Tag Archives: madison

A month homeside

After we hit a bit of an emotional wall during our last week in Southeast Asia, the idea of a month back in the States definitely felt like a vacation from our travels. It didn’t matter that we’d be in 10 cities over three weeks, or that we somehow needed to get our taxes filed, or that, hey, we had about two weeks to decide where to move at the end of our year of travel, including where Brett would be going to grad school. No big deal! Not when there are clean toilets to be using (and flushing, oh the joy), and burritos to eat, and bourbon to drink, and reasonably familiar beds to be sleeping in, and friends to see, and English to speak.

We flew into LA to stay with Nick and Hayden and spent five days doing a lot of well-needed things, like getting haircuts and eating Mexican food and watching sports. We unpacked everything in our backpacks, appreciatively disposed of the things we’d no longer need (bye bye, four smelly and faded t-shirts, among many other things) and reunited with the items we’d left behind after South America (like my super comfortable and strange-looking Ecuador pants, which shrunk about 6″ in length after I washed them). We also spent a day in San Diego with two of our best friends who have since had a baby (it’s still crazy to think that we’ve been traveling longer than it takes for an entire pregnancy to happen). (Also, happy being born Baby Roxy! This is probably your first non-Facebook mention on the internet. You have a whole lifetime of the internet to look forward to, little baby. I can’t wait to meet you and start grooming you for watching college football.) (Go Ducks.)

Getty Center with Nick and Hayden in LA

Getty Center with Nick and Hayden in LA

Anyway. After LA we flew up to Eugene for about 18 hours, which included a massive to-do list of things like sleeping, unpacking, doing laundry, reuniting with our belongings, packing, filing our taxes (both as independent contractors – so complicated!), buying new phones, buying me a new computer, and setting up said phones and computer. Then we flew out for a whirlwind tour of our top three new home/grad school program contenders – Davis (UC Davis), Twin Cities (U of MN), and Madison (UW Madison). We had a great time in each place, hanging out with friends and touring what could be our new hometown, including potential apartment viewings for Davis and Madison (the university schedules there make housing markets a little intense, so we would have to find an apartment pretty quickly if we chose either of those cities). Brett had meetings on each of the three campuses, and to make a long story short you already know we made Madison our final choice. Each of the three places would have been great places to live and had great program options for Brett, but Madison was the best combination of both elements.

Davis Farmers Market

Davis Farmers Market

We chose Madison!

We chose Madison!

After excitedly making our decision about Madison and applying for our top choice apartment, we had a celebratory dinner with our friends in Madison. The next morning we flew to New York City, where we spent five days enjoying the start of spring – blossoming trees, blooming daffodils, and lots of walking around without a coat. We went to museums, cooked and ate many amazing meals, drank some delicious new cocktails, spent good time with friends and family, made somewhat of an effort to catch up on sleep, and mainly wandered around the city on foot.

One of many delicious dinners in NYC

One of many delicious dinners in NYC

Daffodils in Central Park

Daffodils in Central Park

Making homemade chorizo in NYC

Making homemade chorizo in NYC

Next we flew to New Orleans, our first time there together. We stayed with good friends and enjoyed many of the sights, sounds, and eats of New Orleans, including an incredible array of food, some amazing music, and again lots of wandering around the city. We spent an afternoon canoeing in the swampy bayou, went to a jazz concert, helped our friends welcome their newest family member (happy homecoming Puppy Wyatt!), and enjoyed a delightful lunch at Commander’s, which features a $0.25 lunch martini special (limit three per person). (The wandering around the Garden District after that lunch was possibly even more delightful than the lunch itself.) We also helped Gill and Jeff host a crawfish boil (if by “help” I mean mainly “accompany to seafood market”) and over the six days we were there met many of their lovely friends.

Street music in NOLA

Street music in NOLA

Beignets and café au lait in NOLA

Beignets and café au lait in NOLA

NOLA seafood market

NOLA seafood market

Crawfish boil!

Crawfish boil!

Then we flew back to Portland, spent a couple of nights there with friends and family, and headed down to Eugene for about six days. We drank Oregon beer and Oregon wine and ate lots of great spring Oregon food, and took full enjoyment of a wide range of our belongings that we really haven’t seen since November.

Field wandering with Ella and Evan (Jessie too - she's taking the photo)

Field wandering with Ella and Evan (Jessie too – she’s taking the photo)

Spring sloshing in Oregon

Spring sloshing in Oregon

Facetime teeth brushing with Hayden. (No real reason to put this in, just think it's funny.)

Facetime teeth brushing with Hayden. (This is by far the least embarrassing of the screenshots taken from this experience.)

We flew out of Portland again on May 2, and included a brief stop at our friends’ new homestead/farm/future artist workshop on the way. (No goats yet, but they’ve been promised.) April included many, many great places, and a lot of stuff that happened that I didn’t get around to mentioning. Just know that we had a great month full of wonderful people and wonderful cities and wonderful experiences.

And now we’re in Prague! Tomorrow we head for Cesky Krumlov, then to our five weeks in Vienna. I’ve never been so excited to unpack a suitcase …

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Update!

Almost everything on this blog is a bit behind.  Or way behind.  But just for posterity’s sake, it’s time for a bit of an update.

