Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend in Sabula: The Sequel

I hope my readers had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Travalon and I started it by going to Bonefish Grill on Friday night. Normally I eschew chains in favor of locally owned restaurants, but I had heard they had softshell crabs, and we were not disappointed. They were delicious!

Saturday Richard Bonomo prepapred a multi-course Italian meal, which is something he had wanted to do for years. I volunteered to grill the vegetables for the second-to-last course, which was a great idea because I got to be outside on a beautiful day. The courses were antipasto (meats and cheeses and olives), pasta (cheese ravioli), meat (something called bracciola which was beef wrapped around a hard-boiled egg), my vegetable kebabs (eggplant, onion, peppers in various colors, and mushrooms), and Handy Woman made an intensely chocolate pot de crème for dessert. Tiffy came too, since she was in town for her niece’s high school graduation.

Sunday after Mass and brunch, Travalon and I hit the road, stopping briefly in Mineral Point and longer in Galena, where we hiked up the hill to Grant’s house (the equivalent of six flights of stairs) and explored beautiful Grant Park, which has lots of monuments and a magnificent view of downtown. We went to two breathtaking overlooks, one just along the highway when we were on top of a bluff, and the other one at Mississippi Palisades State Park, where it looked like we could dive right into the Mississippi River. Then we went to Sabula, Iowa, the island we had also gone to last year, and walked all over it. We had dinner at a crazy pizza joint run by old hippies, where the menus were inside of record albums and a folksinger entertained us, accompanied by his big black dog. We even got a free pizza because they messed up our order, so we took the second one to go and had it for breakfast the next day. We headed to our hotel in Savannah, Illinois, where a lot of bikers were staying, and we swam in the pool and then relaxed in the hot tub. A couple of young bikers joined us and told us about Poopy’s Pub and Grub, a biker bar where an 80’s cover band was playing that night. We headed there after showering and had a total blast. The cover band played metal, and when they got done, three black guys put hardcore hip hop on the juke box, but nobody had an issue with that. One really drunk guy sort of told me his life story, except that I only understood about 20% of what he was saying. The chairs at Poopy’s are like toilet seats, only comfortable. I took photos and a video and will post them soon.

Yesterday we headed back to Sabula to see if the marina rented boats, but they do not, so we headed up the river on the Iowa side. We stopped at a state park we had been to last year, and Rodney and I were playing in the water when Travalon spotted a snake swimming toward us. We think it was a copperhead, and they are venomous, but it was a small one. We got out of the water anyway. Then we went to Bellvue State Park and took a stroll through their butterfly garden before heading to their equally breathtaking overlook. We drove back down the bluff to the town of Bellvue and sat in a park by the river, enjoying ice cream and watching pelicans and loons and the prettiest riverboat I had ever seen. It played a jaunty tune on its calliope. We stopped in Dubuque and walked along the Riverwalk, stopping at the winery at the far end to enjoy some food and wine. There was construction on the Great River Road, so we had to take a detour that took us by a town called Holy Cross. We drove into a state natural area, on a long, gravel road that reminded us of the one to Polihole State Park on Kauai. At the end was a ferry; it had been busy earlier in the day, but we got a private ferry ride across the Mississippi to Cassville. They only took cash, but they were super nice and took us across, trusting us to go to the cash machine in Cassville and come back and pay them. After we did, we visited Nelson Dewey State Park with yet another breathtaking vista of the river, then we headed home. We drove through Lancaster and were surprised to see that their courthouse seems to be identical to the one in Rhinelander. I will try to post pictures of both so my readers can make up their own minds about this. It was a fantastic weekend, and we did spend some time thinking about the meaning of the day and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this nation free. That’s really what it’s about, not just the start of summer, as wonderful as that is.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cute Park with an Island

