Returning to MadCity
my family reunion in the cemetery near Mayville, Michigan, I drove south and
spent a night in a dingy Motel 6 in the dingy town of Battle Creek, which, of
course, is the home of Tony the Tiger and Kellogg's cereal. The next
morning, I got on the Interstate and headed to Minnesota. I had told my friends in
Minneapolis, Mark and Jayne, that I'd be there around dinnertime but as I would
discover, it's a loooong way from Battle Creek to Minneapolis. I guess I was still used to driving across the small states in the
you may know, I drive a Toyota pickup truck and Japanese imports are pretty
scarce in the Motor State. In fact, some Michiganders can be downright
hostile if you drive an imported car, so even though I'm a native Michigander, I
was glad to cross the Indiana border -- but then I remembered how
boring Indiana was (see
Best and Worst of the 50 States). Things livened up an hour later,
though, once I hit Chicago, which was congested with bumper-to-bumper traffic,
even though it was Saturday.
After escaping from the Windy City unscathed, the next barrier was an endless string of toll stops on Interstate
90. If you ever drive on these nickel-and-dime toll roads in Illinois, be sure
to read the signs above each booth as you approach them because otherwise, you'll
get in the wrong lane and, not having any change, will have to back up your truck and get in the correct
lane. All the while, cars and trucks around you will blast their horns and yell at that idiot from Oreee-gone. But that's
another story. Needless to say, I was glad to cross into the more civilized
(and toll-less) state of Wisconsin that afternoon.
main stop that afternoon was in Madison, Wisconsin (a.k.a., MadCity), home of the University of
Wisconsin, which is where I went to grad school back in the 1980s. Although
most of my friends from those days, like Marilyn and Jake (see News:
August 8, 2001) have since left, I still know a
few hangers-on in Madison, such as my former Geography compatriots, Brad and
Cynde (formerly known as Cindy), who I wanted to stop and see.
Madison's unofficial theme song. This is Frankie
Yankovic and his dazzling accordion playing Beer Barrel
RealPlayer. If problems, see
Unfortunately, they were both going to a beer festival that
day which, in beer-crazy Madison, is akin to attending a religious pilgrimage. I wasn't sure how I'd find them
there because I didn't know when I'd get to Madison that
afternoon. Besides, there'd be about three million
drunken, beer-thirsting people paying
answer, as Brad decided during a phone call the previous night, was
simple: we'd use cell phones. Thanks to Brad's
ingenuity, I got to see him and Cynde for about 20 minutes before scurrying off to
visit the campus, and then headed on to Minneapolis.
left: Driving through Chicago on a busy Saturday.
center: What's the deal with all the 40-cent toll stops in
Illinois? Some of us don't happen to carry large quantities of nickels,
dimes, AND quarters. Here's a tip: just make them 50 cents. Nah,
that makes too much cents.
right: After nearly running out of change, I reached
Madison, Wisconsin. I went to grad school here in the 1980s at the
University of Wisconsin (UW) and have always enjoyed coming back. Madison
is a really terrific city.
left: I was supposed to meet my friend Brad here at the
Madison Brew Fest... somewhere. What a mob scene! Braaaaaad, where
center: Beer makes everyone happy.
right: Through the miracle of cell-phone technology, Brad and I
finally connected. That's Brad and Cynde on the left, two friends from my UW-Geography days. A couple of Brad's happy friends are on the
left: A few old photos. That's Brad (center) at a UW-Geography
party in 1984. For some reason, I've got a lot of pictures of Brad drinking beer.
center: Here he is in 1985 in Utah, not drinking beer but eating a
burrito. I was working in Colorado that summer and Brad came out to
visit. We went down to Utah for a few days... and drank a lot of
beer. Being a bit inebriated, I made a fool of myself in front of a cute ranger
here (not surprising), but
that's another story.
right: Me and Cynde (or Cindy, as she was known then) in Madison,
in 1984. I have no idea why she's holding a stuffed bunny.
left: After seeing Brad and Cynde, I walked around the University of
Wisconsin campus. Science Hall is the home of the UW Geography Department. It's
the most beautiful building on campus and still evokes feelings of fondness...
center: Legend has it that Abe Lincoln stands up
whenever a female virgin walks in front of him. In all the years that I
attended school here, I never once saw Abe get up. I'm not sure what that
says about the UW student body.
right: Wisconsin's capitol is, I think, the prettiest one in the
Best and Worst of the 50 States). Believe it
or not, there's a guy who's full-time job here is just changing the light bulbs!
left: State Street is the happening place in Madison.
center: You can tell you're in Wisconsin when you start seeing cheese
right: Back on Interstate 90 that evening, watching the sunset while driving to
Minneapolis to visit my friends Mark and Jayne.
