House guest, Part II...

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It's been a busy week! In addition to Amy and Riley being in town, another friend of mine from Arkansas took a visit to Wisconsin and I played host. BJ was a guy that I worked with for a number of years while at the bank; we hung out quite regularly and I even stayed at his house for a few months. We lost touch for a while, and then got back in-touch last year. I extended an open invitation to him to check out Wisconsin, and as luck would have it, the stars aligned and he was able to spend a week or so "up north."

He arrived on Tuesday night, and we promptly made a stop at the Capital Brewery for some pizza and a Wisconsin microbrew. We also met-up with Amy and one of our other friends, Jenny. We made a full night of the brewery, and I think BJ was duly impressed with his first true Wisconsin beverage and a proper pizza.

Wednesday morning came along quickly, and after changing the oil in Amy's Tahoe and wishing her well, she departed for her parent's house. I went for a run and then BJ and I hopped in the car and headed down to New Glarus to tour the infamous brewery.

We weren't able to take the in-depth tour that I took with Nat; we did the self-guided tour, which took about an hour or so. It wasn't nearly as impressive as the full "hard hat tour" that I took last year, but it was good, nonetheless. After the tour, we sampled a few of the beverages while sitting in the brewery's tasting garden, which was absolutely beautiful.


After sampling their offerings, we headed into New Glarus, where we visited the infamous Glarner Stube (home of the midwest's largest urinal) and took a stroll through the town. I then suggested that we head back to Madison to take a walk up-and-down State Street, and to check out two Madison staples: The Old Fashioned and The Memorial Union.

We hit the Union first, where the weather was unreal - mid-80s and sunny, with a slight breeze. The view was spectacular.


Here we are, enjoying a New Glarus Spotted Cow:


After sitting at the Union for a bit, we made our way up State Street to the Old Fashioned, where BJ was introduced to two Wisconsin delicacies - a proper "Old Fashioned" (whiskey sour) and a Sheboygan Bratwurst. The Old Fashioned received a mediocre reception (truth be told, I'm not much of a fan, myself), but the Brat was commended for being "much better than a Johnsonville brat from WalMart."


We stayed downtown for a bit longer - walked around the capital square, toured a bit of the University area, and then headed home.

On Thursday, we got up early and went for a decent bike ride - we rode from the new house to some of Madison's bike trails, eventually winding our way around to John Nolen drive. Again, the weather was unreal - mid 80s, sunny, light breeze. Perfect for riding and running.

Following the workout, we jumped in the car and headed for Waterloo to tour the Trek factory.


We almost didn't get to tour the facility; Trek only offers "tours" on Wednesdays - we missed it by a day. They did allow us to tour the museum, which was neat. We got to see all of the various Trek road bike models, including a bunch of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France rides. One of the neater bikes was this model from the mid-90s, which suffered a broken chainstay from a crash. Despite the break in what may be one of the most critical areas, Lance powered his way to a crushing 10-minute lead/win over the rest of the pack.


As we were leaving the museum, we spotted a super sweet Honda CB400T Hawk - this vintage 70s motorcycle was super awesome looking - a real tribute to the cafe racer bikes of old:


Following the Trek tour, we drove over to Jim's Cheese pantry and purchased some of their infamous cheese curds along with some 15-year old cheddar and various other dairy delectables. Jim's has a large mouse in-front of the dairy; we posed for a quick picture with the little fella:


From Jim's, we drove to my old hometown, where we took a spin around the lake and saw the "major" sites - the brewery, the square, and some of the neater old houses. It was getting late into the afternoon, and we were both starting to feel peckish, so we headed back toward Madison for some pretzels, popcorn, and a boot at the Come Back Inn.


Not sure what to do for dinner, we made the decision to get pick-up some brats and to have a little cookout at the house. We swung through Jacobson Brothers, grabbed four Bavarian beauties, some Claussen Bakery buns, and some chips and salsa.

We also made a quick stop along East Washington Avenue to snap a picture of a little-known, but super important landmark and modern day music icon - Smart Studios. This little red brick building was responsible for recording such albums as "Nevermind" by Nirvana and a handful of Garbage albums, along with countless other game-changing musical works.


