Monday, February 4, 2008

Winter Wonderland

First, I encourage you to read this post from Griper Blade, who is fast becoming one of my favorite area political bloggers. This particular piece deals with the delusion that is supply-side economics, and how Bush has been wrong about pretty much everything. It goes into detail and backs up those claims, though, so it's not just another "Blarrrr I hate Bu$h!" rant, I promise.

Now that that's out of the way, though, did anyone else head downtown this weekend to enjoy the Winter Festival/Capitol Sprints? I love that we do this. For those of you reading who might be unfamiliar with this new-ish tradition, what happens is a bunch of snow is trucked in and used to line the streets of the square around the capitol. A series of cross country skiing races and events are then held there. Several events are held nearby, too, including snowshoeing, ice and snow sculpting, and snowboard "rail jam" contests held on a giant ramp built in the middle of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It's good times all around, and a nice way to add some color to the winter months. We finally had great weather for it this year, too, with temperatures in the high 20's, some snow flurries, and plenty of preexisting snow on the ground. I was also happy to see that a few dedicated kite fliers threw their own, mini "Kites On Ice" event out on Lake Monona.
A few friends of mine were in from out of town, so I took them down to check out some of the action. Along the way, we saw some high schoolers from around the state participating in a cross country relay race (only in Wisconsin do high schools have cross country skiing teams, I swear), and I also stumbled across a puffed up hawk perched in a low branch on the capitol grounds. Seemed like an odd place for it, but the bird looked rather content watching the goings-on.
We then wandered over to the snowboarding ramp, where a group of under-15's were trying their hands at the course. Our favorite contender was a young blond girl in a bright pink, furry coat, who was pretty damn good and confident amidst the sea of boys who dominated her age group.

I saw a lot of people out enjoying the festivities, including quite a few of my fellow Madison Flickr types. My only regret is that I didn't get out onto the lake to check out the kites, and that I don't ski (yet). It would have been fun to have taken a spin around the capitol.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Where's this guy been.

Anonymous said...

Please ski! If you don't have skis now, wait until March, when the ski sales begin. You don't need to go to the sales, but you can benefit by checking St. Vincent's and Goodwill (don't forget the St. Vincent's in Stoughton, call ahead) for used skis and poles. Most difficult is finding good boots that fit the bindings on the skis you find. You can get a nice pair of waxless in your size (hold your arm up, hand out, the tip of the ski should cuddle beneath your hand.), and poles (armpit length). Try to avoid three-pin bindings, as the boots are nearly impossible to find. Good boots will last you a lifetime, and can be switched from ski to ski. That's all you need - along with a Thermos of cocoa and an orange - to have a fun morning at Kegonsa State Park, where the cc trails are easy and the scenery pleasant. Back in the day, I covered the 50 K competition at the 1994 Olympics, joining a hundred thousand (!) Norwegians in the woods outside of Lillehammer to watch in record cold. That's where I first watched a mom pull steaming hot dogs out of her Thermos for her children! What a great idea, eh? It's where I learned cc skiing is meant to be fun. You get tired, you just slow down. Anyway, your mention of thinking about skiing hit me at just the right time. Sorry to carry on so.

Emily said...

GEORGE - Don't apologize! It's good advice, all, and I'm always to hear from people who're so passionate about things like this. I've got a good bead on a pair of skis, boots and poles that might be just my size, so I'm hopeful that'll I'll be able to give it a try before the snow melts.

Anonymous said...

It's good thinking time, cross-country skiing, too. When parts of my world come crashing down, or when the burden of my own ignorance seems too great to carry, it is a relief to just slide, alone and quietly, through the woods. This happens more these days, as life's inevitable transitions take a toll that can only be paid in tolerance and patience. In the summer the salve is a long sweaty hike at Governor Dodge State Park. In the winter, an undemanding but still invigorating ski through Kegonsa or Blue Mounds is equally healing.

The Lost Albatross