Travalon always finds the coolest places. His coworker told him about a park in the town of Dunn, and he took me to see it because it has an island. There is a pond in the middle of the park, and in the middle of it is a small island that is also a hill. I’m not sure if it’s artificial, but there are other funny hills like that in the immediate area, so most likely the hill is natural and the pond is artificial. There is a path around the low part of the island, so we went around that until running into a family of geese who didn’t seem too friendly, so we scrambled up the hill and then went down the stairs at the other end of the island. There is a bench up on the top of the hill so you can sit and admire the views. Then we walked along the path that went around the whole park, and it was almost two miles. By then it was getting darker, so we headed home, stopping at Lake View Hill Park to see if there was an impressive view of the city lights from there. You can see the Capitol Building from up there, and they have a beautiful fountain that was lit up with blue lights. I will post a photo of the fountain at some point. Unfortunately, I did not think to take a picture of the goose family with their eight cute babies, and it was probably for the best that we did not get close enough to take an ideal picture. They were already getting a bit upset with us.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Really Weird Bar

Sorry for not blogging yesterday. I thought I might post some more photos of random things, but Travalon and I went to Tenney Park and walked out onto the pier to watch the sunset. I took some good shots of it and will try to post one soon. That was the beautiful, fun part of the evening. Then we went to a bar called 608 which used to be on State Street but is now more in our neighborhood. It has changed a lot, too. I got a really weird vibe from this place, starting with when we stepped out of the car and a table full of young guys sitting outside stared at me. Not seeing any other women, I got scared that it was another gay bar in the mold of Woofs, where they were definitely not happy to see a woman enter the place. Travalon assured me that it was not a gay bar, so we went inside, where they were blasting country music, and the only woman I saw was the bartender. I went to use the bathroom, but it was locked for a good ten minutes, and I thought, “It figures that the only other woman in the place is in the bathroom.” Finally a second bartender emerged from the bathroom, and she was acting positively drugged. Too bad, it was kind of a fun place when it was on State Street. Maybe Tuesdays are their off night, but boy was it creepy.

In contrast, Monday evening I had a really good time. OK Cap is moving out of our neighborhood next month, so she had the Rosary Ladies and our husbands over for a farewell dinner of pizza, salad, and angel food cake with strawberries. We had plans to swim in her pool or play a card game called (I think) Five Crowns, but what we ended up doing is going down to the dock and hanging out on her brother’s pontoon boat. He is selling it, and he thought maybe Travalon and I would be interested. I haven’t heard what his asking price is, but this is an enormous boat, so it can’t be cheap. It is definitely a floating living room! Our little boat fits our needs; we don’t need a floating living room. Mars was very bright that evening because it is unusually close to earth, so I took a picture of that too. I’m not sure it looks like much in the picture but will post it anyway at some point in the future.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 23, 2016

Road Trip to Hemlock Draw

I hope my readers got outside this weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather. Friday evening Travalon and I went to Liliana’s and thought we might sit outside there, but by the time we got there (since Travalon works late on Fridays), it was cooling off so we sat in the dining room and enjoyed the live jazz band playing in the bar area. We got free champagne for our anniversary, and we both had the blackened catfish. They really do it well there, and the cheesy grits they serve it with are the best.

Saturday morning Travalon and I met OK Cap for coffee, then we went on a hike with Rich, Catzookz, and Luxuli. We went back to the trails behind the historical marker denoting the site of the Battle of Wisconsin Heights. Later Catzookz found a blog online done by a woman who is visiting every historical marker in the state. What a fun blog! Mine could be like that for historical taverns, except that it is also about everything else too. Like its writer, this blog has no focus. In the evening, Travalon and I went to an “inverse surprise party,” because the birthday girl surprised us all with a party and even with gifts. It was so much fun! We ladies got goofy and wore the ribbons from the gifts in our hair, and then the guys got even goofier and wore them as fake beards. We all got the same gift: a book with brain games to keep brains over 40 fit. Of course, Travalon and I forgot ours there, so maybe we desperately need these brain exercises! I remember one of them was to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, and another was to get into your car and start it (but not drive it!) with your eyes closed.

