Tour 2015 – Day 27: Monona Terrace / UW Madison

The Wisconsin State Capitol, from the fountain at Monona Terrace
The Wisconsin State Capitol, from the fountain at Monona Terrace

Once the rain stopped, we went downtown Madison to explore Monona Terrace, the lakeside conference center envisioned by Frank Lloyd Wright, and finally built 38 years after his death, 59 years after the first design.  I have been interested in FLW’s work since attending an architecture seminar series 52 years ago by an Iowa firm schooled in his principles, so it is always exciting to have an opportunity to tour one of his designs, or, rather, to be able to take the time to do so:  we have passed by several over the years, including this one, without stopping.

Lakeside, Monona Terrace: bike path on lower level
Monona Terrace: bike path on lower level

We had lunch at the rooftop cafe overlooking Lake Monona and the bike path we rode two years ago.  The structure hangs 27.5 meters out over the lakeshore, to tie together the capitol complex and the lake.

Lake Monona, from the Terrace rooftop
Lake Monona, from the Terrace rooftop

Monona, the smaller lake to the south of the city, had a few paddle boards, kayaks, and one “pontoon porch” as the rain clouds moved off to the southeast and the temperature climbed.

Columns and curves dominate the Terrace design.
Columns and curves dominate the Terrace design.
Monona Terrace, interior
Monona Terrace, interior: the central hallway, with meeting rooms to the sides.

The design incorporates sweeping curves, with this vaulted gallery leading from the entrance to the lake view.  The exterior follows Wright’s final 1959 design, but the interior was redesigned in the Wright style to create a modern conference and community center space.

Lake Mendota, from the docks at UW Madison
Lake Mendota, from the docks at UW Madison

Across the isthmus, the University of Wisconsin, Madison sits on the shore of Lake Mendota.  We spent part of the afternoon at the Rathskeller watching sailboats, paddleboards, kayaks, and sailboards come and go from the University docks.

Matt and Judy at the Capitol
Matt and Judy at the Capitol

Of course, the primary reason for visiting is family.  Matt guided us downtown and then met us at the end of our tour of the Terrace.

Patricia and Judy at Monona Terrace
Patricia and Judy at Monona Terrace

To our surprise, we discovered Patricia working as a receptionist at the Terrace.  We had been texting back and forth with her all morning to arrange to meet the next day, but got a bonus visit by chance.

Darice and Matt
Darice and Matt

Darice met us at the lakeshore after work, then we went to dinner.  A busy day compared to yesterday’s rainy rest day.

Tour 2015 – Day 26: Madison

Rest day--relaxing and reading.
Rest day–relaxing and reading.

A rainy day, ideal for rest and relaxation. We did get out in the morning for a post office, bookstore, and lunch stop, with Matt, and again this afternoon after he left for work for a few groceries and to replace the bike map we left at home. But, with everyone at work, we had a quiet afternoon and early evening.

After the rain, we can see Lake Mendota and downtown in the distance.
After the rain, we can see Lake Mendota and downtown in the distance.

 

Tour 2015 – Day 25: Waverly to Middleton

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Memorial Day flags, Postville, Iowa

Memorial Day saw us off early after another wonderful breakfast at our AirB&B hosts.  Of course, it was raining to load the car, gas up, and ignore the GPS on the county roads until we got northeast to Hwy 63 and U.S. 18.

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Clermont, Iowa, nicknamed “Brick City” for the many homes and commercial buildings built of brick in this quaint town nestled in a deep valley in the middle of the rolling farmland of northeast Iowa.

One of our daughters has a friend in Clermont, the “Brick City,” so we took a few pictures cruising down Main Street and stopped at Montauk, the mansion of a former Iowa governor, overlooking the town from the east.  A really pretty area.

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Governor Larrabee’s mansion, Montauk, located on the hill east of Clermont, Iowa.

On through Postville, a true all-American city, where we saw two Hasidic men walking to synagogue on one side of town and what we thought might be two Somali Muslim women crossing the highway on the other side of town, headed toward the cemetery.  The cemetery was decked out with large American flags spaced throughout, very impressive.

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“Brick City,” Clermont, Iowa, approaching from the west on US 18.

Over the Mississippi for a light lunch at Prairie du Chien, where we asked for the “Twitter version” of the geology behind the region’s “Driftless” designation.  Turns out this section of Iowa and Wisconsin was untouched by the glaciers of the last Ice Age, so retain the rugged cliffs on either side of the Mississippi, a contrast to the rolling black dirt farmland left behind as the glaciers retreated, along with the crop of boulders and round rocks that appeared on the surface, pushed up by the spring thaw for many decades after the land was first plowed, and may still in some areas in extreme cold years.  Clearance cairns of fieldstone with boulders up to a meter across can still be seen in the corners of farm fields.

