Day two in Wisconsin.

The day began, after waking up, on the road. We got in the car, to head in a southeast direction, through the lush rolling hills of rural Wisconsin, toward a few planned sites.

Our first destination? The ghost of The Gobbler. What am I talking about? I think that Jolie will want to elaborate further later on this topic, but, in a nutshell, the Gobbler was a rather delightfully loud, tacky piece of architecture – a motel and supper club built in 1967, a few years after the Houston Astrodome, using the same space age, pop art, kitschy design and decor principles as a lot of objects in the mid to late 1960s. For example, take a look at this.

My collection of encyclopedia yearbooks that I inherited from my childhood home – which, from 1964 to 1971 stood out in a sea of multiple colors and iconic photos, contrasted with the much more staid, somber mono color yearbooks before and after.

So, the Gobbler, now closed,  and partially torn down, was a living monument to the groovy, kitschy mid 60s go-go vibe, one of an infinite number of examples from back then, not, unlike, this (or, perhaps, this).

This is what the Gobbler looked like in its heyday.

And here is what the rooms once looked like.

Writer James Lileks, who features the Gobbler on his website, humorously imagines the original creators of the Gobbler as describing their vision this way.

“It’s going to be a futuristic, state-of-the-art motel with every modern convenience from water beds to 8-tracks. The entire dining area will be covered in deep-pile pink and purple carpet. But wait – here’s the best part. It will look like an abstract sculpture of a giant turkey. We’ll bill it as a romantic getaway – and call it The Gobbler!”

LOL. Years later, here is what remained and what we saw.

Essentially, a round shell of a building that looked something like a prop from some low budget 1960s sci-fi movie.

Then, as we were walking along, we found what we called “paydirt” – actual Gobbler chairs, piled up in the back. They were still sitable!

They were matched, in color, with the staircase that was visible, inside the building, through a window.

We also found a file floor from where the motel once stood; we assumed it was for a bathroom, but who knows?

We also found this metal object, an artifact of sorts, from the site. We weren’t sure what it was exactly (and we are certainly open to your identification of what it might be. Anyway, we wrapped it in a towel and kept it; it’s still in my car trunk.

(We probably should give a shout out here to the James Lileks, who provided us with some perspective on the Gobbler.)

Our next destination: Geneva Lake, WI

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin showed up as a  recommended place to check out in one of our guidebooks 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and since it was in the neighborhood, so to speak, we added it to a visit site for the day. Essentially, a charming lake filled vacation town near Milwaukee (and not that far from Chicago), it offers boating, swimming, and other activities.

When we arrived, we grabbed a quick sandwich lunch, and then walked toward the beach, which was pretty crowded with visitors.

The lake was  certainly very cool and refreshing, particularly on this very hot July day.

There was, however, a fee charge to enter the beach, and since we weren’t really prepared to hang out on the beach for too long, we didn’t get to do any swimming there, as nice as that would have been. Instead, we simply walked and enjoyed looking at the picturesque water, as well as boats in the water.

This was all certainly quite pretty. Again, though, the heavy heat of the noonday sun saw too it that we didn’t stay down near the water for too long. We wound walking into the town. I was wanting an iced coffee, so finding a cafe was on the near agenda.

As we walked around the town, we saw a variety of touristy type establishments, some much fancier than others.

Along with the usual collection of gift/souvenir shops

We also spotted this piece of street art – it seemed that sailboats were something of a symbol for this town.

Finally, we found a Caribou Coffee and I got my iced latte 😉

(I really love an iced latte in the afternoon in the months of Summertime!)

A quick stop back at our hotel to freshen up, and then we were back out to head back into Madison for dinner.

We drove past Ella’s Deli with its carousel

Then parked, near the Capitol, and headed back down toward State Street, passing by some bright street art.

For dinner, we settled on Kabul, a smallish, well established, Afghani/Middle Eastern restaurant that was there when I was living in Madison. I have developed a fairly recent love of Middle Eastern cuisine, so I was particularly excited 🙂

We ordered our drinks and looked over the menu so as to decide on what to try. I ordered a dark Efes, which is a Turkish beer, and it was very good.

Jolie ordered the soup and I had a salad for appetizers. Both were delicious and had authentic Middle Eastern flavors.

We also split an order of sambosas, and they were also delicious and crispy.

For our main courses, we ordered somewhat similar meals – Beef Korma Chalow  for Jolie and Lamb Sabsi Chalow for me. Both are hearty meat dishes, in which the meat is sauteed in a spicy gravy and then served with rice. This is what the dishes looked like.

Beef dish

and Lamb dish – you can see, also, that it has a fair amount of spinach, which blends nicely with the meat.

For the desserts, Jolie had a yummy Baghlawa and I had the refreshing Firni (essentially a rice pudding)  that was topped with pistachios

Overall, it was a very satisfying meal!

After dinner, we decided to take another walk, back toward the UW campus. Even though we had spent much of the day before there, I was still feeling very drawn to it. So, off we went.

While in Madison, Jolie had been struck by all of the mopeds and motor scooters that people, particular students, used to get around, so we took this picture.

Anyway, here is how Lake Mendota was looking as the late afternoon sky was beginning to turn to dusk.

Following this short visit, I wanted to show Jolie a place where I once worked (at a very non-academic job). I had, in the summer after my first year of grad school, a job as the morning cleanup person at a popular bar/restaurant called “The Nitty Gritty.” It was not the most enjoyable job, but it represented a bit of income; thankfully, I would eventually go on to find more appropriate forms of work, such as in coding data on different research studies. (Of course, though, now that I have developed a bit more of an interest in food (not to mention the sociology of food), my couple of months at the Nitty Gritty represents my one claim to having once worked in the food service industry, something I can claim along with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Thomas Keller, etc.)

Here’s me in front of this place; we’d go back the next day, as I was too full from dinner to want to go in.

Following this, we didn’t really have a specific plan. It was too early to head back to the hotel, and it now cooling off outside pretty nicely. Basically, we simply wandered back to State Street and planted ourselves on a bench for a bit, and just did a bit of people and street watching.

After a bit of this, we headed back in the direction of the Capitol, which glistened in the setting sun.

and as the sun set further, the white marble of the building took on more of a reddish glow

Also here are some modern buildings across from the Capitol

Finally, at about 9:00 PM, the Capitol is lit up, where it is visible, as a landmark, from far away. It is quite a beautiful sight to behold.

It was good to end day two in Madison with an image of beauty, as well as an image of a symbol that represents the idea of government of, by, and for the people – more on that idea to follow on day three.

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