As the miles roll on across the Southern Wisconsin countryside, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that agriculture is big around here. This fact is certainly not lost on my wife Kathy, occupying pillion. Each time the large fields of stock change, she announces it through the Air Rider communicator. To the tune of the Monty Python "Spam" song, she chants, "Corn, corn, corn..." or "Cows, cows, cows..."
Our little singsong tribute to "America's Dairyland" has been going on for the entire tour. Oddly enough, it hasn't gotten old, nor has the scenery. Kathy sings about corn or cows, and I rock my head back and forth in unison. We surely look strange to passing motorists, but who cares? We're having a blast. The singing is as endless as is the prairie's stock of - well, you know.
Every year, Kathy and I load up the trusty Bandit and hit the road for two weeks. We choose a location, roll the dice on the weather, and hit the road. That's our idea of vacation. Those friends and family members who are not insanely jealous think we're crazy. Maybe they're right, but we always have a good time. When Christian mentioned he had a tour idea for Wisconsin, I volunteered to do it with Kathy; after all, we were going to be right there. He was reluctant to have me work on our vacation, but I convinced him that everything would be fine. Work? Give me a break. Plus, I wanted Kathy to see first hand just what it is I'm doing all those times I ride away for days on end.
Starting in Madison, a Capital Idea
Wisconsin's state capital, Madison, is a beautiful town despite ongoing construction projects. The streets are alive with activity. An eclectic mix of hippies, skaters, and students from the University of Wisconsin weave their way through cadres of business people and legislators looking for a quick power lunch. Although Madison is certainly worth further exploration, there are lots of roads to wander. Somehow, in regards to Madison, I have a feeling that, in the words of a somewhat famous University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate, "I'll be back."
If you've never been on an extended tour, let me assure you that the best-laid plans often become moot. Despite our intentions, we find it difficult to pry ourselves from the lively streets of Madison. Yep, we get a late start. Having been on the road for over a week at this point, walking around just feels good. It's late morning before we are able to locate Route S heading west out of town.
Thankfully, traffic begins to melt away as does the omnipresent road construction around the capital city. The scenery begins a transformation from commuter homes to farmland. This is the Wisconsin we're looking for.
The day is clear and beautiful. Every hilltop offers amazing views of the rolling prairie, nothing but crops and dairy pastures. For as far as the eye can see, silos dot the landscape like mushrooms after a rainstorm. The endless blue sky collides with the lush green hills in a 360-degree panorama that´s a joy to behold. The bounty this land produces is nearly impossible for an average guy like me to comprehend. What's not difficult for this average couple to comprehend is our own hunger. In no uncertain terms, Kathy lets me know that it's time to stop and partake.
Sauk City seems to offer some decent choices but something tells me to push on to the next town. A brisk and very enjoyable ride down sweeper-infested Route 60 lands us in Spring Green, the site of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin (a Welsh word meaning "radiant brow"). Anyone interested in fine art, architecture or engineering should make the time to explore this national landmark estate (1976) located on 600 rolling acres. Arguably the greatest architect in American history, the widely ranging Wright left behind an astounding legacy of completed projects and designs; and his visionary use of materials, space, and the surrounding landscape continue to inspire architects and designers today. The town of Spring Green is obviously proud of it's most famous resident, and many of the buildings are built in the utilitarian style espoused by Mr. Wright, who began the construction of Taliesin East in 1911.