Wisconsin: Forward.

Wisconsin: Forward
U.S. Map, highlighting Wisconsin Welcome to Wisconsin

Welcome to Wisconsin.

Welcome to Wisconsin
I-90 Westbound
Beloit, Wisconsin

Illinois-Wisconsin Border
August 14, 2008

Ever experience déjà vu?

One day after my experience with the Minnesota welcome sign, I was faced with an eerily similar scenario: an ornate welcome sign just beyond the exit ramp for a rest/welcome area. I know that I had admonished visitors with an intent of photographing the Minnesota sign not to get off at the rest area in order to do so, but as I drove up to the border with a split-second decision to make, I opted to take a chance and got off.

Apparently WiscDOT had had the same experience in Minnesota that I had, because they actually did it right.

Unlike in Minnesota, with its trodden path through tall grass populated with potentially venomous and disease-carrying insects and no sightine between the truck parking and the hill overlooking the sign, here in Wisconsin they had a landscaped gravel path leading not from the truck parking but the car parking, and not to a hill overlooking the sign but to the sign itself. Moreover, there was a nice grassy area in front of the sign. (MinnDOT, are you taking notes here?)

This is another one of my double-back visits to get a sign picture. I entered Wisconsin on US-151 across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa. The welcome sign there was high up on a hill so I decided not go for it.

August 18, 2008

Madison, Wisconsin

Welcome to Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
August 14, 2008

It's too bad that I didn't think quicker. I've been to Wisconsin once, in January of 1999, five months before I came up with the idea for Project 50. Oh well.

I do remember Wisconsin well. Just like Estelle Getty would say "Sicily, 1912" on The Golden Girls, when I think back to the Badger State, I think, "Wisconsin, January."

Madison, Wisconsin, was my first business trip with AT&T. My friend Steve and I flew out there on a 50-seat jet, an Embraer EMB-135. The outside diameter of the fuselage is -- I'm not kidding -- 6 feet 11 inches. I stand about 6'3". Do the math. I could not stand up in this airplane. Luckily I did have a window seat in the exit row, which offered a surprising amount of legroom, and also offered a great view of the waterspout we saw forming over Lake Michigan.

After we landed we rented a Chevy Blazer with two rotted wiper blades, and drove the 80 or so miles west on I-94 to Madison. Rotted wiper blades don't help much in "Wisconsin, January." In true Cheesehead fashion, we could hear the NFC title game between the Vikings and Falcons on five different stations just between 1020 and 1180 AM.

Having been to this center before, all Steve remembered about how to get there was roughly, "Go to the capitol and turn right." Madison has a very unusual geography; downtown is a very narrow isthmus of land between two huge lakes, Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. And since it was "Wisconsin, January," the lakes were completely frozen over; I didn't even know there were lakes there until I got home. Steve may have made a wrong turn somewhere, which is right about when he remembered that the Wisconsin State Capitol is in a square in downtown Madison, and naturally looks exactly the same from all sides.

It snowed nearly every day we were out there. When it was time to go home, there was yet another Embraer EMB-135 waiting to take us home. They're so used to snow out there that they didn't even plow the tarmac at the airport in Milwaukee. The only thing that was't white was the little bit of concrete and asphalt that was visible from where the deicer had dripped off the wings and melted the snow underneath.

What a great trip.

July 3, 2003


Well, I finally made it back to Wisconsin, this time during the summer of 2008. The Wisconsin State Capitol is still in a square in downtown Madison, and still looks the same from all sides.

The Wisconsin State Capitol was the seventh and final statehouse I visited during my Big Bear Lake road trip, and the fifth of the seven of which I ventured inside. Seeing the inside of the Wisconsin State Capitol made me sorry that I had waited so long to go inside them.

Being inside the Wisconsin State Capitol reminded me of, and I'm being serious, being inside St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. I half expected to be looking up at the ceiling and then turn around and look under the rotunda and see the baldacchino. Even the water fountains looked like holy water fonts. If you're in the area, check it out. It's truly a spectacular building.

Unlike the other capitols I went in, in Wisconsin they actually let visitors walk right on the floor of the senate and assembly, with only a velvet rope around the dais and a sign asking you not to sit in the legislators' chairs. If the capitol looks identical on all four sides from the outside, it's even more so on the inside. At the end of each of the four respective wings are the senate chamber, assembly chamber, supreme court, and a large hearing room. It's easy to get lost in here. All of the elevators have signs telling you on which side of which wing you are, as so some of the light fixtures on the first floor.

I've only been inside six state capitols so far (the five on this road trip, and the New York capitol during a school trip nearly 20 years ago), but from what I've seen I would say the interior of the Wisconsin State Capitol is the gold standard as far as I'm concerned.

August 18, 2008

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