Sunday Travalon and I took a boat ride, with a half-hour break back in the marsh to row so that we got some exercise. Sometime we will take the canoe out for a lot of exercise, but it was busy on the water that day, and we don’t like canoeing as well when there are a ton of motorboats passing us. Then we set off on a real adventure: to find some more Nature Conservancy land, a place called Hemlock Draw. We followed beautiful back roads into the Baraboo Hills to a very primitive parking lot, basically just a dirt field, and followed the trail about a half mile back into the woods, where it appeared to end abruptly at a gully. Then we realized there were arrows directing us to climb down into the gully and cross the creek running through it. Travalon had no interest in doing this, but I would be up for it at some time in the future if someone else (looking at you, Richard Bonomo) is feeling adventurous. My main reason for wanting to visit this land was to see the sea stacks that are supposed to be there, but we didn’t see them on our short jaunt, so they must be further back. Travalon and I did get in a really good hike by exploring even more trails behind the Battle of Wisconsin Heights historical marker. The Baraboo Hills are the closest thing to mountains we have around here, and we went up the equivalent of ten flights of stairs following the paths along the side of the bluff. I do love those ancient (billion years old!) hills. 

Famous Hat

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Photos of Our Cactus Road Trip

Here are some photos from our Cactus Road Trip last Sunday, as well as some from our road trip today. This first shot is of a cactus at the site of the Battle of Wisconsin Heights.

Next is a shot of Travalon and Rodney on top of Cactus Bluff.

This is the bluff behind the cactus field on the Nature Conservancy land outside of Spring Green:

And here are two shots from the Arena boat launch, looking up and down the Wisconsin River:

Next are some photos from today. Before Travalon and I took our road trip, we went out on the boat. It was, as you can see, a beautiful, sunny day.

As we drove on Highway PF toward the Nature Conservancy land in the Baraboo Hills, we saw a couple of interesting rock formations. I took these photos from the car.

Finally, here is a photo of Hemlock Draw, our destination.

I will blog more about this adventure tomorrow.

Famous Hat

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Flowers for Pa Hat's Birthday

Happy birthday to Pa Hat! For his birthday, I am going to post some photos of lovely flowers that were blooming in the neighborhood around my office a couple of weeks ago. I took these photos during my noontime rosary walks.

 This next photo is of a crabapple tree at the Arboretum:

This little flower was in my office! A coworker gave me a Christmas cactus last year when I told her my big one at home had mysteriously died, and it has these pretty white flowers. The one at home had hot pink blossoms that were often featured on this very blog.

This same coworker, who is pretty much universally acknowledged as the most thoughtful human being ever, got this cake to celebrate the big boss at work having been there for a year. It says: "It's been a year, drop the Southern accent." Most of us hadn't even realized the anniversary had crept up on us! The cake was delicious, a chocolate mousse one, and we had ice cream too. Yum! All provided by this thoughtful coworker.

Finally, getting back to flowers, I usually find fake flowers depressing, but these flowers in the adoration chapel are so silly and cheerful that I actually kind of like them. They don't even pretend to be real flowers.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Updates: No Good News

Sorry to any of my fellow choir members who might happen to be reading this – I was boating last night instead of practicing with you. It’s hard when the weather is only nice for six months of the year to stay inside one moment longer than necessary, and I already have to spend all day inside. Although today I did get to run an errand that required a bit of a walk outside, so between that and my lunchtime walk, I had almost all my steps for the day, and quite a bit of fresh air time.

