This past weekend I took a trip to Wisconsin and visited Lake Geneva and Madison. My sister Hillary and friend Alexis decided to take a 23 mile walk around the entire lake! We started at 6:30am!! I am SO not a morning person! The last time I got up that early for a hike was for this craziest of hikes! And the hike we did Saturday was pretty crazy too!
I can’t remember if I’ve ever been outside to see a sunrise! But this weekend I saw one:
Of course we had to take a doll along! I thought it would be fun to have two Alexises on this hike so I brought Alexis O’Shay (known as Alex in this post)! Hillary and I took turns carrying her.
This reminded me of scenes from My Girl.
The trail was really different. It pretty much always kept very close to the shore of the lake. So on one side you had the lake to look at, and on the other HUGE mansion summer homes that were mostly vacant! Can you imagine! Living in homes such as these! And they’re not even permanent homes! This first one was one of many owned by the Wrigley family.
Yes! These huge things, only your home for the summer!!!! We saw one house that had a chandelier as big as the one from Beauty and the Beast! It took up the whole ceiling of the room!!!
The path we walked on changed about every 10 feet too. I believe each house maintains the section of the trail that’s on their property. Sometimes we’d be walking on crushed stone, grass, large stones, boulders that you had to climb, packed dirt, pavement, sidewalk, bricks, and paving stones that you see here. Some were interesting like this hopscotch one. There was another that had paving stones shaped as different varieties of leaves. I forgot to take a pic of it! It was really cool!
Occasionally, you’d come to one of these random steps placed in the middle of nowhere for what seems like no reason! If you lived before cars were invented you’d know the reason! Ladies were never supposed to expose themselves, especially their ankles! So these steps and platforms were built so the women could walk up and get in their carriage without having to lift up their dress exposing skin!
It was fun to walk along the lake and watch the progression of the sunrise.
Alex would ride in the backpack with Alexis the human (who really does like dolls and loves American Girl) complaining, “Alex is staring at me! Now she’s winking at me! It think she wants to come out and get me!”
I had thought bringing Alex along would be a hassle! I hardly hike on trails half as long with dolls on my back let alone a 23 mile one! But actually, Alex and her backpack carry case ended up being a blessing! It was cold, and during the day the wind really picked up and the waves got strong. We were exposed to a cold biting wind. Despite my sister having more hiking experience than me, she did not dress well for this and was freezing in minutes! She was grateful for the backpack along with my extra shirt and pair of gloves to keep her warm. She carried the backpack most of the way.
Alex and I greet the sun!
In the morning we took a number of little photo breaks. The sun was warm, and the wind hadn’t picked up yet.
Alex was so excited to find a lighthouse her size!
Every house had these white wooden boards resting on the shore of their yard. The piers had to come out and rest on land or they’d get damaged when the lake froze over. Most of the piers had tiny shells attached to them and they stank so badly! We’d have to walk past them quickly and hold our breath so we didn’t have to endure the stench!
You can see in the background, the crane taking apart a pier and hoisting it onto the shore. Despite the ugly and smelly boards we did get to see some fun things:
And it was very fun hiking and talking together.
We did have a problem with bathrooms. We were fine for the first 4-5 hrs. There would be many houses under construction and we’d find a portapotty and go there. Or we’d come to a town and go in a store/gas station or something. But after that, there were no more stores and we stopped seeing houses under construction. Both H and I had to go. We walked and walked and nothing. Finally we came to this Gigantic-bigger-than-a-mansion building and we figured it’s not a house. H and I went up the steps and a man was just coming out. We told him what we’re doing and what our problem was. He said this building was the club house and sure he could get us in! He was SO kind! Letting us use their fancy bathroom, giving us water bottles and he even offered to drive us home! I ALMOST said yes! By this time, my feet were hurting from blisters, Alexis was in bad shape, but my usual hating-to-fail-once-I-commit-I‘m-going-to-do-it mentality kicked in and I refused. He had already been generous enough already!
Finally and at last, just as the sun was now setting, we slogged the last hour towards home!
We laughed that we had been up hiking before the sun and continued hiking even after the sun had set and the wind had calmed down again! Thank God for bright flashlights on phones! We ended up hiking the last leg in the dark!
Would I ever do this again? No. I’m glad I did it and it was mostly fun, but hiking for that long without any real variety just got to be a bit much.
Thankful though, that we all made it sore but safely back! Buuuut hahahaha, funny enough, our day STILL wasn’t over! That night, Hillary and I left our human friend Alexis and drove to Madison!
