Tuesday was pretty quiet; we played putt-putt golf with some folks (Ed won, the little whippersnapper) and went to Gander Mountain and stuff. Gander Mountain, for those of you in the south, is one of the all-time coolest outdoor supply stores ever. It’s a chain of stores, but they’re not in the southern states yet. They have EVERYTHING. Looking for a duck blind? Check. Mummy sleeping bag? Check. Fur pelts? Check. Of course, it’s all horribly expensive and the only thing I bought was some beef jerky, but that’s ok.

On Wednesday, church was going to be late because we were going to have a phone hookup with Australia. 8:30pm here is roughly 9:30am there (..or something like that) and we didn’t want to make them get up too early. So, at 9am we set off to Madison to see the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and Conservatory. It was about 40 degrees and raining, but it was still incredibly beautiful, and I got some amazing pictures which I will post shortly. From there we had lunch in downtown Madison in this little restaurant called the Sunroom Cafe, which is a tiny little place up above some other stores. They sell amazingly delicious, all-organic food. I had a chicken salad sandwhich with tabouli, although I wavered between that and the hummus pita for quite a while. It was like this secret little coffee shop nobody except the natives know about. Mom found out about it somehow on the internet. Anyway! After that we walked a few blocks through Madison to the Overture Center, which is comprised of several gargantuan concert halls, a couple museums, and an extremely fancy restaurant. We toured the building, then ran by a few small shops back out on the street. Someone in our group had found a used book store, so of course I went to check it out. I ran in the first place that I saw had a lot of books, thinking that was it. Unfortunately, it was a “Feminist Bookstore” (no joke, that’s what the sign said…on the OTHER side of the store opposite where I came in). I didn’t find this out until I was browsing titles and came across AN ENTIRE ROOM of lesbian books. So, that was mildly terrifying, and I hastily retreated. Never did find the used book store. Sigh.

We had dinner at the aforementioned horrendously expensive restaurant, which is something we only do once a year on this trip (if that). It was good, just…expensive. And of course the obligatory teensy tiny portions. We all had a blast, though, and got to tease Luke (our church Luke, not Campbell Luke or Fresh Market Luke; I have to specify) about his deconstructed eggplant, which is not from this planet, I’m convinced.

Since it was still extremely windy and snowing, Dad, Ed, Luke, and Dustin gallantly offered to bring the two vans from the parking garage several blocks away to the Overture Center where we all were. We thought this was a splendid idea, so we waited as they set off. And waited. And waited. Finally I called Ed on the cell phone to see what the hold-up was. He said there was some difficulty paying at the garage, but they were on their way. So we waited. And waited. And waited. I called Ed again. He said they were on their way, but “We lost Dad.” … I asked him to elaborate upon that statement. He said that Dad was alone in one van because Ed was riding with Dustin and Luke, and Ed had the only cell phone. Dad turned, they followed, they lost him as he went through a light, and now they were trying to find both him and us. I said ok, just pick us up then we’ll worry about Dad. By this time we were all standing on the blustery street corner of Madison, with night falling and cars everywhere. So we waited some more. And waited. I called Ed and said he definitely should have passed us by now. I lost the signal, and just as I looked up, I see Luke’s van blasting by. So I got to do that whole running-madly-down-the-street-to-flag-down-the-car thing, which I’ve always loved to do. There was more confused chattering as we all hunted for Dad, when we spotted him waaaay down the street. We hurrahed jubilantly! But then he turned. Curses! We made another mad dash down the street to catch him, and it was ok because he was just turning around to get back to us, so we all made it to our respective rides.

By this time it was quite late, and we weren’t sure we’d make it back in time for services. However, some people who shall remain nameless can really put the pedal to the medal when it’s required, and we arrived 10 minutes before church. Threw on a skirt, grabbed the Bible, and all was well. A great time was had by all, and the phone service with Australia proceeded without a hitch, which was highly unusual but not unwelcome.