Wisconsin (and a visit to Des Moines, IA). July 1-27, 2014.

Arriving in Madison, WI was like taking a breath of air after a long dive. It’s been my sister’s home for about 4 years, and the first place I planned on staying for a few weeks. I was already familiar with the city from previous visits, and spending time with my sister was easy and natural. We quickly settled into a groove of coffee, takeout, kungfu movies, Friday fish frys, and of course it being Wisconsin, beer.

I gratefully took off the saddlebags and camping gear, and my scoot was invisible among all the college kid’s 49cc-ers. On days I worked in the Ebling library, I just parked it with the mopeds on the sidewalk. Just don’t look at the license plate.

Joe Sparrow, whom I met back in Maggie Valley, tipped me off to Wing Ding at the Alliant Center. It’s a convention held by the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. It turns out I had a lot on common for touring purposes, just my wallet (and number of years riding) was smaller. Other attendees were exceptionally kind towards my relatively tiny scooter endeavor.

One of these things is not like the others?
Stumbled upon the booth of  Jerry Smith, of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, author of Into The Heart of Africa.
I can’t wait to read his stories. Talk about adventure…
Nick at NPmoto.com was super nice and sponsored me some merch. My first sponsor!
Drawing on things at the Klock Werk’s booth. What superb guys, it was great hanging out with them.

Bonus in Madison, the Giraffe flew in from Providence, RI for the July 4th holiday weekend.

So this goofball showed up. 4 & 20 Cafe and Bakery.
Waiting for fireworks with my sister and Ben and Tim (Giraffe not pictured) at the Union. Ever-present beer also not pictured.

Student life is a big thing in town, and it seemed like everyone, regardless of educational status, gathered around the Union.

You can rent canoes and kayaks at the Union, too.
Moni and Ben are really out there on Lake Mendota…
Sent the rescue boat after them. Twice. They said they were fine.

Feeling all-American, the four of us took a trip to Old World Wisconsin.

They had America Day special events, but we were too late and missed them. So we made our own.
This is how I speak to the people.
How do I tell him there’s something stuck in his teeth?
Missed the pie eating contest, so we’re foraging for mulberries. This is old world American, right?
The Wheel Fever exhibit was my favorite.

Remember Stefon, from the Buffalo Trace distillery, traveling the 48 contiguous US states? He was in town for the Madison Couch Crash!

I carpooled with other Couchsurfers for a change. It was oddly communal and closed-in for this lone cub, but I had a great time.

Studio of Dr Evermore.
This place is incredible. Climbing is my way of expressing appreciation.
Lady Eleanor is an artist at the studio.
Office in the bus.
Even supplies are arranged in pieces of art.
Balanced rock. Thanks to Stefon for the photo.

Just for the record, for the day trip I asked my sister if she had a hat I could borrow. My options were a top hat, a One Piece straw hat, or an Indiana Jones ™ hat. I figured I’d channel some Adam Savage and went with the felt replica. Ah, my sister, my blood.

I do enjoy posing as Spiderman. Like when I’m helping my sister shop at Target for moving supplies.

My spidey senses detect moving bins in aisle 7.
Back to Devils Lake.
Organizer and traveler extraordinaire, Dan Perry. Boldly reinforcing stereotypes that everyone in WI runs on beer, brats, and dairy. Ice cream is it’s own food group, and always appropriate.
Free ferry across Wisconsin River, yay! But no scooter this time.
Another perk of the Crash: Gary was doing flying tours!
Dials, switches, buttons, iPad…
Taking off from Wisconsin Aviation.
Flight partner and fellow CSer.
Devils Lake again, but less hiking.
View of the Capital building, I love it!

After all the fun, I proceeded to be sick for a little. Remember when I said the worst part of traveling solo is being sick or injured? My ankle was throbbing a new kind of fury from the steep hike up the Devils Lake bluffs, and I had some sort of flu. Also, I was working, which is sort of a malaise. But if I were to be sick anywhere, my sister’s was the best place. Hotpot the cat napped with me during the day, and kept me company by envying my tuna salad.

Several lunches at the desk like this.
Several lunches at the desk like this.


Took a slightly different route back, because why backtrack.

Recovered and a bit antsy, I visited Mikey from the Wall of Death, in his home in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee to see her pretty face again. Dog in a sidecar alert.
The Shed, for Thirsty Thursday. I think kid-me dreamed of a clubhouse that looks remarkably like this.
I loves me some enormous lake big enough to be like the ocean.
Back in Madison with Mikey for Dane County Fair. Circus Una, motorcycle and tightrope performance.
Backtracking this time because… not much else.

Trying to get back into riding shape, I made a half-week trip to Des Moines, IA.

Didn’t know this was here.
I’ve got a Harley in mind for the next bike rally.
Quite decent scooter collection here.
World traveled bike! I love that you can still see bug proteins on the fairings.
DJ’s bike, Big Bertha. Inspiring.
Nice, a Wall of Death section.
I need a Glittercati. NOW.
Doesn’t really look like a scooter…
Alton Brown mentioned this phenomenon in Feasting on Asphalt! Right by the gas station. Had to try it.
Best described as cow crumbles. I would say like a burger hit with a disintegration gun. Interesting, messy, but nothing like a sloppy joe.
Des Moines hosts, Heather and Monkey.
Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
Raygun store. Because they made one of my favorite rally shirts.
I discovered they don’t like to pave secondary roads in Iowa.
Dubuque, IA.
Back to drawing stuff, this time for the blog.
I made a homecooked meal, first since I left! So domestic.
My sister moved to a new apartment, and turned 27. Party time, obviously.
Jousting in the yard. The fact that Ben already has crutches handy should be warning enough.

I’m so proud of my little sister – she’s learned the fine art of throwing a killer party. I mean, for working so hard on her PhD and stuff too.

So, Palo Alto for Christmas?

I can’t remember the last time I celebrated a birthday with my sister, so I cherished the opportunity. Years ago when she was accepted into her PhD program, we took her loaded down Honda Civic from San Francisco, CA to Madison, WI. It was my first movie-classic road trip across America. We stopped by several roadside attractions along the way, and I helped her move into a tiny apartment on State St. It seemed right that I helped her move again. Now, I was rested, caught up on work, and it had been nearly a month. It was time to go, and let my sister and her boyfriend find a rhythm for their new home together.

Besides, I don’t think my gut can take any more beer or dairy products. I suspect lactose intolerance might be punishable by re-education camp or at least hefty fine in this state, gotta get going before the curd police catch on.


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