It seems like the bad news just keeps getting worse. Our neighbor who fell was supposed to go to rehab this week, but she developed pneumonia and now is going to hospice. They have given up on the rehab idea, apparently much to her relief. She is quite old, but it’s so sad that she was independent until tripping on the rug that our other neighbors put in the foyer for whatever reason. (They’re just redecorating the whole place; they left a new doormat for us, but I like it so I just went with it. And they have replaced all the pictures on the walls of the hallway.) I guess that just goes to show how a tiny thing can completely change your life in an instant. I had really hoped she was going to be okay after seeing her in the hospital on Sunday, when she seemed to be in good spirits. At least she has led a full life; my cousin’s husband, on the other hand, should have had many years ahead of him, but who knows if he will recover from his stroke, and to what extent? The last thing I heard from my cousin is that his responses to stimuli like sound and pain have lessened, which does not sound promising. I don’t know enough about strokes to know how much damage a person can recover from, but I certainly have seen people die slowly after one. The B-Boys’ father comes immediately to mind. Sorry this post is so grim, but if you want to pray for either one of them, their names are Joy and David. Also pray for my cousin Janice because she must really be suffering right now, seeing her husband in such a state. I can’t even imagine what she must be going through.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Hot Sardines

Last night Travalon and I went to the Overture Center to see a group called the Hot Sardines who play 1920’s “hot” jazz. They had a similar configuration to the groups we had seen on Saturday, with a trombone, a trumpet, and a clarinet, only the trombonist also played trumpet and the clarinetist also played saxophone. There was a drummer, of course, and a pianist, and instead of a tuba, a guy playing the stand-up bass. There was also a true chanteuse – she was from France – and (how cool is this???) a tap dancer who also played the ukulele. They mostly did old jazz numbers (as the singer noted, from right around the time the Capitol Theater was built, in 1927), but they also did a jazzy version of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” and our favorite number, “I Want to Be like You” from The Jungle Book sung in French. If you like classic jazz, I cannot recommend this group enough. They were excellent.

Afterwards Travalon and I went across the street to the Icon for a drink. Overture tickets often have a coupon for $3 off a drink at the Icon on the back of them, and Travalon had said I had to try their cocktail called Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was very good, but because it contained Rumchata, Kahlua, AND butterscotch schnapps, it was very calorific. Is that a word? Spellcheck doesn’t have a problem with it. I don’t know if it was because of the drink, since we didn’t get home all that late, but this morning I totally overslept. I generally wake up about a quarter to seven, but this morning Travalon woke me up from a dream about being in Ireland (possibly influenced by last night’s final Irish class of the semester) by saying, “Honey, did you know it’s ten to eight?” Oh my! There was nothing I could do – I was going to be late for work. Fortunately, nobody seems too worked up as long as I text them to let them know and then make up the time.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Very Bad News (Not for Me Personally)

I got some bad news last night – remember when I blogged about going to my cousin’s wedding on Long Island? Her husband of not even two years had a very bad stroke yesterday. I do not know a lot of details, but it sounds pretty grim. If you want to pray for him, his name is David. He is only 51, and he seemed pretty fit from what I remember. (I’ve only met him the one time.) My poor cousin has had a tough time, being a single mother with an autistic child, and I was so happy for her that things finally seemed to be going right… but now they are going so badly. She may need our prayers as much as he does! I sure couldn’t stand it if Travalon were the one in a hospital bed, hooked up to a bunch of machines, and not knowing if he were going to survive, so I can only imagine what she is going through. Let’s all take this opportunity to be thankful for the special people in our lives, because we never know what tomorrow might bring.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cactus Road Trip

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Saturday morning I had coffee with Travalon, Jilly Moose, and Luxuli, then we took a rosary walk. I had a gig at the Makers’ Fair at the Monona Terrace, and Travalon was a kind husband and took me there. We got to park for free, since I was a musician. Hardingfele and I explored the fair before we had to play, but it was mostly geared toward kids. Travalon escaped to a nearby tavern, and my band played for very little audience and absolutely no pay. I call that “practicing in public.” Then Travalon and I drove to Fox Lake and explored the lake a bit before going to their community center for the annual Bunny Berigan Jubilee. Bunny Berigan was a famous jazz trumpeter from the 1930’s, and he hailed from Fox Lake. Ironically, the festival is sponsored by Korbel, since Berigan drank himself to death and that was his drink of choice. We saw three bands, all with the following configuration: one trumpet, one trombone, one clarinet, one tuba, and drums, and two of them had banjos for rhythm but one had a pianist. It was basically all Dixieland jazz, which Travalon and I love. It is sort of mind-boggling to think how different all the types of music called “jazz” are. All three bands had some singing too, and they were all elderly, like the audience, except for one banjo player who looked like a college student. There was one couple younger than Travalon and me, and they danced almost the whole night, as well as one older couple. Travalon and I did dance to a few numbers – you can’t help but want to move to that music!

