We started our morning with a fun-filled trip to the admission-free Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of its layout, when we first walked into the zoo, we thought that it was very small, but we soon learned that it was not. In fact, it kept expanding into a bigger area that we had anticipated. As we wandered the zoo, we were greeted by a furry-faced lion…
…and some surprisingly active orangutans. Some of our favorite animals were the polar bears, otters, a white rhino…
and polar bears.
The zoo even had a bird aviary where Alex was almost attacked by a parrot! (Okay, not exactly attacked…)
The zoo also abutted a pretty City park, where they had green space and Lake Wingra…
Before heading back, we took some time to enjoy the beautiful foliage in the area…
After that exciting stop, we were ready for lunch–at DLUX. Alex ordered the Farmhouse burger, a beef patty with a fried green tomato, Monterey jack cheese and bacon.
The burger was delicious, but what really gave it a different taste was the tomato jam that came on the side. Constance had the Sunrise burger which featured a fried egg and the tomato jam as well. Alongside the delectable burgers, we shared parmesan and truffle cream fries that were phenomenal. We then tried milkshakes—Salted Caramel, Apple Crisp, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel. All were awesome.
Our appetites satisfied, we made our way to Monona Terrace, via the farmers’ market, which was set up downtown. The market was stocked with locally grown vegetables, fruits, homemade sweets and breads, and of course, plenty of cheese. Some of us were able to sample the many cheeses in spite of our recent, filling lunch.
We ambled our way into Madison’s Monona Terrace, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built posthumously in 1997, following Wright’s many unsuccessful attempts to get the design approved while he was alive. Monona Terrace now serves as a convention center in downtown Madison, resting between the capitol and Lake Monona.
Capitol View from Monona Terrace
Wright designed the complete outside of the building, while Anthony Puttnam, an architect from Taliesin Associated Architects, designed some of the interior.
Viewed from the exterior, multiple curves are a defining element to Monona Terrace’s architecture, adding to an almost space-like futuristic feel. Inside, we passed photos of Wright’s work from all over the nation, while Professor Yawn shared his knowledge of the building. Wright’s theme of circles followed us inside as we observed in the use of lighting, signs, and even a round staircase corridor. The floor, covered in bright burgundy carpet in a leaf pattern, struck us right as we walked in.
Although very different from other works we have seen by Wright, Monona Terrace stands out in its majestic beauty and functionality for the city, two areas Wright strived to make exemplary.
Undeterred by the professionals attending a conference, we wandered the halls and even made it outside to the lake-edge to take pictures and enjoy the brisk breeze off the water.
We also made our way to the terrace…
…where we enjoyed the lake view.
Mr. Wright would have been proud to see his work come to life, as the convention center served functionally a purpose as well as kept with his original design plans.
After finding our way through the streets crowded with thousands of students walking, biking, and running, we found the University of Wisconsin Law School, ready for our tour. We were guided by a law student who informed us of the strong alum community that the law school has, and described the general day of a typical law student at UW. Our tour guide showed us some class rooms, one of which was the constitutional law class room, and one in which the moot court team holds their practices. We also stopped by the much-occupied library and saw John Steuart Curry’s “The Freeing of the Slaves” mural.
Once our tour guide wrapped up his part, we explored the campus for a while before leaving.
After our enlightening tour at the UW School of Law, we regrouped and returned to another part of the UWM campus for some rec time. We evaded much traffic and many pedestrians en route to The Shell, where students at UWM have the opportunity to ice skate, among other activities, as part of their recreational fees.
Excited to do something not generally available in Texas, we grabbed skates and entered the small arena. What we did not expect was the experience of those who would be skating around us. Natural-born Texans, we both have ice-skated only a few times in our lives, combined, with those living in the North likely to learn to skate shortly after walking, as the tale would be told.
We sucked in our pride, put on our skates, and stepped out onto the slick ice. Close to the stress we encountered at the Willis Tower Sky Deck in Chicago, both of us clung to the sidewalls with death grips to avoid falling at all costs.
After a few times around the rink on the wall, Constance got a bit of a hand at it and slowly sped up and away from the safety net.
Alex, meanwhile, stayed closer to the wall, but made a few friends along the way – even one possible future hockey star, if he is to be believed…. We had less than an hour in the rink but had an absolute ball; and Alex insists she must come back in order to truly master the art of ice skating. (Or maybe to check up on that hockey star…)
Finally, after working up an appetite on the ice, we roved through traffic across Madison once more to find dinner. A cute restaurant tucked in a strip mall, Nile offered Mediterranean food that was very different from what we had tried previously. We began the meal with salad, soup, and an appetizer of Kibbee Balls, a fried meat and bulgur mix that had a great smoky flavor. Alex tried the Mediterranean Shrimp, served in a red sauce with a side of rice, while Constance enjoyed the beef kebab and hummus that was truly, otherworldly good. Overall, the meal satisfied our craving for Mediterranean and impressed us at the same time. It was a great day in Wisconsin; one that made us very happy that our paths had crossed with LEAP and Wisconsin!