Madison: Rose Show at Olbrich Gardens

Today we stopped by the Rose Show at Olbrich Gardens. This is the second flower show that I have attended there and I have loved both. Community members grow and cut rose and bring them in to be judged. After the show, the flowers are left on display so that anyone can take a look. While I don’t really know much about flowers, it’s really neat to go and see all of the different types of a specific flower there are and the variations. If you’re interested in checking out what events are coming up at Olbrich, click here.

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I didn’t even know that all of these were roses. What kind of flower show would you like to attend?

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Travel: Hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park

Last Sunday I traveled to Devil’s Lake State Park with one of my friends to go hiking. This was one of the top 5 things that I wanted to do this summer. I have been wanting to go to Devil’s Lake for several years but haven’t been able to fit it in my schedule, so we decided to go late Sunday afternoon. We were extra happy when we found out that it was free state parks weekend!

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Close to the beginning of our adventure. I was surprised by how difficult it was to walk up the trail! I workout regularly and still found it to be very intense.

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I promise I complained a lot about this IRL stair master.

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I was very excited to find a cave halfway along the way.

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This was my first time seeing this view in years, I had forgotten how pretty it is.

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Love this view and this woman.

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This was one of my favorite parts of the hike. The water was pretty, but I love the hills and green.

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Look at that little baby moon.

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An important part of a trip to Devil’s Lake is a ride on the Merrimac Ferry afterwards. My mom always brought us this way and it is a ton of fun. If you haven’t been on the ferry, you need to try it out! It’s free and there is a delicious ice cream stand.

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The ice cream is definitely one of the perks of taking the ferry.

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The beautiful view is pretty wonderful, too.

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We had an amazing trip. Do you think you’ll make it to Devil’s Lake this summer?

Travel: Top 5 things I want to do this summer

I am a big fan of getting away as much as possible and I’ve gone on more than my fair share of weekend trips over the last few years. Unfortunately for me (but fortunate for my wallet) I have taken on a weekend babysitting job that lasts from 6am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays for almost all weekends of the summer. My grandpa is also in hospice in Iowa and I would like to spend as much time with him as possible. This means that my weekend trips will be few and far between this summer. Knowing that, there are still a BUNCH of things that I want to do this year. These are my top 5.

1. Hiking at Devil’s Lake: I went to Devil’s Lake often as a teenager and I have never had a bad experience. However, as a kid we went for the beach and swimming, and now I would like to go for hiking purposes. I can’t wait to get up on the rocky cliffs and look out at the beautiful water.

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Just beautiful.

2. Get drunk in a cabin with my closest friends: Listen, I’m an adult, and if I want to safely get drunk in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with my favorite people, that’s allowed. I’m the one who has to suffer the consequences of the now unavoidable multi-day hangovers.

3. Visit Door County: A few years ago I went to Sturgeon Bay for an event and really fell in love. The city was beautiful, the shops were adorable, and I absolutely want to go back. I haven’t been further up the peninsula, so this is the number one weekend trip that I want to make happen.

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I now have a mission to find this building, hiding somewhere in Door County.

4. Explore a new cave: I absolutely love caves. I don’t think anything in America will compare to the absolutely incredible experience that I had in Belize (there were SKELETONS) but I am hoping there is some sort of beautiful cave within driving distance.

5. Visit Canada: Considering that I only live six hours from Canada, I have not been there enough. My passport only has another six months on it so I would love to head up to Canada for a long weekend. I went with my family years ago and found this beautiful place called Harmony Beach – I would love to go and spend a day or two there.

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He kept trying to splash me, so I picked him up and nearly dropped him. Love my little brother!

There you have it! The top five things that I want to do this summer. What do you have in mind?

Travel: Speeding Tickets in Netherlands and Germany

In December my cousin and I took a trip to Europe. After a little bit of planning, we realized that it would be more cost effective to rent a car than it would be to take the trains. While renting a car for almost two weeks comes with a lot of costs, it offers a lot more flexibility as far as destinations, side trips, and travel time. It also was way less stressful than the trips that I have taken where I have relied on buses and trains.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not strictly following the speeding laws while I was out of the country. For the most part, I stayed within speed limits and did my best to avoid breaking traffic laws. At a few points, I was a little loose with the speed of the car, especially after driving on the Autobahn in Germany.

After arriving home, I started to see charges from the rental company on my credit card. Each was for around $30-35, and all were unanticipated. Needless to say, I started freaking out. Soon after, I started getting expedited letters in the mail from the car rental company. I thought that these letters were the charges for the speeding tickets and I was upset that I had received the tickets, but glad that each charge was under $40.