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Barge train on the Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

Mid-afternoon, we arrived at our son’s house near Madison, where we will spend the next week visiting and, hopefully, bicycling, though the rainy spring weather continues.  We finished the day with dinner at P.F. Chang’s, once again in a metropolitan area with overwhelming choices of eateries and shops.

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Another shot of Clermont, Iowa: the sign reads “Buddy Holly, Elvis, Johnny Cash, July…” The rest of the date is obscured, but it would have to have been sometime in the 1950s. There was a Memorial Day ceremony in progress in the town memorial park at the end of Main Street as we passed through, and a group of motorcyclists arrived at Montauk mansion as we were leaving.

All photos by Judy

Tour 2015 – Day 24: Wartburg College Commencement

Gathering for the commencement ceremony
Gathering for the commencement ceremony

Sunday morning dawned with a downpour that lasted all morning, making a graceful formal entrance problematic. Our hosts left early for church, but with muffins and fruit on the table for us. We found a parking spot as close to the campus student center as possible, and still got wet, despite breaking out our umbrella, something we rarely do in the Pacific Northwest, where it usually rains less aggressively. Since the Internet had gone out at our lodging, probably due to the rain, we dragged everything onto the campus to upload files, then returned the bigger computer to the car before brunch.

The processional included flags of every country from which this year's graduates came.  There were 27 international students  in the class of 2015.
The processional included flags of every country from which this year’s graduates came. There were 27 international students in the class of 2015.

After brunch, the graduates, parents, and alumni trekked across campus to the field house. Fortunately, the rain had slowed. One of our own classmates, Ray McCaskey, is the current chairman of the Board of Regents, so he was on the platform to deliver the welcome and to congratulate each graduate as they received their diploma. Our numbers were diminished by now, as only 26 alumni and spouses marched in the processional to represent our 50-year class. At the recessional, we joined the faculty in applauding the graduates as they rejoined their friends and families for the post-commencement reception.

Don and Diane joined us for early dinner at the Bremer Diner downtown and we traded memories and reflected on our current status. Amazing how old friends simply pick up where they left off after a separation of decades.

Don, Harold, and Dave pose for a picture together.  Don was campus photographer and Harold and Dave were in sports, now live in California, Minnesota, and New York, respectively, back together again, hopefully not for the last time.
Don, Harold, and Dave pose for a picture together. Don was campus photographer and Harold and Dave were in sports, now live in California, Minnesota, and New York, respectively, back together again, hopefully not for the last time.

Tour 2015 – Day 23: Wartburg College, part 2

Luther Hall, on left, now primarily administrative offices.  New chapel on right.
Luther Hall, on left, now primarily administrative offices. New chapel on right.

We started our second day of reunion festivities with a coffee on campus at the library coffee shop, skipping the morning’s lecture on new outreach beyond the campus, through internet and other means. So, the first item on our social agenda was lunch, which included brief and not-so-brief introductions by each alumnus, so the lunch stretched well beyond the 2:00 schedule for group photos.

The remodeled library, adding a coffee shop in front.
The remodeled library, adding a coffee shop in front.

After the group photo, we took a few photos of close associates, then parted ways, as our friends had family obligations this evening in nearby Cedar Rapids. We, however, relaxed in one of the lounge areas in the student center and chatted with other alumni and spouses until time for the formal social, skipping yet another event, open house at the college president’s residence. The effort to rush from event to event seemed overwhelming.

Don, Diane, Judy, and me at the photo session in front of Main Hall.
Don, Diane, Judy, and me at the photo session in front of Main Hall.  We realized just before our trip that semi-formal attire would be required for some events:  Judy wove fabric for her vest and constructed it as a class project last month, and I found a nice suit at a thrift shop: the jacket was a regular and not a tall, but all i n all a better fit than a suit purchased “on the road” a few years ago, since I have gained quite a few kilos since.

The evening dinner was excellent, and good conversation. We had originally not intended to go, thinking the event was primarily for graduates and families, but signed up late after noting that the event was primarily for teacher awards and to acknowledge our reunion, with some faculty and the board of regents in attendance.

A fair number of alumni indicated they would not take part in the graduation ceremonies, as they had other events with family or former students to attend. We also had a conflict, with our great-grandson’s graduation in New Mexico this week and celebration tonight, but much too far away to participate in both, even partly. This being Memorial Day weekend, others had cemetery rounds to make across the state.

Musings on Unix, Bicycling, Quilting, Weaving, Old Houses, and other diversions

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