Friday, November 30, 2007

And So She Moves On...

Sadly today is my last day in Canada. Early tomorrow morning I move on to Eugene, Oregon.

Canada is beautiful, well at least British Columbia is. I have loved being here with my dear friend Ian and his lovely partner Kera, seeing an old friend and making several new. I don't doubt I will be back to this little corner of the world in the not too distant future. The Sunshine Coast of BC is absolutely stunning, I heartily encourage any and all to come and visit this lovely place. And make sure you call in to Wild Bistro and Bakery and say G'day to Ian and Kera (and enjoy their fab coffee and delicious food).

I am looking forward to seeing new people and places. Oregon sounds amazing, I really can't wait to visit there. And to finally meet Kristi, and Renae too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

It hasn't snowed anymore down here today, but boy it's looking like it might happen soon. It's still snowing up in the mountains, and the sky has come over all overcast and thick. I just went outside to take some photos an hour or so ago to see if I could capture how much snow is on the mountains. A little difficult, but here's a bit of an idea...

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Pretty obscured by cloud, but you can get a bit of a glimpse.

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A little bit of a close up.

And just for fun, the view to the south, towards the ocean.

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Look cold enough for you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's Really, Truly Snowing!!!!!

Yes, proper snow. Not just half a dozen flakes, but real steady snow. Kera and I just went out to get something for dinner, and as soon as we got in the car it changed from slushy rain to snow. It was awesome, so fluffy and soft and pretty!

Unfortunately it's probably too wet out for it to stay on the ground and give me the winter wonderland I really want to see yet, but hey, it's snow! Proper, real, the first time I ever saw it snow!

And it's DAMN cold!!

Yep, I'm Flexible!

Well folks, I'm not in Tacoma. I'm still in Gibsons, BC, Canada. Sadly my friend Deb had a car accident last night. Thank God she's ok, but her car is a wreck and that means she is without transport, so Washington state was off the list for me. So I'm still here in Canada for a few more days, until it is time for me to head to Oregon. Thank goodness I was with Ian and Kera and not in a hotel somewhere. But the most important thing is that Deb is ok. I can roll with changes.

It's cold and wet here today. There may even be snow in the next 24/48 hours. That would be great, since I'm staying here a few more days!

So the plan now is to head to Vancouver on Thursday, stay the night in a hotel, and then I catch my train to Portland at 5.30am. Eep!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Day in Vancouver - Part 2

From the public library, I decided to go for a walk back down to a chocolate cafe I saw on my walk earlier, called Mink Chocolate Cafe. On my way there I passed by this lovely Uniting church:

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Found the cafe, sat down and had a hot milk chocolate (they also did a dark version) and a Belgian Monkey waffle (which was a Belgian waffle, banana, real whipped cream and melted chocolate drizzled over the top). DIVINE!! Seriously, the whole place smelled like chocolate heaven and every bite or sip was a little happy moment. If you're ever in Vancouver, find this place:

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I bought some of their hand made chocolate before I left (one white, one milk, one dark) and then decided to walk down to the Vancouver Lookout building. See my last post for a photo of the outside from Canada Place.

Walked down there, paid the $13 to go up to the 360 degree observation deck. Well worth the money. You whizz up the side of the building in a glass fronted elevator, which is heaps of fun, and then when you get up the top you have 360 degree views of Vancouver and surrounds. Each section is labelled clearly so you can find what you're looking out at, and it's warm and clean up there, no need to be out in the howling winds of that height. Now of course you want to see some pics:

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The Science Centre, affectionately known as "the golf ball". At night it is all lit up with a stack of lights like a big pincushion of light.

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The front side of Canada place. I walked right around that "peninsula" walkway it makes.

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Don't look down!

By the time I was finished there, it was time for me to head back to Georgia Street to make my bus back to Horseshoe Bay for the Ferry. I'm well impressed that I managed to find myself the right bus, make it back to Horseshoe Bay on time and board the correct ferry (there are three that leave from there, Langdale - the one I needed to be on, Nanaimo and another which I've forgotten.) and managed to find Wendy and Fouad so that I could travel back with them. Impressive!

So I am off to Seattle tomorrow. Kicking off my Amtrak pass (the national one I have for a month) for the Vancouver to Seattle/Tacoma run. Looking forward to meeting Deb and Phil, and getting to see some of Washington State.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Day in Vancouver - Part 1

Went in to Vancouver yesterday mostly so I could vote. Don't want to throw that opportunity away, and by what I've read in the Courier Mail online, it's a good thing lots of us voted! But that's enough on politics, I'm on holidays.