An Old Friend in Minnesooooda
pulled into Minneapolis pretty late that night, but Mark and Jayne had stayed up
waiting for me and greeted me with tired smiles. Mark is one of my oldest friends and we met in 7th grade
while debating the upcoming Nixon-McGovern election each day during lunch period at our Junior High
in California. McGovern fared as poorly in that
election as I did in the debates, but Mark and I became friends
high school, Mark, I, and other friends (including Troy and Carole, see
News: June 14, 2001) played endless games of poker, Monopoly, and Risk and
occasionally engaged in puerile, ill-conceived pranks that I won't delve into
here. Mark, Troy and I also played a lot of baseball, tennis, and golf,
and every Friday afternoon,
we would invade the local bowling alley and harass the ill-tempered, red-haired
woman at the counter whom we so ingeniously dubbed "Big Red" before bowling
a few games. Mark and I also worked a lot on our high school's newspaper, which
we both agree was the highlight of our high school experience. That tells you
something about our high school experience.
college, Mark moved back to his home state of Minnesota and met a wonderful
woman there named Jayne who had attended
the University of Wisconsin and therefore possessed a superior intellect. Jayne comes from a huge family and, as you walk around
Mark and Jayne's house, you'll trip over hundreds of framed pictures of close
relatives, distant relatives, and total strangers. No, actually it's nice
to see someone who appreciates family as much as Jayne (take the hint,
Mark). Jayne also loves cats while Mark has a "Cat Free Zone"
sign posted on the door of his den. Anyway, they're a great couple
and are lots of fun to be around. Their two kids are also lots of fun.
my travels across America, I'm constantly fascinated by the accents found in the
different parts of the country, and I have fun trying to guess where a person is
from just by hearing them speak. So far on this trip, I've contended with
the Cajun accent of Louziana, all the y'alls I could handle in Tennessee, and
the "caahs" and "focks" of New England. Of course now
that I was in Minnesota, I had to adjust to the Midwestern accent which is
Back in New England they have trouble with the letter
"R," but here in the Midwest they do funny things to the letter
"A," often adding an "E" in front of it. For instance,
a "chair" here is actually a "chear" -- or even a
"cheer" in Illinois -- and a "salad" is a
"see-alad." As you move into Minnesota, they start drawing out
the letter "O" so that it's pronounced "Minnesooooda," and a
simple "no" turns into the much more-involved
"noooooh." As you move into northern Minnesota and eastern North
Dakota, the Canadian influence becomes apparent and they start tacking on an
"eh?" to the end of every sentence whether it needs it or not, as in,
"So where ya from, eh?" Of course, us folks out in Oregon don't
speak with any kind of accent -- it's everyone else in America who talks funny.
with chuckling over the Midwestern accent during
my four-day stay at Mark's house, I got to visit with his parents, Doug and
Kay, whom I hadn't seen in 24 years when Mark and I still lived in California.
During our conversation I learned that Doug had once dated my mother's cousin in North
Dakota back in the 1940s. Considering that I didn't meet Mark or his
family until the 1970s, and that was in California, I found this coincidence
totally amazing. Of course, if Doug had married her, Mark
would be my second cousin. With that sobering thought, I left Minneapolis
left: Mark is one of my oldest and best
friends. Here's that goofy guy wearing his Ross Perot Ears. That's
his wonderful wife Jayne on the right. I spent four days visiting Mark and
Jayne and their two terrific kids.
center: Mark grilling steaks for dinner (oops, this is the Midwest
so I mean
right: Don't those steaks look gooood?
left: Riding on the freeways of Minneapolis.
center: A couple of old photos: Here's Mark and Jayne during
my visit in 1995.
right: Mark's car got pummeled a few years ago during a hailstorm,
which are pretty common in the Midwest. Here's his pock-marked roof. But
like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.
17, 2001 (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)
10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)
6, 2001 (Manlius, New York)
23, 2001 (Middleton, Massachusetts)
22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
20, 2001 (Pomfret, Connecticut)
18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
U.S. Trip >
August 14, 2001