This year, since BOTH boys were gone, Bruce and I decided to take advantage of the empty nest and go on a trip together!
This is the first time we've done this since the boys were born. That sounds pathetic, but we don't have relatives close by to take both of them overnight, and sleepovers never seemed to occur on the same weekend for both guys. Besides, we like to travel with them . . . most of the time.
Still, a trip without the boys meant a nice B&B instead of a hotel-with-a-pool. And it meant slow food and tours with tour guides!
We set off for Madison, WI after putting the boys on the bus Monday. The weather was perfect! After a picnic lunch in Belmont, IA, we drove to Spring Green to have a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. We've been near there so many times on trips to see the APT, but have never done a tour.
Tours were definitely pricey, but great. There were fewer than a dozen in our group, and we had a 2 hour tour of the house and grounds.
We got greeted by Sherpa, official Taliesin cat . . .
I love the way Wright "framed" views of the landscape--and used Asian art. Above all, I loved his optimism--that there could be a new and exciting way to view nature and make things.
Next, we drove on to Madison, where we had a B&B booked--a room at the Arbor House, an "environmental inn" in a historic building. We loved the location of the B&B, in Madison's "near west side." As we walked to a restaurant for dinner, we saw some cool things, like this little free library
The Belgian bistro we walked to for supper had great food. Though we did decide against the moules frites, the grass-fed burger (Bruce) and chicken-tarragon salad were great.
Just across the street from the restaurant was MadCat, a local boutique for cats!
I'd hoped to find one (it's a chain of 3 in Madison) because a former student worked there--and it looked fun. It turned out to be where Meagan worked, but she wasn't working that evening.
The next day, after mushroom/asparagus eggs, pear smoothies, and tea, we ventured downtown. We started at the Chazen Museum of Art on the UW campus--it had a really nice collection--and was free. There was a great exhibit on printmaking as rhetoric (how appropriate!) and some awesome ancient Greek vases (I'm reading a biography of Socrates now, so that was timely).
I also like looking at modern/contemporary art, and they had a whole floor of that. This one made me laugh--it's called Congress of Fools!
From there, we wandered up to one of Madison's lakes, Lake Mendota--the student union looks over it, and there were pleasant tables under the shade.
I wanted to see the capital where all those people were protesting Governor Scott Walker. Inside, some people were gathering to sing protest songs under this beautiful dome.
There were still remnants of protest about.
We had lunch at an adorable Italian place, Porto Bella , which had a charming courtyard for dining.
After lunch, we headed to the Olbricht Botanical Garden, on Lake Monona. It's famous for having a Thai Pavilion, which we visited--very beautiful!
The plantings were really nice--and this garden was free to visitors!
We were pretty tired after that, so headed home--less than 3 hours away. For a 36-hour vacation just for us, Madison was just right.