I was lucky in that Ian and Kera's friend Wendy was heading in to Vancouver on the same ferry as me, so she kind of took me under wing a little and made sure I got in to the downtown area ok, and gave me lots of advice on what to see and do.

The ferry ride in was very pleasant. A bit cold for me to sit out on the open deck, so I had to take photos through the windows, but it was still gorgeous - a beautiful day and fantastic views:

A couple of views from the ferry from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay:

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Once I got into the city, I went to Dunsmuir Street to find the Australian High Commission so I could vote. I knew I'd found the right building when a guy with an Aussie accent handed me how to vote Labor information! You can't even avoid those people handing out that stuff in bloody VANCOUVER!! But I told him I knew how to vote, I just didn't know where, so he showed me where to go. Got in the lift and the guy in there was also an Aussies. Met three more in the office upstairs while voting. More Aussie accents than I had heard over a month!

From there I walked down to the waterfront area to the big tourist info place, picked up a stack of flyers and took myself to a nearby food court for a Canadian bacon and egg breakfast. DAMN good breakfast! Sat there over my breakky and read the flyers and started to get some ideas of what I'd like to see in Vancouver while I was there for the day.

First on the list was Canada Place. A big tourism centre, it's a beautiful sailed building. This is from the street side:

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The views from the boardwalk thingy around Canada place are amazing. Here are some examples:

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Around the other side was a good view of the downtown area, you could also see the round lookout building, which I actually went up to see the 360 degree views of Vancouver later in the day:

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Next was a trip down to the Vancouver Art Gallery. An impressive building, but the gallery itself was disappointing. It is actually a modern art gallery, and they charged $15 to get in. A bit sad when you consider you can get into both the Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA for free.

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This is the art gallery building.

Then I walked down Robson Street and found the Vancouver Public Library. Spectacular building, check it out:

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Sadly, inside wasn't as impressive. The library itself was bland, and the collection was nothing short of shabby. But it was heavily used at least.

Ok, I've reached my photo limit for this post. To be continued...

David's Bay - BC - Canada

On Thursday, Ian's brother Kris took me for a drive and dropped me at a little place called David's Bay, while he went to Sechelt for an appointment. I had a bit of a wander around to see what I could see. Pretty place:

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I had an hour or so there, just wandering up and down the waterfront and nosing around the cute little shops there. And got a really good hot chocolate at Pier 17.

Well I've been able to upload my Canada photos at last. My big chunky USB device for reading my camera card wouldn't fit in Kera's computer, so Ian has loaned me the laptop, which is much more effective. I guess you all want a look hey? Let's start with my first day prowling around the Gibson's area.

Ian and Kera's bistro/bakery, Wild:

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You'll find it on Gibsons Way, Gibsons, British Columbia. Fantastic coffee, great food, wonderful atmosphere. I'm sitting at a table in the corner on the laptop with an ice-hockey game behind me, enjoying just chilling.

Remember I mentioned that the view from out the front of the bistro was spectacular? Well check this baby out...

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Amazing huh?

Down on the waterfront I found this groovy new Oyster Bar. I don't eat Oysters, I just like the look of the place:

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The view from down on the waterfront of the mountains:

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A funny little houseboat that caught my eye:

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Where the rich folks live up this way:

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Apparently folks who saw the show The Beachcombers will recognise this:

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And finally another view from down on the waterfront:

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See what I mean? It's GORGEOUS here!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Surrounded by Beauty

Yes, I do have photos, but I can't upload them yet because this PC doesn't have a spare USB port for me. But you all just wait until you see what this place looks like.

It is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The world has a lot of beauty in it, and I've seen some awesome sights, that really hit the beauty scale. But Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada is nothing short of stunning. The Aussies reading this may remember the John West commercials where the guy goes to buy a salmon only to be told by the Canadian guy that it's a dog salmon, and that John West has bought all the good stuff. Remember what the landscape looked like in that commercial? Well Gibsons looks like that. Massive mountains rising up with snow on their peaks, the blue sky above them allowing the sun to glint off the snowiest bits. Then forested hills to the other side, rolling and folding around the area, with little hamlets and homes tucked away in the trees. In front of that is a beautiful harbour, the water so clean you can see to the bottom right out in the middle, fishermen, yachts, houseboats, lots of bird life. The Pacific Ocean is to another side, shining silver as far as the eye can see. It really is stunning. Anyone who would doubt the presence of God after seeing a place like this must be absolutely soulless.

