We got to Madison late in the afternoon after our Milwaukee detour. This was the one leg of our journey I was really excited and nervous for, because it meant I would finally get to meet Matt's aunt, uncle and adoptive cousin. They weren't able to make it to our wedding, and even Matt hadn't seen them since we first started dating eight years ago!
They were just the sweetest people. Because it had been so long since any of the family had seen each other, we spent a low-key afternoon just talking and had a relaxed dinner. Matt's cousin was a little fireball, and was so excited to see us that she wanted to show us everything! The chickens that she keeps in a coop in the backyard, her garden, her craft projects, her dog. She was so cute, and talked a mile-a-minute, and we got along great.
At the end of the evening, we went back to our hotel. The next day would be July 3rd, and we had plans to see a few sights around Madison, and go to the big fireworks show, Rhythm and Booms.
So the next morning, we headed back to their house for breakfast (fresh eggs from the chickens!) and then made our way to the state capitol!
I swear I'm not usually this much of an architecture nerd, but I got a lot of pictures of the building.
Inside the atrium.
Nice family picture. :)
We went up to one of the higher-up floors, where you could walk around the outside of the building on this deck, and see out over the city.
You can see across the way that there's a kind of "underground" conference center, which my MIL wanted to check out, so we decided to leave the capitol and head over thataways.
To get to the conference center, we walked through a farmer's market. They had things like cheese curds and even some vegetables I hadn't heard of before.
Of course, when we got past the farmer's market, it turned out the conference center was closed for renovations, so we just walked through this garden area with a view of the lake instead. (Lake Mendota? Lake Monona? Who knows. This part of town is basically just a strip of land about a mile wide between the two lakes.)
Matt, me and his mom with his aunt, uncle and cousin.
When we were done at the capitol, we asked Matt's cousin where she wanted to go. The zoo! Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison is free, and had quite a lot of exhibits, including this one fun place in the children's area where you can feed the goats.
I'm kind of amazed the goats weren't leaping over the fence, because they were all about that food and were already climbing halfway up the side of the barrier.
There is also a carousel and train ride in the children's area, and we went on both.
Chimpanzee and Puffin! I hadn't been on a carousel in YEARS.
I always thought it was weird that Elliott and Tugger liked being in the water, but apparently tigers don't mind laying down in the water either.
After we'd spent a while at the zoo, we went back to the family's house to relax and have dinner before heading out for the fireworks!
We walked to a park a few blocks over to see the show, and sat on blankets right near the water.
It was a really spectacular show. The fireworks were synchronized to a particular radio station, which was playing a bunch of patriotic music, and several people near us had radios so we could hear it.
The fireworks were almost directly above us, and after a while, I laid back to watch and it felt incredible to see them exploding right above me in the sky.
After the finale, we walked back home and waited for the traffic to clear out, then headed back to the hotel. The next morning, we'd be going back to Chicago!
Did you go see fireworks this year? What are your favorite zoo animals?