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We’re moving to Madison this fall so Brett can start a PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin!  Brett applied to schools in November before we left for South America, and starting during our time in Colombia was receiving responses and scheduling phone calls with potential future advisors and trying to navigate the details of various offers. Over the last three weeks we’ve been wandering the country to visit schools and see friends, and after visiting the top three options, we decided Madison in the place for us. We rented an apartment (a “flat,” technically, since it’s the first floor of a house) and are looking forward to moving at the beginning of August. Come visit!

A month in the Midwest

After our exciting few weeks in the wilds of Western Canada, we prepared for a return to the United States and a reintroduction to developed society. We transitioned slowly, though, with two nights camping in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota before heading into real modern civilization. Despite growing up in Minnesota I’d never been to the Boundary Waters, which is a travesty. It’s an area best explored by canoe or other watercraft, but we reserved two nights at a remote campsite accessible by car and hoped to do a bit of hiking (without high expectations – the number of lakes scattered through the area make hiking fairly difficult).  What we hadn’t realized is that we had reserved a walk-in site (whoops), but after three or four trips with our cooler, our camping gear, and everything else, we were happy to have a site away from the rest of the campground and with our own private bit of lakeshore (and our own little “latrine,” surprisingly luxurious as far as campsites are concerned).  We managed a good day hike on a small trail connecting a series of small lakes, though the trail appeared to be rarely-used (and similarly maintained) and provided us practice in skills including slogging through bogs and climbing over downed trees.

After two nights in the Boundary Waters we headed east to Lake Superior, where we marveled at how ocean-like it seemed and how absolutely, positively, painfully cold the water is (see Brett photo, below). When we made it to the lake we first drove up the shore to Naniboujou, a classic old resort where my family stayed a number of times when I was a kid. We ate a late lunch in their spectacular dining room, our first walleye meal of many in the weeks to come, and visited a few places along the shoreline as we drove south to Duluth. Along the way we stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse, a famous Minnesota historical site that I’d never seen (or perhaps have forgotten from childhood). We then spent a night in Duluth at a lovely bed and breakfast (with the most incredible shower we’d ever experienced – imagine tiny jets of water hitting you from all angles from all over the shower … and that you’ve been camping and thus haven’t showered for three days) before heading down to the cities.

Our time based in Minnesota has been busier than expected, full of friends and family and lakes. After just a few days in town we drove down to Chicago to spend a few days with friends from college and for Brett to check in with Northwestern, one of many potential schools for next year.  After a few days stuffing ourselves with pizza and burgers and cuban sandwiches and the sights of the city we headed back to Minnesota, stopping for a night in Madison to see more friends from college. Highlights included beers at The Terrace (an important thing, we’re told), a visit to the overwhelmingly large and fantastic Madison Farmers’ Market, and a trip to the National Mustard Museum, where we stuffed ourselves silly with mustard (you can taste ALL THE MUSTARDS!) before heading back to Minneapolis.

Thus far, highlights of our time in Minnesota have included a full (very full) day at the Minnesota State Fair (I wrote about it on my food blog, here), lots of walking along rivers and around lakes, harvesting grapes at my cousin’s vineyard, a fantastic birthday dinner at Butcher and the Boar, a lovely birthday party with friends and family at the vineyard (I wrote about that too, here), another amazing birthday dinner at The Bachelor Farmer and drinks at Marvel Bar (another post about that here), a Twins game with my dad, an afternoon wandering around the sculpture garden (and the Walker’s new Turrell, underground like they originally wanted at Pomona), and a fantastic day trip down and back up the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, through the small towns where my grandmother grew up and where I’ve been going since I was a kid. We also had dinner with our new friends, a wonderful, welcoming St. Paul family we met at our campsite in Jasper, of all places.  Overall the local food, beer, and wine have been amazing – walleye and local apples and the sweetest corn I’ve ever had, a huge variety of new microbrews, and the always-wonderful bottles of wine from my cousin’s vineyard.

We also flew back to LA for almost a week for Erin and Mike’s wedding, which was one of the most gorgeous and fun things that has maybe ever happened in the history of the world. It felt strange to be back in LA – sometimes like we’d never left, sometimes like we’d been gone for years. But our time was full of wedding events and wedding errands and spending time with other friends in town, so we barely had time to think about the fact that we were there before we were back on a plane to Minneapolis again. (And the second we were stuck in LA traffic, both Brett and I experienced severe “get us OUT OF HERE” feelings … I guess we’re not acclimated, anymore.)

When we returned to Minnesota it was absolutely, without a doubt fall. The leaves have started to change, the temperature decreased about 30 degrees, and the air has transformed into the magical, crisp, clear, cure-all air of fall. I’m really sorry I didn’t get good pictures of the trees around here these days, because they’re breathtaking – but we’re sure to see more of that in the coming month.  From here we head north yet again, across the upper peninsula of Michigan and back into Canada. A few days each in the big cities of Eastern Canada, a few more on Prince Edward Island, then down into New England for a fairly full tour of our friends’ homes in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Then back across to Oregon, hoping to arrive in Eugene one month from yesterday. More on all of that to come, surely.

p.s. GO DUCKS!