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon and I went to visit our neighbor in the hospital, the one who fell on Friday. She broke her pelvis, but she seems to have a good attitude despite being in so much pain. She is going to a rehab facility soon. Then we had an incredible brunch at the newly redone Avenue Club, and then we went home, got Rodney, and hit the road. The first place Travalon wanted to take me was to some hiking trails by Sauk he had discovered behind a historical marker. I mentioned that about a decade ago I’d been dating this guy who took me to some Nature Conservancy land near Spring Green covered in prickly pear cacti, and we should hike there sometime… and then we saw some cacti by the side of the trail we were on! Travalon thought he’d like to see the huge field of cacti native to Wisconsin, so I looked on the Nature Conservancy website, but while they make it very easy for you to donate, it isn’t so easy to find their land, even though they tell you it’s open to hikers. We finally did find directions, so we headed that way, and the road went right by Ferry Bluff so we stopped there and hiked up to the top. Only once we were there, it said we were on Cactus Bluff! We had an incredible view of the Wisconsin River from there. I was happy because there were tons of Jacks in the Pulpit along the side of the trail up the bluff. As we headed into Spring Green, we saw an amazing bluff that looked like something from Scotland or Ireland… and then it turned out that’s right where we were heading! The field of cacti is right in front of the bluff. We hiked there a little bit, but dogs aren’t allowed and we didn’t want to leave Rodney too long, so we didn’t go all the way up the bluff. We are thinking of going back in late June, when the cacti should be in bloom. On the way back home, we stopped at the Arena boat launch, which is very beautiful, and we ended our road trip with dinner at Coach’s in Cross Plains, one of Travalon’s favorite places. The food was delicious there too, but there was no cactus on the menu. Otherwise, it was a very cactus-oriented day.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 13, 2016

Anniversary Celebration

Sorry for my silence the last few days. Tuesday evening Travalon and I went to L’Etoile, which is the fanciest restaurant in town, as far as I know. I had a seven-course meal, and there were all these micro-courses as well, like an amuse-bouche that was like a spoonful of cream of asparagus soup, a tiny cheese pastry, and chocolate malt balls after dinner. It was so amazing! And the view of the Capitol was spectacular. Travalon really liked his steak and his chocolate tart as well. The waiters were very attentive and explained each course. I will try to list them: tuna, foi gras, softshell crab, spring salad with rabbit, steak with crispy potato, cheese with candied rhubarb, and Nutella ice cream. Of course, each course was like two bites, but afterwards I was quite full. You could also get a wine pairing, but that sounded like way too much wine.

Wednesday I took the day off of work and slept in, then Travalon and I went to De Forest for brunch and pie, and then we took a vigorous hike with Rodney in Governor Nelson State Park. Rich helped us launch our boat from Governor Nelson, and Travalon and I boated across the lake and back into the marsh. After my band practice we went to Pizza Brutta, then we came home and watched our wedding DVD. What a great way to spend our anniversary!

Last night I didn’t blog because I went to an Early Music Festival fundraiser with tons of food and the music of John Dowland. The theme this year is Shakespeare and his times, so the food was Elizabethan England fare. I wasn’t sure how I would enter gooseberry fool into my diet app, but wouldn’t you know that not only was it in there, there were several brands to choose from. It was even more calories than our extravagant meal on Tuesday night, so Travalon and I went swimming to burn off those calories. Even “leisurely swimming” (that’s how it’s listed on the app) burns quite a few calories if you do it for an hour.

