Thursday, August 25, 2011

American Adventures: Part 3

Part 3: Close to Home

I grew up near Madison, Wisconsin. A few miles outside of a small town (in American terms - in British terms it's most definitely a village) of less than 1000 people. But Madison has always been my playground. A mere 25 minute drive (to the edge nearest my parents' house, anyhow). My high school and college summer and winter break jobs were there. While I went to grad school in Milwaukee and moved back home I still found a great part-time gig to provide spending cash in Madison (albeit in the complete opposite end to the one I grew up near). It's one of the great Midwestern college towns and overall just has a great vibe. In December, I took The Scot for a wander around town and down State Street (one of the best quirky shopping streets in the world, in my opinion). Now that the summer was in full force, we went for other adventures. The type with lions and tigers and bears.

sad penguin

mmmm, fingers

The Henry Vilas Zoo is a great little zoo. And it's free! It was nice when I was a kid and has moved from nice to nicer to "wow - they can do that at a free zoo??" The children's zoo area got a total re-do in the past 5 years or so, including an awesome carousel (which I wanted to visit, but kindly agreed not to as the hoardes of screaming kids didn't really endear my dear boy to the idea).

nearly as tall as a vulture.

They've got a great rainforest house with birds and plants and even piranhas, an amazing little area featuring animals and wildlife (or lack thereof) from the great plains, and are currently working on creating a new area for arctic animals. This meant that my favorites, the mountain goats, weren't around. Vilas Zoo is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. I can't wait to see what else is new (and to see how the little lion cub {born in December} is doing!) the next time I have the chance to go. It'll be even shnazzier, I'm sure.


After the zoo, we had a little driving wander and ended up at Brittingham Park along Lake Monona. It's a lovely little park and as the sun was just starting to head toward the horizon, the light was gorgeous for picture taking.

a little windy

Additionally, they have a great swingset...



Our last stop en route home was at Ella's Deli. Now, if you've never been to Ella's before, it's a bit hard to describe. The building is shaped like a carousel (they also have a carousel you can ride outside) and the inside is decorated with every kind of animatronic gadget and colorful bauble you can imagine. And even a few you can't.

ella's deli

The food is alright, but we just went for the ice cream. Our table had a model railroad inside. Electrified. This was the place of dreams when I was a little girl. And it's still pretty awesome these days.

ice cream noms!


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