Today’s plan were basically non-existent. They originally included perhaps driving northwest toward Wisconsin Dells, at one point I thought of going north toward the cranberry bogs, and I briefly thought to myself, “hey if I keep driving north, I’d be in UP Michigan.” But then I sort of settled on Green Bay and the piece of lands that juts Northeast from it, known as Door County.
In the end, I drove up to Green Bay, but since it was a leisurely path, filled with far more stops than I usually make, I decided to call it a night in GB and head east, then south to Milwaukee tomorrow. I’m not sure I can put it into words,and really don’t want to make the effort right now, but I have to say I am not “feeling” Wisconsin like I thought I would. I have always wanted to go to Minnesota and never considered Wisconsin as a travel spot until it came up on this trip – but it’s just not that exciting. Granted, I haven’t been to Milwaukee yet, so maybe that will change things. To clarify these thoughts in light of my Madison post yesterday. I think Madison would be a great place to live, and it seems far,far cooler than any city I visited today, but then it did not seem like a tourist city at all.
Today’s journey began with a drive into downtown Madison for lunch at Madison’s original independent cafe, Michaelangelo’s. I got a latte and a big cinnamon roll coated in chocolate and pressed in peanuts. I ate it with a fork while reading the local paper. Then I walked down State Street, the 1-mile downtown street where all the cool shops are at. Visiting cities like this remind me of how much cooler Olympia Washington’s downtown could be. This road culminates in a food truck plaza at the edge of the University of Madison. So I walked to this point, then back to the car, going in a few shops. I drove to the University and followed some interior roads to get a feel for things. It must have been freshman orientation day because…well, it was obvious. I liked the color of the school – the buildings are a shade of yellow that looks like dry mustard. Seeing urban schools like this one really make me appreciate how UCLA is all on one inclusive piece of property. U. of Washington and U. of Portland are the same way. At many urban schools – like U. of Wisconsin, there are some buildings on “campus,” but several other buildings across the street, down the block, etc. I hate schools like that – it seems most European colleges are that way. Anyway, I digress…
Looking at the map, my drive today passed through several larger cities – Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton, and Green Bay. What I found odd is that these cities are sprawling. It’s like there are no city boundaries, just some stores here, more half a block away, a strip mall over there….it just keeps on going. I have been driving through Green Bay this evening and it must be 100 square miles. The cities aren’t very dense, but they just keep going and going… They remind me of Medford, which is think is one of the ugliest cities I’ve ever been in. (sorry for the continued Pacific NW references). You have to drive 10 miles on city streets to get to the store you want, in the same city. Anyway, Appleton looked nice, Sun Prairie looked like a master-planned city, Oshkosh looked like a horrible, ugly mess and Green Bay is like I mentioned above. But its downtown is cute – lots of old buildings. And there was a huge city farmer’s market going on right by the brewery where I ate dinner.
Green Bay is clearly all about the Packers. Well, maybe 90% Packers and 10% regional history. I have been thinking. There was a football team here in the 1910s and they were one of the first teams to join the new NFL. But I can’t fathom why there would have been a football team here – of all cities in the country. Covered in snow all winter, industrial, isolated, near Canada,…just an interesting thought. Oh, another observation. I have seen two “types” of houses today; new cookie-cutter developments and big ones that look to be at least 100-125 years old. Tomorrow, I will go east to Two Rivers WI where I will order an ice cream sundae at the place where it was invented in 1881. Berners’ Soda Fountain was officially the “first establishment to pour chocolate sauce over ice cream.” I will be arriving in the morning, so I supposed it will be ice cream for breakfast for me. Then, I’ll drive down the Lake Michigan coast into Milwaukee. Should be fun times. Maybe I’ll stop along the way, slip on my boardshorts and jump in a lake.