Believe it or not, but from the university campus and Hotel RED there is a cycle path to downtown about 1 mile east, and it is heavily trafficked by college students, families, elderly and athletes alike. Bikes are everywhere in Madison, not like Amsterdam, but still very unlike other American cities. GABROEN decided to take Ruba on the walk downtown in the beautiful afternoon, although the 1 mile and the heat seems to become too much for a dog as senior and sophisticated as Ms. Ruba.
Labor Day weekend is also Taste of Madison festival weekend on the streets aligning the State Capitol, where local chefs showcase their capabilities, all paired up with locally brewed beers. Beer is big across all of Wisconsin, not only in Milwaukee (see the post Brewer City). Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately given the type of food served, animals are not allowed to enter the festival area. Instead we landed a patio spot on the main shopping street and entrance to the festival, so enjoyed the afternoon checking out the local people, beer (J) and liquid vegetable garden (G).
After a brisk walk back, pleasant lounging in the hotel lounge, and a good night sleep, we woke up to another beautiful day and a Madison basically closed down for Labor Day. So rather than driving around to find something to do, we got back into good old Johnny for the 2.5 hour drive back home. But good old Johnny had different thoughts; 5 minutes out of Madison a whole christmas tree of dashboard warning lights came on, including an ominous, blazing red BRAKE light. To cut a painstakingly long story short, nobody could be reached on Labor Day with even a little notion of the cause of this dashboard constellation or whether it was still safe to continue driving. And we were in for the long haul. Literally a 120 mile haul, Johnny on the flatbed of a tow-truck, and GABROEN cramped in the cabin with a sophisticated Mexican Hairless on our lap.
And we were not only in for a long haul. We were also in for an even bigger adventure. Rather than joining the holiday traffic of all Chicagoans returning home from their second homes up north, we took the back roads. Not realizing that Wisconsin apparently still is busy spending economic stimulus money on roads and bridges. Extremely busy. All the road constructions even drove the GPS crazy. "Recalculating", "Make a U-turn", "I told you to go straight, please go straight". But the tow-truck driver was a no-nonsense guy, pumping up his adrenaline levels with three (!) cans of Monster energy drinks, while the car radio was blasting speed metal and his phone was ringing with a trash metal ring tone. We were on a roll, and some road block was not going to stop us. Slaloming his truck through road blocks, Ruba planting her nails in our legs to hold on for dear life, we got to see more of rural Wisconsin than we bargained for.