stopping in the Michelangelos Coffee House and enjoy a splendid mocha each and share a egg and cheese croissant. The atmosphere is somewhat spoiled by the drug deal taking place on the table behind us though!

We continue up State Street and drop into Anthology that was recommended to us by Debra, I pick up a great scratch-and-sniff pumpkin spiced Halloween card for Victoria and a set of vintage button badges to put away for Jasmin. By now we are ready for a comfort break so pick up a smoothie at Jamba Juice while we avail ourselves of the facilities. Continuing up State Street we get as far as the Memorial Union Terrace before heading back up towards the Capitol.

Nearing the Capitol we head west towards Monona and notice that the 306 West apartment building is having a open house for viewings. These apartments are really stunning, however, they are right at the top of our price bracket and would be miles away from work involving a drive through town and past the university every morning.

Heading back to the Capitol we stop for a coffee at Starucks, thankfully free of drug dealing and then do a half loop of the farmers market to get back to our car. Victoria and Jasmin are keen to visit Jo-Anns craft store on Odana. We have not eaten since Michelangelos so grab a drink and some fries at Burger King where we are served by a lovely chap. I drop Victoria and Jasmin at Jo-Anns and head over to Pegasus Games over the road. After about 30 minutes browsing the shelves I head back to Jo-Anns to find that Victoria and Jasmin are still making their selections. Ten minutes later I am in the queue to get fabric cut. Half an hour later I leave the girls in the fabric queue and go for a snooze in the car. Twenty minutes later Victoria joins me, another 20 minutes later Jasmin has finally been served. Yes, it took over an hour and a quarter just to get the fabric cut and paid for!

Rather delayed we head back to the AirBnb for a lot shorter time than we had expected. I had hoped to be able to get a short nap but 40 winks was all I got. This evening we would be meeting my future boss Ben along with his 10 year old son Arnun and Arnun's friend Nate at Trienen Farm. I had been here before a couple of years ago, but tonight in the Corn Maze they would be hosting Zombie Apocalypse 2015.

Meeting up with Ben and the young chaps we fist went to the pumpkin catapult where Arnun was very nearly on target and then we entered the 'Fox and the Grapes' maze at about 1800. We would have one hour before the zombies were released. A great time was had by all as we navigated the maze, finding each marker post and picking up the next section of the map. Arnun and Nate battled each other with corn, Arnun adopted a pet corn and finally just as we were completing the last section the Zombies appeared. Aaaaaargh!!!!!!!

Jasmin has never been good with clowns, so was totally freaked out when she came face to face with a Zombie Clown and had to take some time out to calm down around the bonfire with a generous portion of apple cider donuts.

We finished off with some snacks before heading back to Madison, stopping on the way at the China Inn on Cottage Grove Road. Jasmin had been wanting a Chinese take-away in the US and this place did not disappoint. For less than 20 dollars we had a lovely feast of freshly cooked food and there was plenty left over for the next day. Tired and sated we retired for the evening.