Date: June 16th, 2019
Miles Traveled: 17
Weather: Overcast. Cool.
Physical Status: “I’m so glad today’s a low mileage day.”
TL;DR: A botanical garden, a zoo, and one bikeable city.
After having breakfast with Brett and Doug, my previous hosts, I pedalled back onto the Glacial Drumlin Trail and traveled about 15 miles to the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin, my destination for the day.
Along the way, I enjoyed a couple miles of serene wetlands and forests before making it back to civilization:
As I was traveling through the suburbs East of Madison, I looked left and a large golden structure surrounded by lush green foliage caught my eye. Seeing as I had quite a few hours to kill today, I decided to stop and check it out.
And oh was I glad I did.
I turned left off of the bike path and pedalled around a huge glass pyramid structure before finding the entrance of the facility. The place was called the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and it was an entirely free botanical garden funded by the city of Madison.
Here’s some pics —
A garden kaleidescope featuring a rotatable platform:
Turns out, the “golden structure” I witnessed earlier was Olbrich’s Thai Pavilion, the only Thai pavilion in the continental United States. It was hand-crafted in Thailand and given to the University of Wisconsin (Madison) as a gift from the Thai government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association:
After spending an hour or two walking around the garden, I went back inside the main building and paid a small fee to enter their tropical conservatory, which was housed inside the aforementioned large glass pyramid:
I also briefly browsed a series of flower competition winners in the back room of the main building:
After leaving the gardens, I rode back onto the bike path, continued toward downtown Madison, and pedalled through a number of parks and streets just outside the center of the city.
It was then that I got to experience how amazingly bike friendly Madison is. As I pedalled along, I was like that one child in Despicable Me who could just not handle it:
Smooth, paved bike paths spanned across the city with bicycle-related signage posted everywhere in between. Having lived in suburban New Jersey all my life, where bicycling infrastructure either doesn’t exist or often consists of a sign reading “Share the Road”, bicycling through Madison’s streets was such a breath of fresh air.
Anyways, here’s some pics:
Behold, a tall bike — this rare species of the bicyclae family is not regularly seen without its human steed, but our cameras managed to capture this beautiful and unconventional creature in its most docile state… resting at a bike rack.
*Walks into bike shop to purchase a spare shifter cable*
Madisonian’s really like their bikes.
After biking along Lake Monona, I made my way to the Henry Vilas Zoo, an entirely free zoo located just one or two miles Southwest of the city center:
Prior to exiting the zoo, I had my first Beyond Burger, a burger self-described as “the world’s first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef without GMOs, soy, or gluten.”
In short, I’m a fan.
I then headed Northeast along a street literally called “Bicycle Boulevard”, passed through the University of Wisconsin’s downtown campus, and rolled up to the Wisconsin State Capitol:
Soon afterward, I hit up a hip pizza joint called “Lucille” and precariously biked with a pizza box and cheese curds to my cousin’s (Megan’s) apartment, where I’ll be staying tonight and the following night.
Tomorrow, I’ll be resting my legs and continuing to explore the city of Madison before heading out the following day.
Until next time!