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May Days

May 31st, 2012

I’ve been wanting to post an entry for awhile now but have been too much has been going on, good and bad. For now, let’s focus on the good. Here’s a timeline of what I’ve been up to recently.

May 4th – I tagged along with Joe to his place of employment for a little BBQ they had with the evening shift and met Joe’s boss who looks almost just like the CEO of my company. It was uncanny. Since then I’ve showed my CEO’s photo to some people Joe works with and they all agreed they could be brothers.

Friendship Park Conservatory

May 5th – Joe and I decided to check out a lesser-known conservatory I read about online called Friendship Park Conservatory. Our visit was quite peaceful as we were the only souls there probably due to the overcast slightly cool weather. I wish a place like that existed close to where I work. They have a cute courtyard where you could enjoy a relaxing lunch hour.

We took the 17th through the 21st off work with the intention of visiting Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska since we’ve never been to either but those plans were thwarted by the insanely crazy heat that settled into that area. There was no way we’d enjoy all the outdoor activities we had planned in 90+ degree weather. Instead we planned a two-day trip to Wisconsin.

Thursday May 17th

Blue and Gold Macaw

We took our time getting up and out the door but still made it to Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison about an hour after they opened. Parking is a total bitch there because their lot is woefully undersized so we spent a good time looking for parking just like four years ago when we first visited. We lucked out and found parking not too far from the zoo however, but that’s as far as our luck got us as the zoo was quite disappointing. I was expecting it to be small, but it seemed like most of the animals were off exhibit. Other than the giraffes and macaws it is a complete waste and I doubt we’ll ever visit again. I suppose it’s great for people who live nearby since they have a lot of fun stuff for the little kids.


From the zoo we made our way to Olbrich Botanical Gardens. It was very peaceful and not too big so we weren’t exhausted walking around the entire place. Plus it’s free. The conservatory on site, however, is not free and not that impressive so if we’re ever in town again I think I’d skip that portion of the visit.

By that time we were hungry so we headed to the downtown area of Madison to find sustenance. Yelp guided us to a little joint called The Old Fashioned which is literally across the street from the Madison Capitol Building. I believe it had been featured on Triple D too, but I’m not sure why because I was not impressed with the food at all. I ordered the burger made from grass-fed beef and seeing as how this is the third time I’ve tried a grass-fed beef burger somewhere and have been disappointed each and every time, I’m convinced you’re better off risking mad-cow disease and getting regular beef burgers. I mean, how do you go wrong with a burger? To me they are like pizza – good even when they’re bad. Yet this one was bad. Yuck.

After lunch we walked around the capitol building debating on whether to take a tour but decided against us since neither of us are that interested in politics. Instead we decided to go check out the hotel I had booked for the night – a Cambria Suites property. I love the chain but there’s not many of them across the country because it’s newer. We stayed in one in Columbus, Ohio a few years ago and it’s by far my favorite hotel chain. It’s clean, modern, and inexpensive. Each property has a pool, hot tub, fitness room, and a small bar/cafe and all the rooms include a microwave, refrigerator, and free internet access. Plus the hotel is completely non-smoking and doesn’t allow pets. It’s perfect for me and it’s really the only hotel I’ve ever stayed in where I didn’t feel uncomfortable or gross. But I digress.

We spent some time in the hot tub just relaxing and then we got too lazy to venture out for dinner so we shared a Caesar salad at the hotel cafe since despite not liking our lunch we were still pretty full from it.

Friday, May 18th

Amur Tiger

We were up fairly early to ensure that even with the hour drive between Madison and Milwaukee we’d get to the zoo at or near opening. We planned on stopping at Cracker Barrel for breakfast but there weren’t any off the expressway between the two cities so we ended up grabbing these horrible breakfast sandwiches from a Bruegger’s bagels near the zoo. We got to the zoo right as they opened and I couldn’t believe the line of cars, and school buses, waiting to get in. There must have been hundreds of kids on field trips that day. I can’t recall a more crowded visit so early in the morning. It kinda sucked because we couldn’t really get a look at anything in the reptile or small mammal houses as there were just way too many kids in there. We made a point to make a beeline for the big cat house when we first arrived, however, which was a very smart move because we got there not five minutes before a hoard of people did so I got some really fantastic shots of a tiger, lion cubs, and a decent photo of a cheetah. I’d say the big cat house alone is worth the visit to Milwaukee Zoo. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.

Beer is Born Here sign

Once we tired of the zoo we decided to take the Miller Brewery Tour which we missed out on during our last visit to the area. We got to the brewery at 11:30 but had to wait an hour for the next tour. It started with a long “commercial” about the place and then we had to walk around the campus to see the different areas. It was nothing like the Budweiser Brewery in St. Louis which I enjoyed much more. But it was free and killed some time so it wasn’t horrible or anything.

It was around 80 degrees out so we decided to drive toward the lake and find somewhere to eat. I read about a cute little burger stand right on the “beach” so we headed there and nearly froze our butts off. Holy crap! The weather by the lake was 63 degrees! We hurriedly ate our food and headed back the way we came while we watched the temperature gauge in the SUV increase back to 80. We had purchased tickets for a Brewers game that evening but had a ton of time to kill so we made our way over to a botanical garden I had read about but had to quickly scrap that plan when we realized it was over capacity due to all the prom kids getting their photos taken there. We ended up at a mall getting Starbucks and people watching before heading back toward Miller Stadium.

Miller Park

No sooner had we parked our vehicle in the lot were people all around us tailgating. I have not seen such fanfare at any of the Sox or Cubs games so it was interesting. We had nosebleed tickets we had purchased off Stubhub at a steal so once we got into the stadium we had some fun trying to figure out how to locate them. Their signage isn’t the best, but overall there was something about the park I really liked and I’d definitely buy tickets to a game again. We actually bought three tickets to ensure we had an empty seat for our gear and since they were only $3.75 each it wasn’t a big deal. Even as high as we were the view wasn’t bad at all. I like the slide the mascot goes down when the Brewers get a home run. The food at the stadium, as expected, was blah and overpriced. We ended up leaving around the 7th inning which was fine by me because they were losing anyway and I was growing bored, not to mentioned annoyed with the antics of this one guy in particular who was seated near us.

The rest of May went by quickly due to work stuff and other things I might write about some other time.

Photo sets mentioned in this entry:

» Friendship Park Conservatory
» Henry Vilas Zoo
» Olbrich Botanical Gardens
» Milwaukee Zoo
» Miller Brewery
» Miller Park

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