Thursday, June 09, 2005

Vacation in Paradise

We just spent the last several days in Madison, Wisconsin, which is about three hours away from where we live in Eau Claire. Since we are new to Wisconsin, we'd never been there before. We weren't too sure what we'd find. Madison is one of those cities you learn in fifth grade when you memorize the states and capitals, but it isn't one you hear of much as a tourist spot or big-league city. In fact, every time I asked friends in Eau Claire what there was to do in Madison, the response was pretty much, "Uh..."

I've come to the conclusion that Madison doesn't have many big attractions that tourists must see the way Disneyland or Washington D.C. does. But Madison's a pretty cool place. It's got an atmosphere all its own. State Street starts downtown and ends up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and it's closed to cars, so it's a great place to go walking. And walking is one of my favorite things to do. There are lots of interesting stores (the travel guide we read called them "funky") and tons of restaurants with all types of cuisine and open-air seating right on the sidewalk. (This, of course, would not be nearly so much fun in the wintertime.) After dinner, you keep walking up State Street and end up at the university's student union. Get some really yummy ice cream inside and then go outside on the terrace, which is directly on Lake Mendota, and watch the sunset and chat with the people you love. How cool is that?

We also travelled down to Janesville and went on a tour of the GM factory there. Then we visited the LDS bookstore there, Line Upon Line Books. What a neat little store! I am amazed that there is an LDS bookstore in the area at all, since there aren't tons of Latter-day Saints or a temple nearby. But there it is, and the owner is a neat lady who loves LDS books. I remember growing up in our little branch in Oklahoma and feeling so disconnected from other Latter-day Saints in general, but when we had the rare opportunity to visit the LDS bookstore in Dallas it was almost like coming home. There were books and music there that spoke specifically to me and my needs and beliefs. People in the Janesville area or who visit are very lucky to have this gem in their midst.

I think that one reason we remember the places we vacation so fondly is because everything is just right when we go. Usually we don't have to worry about work, homework, school, bills, housework, laundry, making dinner, or any of that stuff. We can just relax with our loved ones and have a great time. So I will remember Madison and Janesville very fondly. I've got that sunset etched in my mind forever.


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