I have never been particularly superstitious about Friday the Thirteenth, but this morning I woke up early fretting over a possible social slight. It was a good thing, too, because our downstairs neighbor fell, and she has to be well over eighty. Travalon and I heard her calling for help, so we rushed to help her. The ambulance came for her, and now she is in the hospital and can accept visitors, so I hope to head over there sometime tomorrow, although my band has a gig and then Travalon and I are going to the Bunny Berigan Festival, so scheduling will be mighty interesting. Maybe in the morning…

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Second Anniversary!!

Wow, two years already with Travalon!! These have been the two happiest years of my life. We are celebrating by going to a fancy restaurant tonight, and then taking the day off tomorrow and hopefully boating for the first time this year. If there is time, I wouldn't mind getting back in my wedding dress and having photos taken at the Arboretum, because this year, unlike two years ago, the crabapples and lilacs are blooming. At least the magnolias were blooming then, so it wasn't completely bare, but everything was running late. Also, I would look better in the dress now because I am ten pounds lighter. Of course, it rained all day today so all the blossoms may have been knocked off the trees, and Travalon rented his tuxedo so what would he wear for this hypothetical photo shoot?

Another good piece of luck today: I found an earring that I had lost months ago. I thought it got lost at work, but this morning it was sitting in plain sight on the floor of our closet, so who knows where it had been hiding all this time? It certainly wasn't in that spot. It was one of the pair I bought at the street festival we went to for Jilly Moose's epic birthday trip last September.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day at the Lakeside

Did my readers have a good weekend? Mine started out sadly, as noted in my previous post. Saturday was a better day. Luxuli, OK Cap, and I met at Le Petit Croissant, another French bakery in town (besides La Baguette), then we prayed a rosary and took a long, magical walk to admire all the blooming flowers and trees. I love May! I kept seeing people I knew on our walk. Then Travalon and I drove to Rich’s house to join him and Kathbert in burying Cashmere near her true love, Charlie. Of course, Guinness the Juniper Bush has gotten a lot bigger, and Charlie’s grave is covered now, so Cashmere wasn’t right next to him. Afterwards Travalon and I went downtown to the Fountain, which still has good burgers, but they took an hour to prepare them. At least we could sit outside with Rodney. We also had red velvet bites from the Red Elephant across the street, since I had lots of spare calories, and don’t you always have dessert at a funeral dinner? We took a walk on the path by the canal in Tenney Park, then we went home and watched more Muppet Show episodes.

Yesterday after Mass Travalon and I hit the road, driving to Oconomowoc so we could take his mother out for the Mother’s Day brunch at the Lakeside Restaurant. We sat out on the patio overlooking Silver Lake and enjoyed the extensive buffet and the beautiful weather. We drove to Lapham Peak and then took a walk on a lakeshore path behind a big, beautiful Episcopal church in Oconomowoc. I needed to get a lot of steps in, so we went to Governor’s Island for a hike with Rodney, who had been home alone all day, and we explored some side paths that led to smaller peninsulas. We ended the evening by eating another meal outdoors at the Nau-Ti-Gal; I just had broiled fish and vegetables to make up for being so naughty earlier in the day. Outdoor dining weather is finally here!

Famous Hat

Friday, May 6, 2016

RIP Cashmere 2005-2016

Today we had to put down our old bunny Cashmere. She would have been 10 1/2 at the end of the month. She was fine yesterday when I went to work, but when I got home, she had fallen over and couldn't get back up, and her eyes were all gummed up. I picked her up and put her back on her feet, and then she went over and ate and drank so she seemed to be feeling okay. I called the vet, and they said I should move up her checkup from next Wednesday to today. So this evening after work and walking Rodney, Travalon and I took Cashmere to the vet, who inspected her and said she was really, really sick but was too old and frail for surgery. I asked if I should just take her home to die, but she said Cashmere was in a lot of pain, and it would be best to put her down. It was very quick, and afterwards Cashmere looked so peaceful. I like to think she is with Charlie now. They haven't been together for 2 1/2 years. I imagine that meeting was very joyful.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Photos from Our Recent Road Trips Part Two

Here are some more photos from our recent road trips. First are some shots of Devil's Lake. This first one was taken by Travalon from the top of the bluff.