I went for a walk yesterday around the little old town of Gibsons Landing. It's very cute. A mixture of little restaurants, pubs, boutiques, antique shops, and strange local shops that sell everything from Chinese bowls to fishing gear. It was bloody cold, but a vigorous walk around the steep streets of Gibsons Landing soon warmed up the body, though the nose, cheeks and hands were a bit frosty still! I took STACKS of photos, and as soon as I can I will share some of them with you all.

Absolutely loving being here with Ian, and his lovely partner Kera. I cannot believe it has been 13 years since I have been in Ian's company. Even though they have to work very hard in their bistro/bakery, it's just a pleasure to be in the same place as them and particularly just to hear Ian bustling about in his kitchen or with his customers. As Trish Kelly would say "He's in his elephant doing this!"

I got them to put me to work this morning as they have a busy day scheduled today. I can proudly boast two cut fingers (from slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes) and a chocolate stain on the front of my cute new sweater (from cutting up yummy slices into bite sized morsels for a catering order). I'm currently keeping out of their way during the lunch time rush, and once things settle down I'll go back and see if they need some more help.

Ahh, now more than ever, I am so glad this trip happened. I have enjoyed myself before, but this is possibly as special as life can get!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Crappy Day in Paradise

That's completely tongue in cheek, there's nothing crappy about this day. I am sitting in the office of the Wild Bistro and Bakery, in Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada, writing this blog. I am mere metres away from one of the most beautiful people I have had in my life, Ian, and his lovely partner Kera whom I just met last night. I have just had an amazing cup of coffee and a rhubarb and mango muffin that was to die for. Outside the sun is shining, there is snow on the mountain tops, the Pacific Ocean is glinting down in the harbour a few hundred metres from the front door, the air is cool and clean and I'm told at night the place is likely to see bears, coyote and the odd cougar. It's bloody paradise here!!

Yes, I have arrived in Canada. Flew in from Chicago to Vancouver last night, and Ian was waiting for me at the airport. I have never been so happy to see someone in my life. I missed my old friend (and Ian, that's old as in a friend I've had for a long time, you'll never be old you bugger) and I forgot how much I love being in his company. He hasn't changed a bit really. Accent has got a bit thicker, got a few more greys, but then so have I!

We had some time to kill before making the ferry to get to Gibsons, so he took me to a place called Commercial Road to meet his sister Kim (finally, many years ago I spoke on the phone to her quite often) and we stopped off at a place called The Memphis Grill for some dinner. A carnivore's heaven. Pulled pork with barbecue sauce, good fries, coleslaw, beans and corn bread. Divine but a HUGE serve that I had to leave more than half of to bring back as leftovers. It seems Canada goes the big serves too.

We then drove down to the ferry terminal and waited for the HUGE ferry to come in. Takes about 40 minutes to do the trip and it was quite pleasant. Bloody cold up on the open deck when we went for a look though, couldn't stay there for long. Couldn't see much anyway, dark out.

Got here to Gibsons, stopped off in the bakery for Ian to pick up a few things and for me to have a quick look, and then headed back to his and Kera's house to settle in for the night. Was so glad to finally meet Kera too.

This morning I'm hanging out at the bakery for a bit while they do what they do best. What a fantastic bakery/cafe this is! Everyone, come to Gibsons, BC in Canada, head straight to the Wild Bakery and Cafe. Hurry up, do it! It's only about an hour north of Vancouver. The coffee is fantastic, the place smells like heaven and the muffin I had was divine, and it's such a lovely comfy, homey and funky place. And it's GORGEOUS here. You wait until I take some photos and post them.

Until then, hope everyone is fab and groovy. Email me or post a comment or something. It's lovely to hear from folks while you're away from home.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sucked In, Brisbane!

We've just been looking up the weather for Brisbane, and it's 25C right now at 10.30am Sunday there. Well, here in Monona, it is currently -2C, we've had light snow, and the ponds are all freezing in the area. And I'm LOVING it!

I feel no envy at all for Brisbane gearing up for a typical sticky, muggy Christmas. I miss you all over there, but not enough to come back to that weather at all. Wanna come over here and sit by the fire with a hot chocolate anyone?

Cow Pies and Cliff Faces

After eating cow pies (and they are chocolate ok, not the original kind that actually come from a cow) for some years now, yesterday I finally got to go to the source. The Baraboo Cow Pie Factory. They've only really got a shop that you can go to, but it's got a LOT of chocolate and lollies available inside. The scent is amazing too. So we did a little shopping there, I got some cow pies of course, some chocolate coated cashews, malted milk balls (not as good as maltesers though) and some gifts for people back home.

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Kelsey, myself and Kayleigh outside the Cow Pie factory.

