Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wisconsin!

Yes yes I know. I've been gone too long AGAIN! The reason I haven't been writing much is because for the past month I have been freezing my damn ass off. It was too cold to write, ok? That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

So, we're back on the road. We started off in Wausau, Wisconsin which was equal parts thrilling and horrid.We really were spoiled by starting our tour in Florida. I'm guessing that throwing us into Wisconsin in January was the Kennedy Center's way of saying "Welcome back and hold onto your butts!" Well, we most definitely got the message. It was exciting to be back on the road but we hit a few challenges right from the get go.

We planned a lovely free cross-country skiing trip which a bunch of us were really excited about. It was a night trip so it was gonna be especially beautiful...and cold. So, we got ourselves bundled up and headed out in Big Red (one of our vans) for an adventure. Little did we know we'd actually get an adventure. Our GPS led us out into the country and onto some random dirt road which, since it's January, was a snow road. As we were driving we noticed a big lit lodge to our right but our GPS told us to keep going. A few minutes later she exclaimed "You have arrived!"...but we were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing around us but woods. We had, unfortunately, passed our destination. So, we tried to go back. It's not so easy to turn a huge ass van around, though. I suggested to Margo, who was driving, to drive a bit further and pull into a side road which would allow her to back out and turn around. Well, we definitely found a side road but as soon as we turned into it Big Red lost traction. Shit. We were stuck in the snow at night and it was freezing out. Dave got in the drivers seat and tried to rock the van back and forth but unfortunately we just got more stuck. Then, we tried various times to push the van out while someone reversed. Nope. We moved the van a good ten feet but the snow simply refused to let us go. Here's Dave trying to dig us out...And here's poor old Big Red. See where the tracks begin? That's how far we pushed her!What was worse than the fact that we were stuck in the snow was that we could see people skiing by us, cars drove past, Margo even called the lodge but no one would help us! Finally, we realized that someone was gonna have to go back and get someone from the lodge to pull us out. Margo volunteered so off she bravely went running in the dark woods with all the bears and monsters to find someone. She came back awhile later with a very nice man named John who threw some sand on the ground, chained our bumper up to his car, and pulled us right out.

Thanks John!

After Wausau we headed to Madison which was a lot more fun. I've been to Madison before and had a great time so I was happy to be back. Also, I was gonna get to see a teacher of mine from Interlochen, Amy Arntsen.

Our first night in Madison was a blast. A few of us went to a delicious restaurant called Old Fashioned. Then, we headed to a gay bar nearby called Shamrock. On the way, though, we stopped at another restaurant called Brocach for warm drinks. It may have been a short walk but we were freezing! Finally, after having warmed ourselves up a bit, we arrived at Shamrock. It was a weeknight so the crowd was pretty tame. That didn't stop me from hitting up the jukebox! Here's Kevin giving it up...And here I am being ridiculous yet again. I'm guessing Madonna was on. And please observe Carolyn's curious gaze. Is that judgement I see in those eyes?This image sums up the clientele of Shamrock pretty well...There's enough for everyone boys!

Yikes.

Anyway, the next day Margo and I ventured into downtown Madison for some sightseeing. We stopped at a museum to check out an exhibit called Odd Wisconsin. Lemme tell you...it was odd.Here are a few things that I found particularly interesting.

