Tuesday after class, I followed Epic's self-guided tour of the grounds. Here are a few pictures.
|Entrance to Deep Space, the 11,000-seat underground auditorium. |
The glass building to the right is Voyager Hall, where I attended my class.
|Central part of the grounds|
|Staff dining room. (We trainees ate in a different area.)|
|The Waterfall Conference room|
Wednesday's bike ride into downtown Madison was brilliant! I'm so glad I did it. The bike rental shop was next door to my hotel and although they closed for the day at 6:00 pm, they told me I didn't have to return it before then and could just lock it up in their lot any time. That was great news because I really wanted to bike back to Epic in the evening for the sunset, which is at about 8:20 pm.
Madison has a fantastic bike infrastructure. Epic is located in Verona, WI, about eleven miles from downtown Madison.
|Most of this route was on commuter bike trails|
The network of bike trails is amazing. My only interaction with cars was at points where the trails crossed roads, at clearly marked crossings, where drivers were courteous about stopping for you. There were overpasses when the trails crossed busy highways. It was such a pleasure not to have to ride defensively. Seriously, the biggest danger to my safety on this route was the bunnies that jumped out onto the trail. The weather was perfect for cycling--low eighties, low humidity, and a fresh breeze. I barely broke a sweat on the one-hour ride in.
|Bike trail crossroads|
|My rental bike. The yellow tag is a trail pass, which you must have to use the trails. |
The bike shop sold me a $4 day pass and I believe the fee is $20/year for locals.
In town, I parked my bike on UW's east campus mall and headed to State St. on foot. This is Madison's quasi-pedestrian mall. It differs from Charlottesville's in that there's a defined road and sidewalks, but only bicycles and public transportation vehicles may use the road. There were so many cyclists! And why wouldn't there be, when it is so easy to get around by bike in Madison? It's almost like a European city.
|State Capitol building|
I checked out the shops on State St and toured the State Capitol building, which is open to the public, and went up to the observation deck at the base of the dome. It had one of those scary, one-way spiral staircases.
The afternoon rush hour had started when I began the return trip home and I found myself caught up in a stream of bike commuters. In downtown Madison, where the bike paths cross the roads, there are traffic lights specifically for bikes. (The illuminated bits are in the shape of a bicycle.) Once you get out of downtown, the path (I was on the Southwest Commuter Path) goes through pleasant urban neighborhoods with pretty houses and gardens, and periodic exits off the trails to the streets. Further out, the trail parallels a major highway, but with a wide buffer of grass and plants so you aren't choking on exhaust and dirt.
I got back to my hotel, windblown and disheveled, and went to the Wednesday evening social for the guests. Almost all the guests are visiting Epic. I had a glass of white wine and then a Spotted Cow beer from the New Glarus brewery. It was fun to chat with analysts from other organizations.
At 7:30, I got back on the bike and rode out to Epic for the sunset, where the view was lovely. I had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to get to the waterfall on a bike and ended up carrying the bike up some stairs. The Epic employee was right. The full sunlight flattens the prairie, but at sunset, it gains depth and texture. Comparison pictures below.
|There's a window behind the waterfall.|
I rode back into Verona, to the supermarket to stock up on cheese to take home and then returned the bike. All told, I rode about twenty-five miles with less stress and effort than my six-mile daily ride in Charlottesville. It was a great day.