an idiot in wisconsin

March 2001

Friday, 2nd March 2001.

I arrived in Chicago at some ridiculous hour. I waited a while for my connecting flight to Madison, and a couple of hours later I was on my way.

Through a gap in the clouds I could see white fields criss-crossed with roads and snowmobile tracks. Wisconsin looked cold, and it wasn't just an illusion. As I exited the airport a chill wind cut right through me. Who's the fool for visiting Wisconsin in winter?

I was the fool, that's who! Mike Moon met me at Madison Airport. I'd never met Mike before, but the description of him I'd been given was spot on. We jumped in his car and drove into Madison.
"On the left we have...a frozen lake, and on the right we have...another frozen lake!" Mike was a fountain of knowledge. He confessed that he wasn't a native of Madison, and had never driven home from this direction and wasn't actually sure if this was the right way to go but hey it'll be an adventure and neither of us was in a hurry anyway and it's a good way to see the city.

The frozen lakes were dotted with men fishing through the ice. Grey snow was piled up on the sidewalks. We drove past Badger Bowl (I'll explain that later) rounded a corner and we were on the outskirts of town.
"Well," said Mike, "here's the farm!"

You could've knocked me down with a feather. I didn't know Tara lived on a farm!

OK, right about now I need to fill you in on where I am and why I'm there. Madison is the capital city of Wisconsin, in the mid-west USA. Tara lives in Madison. Tara was an exchange student at Launceston College waaaaay back in 1990, and we've kept in contact since then. Last time we saw each other was in December 1993 when Tara visited Tasmania. So, back to the farm. (Meanwhile back at the ranch? Nah, it's a fruit and vegie farm.)

Mike also lived at the farmhouse, in fact he runs the farm. And a sheila called Amy lived there as well. I spent most of the day sleeping. Tara was at work, and when she came home in the afternoon we went on a quick tour of Madison.

"Have you noticed that there's 'Badger' stuff everywhere?" asked Tara.
"Ah, like Badger Bowl!" I said.
"Well yeah, like Badger Bowl. The Badger is the mascot for the university."

Madison is dominated by the University of Wisconsin campus there. It's red and white colours are everywhere. The main drag, State Street, runs from the State Capitol at one end to the university campus at the other.

We spent the evening on State Street; we ate at an Italian restaurant and then went to a jazz club. (At the jazz club there was an electronic version of darts! The board was covered in little holes, and does the scoring automatically. Good grief.) Then down to the student union to play some spectacularly poor pool. (There were no pantsings.)