Madison Cave Man

July 1, 2013 00:29 – 00:29

I’m at the Comfort Suites on 1253 John Q Hammons Dr., in Madison WI. This is my second night here. I was a little worried last night because there’s a restaurant across the way that has very loud live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Last night’s session went until midnight. I was able to muster sufficient white noise to block it out. They don’t play on Sundays. Yay.

Last night I went to Benvenuto’s for dinner. It’s about a half a mile walk, so I did. I had the veal parmesan, along with a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. The meal, the wine, and the service were excellent. Tonight, I’m trying Glass Nickel pizza delivery. Stand by for a review.

This morning, I managed to get myself up and out early enough to attend the 9 am service at FUS (First Unitarian Society of Madison). It’s one of the largest UU churches in the world. Its original building was designed by Unitarian Frank Lloyd Wright, and a major expansion completed a few years ago was done to be compatible with the original design. They succeeded. I think they brought FLW back from the dead to get his approval on the design.

The service was lovely. Music was provided by mezzo soprano Alyssa Anderson and classical guitarist Joseph Spoelstra. I didn’t actually care for the first two pieces they did, although their execution was flawless. I simply didn’t like the pieces—too non-mathematical for my tastes. The final piece—the postlude—was magnificent, though. I left the OOS in the car, though, so I can’t now say what the pieces were.

The sermon was delivered by Rev. Michael A. Schuler. It was called “When Sacrifice Makes Sense.” It was okay, but didn’t make me weep. For the record, I almost always tear up at UU services. The point of the sermon was elusive, and the delivery was meandering. I also didn’t agree with the message. He seemed uncomfortable with the topic and unable to present solid examples that might have been meaningful to UUs.

After church, I spoke briefly with a couple of people, but basically bolted. There was a service at Unity Chapel at 11, and I wanted to see if it was make-able. It wasn’t. So, I went back to the hotel, changed, and set off in search of adventure. I stopped at a Copps supermarket and picked up picnic supplies. Note: if this Copps was a representative example, they way over-cook their fried chicken. It was right out of the fryer, and it looked like it’d been in for about 8 minutes too long. That’s good though… it gave an added incentive not to eat the unhealthy parts.

Leaving Copps, I set a course for the UW Arboretum. I thought I’d read that there were picnic facilities there. I was wrong. Three other park attempts, however, finally landed me at Brittingham Park. The only available picnic table was right next to a huge dead fish in the parking lot. Fortunately, the wind was coming from the other direction.

After Brittingham Park, I headed back to the UW Arboretum for a hike. Their help desk info person wasn’t terribly helpful, and sent me in the wrong direction. I ultimately found the correct direction, though, and managed a six-mile hike there. I saved some capacity for later. Note to self: if you stop in the woods in Wisconsin for any amount of time (say, anything over 5 seconds—i.e., to turn on the route tracking software), you will be devoured by hungry mosquitoes and other insects. I learned that lesson quickly and walked the rest of the six miles without stopping.

When I got back to the car, I flipped a mental coin: Cave of the Mounds or House on the Rock. Even though today was a very pleasant mid-70s with low humidity and a breeze strong enough to require tying my hat on—I found the allure of 50-degree caverns too tempting. So, I headed west to the caves. They also have a wildflower/butterfly garden, hiking trails, and other stuff. Here are some pix of that other stuff.

The cave tour lasts about an hour—including a 10 minute introductory film. In the film, we learned that the caves were discovered by accident in 1939 when a mining company was blasting on the property. It’s very unusual for such a wonderful underground treasure to go undiscovered for so many years.

Here. Have some stalagmites!

Stalactites grow very slowly in Cave of the Mounds. These “babies” are 50 to 200 years old.

They call these ribbon-like formations bacon.

Here’s some calcite laced with iron, for a little color.

This one reminds me of some of those scary toothsome sci-fi creatures.

There were 5 of us on the tour. I was the only one with a real camera. I wonder how the cell pix turned out.

Here’s a nice variety of magnesium (blue), calcite (white), and iron (brown and red).

Calcite fluoresces when you shine a light into it.

When stalactites and stalagmites meet, they form columns.

I’ve forgotten what this formation was called, but it’s beautiful.

Some calcite looks like melted candles.

This formation is called a beehive.

The stuff on the right floor are the beginnings of a new beehive. In about 5,000 years, it’ll look like the other one.

More mineral mixology.

After the Caves, I drove to a ski area… closed for the season, and not nearly as high as I wanted it to be. Then I headed back to Comfort Suites, and ordered pizza and salad from Glass Nickel. The pizza was good, but Pizza by Alex in Biddeford, Maine—where I’ll probably be on Wednesday—still takes the prize.

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