Not so worldly travels...Madison, WI

Impromptu trip to see REAL snow over Christmas 2009 led us to go find some cheese in Wisconsin as our gifts to ourselves.  Again, another trip journal being transferred over.

Thursday--got off work at about 1030 and out of town by 1115am. Left Rolla and it was just a drizzle. By the time we got to St Louis it was a full on terrible storm! The rain was horrid the whole drive. So heavy that at times I couldn't see the car directly in front of me. Somewhere near Bloomington IL we started seeing snow collected in the fields. Stopped for gas around Mendota, IL and the snow was covering the grounds at least 3-6 inches deep. Shyann didn't want to pee in the snow! Got back in the car and crossed over to Wisconsin and made it to Madison by 645pm. We checked in, and drove off looking for dinner. Luckily the TGIFridays just down the road was open. It was all wonderful and we got a burger to go to snack on later. Got back and went to bed pretty much right away.
Nothing says Merry Christmas more than an empty parking lot.
Friday--tried to sleep in, but Merry Christmas phone calls woke us up ;) Goose went down for coffee and donuts, and I laid around trying to wake up. We finally got around to getting up and ready and were off to drive around Madison just to see the lakes mostly. We knew not much would be open. However we kinda expected a couple fast food joints to be open!  NOPE.  We stopped at Monona Terrace overlooking the lake Monona. A good part of the lakefront was frozen, but not too deep. We took some pictures and walked a little bit down the shoreline. Took pictures of the capitol building, and drove over to the other lake, Mendota, on the other side of the isthmus. The roads were confusing and I broke about 89023482930 traffic laws driving. I was sure the cops had my number and were after me! We mostly just drove around sightseeing the town and finding a food place open. We settled on Ihop (okay it was the only place open) about 3pm, and got dinner to go.  Got out of Ihop and the drizzle that had just started turned into snow! The winds were hard, and the snow was biting.  Shyann finally found a green patch to use the bathroom but she was NOT happy to have to tread through the snow. Took a bath and relaxed in the hotel room for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we search for cheese!

Downtown Madison
Frozen lakes
Note: Only eating establishment open on Dec 25. 

Saturday--woke up about 930ish and got ready for our day in search of cheese! We had mapped out a route to go so we plugged in our first address and headed to Fromagination downtown. AW! It was closed! So we moved on and drove out to Carr Valley cheese out in Sauk City. The scenery was beautiful and I took some photos or some dairy farms and old farmhouses. We loaded up on cheese at Carr Valley and picked out some favorites like aged cheddar, cheese curds, and chipotle cranberry cheddar. We picked out some other artisan cheeses too, like cave aged cheddar. We headed out to Lake Delton to Market Square Cheese House and picked up some gifts for mom and Dustbuster and shirts for the girls. We got a small cheese wheel, some 13 year cheddar ans some smokey cheddar. It was snowing by now, and Goose had me drive. We passed by a ski resort, so we pulled over to try to get a decent photo. We went out to Windsor and stopped at Elhenbauch Cheese Chalet, a place Goose had been to before and was so happy to have found it again! We went in after some photos with the giant cow and map of Wisconsin and snow. I picked out some Wisconsin wine-cranberry red raspberry. We also got two more cheeses, and I tried on the infamous cheese hats and got photos. Next was five miles away to Mouse House Cheese House to check out some more cheeses. We got a cheese spread, some fresh cream cheese and a blueberry and I shook hands with the cute mouse in the store. We decided to try the Fromagination place again but not before stopping at a small gas station with a hole-in-the-wall gyro house in it! We got gyros, greek salads and soups. Goose, not one to shy from anything, also got a specialty greek baked chicken and potato meal the owner makes daily. He said there is a man that comes in every night for dinner and eats that meal. Fromagination was still closed so we headed back to the hotel to eat there. It was absolutely fantastic! After feeding our bellies, we went back to Carr Valley in Middleton to pick up some chocolate cheese, a Merlot flavored cheese, and some more artisan cheeses since Fromagination was closed. After that we went to PetSmart to take Shyann in to see the animals. She loved the birds so much that we had to walk away because she barked at them. Then she saw the mice and hamsters and gerbils. She scratched at the glass wanting one! We strolled around looking for puppies and only found cats. Boo! We left and Goose walked Shyann back to the hotel and I drove the car back (PetSmart is across the street from our hotel). I set out all our cheeses and took a picture. It was a bedful! Settled in for the evening with our leftover greek food and cheese and wine. 

Someone's gonna be constipated!

Sunday--Woke at 8, went down for a light breakfast and were checked and leaving by 10 ish. It was snowing but pretty nice driving conditions. We stopped in Rockford and topped off the car and got Wendy's. Took off towards home and I had to stop on the side of the interstate and play in the snowdrifts on the side of the road. After playing for a few minutes and hiding from semi's, I got back in and we left. We said bye to Wisconsin and entered Illinois only to run into a horrendous traffic jam at Bloomington. The interstates 90, 74, and 55 all connected there and someone went and had to have an accident (we heard this from the truckers on the CB radio Goose brought with) we were backed up for what seemed forever. Goose got on the CB to ask how long the back up was going to take. One trucker said, Springfield! Another said, St. Louis! The third one came on and yelled SPRING OF 2012! After nearly an hour, and going about 2-5mph and watching idiots try to skip past us on icy lanes, we made it out of the 7 mile stretch and continued on only to see everyone stopping again! One of the idiots that had passed us trying to be super cool had slid right on into the center divider and squished his red vibe's front end up. After that it was just really snowy roads until about Springfield, IL. Everyone was going about 40-55mph so it was really slow. We stopped right before Springfield and got drinks at Love's and took a potty break. In line--the women's of course--I talked to some ladies. One lived in Branson and had gone to Chicago and was on her way back. One had stayed in Janesville, WI outside of Madison and was going to St. Louis. Another was from Milwaukee going to St. Louis. We left there and it was pretty smooth sailing to Rolla. Got home at 6 after all was said and done.

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