This flower blooming on the top of the bluff is called Dutchman's breeches, because the flowers kind of look like little upside-down pantaloons, but Travalon thinks they look more like teeth.

These next shots are from the Domes in Milwaukee. First are a couple of orchids, and the third one shows the cool reflection of the Dome's structure in the pool.

This is a shot of the lake from the Milwaukee Art Museum. There are lots of beautiful views of the lake from the museum.

Here are a couple of pieces of art in the museum, a collection of glassware with infinity mirrors and a painting I really liked.

This is a mandolin in one of the murals in the German tavern we went to in West Allis.

And finally, this wasn't from a road trip, but I just thought it was funny. When we went to La Villa Dolce last week, the "Happy Hour" notice on our table was overly blessed with the letter P.

And lest you think it was a misprint, it was the same on the other side!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Photos from Our Recent Road Trips Part One

As promised, here are some photos from our recent road trips. First are a couple of shots from High Cliff State Park.

Next are a couple of photos of the chapel at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz.

I thought this sign outside one of the taverns from the book was so funny. Of course it is "the friendliest place in town," since it is, to all appearances, the ONLY place in town.

These next photos are from Kohler-Andrae State Park, which is actually two parks adjacent to each other administered as one park. Since I don't know whether these photos were from Kohler or Andrae, I'll just label them as from Kohler-Andrae. This first shot is some pebbles on the lakeshore that just made me so happy. They look like little jelly beans.  

Here is a pussy willow blooming amid the sand dunes.

And here is a view of the sand dunes the double park is famous for.

These two shots are from the park overlooking Port Washington. In the second shot you can see the lighthouse I walked out to with Travalon on one of our early dates.

These shots are from Yellowstone Lake State Park.

These are bat houses at Yellowstone Lake. If you look at them carefully, they have an emblem on them that looks like the Bat Signal from Batman.

I still have photos of our road trips to Devil's Lake State Park and Milwaukee, as well as pretty flowers blooming in the neighborhoods around my office (and one flower in my office), so stay tuned for that.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rainy Saturday in Milwaukee

Remember when I said Travalon and I would be back to the wine bar Brix 340 in Waunakee? That turned out to be true just a week later when we went there this past Friday, this time a little more dressed up. We had chocolate and wine pairings again. This time we did get a table – last time we had to sit at the bar – but we may never be lucky enough to get to sit by the fireplace. That space is always taken.

Saturday was a rainy, dreary day. I had plans with Light Bright, but as new moms so often have to do, she canceled, so Travalon and I had breakfast at La Baguette and then drove to Milwaukee to see the Domes. He figured if we couldn’t hike outside, maybe we could at least get some exercise walking around looking at plants inside. However, the desert and tropical domes were closed for repairs, so we only got to go into the show dome. They were having a listening session on the future of the Domes, so I filled out a survey. How exciting to be in the right place at the right time, to get to have input like that! We had tacos for lunch at Conejitos, a very reasonably priced Mexican restaurant that he loves, then we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and looked at art for hours. That got me almost all the steps I needed for the day, the place is so big. We drove to a bar from the book in Cudahy, stopping at the St. Francis Brewery, where we got a sampler of their sodas because they sounded so fascinating. And they were really good! The bar from the book is under new ownership now, and sadly they had removed some of the beautiful woodwork, but the leaded glass windows and brickwork are still intact. Now it’s called Orson’s. We went to a second bar from the book, in West Allis – I can’t remember the name, but it was beautiful inside, very German-looking with murals and stained glass windows. We had duck for dinner there, because it is a German restaurant as well as a bar. We are now down to fifteen bars left from the book – we should be able to finish it this summer! Very exciting.

Travalon has a bad cold, so we did not have an exciting Sunday but a relaxed one. He is still sick today and stayed home from work, which undoubtedly made Rodney happy. He hates these long Mondays and Fridays when we are both at work all day long, and he sits at home alone except for Cashmere. She is not very exciting company.

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