The next day, despite my aching feet of blisters we walked and hiked some more!! I had never been to Madison and I wanted to see all the sights!
One really fun thing we did was take a tour of the Capitol building.
We had a great tour guide who described what happened in every room we entered and about the design and paintings of the room itself. What’s special about the Capitol building of Wisconsin is that the outside is pure granite and the inside is made up of the most variety of marble than any other building! We saw marble from different states and different countries, and marble that was cut so you could ‘see pictures’ inside of it, and marble with actual fossils found in it!
This is the rotunda. At the end of the tour we got to climb up the dome walk outside, and when you got back in, you could circle around the inside of the dome and see the rotunda from below!
Each mosaic depicts a part of our government, the legislature, judicial and executive branch. The woman in green is Miss Liberty.
Badgers are a huge deal in Wisconsin, not only is it the state animal but Bucky the Badger is U of M’s mascot. We saw many badgers all around the Capitol building, sometimes in paintings and sometimes statues. This was the biggest statue of a badger. If you rub his nose you will get good luck. That’s why his nose is all shiny and golden!
The first room we went in was the Governor’s conference room. It was the most elaborate room with gold filigree and huge paintings everywhere.
The biggest fireplace can be found in this room. The Capitol building has had trouble with fires. The first official building was used for a very short amount of time and only one decision was made there; where to move the Capitol Building! They built a Capitol building that looked very much like the one you see today. It had a sprinkler system and officials thought their sprinkler system was so good they didn’t need to purchase fire insurance. But one night, a fire started. The sprinkler system had been shut off due to maintenance work and it was the middle of February! The nozzles of the firetrucks froze. They requested help from Milwaukee, but by the time Milwaukee firetrucks arrived, their hose nozzles were frozen too! Students from the University ran in and out trying to save as many things as they could. The whole building burned to the ground. And guess what? Today, the Capitol building STILL doesn’t have fire insurance!!!
The Capitol contains many skylights in the rooms. They wanted as much natural light as possible. Above is the room unlit by artificial lights, but our tour guide turned them on so we could see the murals on the wall.
This room was funded by a railroad company so the paintings depict every, or almost every kind of transportation in history. It was daring of the painter to put an airplane in the picture above. Only two airplanes were in existence when he painted that but he envisioned the sky to one day end up like the railroads we have on the ground.
Can you name some modes of transportation that cannot be found in these murals?
The other fascinating thing about this room was the marble. The marble is Mediterranean. We all used our imaginations and saw pictures inside the marble. I saw completely different things than what the tour guide thought he saw!
We also saw some real pictures in this marble – snail fossils! So cool!
The courtroom got me all excited because Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Madison were ‘there’!
It was hard to get a good picture of this because the only lighting was the natural light coming from the skylight.
Here are Hamilton and Madison in deep conversation, perhaps discussing the Federalist Papers!
This picture is of the signing of the Constitution. The one guy who is in this painting but wasn’t ‘in the room where it happens’ was Thomas Jefferson! Of course, Aaron Burr wasn’t there either!
But Jefferson was the only one who really should have been ‘missed’ in this picture! (hee! Okay! Done with the puns!) I was singing all those songs in my head while listening to our tour guide! Hamilton fun! Oh yes!
The senate chamber is the second largest room with the biggest skylight.
This is a painting that represents the Panama Canal and the joining of the Continents. The first painting is the offering of peace to China and the East and Polynesia. The middle pic is the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans being represented by the woman in green and the man in blue coming together through the canal, and the young United States in the foreground; the cherubs holding their shield.
The assembly room is the largest room in the building. This painting is the most fascinating out of all the ones we saw. The woman sitting in the chair is Wisconsin. Near her are confederate soldiers. The Present is speaking to her and the couple behind the tree is the Future, telling each other we must take care of our resources for our children to come.
Can you find the badger in this close up shot? The badger was not there before. Someone asked the painter to put it there and he decided he had to get rid of something in order to do it. He got rid of a soldier and after a number of years, a crew came to clean the painting. They found the shadow of the soldier who used to be there. Can you see the soldier ghost in this photo? It’s much easier to see in real life of course, so the next time you’re in Madison, be sure to take a free tour of the Capitol building!
The Assembly Room was the end of the tour, but we were able to go up the dome on our own. It was so cool to walk out and see the whole city of Madison spread out before our eyes!
Here are the skylights from the rooftops!
And that little white glass dome in the center is the Overture Center where my sister performs with the Madison Symphony! So check out the Capitol Building and then head over to a concert! It’s worth the trip!
till next time-