Then I got an actual ticket in the mail. I only received one physical ticket from the Netherlands, for a charge of 394 euros. I also received a letter in the mail from Germany stating that I had broken the law but that the government had decided not to prosecute.

Both of these tickets came in different languages (Dutch and German) so I had to rely on friends to translate for me. I still haven’t gotten a full translation of the German letter so if anyone can help with that, I would appreciate it.

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Autobahn life

A lot of people have asked me how I managed to break the speed limit on the Autobahn considering that the Autobahn has no speed limits. Unfortunately, the Autobahn has speed limits in construction zones. My cousin and I had missed a turn and we were trying to figure out how to get back onto the correct highway. While we were discussing it we neared a city that had construction, and the speed limit dropped to 140km/hr. We were not going insanely fast because there was traffic, but we were probably close to 160. We did notice the red light from the camera go off and we were both super pissed/stressed.

I am not 100% sure when I got the tickets in the Netherlands. It appears that it was the morning that we dropped the car off. I don’t know if it happened while we were driving to Amsterdam or while we were filling up for gas at the airport. Regardless, I was 38km over the speed limit which is equal to 23mph over. This makes sense, but is still super frustrating.

I decided to appeal the tickets and charges to both the rental car company and the Netherlands government. I changed my credit card number so that the rental car company would stop charging me and I sent them an email stating that I did not agree with them charging me an average of $35 four times to send me one ticket and one warning letter. The response was: You owe us for the charges that did not process and we will not refund any of the money to you. I then appealed the charges to my credit card and showed that I had been charged multiples times for two actual offenses, and they refunded the charges. I did get recharged for one of the transactions but in the end I only ended up paying one out of four.

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I wrote up a nice letter for the Netherlands and had my darling friend Kim translate it into Dutch. I sent the letter in February and received a response at the beginning of May. I can’t read the letter but I can clearly see that the charges have not been waived and I owe the Netherlands 396 euros. Fortunately the due date isn’t for a few weeks, so I am going to wait until after the French election next week in case the Euro ends up crashing.

The lesson of all this? Renting a car while traveling is great. Just make damn well sure that you know the traffic rules and that you don’t break the speed limit!!

Travel Review: The Stable Cider Bar

One of my newest favorite things in life is drinking a delicious cider in London. I have had several ciders throughout the years but I’ve never taken a liking to them – they are usually too sweet and too low on alcohol to be worth the full feeling that comes along with finishing a glass. However, I tried several different types of cider in London this pas week and enjoyed most of them. My favorite experience was at The Stable cider bar, located in Whitechapel.

When we first arrived the bar/restaurant was rather empty, but that changed quickly. By the end of our visit, all of the tables were filled and everyone seemed to be having a lovely time.

We were sat right in the middle and we ordered our first drinks.

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The two ciders in the back belonged to friends and they enjoyed them. Mine (front) was a sweet cider with 7% alcohol content. Needless to say, I loved it. It tasted like delicious alcoholic apple juice. I would love to shout it out but the bar does not have their cider menu online.

After we finished our pints, we decided to order the sampler tray. We were not in love with it but did our best to do our jobs and finish our drinks. We did have some thoughts on the drinks that we wanted to share with the world.

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  1. Kingston Black 7.2%: I personally did not enjoy this drink and I immediately remarked “IT TASTES LIKE HAM” as soon as I took a sip. Marina agreed, “There’s something off,” she said while making a grossed out face. Arian did not enjoy the cider either, and it was the only one to remain unfinished at the end of the night.
  2. Red Hen 6.2%: We all agreed that this was a rather average cider. I can’t remember anything specific about it, so our “tastes average” comment describes just about how average it must have been.
  3. Hawked 5%: This taster led to a rather lengthy and well thought-out discussion. Upon trying the drink, Marina opined, “It’s okay, not nice.. But okay.” When I asked what the flavor was, she responded, “Mothballs. No, not mothballs. Mildew.”

    We may have become a bit more intoxicated at this point, as the quality of the comments dwindles and the alcohol percentage was not included in the notes.

  4. Devon Gold: “Good.”
  5. Lilly’s Strawberry: “Strawberry and smokey.”

All in all, the sampler was not very good. We managed to drink most of the cider, but didn’t enjoy a great deal of it. However, we do still recommend checking out The Stable and trying out a few of the ciders that might suit your tastes.

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Cheers!