On our way up to Baraboo we stopped at a place where you can view bald eagles in the trees over the Wisconsin River, but we were a bit early in the year to see any.

We then drove a lovely country route to head up to Gibralter (yes, it is spelled with an E here). On the way we crossed the Wisconsin River on a big vehicular cable ferry at a spot called Merrimac. Pretty place, here's a photo of the view while we were waiting for the ferry:

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Once we got to Gibralter, it was a bit of a walk uphill to the summit. Pretty steep, but what really got me was the freezing cold air, which burned as I pulled it into my lungs. It is so much harder to breathe air that cold than more moderate temperatured air. It was such a pretty walk though, and about half way up it started to sleet. Here's a view looking back down the track as we walked to the summit:

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When we got to the top, the view was amazing. We were there just in time for sunset, and you could see for miles!

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It's a pretty sheer cliff face, I'm not sure how far the drop is. But I'm proud to day I got fairly close to the edge:

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But not as brave as Kelsey:

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The views were amazing. Everywhere looks like a postcard, or like it's part of a Fisher Price set. Here's a view of some farms down on the plains...

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We took heaps of photos, and the best thing was that as we left, we got a blazing sunset. It was stunning!

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And then last night I went out to Great Dane for a fish fry with the Knapps and Amy's mother. Great Dane do fantastic food, I've really liked them both times I've been there. Apparently a fish fry on a Friday night is a very Wisconsin thing to do.

It's Snowing!!

Ok, it's only about three flakes every square foot, and it will probably last about 5 minutes, but hey, it's snow!

And of course I'm not yet dressed appropriately, have no shoes on, and have wet hair, so going outside had to be very brief. But I have finally officially seen snow. Hopefully I will see more soon.

Right, I have more photographs and things to blog for you all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some Photos from Chicago

It just occurred to me that I hadn't posted any photos from my day in downtown Chicago. I have LOTS but here is a selection.

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The toilet in Union Station. I know, I'm weird. But it was fascinating.

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The Chicago Tribune Building

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I can't remember what this building was, but it was beautiful!

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The Water Tower building.

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The Bean in Millenium Park. It was SO cool - you can really see in it as clear as a mirror.

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Another view of The Bean.

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Missy scraping ice off the car so we can leave!

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Me and a Library... Surprise, Surprise!

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A shop name that made me laugh. The lady inside asked me why I was taking photos. Explain that one politely!

Crazy 8's

Amy has tagged me with the Crazy 8's meme. So let's see.

8 THINGS I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT (only 8?? These are in no particular order)

1. The Cysterhood. Ever since my diagnosis of PCOS my life has been unbelievably enriched by the women who know what I'm feeling and what I go through. I want to give back to other cysters what has been given to me.

2. My faith. I don't need to spread it around or convert people or prove it or advertise it, but in my heart and soul it's one of the most important things to me.

3. Life. I'm discovering that life is amazing and fun and rich. I'm loving living it, even the wobbly bits, and can't wait for it to develop into wherever it's going.

4. Reading. Particularly recreational reading. I love it myself and want the whole world to be able to feel the joy and enrichment that reading brings to life. Teach a child to read for him/herself and the world simply opens up for them.

5. Technology. The world is moving forward, technology is exciting and fun, and people too often take the easy way out by saying "Oh I'm not good at technology." It's a cop out - anyone can learn, and it's the only way to keep up in life is by being involved with technology. Not all of it, but the bits that are becoming our way of life.

6. Friends. They are my family and keep me going in life. They accept me for who I am, and I love them for it.

7. Children. Nothing can incite passion in me quicker than kids that have been treated poorly or are not being given the chance to live to their fullest potential through neglect. I wish I could gather them all to me and make it right.

8. Music. It fills my soul and takes me places that nothing else can take me.


1. Have a family.

2. Write at least one book. I think I have several in me.

3. Travel somewhere on a very large ship. Not one of those package cruises, but just cross an ocean or something.

4. Own a house. With a garden that I could grow fruit and vegetables in. And space for entertaining friends.

5. Eat breakfast at Tiffany's. I should be able to do that one next month!

6. Start dancing again. I was always so good at it!

7. Learn another musical instrument. Cello would be cool.

8. Cook a HUGE Christmas dinner for my loved ones, all by myself.


1. Sweet!
2. Pardon?
3. F*&#
4. Bloody dag
5. Please
6. Thank you
7. Ooh goodie!
8. Cool


1. Best American Travel Stories of 2007 - Susan Orleans (editor)
2. I'm a Stranger Here Myself - Bill Bryson
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
4. Conversations with God - Neale Donald Walsch
5. Overtaken - Alexei Sayle (it was boring, became a wallbanger)
6. The Law of Attraction - Esther and Jerry Hicks
7. Lonely Planet Guide to USA
8. Weird Illinois