Harry Houdini is from Wisconsin. Here's some of his escape stuff!Old fashioned amputation tools. Ew. And ouch...This rock and note are pretty crazy. Click on the picks to read all about it.Isn't this an amazing picture?This? Not so amazing. Apparently people used to use skunk grease like we use Vick's Vapo-Rub today...Old toast? Gross.This is an Adolf Hitler piggy bank which squeals when you put money in it. Now that's odd...This is CRAZY! It's an ad for the auction of Ed Gein's farm. Ed Gein was the killer who inspired Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence Of The Lambs...And now for something a bit lighter in its loafers. Liberace's jacket...Creepy...Apparently this is the greatest prank in college history. Filling a lawn full of pink flamingos. Seems like a big waste of time to me...Paper dress...Bra flag!There was a whole section on women's rights. I found this picture particularly ridiculous...Margo stopped for a quick fake drink at the fake bar. Looking at odd stuff is exhausting...
After our odd excursion we headed to the Capitol...Beautiful! Inside it was even more beautiful, especially since it was so quiet and there was no one around forcing you to join some sort of tour. Margo and I headed for the very center on the building where the acoustics were incredible. Everything was echoed right back at you. Here's the view looking up from the very middle of the Capitol...These paintings surrounded the ceiling. Government...Justice...Legislation...Liberty...
After our visit at the Capitol, Margo and I headed back to our hotel. But not before we stopped at a cheese shop for the obligatory Wisconsin cheesehead shot...
The highlight of my trip to Madison was most definitely having dinner at Amy Arntsen's house. Amy taught at Interlochen when I went there and recently moved back to Madison, her hometown. She was nice enough to have me, Kevin, and Margo over for dinner at her cute house she just bought near Madison. After showing us around her house, she treated us to a wonderful home cooked meal complete with stiff drinks (a true Wiscon tradition!), a variety of cheeses, a delicious coq au vin for everyone but me (yup, still a vegetarian), and some amazing Culver's ice cream. It was great. AND she brought out a bunch of Interlochen yearbooks which were pretty hilarious to look through. Thank again Amy :)
Our final excursion in Madison was to a great little theatre downtown to watch Synecdoche, New York. The movie started our promising enough. We all thought it was absolutely hilarious. Plus it was filled with great actors such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Dianne Wiest. But somewhere in there it took a very strange turn and left us all a little baffled. I don't think we really got it. Oh well. Here's the theater which, of course, was FREEZING.And here are Carolyn and Kevin, most definitely confused by the movie...
The next day we did a few shows, one of which was attended by Amy. I get so nervous when I know people in the audience but she seemed to really like the show so I'm guessing that means I didn't mess up! Woo! After the show I walked Amy back to where she was parked and she made me insanely jealous by informing me that she was gonna go to a roller-derby that evening. She sent me a message later that week telling me all about the insanity. All I gotta say is that if you get the chance to go to a roller derby...GO!

Oh, and by the way...during our first show one of the charming children in the audience threw a dreidel at us. A DREIDEL.

We left Madison that afternoon and drove straight into -30 degree weather. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We went from Madison to Appleton, and then from Appleton to Eau Claire where it was SO FUCKING COLD I COULDN'T BREATHE. Pardon my language...but it was cold enough to justify it. And seriously, I couldn't breathe. We had two shows in Eau Claire but one was cancelled because of the cold. There was a wind chill advisory of something like -50 below. That's not funny. That's not even ridiculous. Not even preposterous. That's LUDICROUS. Unfortunately, we still had to do one show for about 30 kids and the heating in the theatre was not really doing it's job. We were all bundled up like crazy. Poor Carolyn, she's actualy allergic to the cold. I'm not even kidding. She was in quite a bit of pain.

After Wisconsin we made short stops through Minnesota, Illinois, and Missouri. By the way, while in Illinois we all decided to donate blood on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I found out, however, that if you are gay you cannot donate blood. How outmoded is that? Honestly, it felt like a slap in the face. Like someone was unjustly labeling me and all gay people as irresponsible sluts. Maybe that's a little extreme. But I felt pretty damn hurt by it. Especially while I had to wait in the blood center lobby like a reject.

Thankfully, Margo brought me a heart shaped twinkie treat after she was done giving blood. It made me feel better. But seriously, this is something that must be changed.

Which leads to the highlight of this blog entry. Barack Obama is now our president and I couldn't be happier. I'm incredibly eager to see where he takes us and what changes will come.

That's all for now. We're now in Meridian, MS where it will be 62 degrees tomorrow. Thank God! On Friday it'll be 72 degrees. It's practically summer down here.

2 comments:

AJA said...

I'm so glad you're finally someplace warm! I love Wisconsin, but the cold is a pretty major negative. Loved the pictures!

Proud Cheesehead said...

"For such a bucolic place, Wisconsin has been the unlikely home to a disproprtionate number of murderers who depravities have etched themselves into the collective American consciousness." -- William R. Drennan, "Death in a Prairie House"
Odd Wisconsin, to be sure...