Thursday, August 9, 2007


I haven’t been to many state capitols, but I can’t imagine too many are much cooler than the one in Madison, Wisconsin. There’s the usual impressive dome and the hilltop views, but what I really love about this capitol building are the carved badgers guarding the doors to the Sentate and Assembly chambers. Maybe it’s just my fear of badgers talking, but they look like they’re about to go for your throat. (The female figure atop the capitol dome has another badger perched on top of her helmet. She’s 285 feet up in the air, which is awfully high up to be playing around with badgers on top of your head, if you ask me.)

We were in Madison earlier this week for a day trip, and we took A.J. to see the Capitol. Last time we were there, we were able to walk into the Senate chamber—they were not in session--and A.J. got to sit in one of the senator’s chairs and played with the yes/no voting button. It was just like he was a little Senator, except without the opportunities for graft and corruption. This time, we made the mistake of visiting on a Sunday, so all the rooms were locked. But A.J. still liked running laps around the observation deck that rings the base of the dome.

Another thing to admire about the Wisconsin State Capitol: It is surrounded by a surprising number of taverns. We had lunch at a nice Irish pub right across the street from the Capitol. I was trying to imagine finding someplace like that open on a Sunday in the state capital I know best, sleepy Springfield, Illinois.

Later, at the University of Wisconsin student union, we found an even nicer place to have a beer: on the union’s terrace overlooking Lake Mendota. We found a place to sit, let A.J. splash around in the shallow water, and watched the sailboats scuttle around. All in all, a pretty nice way to kill a Sunday afternoon.

I like the philosophy up there in Wisconsin. Higher education, state government: It all goes down better with beer.

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