Monthly Archives: December 2012

A St. Louis Masquerade Ball

Picture of arch.

A tall structure.

I went back to St. Louis for the second time this year to attend a friend's party. I got there a few days early, though, so I was able to do a lot of walking around the city's south side. Some of the highlights were the old churches, graffiti, and noticing that some fire hydrants were painted to show off the neighborhood.

Downtown provided a great learning opportunity as I had time to check out the old courthouse with lots of history including the room where a slave named Dred Scott was given his freedom. And of course the arch is always fun to check out, even on this, my fourth visit to the city.

Some folks from Madison met me in town and we went to the Botanical Gardens, which has to be one of the nicest in the country. The atrium of the main building features a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture that sets the tempo for the rest of the visit. There was a building with various spices and tropical plants, orchids, waterfalls, and Japanese gardens. But the highlight was being able to take a nap on the lawn under the warm December sun.

And the weekend culminated with a fancy masquerade ball, hosted by Stephen, whom we originally met at the Madison Couch Crash earlier this year. It was an all-around fun weekend and I will reiterate that St. Louis is definitely worth visiting, given the rather short drive from Madison.

Click for more photos from St Louis.

Chicago Without an Agenda

Picture of Chicago.

The city comes alive.

I spent a few days in Chicago at the end of November. It's a huge city that's only a few hours from Madison, yet I don't get there very often for some reason. Probably because I've been focused on the natural world for the last few years.

For this Chicago visit, I didn't have any agenda. I stayed with Ali, whom I met through CouchSurfing in Madison last year, and spent a ton of time walking around Logan Square where he lives. It's kind of a trendy Hispanic neighborhood on the north side, and the weather was just warm enough to walk all day and not get cold. I also met with some other CS friends for a night of classic video games and drinking at the Emporium. I did pretty well at Galaga, sucked at PacMan, and was disappointed that they didn't have a Robotron machine.

Chicago is a neighborhood-oriented city, but the place I tended to meet people who lived on opposite ends of town was in The Loop. I spent far too much time walking around and watching others buy ridiculously overpriced crap. Then I went to the bar at the top of the Hancock Tower. Ali's friend Monina and I spent two hours watching the sun set and the city come to life.

More of my Chicago photos.

Tea Party at Dr. Evermor's

Picture of tea party.


I've lived in Madison for over four years, and while I've driven to nearby Devil's Lake dozens of times, I had never stopped at nearby Dr. Evermor's. That all changed when I got together with some friends, including a CouchSurfer from Chicago, to have a tea party at the Forevertron.

Many people had told me that the Forevertron was an interesting place, but I had no idea how amazing it would be. We sat around a table in a gazebo on a cool fall day with thermos's full of hot tea and were greeted by Lady Evermor, the proprietor or the establishment. She was extremely friendly and regaled us with stories of the sculptures that were scattered throughout the park. The highlight was the Forevertron, which a Victorian inventor named Dr. Evermor built to launch himself into the heavens. He even made a telescope so skeptics could observe the launching. There were also hundreds of scrap metal sculptures that showed the creative genius of Dr. Evermor. The park is a must-see attraction for anyone who is artistically inclined or just enjoys a good story.

Here's the park's official website:

We also made a brief stop in Natural Bridge State Park, which featured – you guessed it – a natural bridge. Hunters' gunshots rattled our ears to make the walk to the bridge more interesting, and we left with no casualties.

More photos of Dr. Evermor's and the state park.