Lots of unexpected things happened today. Nothing sinister or nefarious, just unexpected. First off I have to comment about the declining deer population. We have seen well over two dozen dead deer along the roadside so far on this trip and several just standing there along the road, wondering, 'can I make it?' So what's up with that...? After we had been on the road this morning for about an hour or so we decided to each have a banana.. a reasonable morning snack, and since the skins are certainly biodegradable, we figured it would be ok just to chuck them out of the window. Well from now on we will jus keep them for the next rest stop because that didn't go too far when Carol tossed them from the passenger side window. They went straight back and grabbed onto the tire of my bicycle. The tenacious little bugger held on for the next two hours until we need a pit stop. So I peeled it off and tossed it into the bin. Lesson learned.
We drove right on through today without stopping for lunch, Memorial Day weekend traffic was good to us, as we never had to even slow down. Crossing into Indiana was uneventful, a quick stop for coffee and we were on the road again. On through South Bend and Gary and on to Chicago, which we expected to have a bit of congestion, but our calm voice on the GPS guided us easily around the city and straight up to Madison, Wisconsin. With the time change, we arrived in Madison around 2:25, not too bad.
Pulling up to the hotel we saw a huge crowd next door and a carnival was set up. We had made reservations the night before without incident and when we went to check in I asked what was going on next door. The clerk looked surprised and said "Brat fest! Isn't that why you came?" Yep we lucked out, the world's largest 'Brat fest' was taking place next door. Although the temperature was hovering around 98º we braved the heat and walked next door to join the crowd that I would guess neared 50,000.
From what I read they sold 206,000 brats one year over the weekend. Admission was free and we of course had to sample the local beer, we each had a brat or two and fresh roasted corn on the cob. There were at least four stages set up that we saw, and we did not cover the entire grounds so there may have been more. Bands were playing on each stage, it was awesome. As we ate our brats we watched Jessica Meuse, who apparently was a finalist on American Idol. She was pretty good, and the brats were great. Then we went and watched another band for a while and wandered around the grounds. We saw where they were cooking the brats. They had several rows of grills set up and men in aprons were turning the brats. . . .mmmmmmm.
Afterwards we drove into downtown Madison. What a pretty town. There seems to be several lakes in Madison and it seemed as though the whole town was out and enjoying the warm sunshine. There were boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and all kinds of water toys in use on the lakes. We saw several people walking downtown carrying their towels and dripping. The town is also filled with pike paths and special bike lanes...love that. What a surprise Madison was, what a beautiful town. We made a quick stop at Walmart to pick up a few thing I had forgotten to pace and were panhandled in the parking garage buy a young couple who just needed $18 to go camping. "We are from Portland" the girl said, like that made it all so much better. And yes I said the Walmart parking garage. The entire parking space was under the Walmart, and it had to be one of the biggest Walmarts I had ever seen. Totally unexpected. To finish the evening off We sat on our tailgate and watched the fireworks display at Brat Fest next door. Yep we like Madison, thanks for the hospitality.