From East Washington, we headed to another game changing institution - the Greenbush Bakery. I had to show BJ what a true apple fritter looks like (notice the can of soda for size reference):


Upon arriving home, we fired-up the new fire pit and enjoyed a Capital Blonde Dopplebock, the brats, and eventually the fritter (what's sickening is that I usually eat one of those by myself... it was good to share it rather than scarf it by myself):


Friday morning arrived, and once again, I hit the road for a run - I had to do something to try to burn-off some of the eighty-billion calories I'd consumed so far. With a few miles under my ever-tightening belt, we headed to Milwaukee to tour the Miller brewery. They have updated their tour since my last visit; it was a much better tour than I remember. Here are a few pictures of the tour:







The free tour took us about an hour to complete, and included three free sample tastings. Neither of us felt much like indulging, so we only had one as we filled-out surveys and sent some complimentary post cards to folks:


From the brewery, we headed down to Water Street, where I introduced BJ to yet another legendary Wisconsin delicacy - the Friday Fish Fry. Despite some super awful service, the fish fry was pretty tasty. I had the lake perch:


And BJ went with the traditional cod:


Both were really good - I'll do a full review in a separate entry. Following the fish fry, we made a short drive down to Chicago Street, where we hit another Wisconsin summer staple - Summerfest!


I believe we hit the grounds at about the perfect time - there wasn't much of a line for tickets or for entry; we breezed through the entire process in less than 15 minutes, which is a miracle. I believe it took me at least an hour to get through the line last year.

Once inside, we walked a few laps to help get our bearings about us, and to help work-off some of that fish fry. We stopped to listen to the occasional band; BJ visited the Sony PS3 truck/demo, and we drank a boatload of soda and bottled water - it was 90+ and sunny!

We watched a few good bands, including "The Heroes Lie," "Middle Class Rut," "Sevendust," "Crash Kings," and "Goo Goo Dolls." We didn't watch much of the last three, as it was getting really late, and we were tired of standing/walking - I'd say we watched about 15 minutes of Sevendust, and about 10 minutes each of Goo Goo Dolls and Crash Kings.


We snuck out of the fairgrounds at about 11:00pm, grabbed a burrito for dinner, and arrived home at around 2:00am. Talk about a full day!!

Saturday was our last day, so I had to make sure we ended on a high note. We hit Williamson Street for some breakfast at Wallaby's Cafe. I had a pancake (my pants will not fit any more); BJ had a skillet. Look at these bad boys:



From Wallaby's, we made our way up to the Capital Square where Madison's great Art Fair on the Square was taking place, along with the infamous Farmer's Market.

The square was absolutely packed with people and vendors - it took us a solid hour of plodding behind slow-moving strollers, lane blocking grannies, and screaming kids to complete a lap of the event.


It didn't help that the temperature was well into the 90s, the humidity was hovering around 100%, the sun was relentless, and there wasn't a breeze to speak of. Sweaty, frustrated, and still full from breakfast, we decided to trek up to Wisconsin Dells.

I didn't take any pictures of the rest of the weekend; our Dells trip was rather uneventful - we walked up and down the old downtown strip, took a spin through the newer attractions, and visited a few of the novelty shops. I tried to talk BJ into buying a pair of moccasins, but he claimed he didn't have a need for them.

From the Dells we headed back to Madison, where we stopped-in at the Sprecher Brewing Company for some dinner. Ooops - I lied; I took one final picture while at Sprecher... they have an amazing patio area complete with fire pits, covered bars, and a stage. The evening's entertainment came by way of a band called The Mustache - a funk tribute band, where every member was sporting a classic 1970s mustache.


The band was totally awesome - I loved them. They sounded great, the music was excellent, and they were really fun to watch. The patio was packed, which made it difficult to spend any time watching them; we felt bad "hogging" a table to watch the band... which is why luck was on our side - a coworker sent a text inviting us to a "neighborhood bonfire" at his house, so we hopped in the car and drove to Fitchburg, where we closed out the evening with a really nice bonfire and some great company.

We arrived home at around midnight, watched a little television and called it a night. BJ hit the road early this morning, and apparently just arrived home, so all ended well.

What a weekend. I'm sure to have gained at least 15-pounds, so I'll have to hit the diet and workout routine hardcore again. It's a shame because I was doing really well, but it was worth it to fall off the wagon while showing an out-of-state friend the finer sides of Wisco.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on July 10, 2011 6:13 PM.

House guest... was the previous entry in this blog.

The new house (finally!) is the next entry in this blog.

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