Click here to view the complete travelogue of this trip in a single document.
This was a very long travel day, in part because we left Madison, Wisconsin, so late. We had no particular reason to visit Madison other than it was between Minnesota and home, but I did want to take the chance to see the University of Wisconsin since it was on the way.
Katie and I have not had very early morning starts because we have travelled well into the evening on several days. Besides, this is a vacation and I am purposely trying to not feel rushed. Still, we didn’t leave Madison until 12:15 PM and since we were moving east and would cross the Central/Eastern time zone boundary, we would lose yet another hour. And all we had to go was 560 miles.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is squeezed between Lake Mendota on the northwest and Lake Monona on the southeast. We spent most of our time within a few blocks of the Wisconsin Union on Lake Mendota. This is a large complex that hosts theater, restaurants, and provides access to several outdoor activities, including rentals for getting out onto the lake.
I’ve previously mentioned Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, and much of the early activity in that book takes place in Madison, including a rather scary sailing outing on Lake Mendota. So I wanted to see the Lake and I wanted to see what the university looked like.
The photo of Katie is next to the lake. Click to see a larger image and some of the common political sentiment at the university.
I love the architecture of older universities and I generally really dislike what newer colleges look like. To put it bluntly, but I think factually, they just don’t build them like they used to That said, some universities such as Princeton have been pretty sensible with newer construction. The architecture of older universities often means beautiful brick or stone gothic buildings, plus a lot of ivy.
Clearly a lot of remodeling has had to be done during the years to improve the plumbing and electrical infrastructure in these old buildings, as well as improve accessibility. More recently, better support for computer networking and laboratory equipment has had to be wedged into older college buildings.
Therefore newer buildings often are built “right” from the start, but they are often built “ugly” as well. UW at Madison has many fine older buildings insofar as we could tell in our brief tour. The lake location is stunning and strongly affects the visual character of the campus. We saw only a small fraction of the campus, but we evidently found a highly attractive part.
Before college bookstores started being managed by large corporations, I felt they were a good barometer of the quality of the schools. For many of them today, you can look at the texts for classes and get some idea of the quality of those classes. Beyond that, everything else might be in a bookstore in your local mall.
I don’t know how the UW Madison bookstore is managed, but it reminds me of the best bookstores I saw twenty years ago when I was in grad school. It has a broad selection of logoed clothes, but also a great collection of notebooks and pens.
This may seem like an odd way of measuring a bookstore, but a place that pays a lot of attention to giving people a good choice of what they write with and what they write on exudes a certain high level of attention to the academic process.
Moving slightly inland and away from the union, State Street provides the usual set of retail and food stores students and faculty need. Paul’s Used Books has an extensive collection, but our parking meter was running and we didn’t stay there too long. Katie and I were both impressed by the outdoor carts selling international foods including East African, Chinese, Thai, Jamaican, and Mexican foods.
We didn’t try any of them, but others were certainly partaking. I’ve learned that it’s not smart to try new foods from “interesting” places before starting a long drive, particularly one where I would be in the car for over 8 hours. This was a shame in this case, but I suspect I’ll be back.
All entries in this series (the dates are when they were created):
- On the road to Hibbing, Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
- Day 0: Heading to Minnesota, Sunday, July 30th, 2006
- Day 1: Made it to Lapeer, Monday, July 31st, 2006
- Day 2: “Michigan seems like a dream to me now”*, Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
- Day 2: Slowing it down and thoughts on maps, Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
- Day 2: “And they were both out on Highway 61″*, Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
- Day 3: Duluth to Hibbing to St. Paul, Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
- Day 3: Some photos, Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
- Day 4: A day on the Mississippi, Friday, August 4th, 2006
- Day 5: Four states and now four hours from home, Saturday, August 5th, 2006
- Day 5: Madison, Sunday, August 6th, 2006
- Day 6: Rockin’ our way home, Sunday, August 6th, 2006