1. Rock your Body - Justin Timberlake (makes me want to boogie)
2. Grandpa's Song - Vika and Linda
3. Somebody to Love - Queen
4. The Hunter - Bjork
5. Anything by Elvis Costello (can't narrow it down to one, sorry)
6. Oh Sherry - Steve Perry
7. Throw Your Arms Around Me (either the original Hunters and Collectors or the Doug Anthony Allstars version)
8. Here you Come Again - Dolly Parton


1. They accept me for who I am.
2. They're giving and open hearted
3. They make me laugh so hard!
4. They seem to think I'm special!
5. They are so cool (some of them in a daggy way)
6. They think about how others feel
7. They make me feel like I can accomplish anything
8. They know how to have fun.


1. Bobble
2. Kaytie M Lee
3. Paula
4. Deedums
5. Terri
6. BillyJulio
7. Peanut
8. T

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Glimpse of Old Time America

Spent yesterday seeing some of rural Wisconsin.

Cindy drove me out to Plain to visit a cheese factory out there. It was such a pretty drive, every turn looks like a page from a story book, or a postcard. Rolling green hills, black and white cows, pretty little farms with red or white barns, little towns with storybook shops and houses along the main street. Just lovely to drive through.

The cheese factory was small and a self tour thing, but it was interesting and the cheese tasted amazing. I just got some postcards of course!

Then we drove to Dodgeville (great name for a town hey?) as they have a traditional drugstore in the main street of the town that still has a soda fountain. That's a counter that serves home made soft drinks and stuff. It was just like you imagine from the old 50's movies. I had a strawberry "phosphate" (basically hand made soft drink) and Cindy had a chocolate malt which I got to taste, it tasted a lot like Milo, only in thickshake form. I chatted to a man in a deer hunting hat called Bob and the lady behind the counter who I think was Carol. They were both lovely.

From there we went on to Paoli where there was a lovely little art gallery. I particularly fell in love with the hand crafted wooden jewellery boxes. All inlaid woodwork, so beautiful. I would have loved one, but at about $300+ they were a bit out of my price range! Across the street we went to a store that has home decorator stuff (lots of candles, Christmas decorations, pretty crockery, some jewellery and all kinds of lovely stuff) in an old schoolhouse building. Cindy bought me a pretty snowflake bracelet and I picked up a sweet photo frame.

Back to Madison for some lunch and we went to the most awesome diner. It was straight out of the 1950's! They have a website, click here. We sat in a booth, I had an "On Wisconsin Burger" with fries, and then pie and coffee. French silk pie, it was divine!

We had a couple of hours chill time and then we went to see a movie at the local cinemas. Saw "Dan In Real Life" starring Steve Carell, who I had NO idea was so adorable! It's a lovely movie, a gentle comedy with a sweet love story that makes you go AWWW as well as laugh. Go see it!

I do have photos but haven't had the opportunity to upload them yet, so will add them later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Downtown Madison - Picturesque!

Spent today exploring downtown Madison, WI. What a pretty, picturesque city. It's a huge University town (University of Wisconsin) and the whole town is really built around UW. The other chunk of town is built around the magnificent and impressive State Capitol building.

We arrived this morning in the downtown area and wandered down State Street to have a look at the shops. A lovely area, lots of funky and fun shops, plus eateries, cafes and restaurants, most of them at the cheap and cheerful end of the spectrum. Cindy and I met up with Amy at 11am and then we went to lunch at a great little restaurant called the Sun Room Cafe. Had a simple chicken salad roll and an apple cider and it was cheap and delicious. Then we went for a walk up Bascom Hill where I played with a squirrel that was on the lawn (it posed prettily for me to take some photos) and we had a look at Bascom Hall.

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My Squirrel Friend

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Me and Abe Lincoln in front of Bascom Hall.

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State Street

Walked down to Lake Mendota to walk along the waterfront (and so I could engage with the seagulls) before saying goodbye to Amy for the day. Then Cindy and I went up to the Capitol building to do a free tour. Exquisitely beautiful building inside and out, lots of marble, granite and beautifully carved wood, gilt trims and murals, and very rich history too. If any of you get to Madison, do the tour, it's fascinating.

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Wisconsin Capitol Building

We then went to go to the Veterans and Historical museums, but they were closed for Veteran's day, so instead we went to Babcock Hall for ice-cream. Yum!

Shortly we're off to dinner with a friend of Cindy's who is originally from Scotland.