Even though I’ve already been to Madison, Wisconsin, I figured I would use the time to eat at a few more places. Because hey, who doesn’t like food tours? It ended up being a weird deja vu. The rest of the day was a lot less already seen stuff. We spent some of it deep underground, some of it high above ground, and another part having a taste of quite a few types of mustard. Well, I ate the mustard, Charlie sat around really bored. I guess mustard isn’t his thing.
Ice Cream Take 2 and Pizza
One of the places that was recommended to visit in Madison was Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company. And since most of us typically have desert after dinner, I decided to head over to Ian’s Pizza first. I was able to hold myself to only eating 3 slices. However, they weren’t your ordinary slices of pizza. They were NY style pizza with a twist. The 3 slices were the Mac and Cheese (creme, mozzarella, mac noodles, and cheddar), Smokey the Bandit (BBQ sauce, mozzarella, BBQ chicken, bacon, ranch, and cheddar), and the Portobello Pesto Blues (pesto, mozzarella, sautéed spinach, portobello mushroom, & bleu cheese). So after stuffing myself full of delicious pizza which actually tasted like NY pizza (which as a long time New Yorker made me happy), I went out for desert. The walk from pizza to desert was roughly 5 blocks. As I’m walking up on the ice cream shoppe, I look up and say to myself, “shit, I’ve been here before.” When my brother ran the Ironman in Madison a few years back, I had some time to kill and amongst other things, ended up eating ice cream; in the same place. So I did what anyone else in my situation would do (especially since no other desert places were around), I went in anyway and had a giant sundae with cookie dough bites, Oreos, whipped cream, and cherries. It was delicious.
Mustard Has a Museum
On the way out of Madison, we stumbled across the Mustard Museum. I wouldn’t say that Charlie had the best time there, but I thought it was awesome. I don’t think Charlie even cared that Canada is the largest exporter of Mustard seeds or that the US is the largest consumer of mustard in the world. The museum even had jars from various types of mustard from all over the country and all the over world. For a bit of history, mustard seeds, prior to being consumed as a flavor enhancer, were originally used for medicinal purposes. The ancient Greeks and Romans used to break the seeds open in their mouths and the oil from the seeds would act as a numbing agent. The labor classes, who couldn’t afford to see formal doctors also used mustard seeds for its other healing properties. People used to even take mustard baths for relief from muscle aches. But the best part of the museum was the fact that I could taste test any of the hundreds of mustards they had available. I might have tried 15 or so different kinds. They sell online and ship. Which is another way of saying that I will be placing an order for a few different types (including the horseradish mustard) when I get back to NYC.
The Cave of the Mounds is another National Natural Landmark similar to Two Lakes State Park. It is a primarily limestone cave that began it’s formation roughly 488 million years ago when the majority of North America was under a warm sea. During this period the limestone built up on the sea floor creating a thick layer of rock. The cave was formed when a crack somehow occurred in the limestone and as the rainwater sunk through, it created a carbonic acid that over millions of years, created the cave that exists today. It happened so quickly (in geological time scale) that there were sea creatures that ended up fossilizing in place like the squid in the picture on the left (look at the spiral lines at the indentation in the middle of the image). In the pictures on the bottom, you can see what are called domes carved in to the cave ceiling. These domes were formed as a result of sulfuric acid being created in the cave and searing the rock face over a near instantaneous geologic period (a few hundred years). The entire cave acted as a reminder of the sheer power that mother nature has on the Earth. There was so many amazing geological features that I can’t cover them all or even do them justice in the pictures.
Above Ground Rocks
We were planning on camping at Devil’s Lake State Park, but when I asked how much it was to camp there, the woman just laughed at me and said, “you would have had to reserve a campsite months ago, it’s memorial day weekend.” Needless to say, we didn’t end up camping. Devil’s Lake also has an interesting geological history. It was formed as a result of being at the tip of the last Wisconsin ice sheet deposited during the Wisconsin drift (another example of ponding). The cool thing about Devil’s Lake is being able to hike up the 500 foot high quartzite bluffs around the lake created roughly 12,000 years ago. Also worth noting is that the lake is another National Natural Landmark surrounded by glacial moraines on the north and south shores. A glacial moraine is a ridge of debris deposited along the sides of a glacier. As much as I was fascinated by the geological beginnings of the lake, the absolute best part of park was meeting and hiking with a lot of amazing people from all walks of life. Charlie and I stopped and chatted (and in many cases hiked and chatted) with no less than 30 groups of people throughout the day. It was an amazing park with a great group of people with beautiful scenery and fantastic hiking trails. If I ever make it back here, I would camp here with some better planning.
The Chosen Ones
Here are a few random images from the day’s activities:
The whole gallery of pictures from Madison is available on Google Photos.