After six months in Portland, it was finally time to go home to Madison, Wisconsin and visit with friends and have an early Christmas celebration with my immediate family. With Cole safely at a friend’s house, my journey home begun at 4 AM on a Thursday morning the first week of December. After a quick shower, I left my apartment and began my day of travel. This, of course, is when the problems began. First, I had to wait for a freight train to pass by before I could get to the Max stop to catch the light rail train to the airport. Figuring I had plenty of opportunities to grab a bite to eat at one of the four airports I would be visiting that day, I decided to skip breakfast in Portland. Unfortunately both the flight from Portland to Los Angeles and the flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City were running late so my layovers were minutes long and left no time for grabbing a bite to eat so I sustained myself on airplane pretzels and cookies until I arrived in the cold, 27 degrees of Madison, Wisconsin at 6 PM.
|Sa Bai Thong – Best Thai food in Madison|
After picking up the rental car, which I begrudgingly agreed to a free upgrade from a fuel efficient compact to an SUV, seeing as it was the only option, and running a quick errand, I met some friends at my favorite Thai restaurant, Sa Bai Thong. After catching up while enjoying delicious food and wine, a couple of us headed over to the Vintage for $3 beers. Another friend surprised me and met up with us there and then we headed over to Mid Town Pub whose specialty was “porn corn” which I hope got it’s name for it’s desirable taste and not for the many other less appealing ways in which it could have come about. After saying goodnight to one of my friends, we headed over to the Free House in Middleton where we were delighted with the fine sounds of 90’s hip hop. Wanting a change in soundtrack, we headed over to the Hody which is always a fun, guilty pleasure spot to people watch. Once it was time to call it a night, I headed over to my friend’s place to crash and apparently slip into a coma.
|My dad’s famous Old Fashioned|
I awoke the next morning a little past noon. Apparently my day of travel and night of hitting the town had taken it’s toll on me. I got ready and headed out as quickly as possible and after a quick bite to eat, attempted to do my one-stop Christmas shopping in 20 minutes where I was surprised to come across a man that I swear could be my dad in another 15 years. I managed to find everything I was looking for and wrapped it all on the tailgate of the SUV in the parking lot outside the store. Once finished, I hurried off to Topp’s Hideaway in Windsor to meet my sister so we could make the hour drive east together to our parents house in Delafield for our Christmas celebration complete with Old Fashioneds and homemade lasagna. The night ran late, as usual, but it was good to spend time with my parents and sister. I believe it may have been the first time in a very long time that it was just us four and there was something kind of comforting about that.
|Me, my Mom, Dad and Sister|
After a rough night of sleep on my parent’s couch, which I remember to be so much more comfortable than it was that night, I showed my parents some of my photos of my adventures in the Pacific Northwest over breakfast of left over deviled eggs. Once through those, my sister and I said goodbye to our parents and then were off, headed back to Madison. After dropping off my sister, I met up with a group of friends for a sushi lunch at Takara, home of the best California Roll ever. It was fun catching up with everyone but slowly, one by one, people had to head out to continue on with their weekend plans. I had hoped to catch the movie Wild but unfortunately it was not in theaters yet in Madison so a couple friends and I ran some errands together so we could keep the conversation going. Once those were done, we met up at Louisianne’s in Middleton to listen to Johnny Chimes play piano while we sipped cocktails in the warm dark glow of the lounge. Hilary’s Annual Tacky Gift Exchange Party had been postponed so once the music ended, instead of heading to her place, we went to Le Tigre Lounge. If the name doesn’t give it away, it is a lounge covered from ceiling to floor with tiger themed decor. We stayed until close and then one friend and I, being the last two still going, had a late night/early morning greasy breakfast at the local Denny’s restaurant.
|Sushi lunch at Takara with friends|
Not getting to bed until about 4:30 in the morning, I decided to cancel the plans for brunch at noon at the Green Owl and just hang out with a friend and her daughter at their place until it was time to head to the airport. Once the time came, I said goodbye and headed to the airport to return the rental car, do a little white elephant party gift shopping in the airport and then caught my first of two flights back to Portland. My flight got in to Portland later than expected from Salt Lake City but my friend picked me up from the airport with Cole in tow, a wonderful homecoming!
|All of us with Johnny Chimes after his performance at Louisianne’s|
All in all it was a great trip to Wisconsin. It was wonderful to see and catch up with friends in person after six months away. It was equally good to come home though to the mild 50 degree temperatures of Portland. Although it felt as nothing had changed the minute I started driving around in Madison, I know for certain that Portland is home and where I am meant to be. I love it here!