Spring Green Minivacation - Day 2

(This post is part of a series on a short vacation that I took with my lovely spouse Diana Rajchel at the beginning of July 2011)

Waking up at the Usonian Inn was interesting, because there are large bay windows that let in the light very well throughout the day, including the morning. Even though they aren’t oriented toward the sun, I woke up basically naturally, and then decided that I wanted to sleep for a couple more hours. One of the things that I end up getting a lot more of on vacation than I do in “real life” is sleep. I really relish being able to wake up, look at the clock, and decide that I don’t have so many pressing things today that I can’t sleep for another hour or two. I think that I didn’t have a night with less than 6 hours sleep in the entire trip, which is a significant increase over the amount of sleep that I get on a normal night. That’s not to say that I wasn’t waking up at my normal times, I would just get up at 4am, and decide that I wanted to sleep some more, and then sleep for 3 hours or more.

After my sleeping in until almost 9am (crazy!), we got dressed and headed to the Round Barn Restaurant, which is one of the places that Diana has been to before on her trips to this area. We at first didn’t know what to do, because the dining room is right within the door, and there was no hostess at the station, nor a sign stating to either seat ourselves or wait to be seated. Diana decided to take the initiative and we wondered around until we found a table at a secluded area. It had an interestingly placed mirror, so I took the self-portrait that you see above. The menu was fairly standard fare for a restaurant in the US when serving breakfast, and I ended up having a breakfast burrito. The portions of the meal were quite small, but both of the entrĂ©es were less than $15 with coffee, so the prices were also similarly small.

After breakfast, we ventured into downtown Spring Green again to see what the shops were like along main street and the main cross street. We visited a lot of places including what must be one of the final remaining small mom-and-pop department stores in America (no big box store here, except 20 minutes away in Dodgeville), a shop that was quite focused on quilting, and an office supply store. Everywhere we went we were trying to check into Foursquare at these places, and more often than not we did not find a location in the service for the store. Diana was kind enough to add the locations basically wherever we went, and I believe she got some kind of badge for it because of her vigilance in making sure we could document our trip digitally. We also found some interesting benches which were painted in some kind of town square thing.

I didn’t catch why these were painted so much, but they were interesting to look at for sure. We also visited The Opal Man, which is situated in a quite small building, but had some magnificent opals that we stared at for a while, including one that was just sheared out of a square of rock, and had some beautiful transparent blue and green flecks in it which reminded me of the types of things that we just wish we could duplicate with the colors on a computer for electronic-y themes.

The heat from the previous day did not dissipate overnight, which meant that walking around downtown wasn’t exactly an easy thing - it mostly involved walking to the next store while we were sweltering and hoping that it contained an air conditioner to relieve the amazing 100 degree heat and high humidity of the outside. It made us use the car when we would normally just walk around, and that made me somewhat sad but I was happy because our air conditioning in the car was just chugging away like there was no problem. It could be considered probably one of the largest tests of the car’s air to turn on for 5 minutes while we drove and then turn off again and have the car subsequently heat up like crazy. One of the ways that we combated the heat was to stop in the Arcadia Book Store which also included a coffee shop, and get some iced coffee and juice. On the trip in general I would say that I had iced coffee more than I’ve had in the past five years. Usually I will still drink the hot stuff even if it’s really hot outside. The Arcadia is a charming book store that I would recommend to anyone who wants to stop and have a coffee and look at books, it’s just the right size that you can easily browse the whole store but had a great selection of books. I already have too many books to read through so I didn’t buy any, but true to form, I took down a couple of titles for me to add to my queue of books to read later, as they looked interesting enough for me to try to find later.

We visited some other stores, but then decided that we wanted to take a little break before the main event of the trip, tickets to American Player’s Theatre performing The Critic. Back to the hotel to have a short nap. After the nap, we visited Arthur’s Supper Club for a meal before we headed off to the play. This restaurant was pretty packed, and had a fried fish and chicken buffet going on. I had some gumbo soup and salad from the salad bar, but decided to just order the fish and chicken from the menu. It was mediocre at best, and I didn’t even finish the meal.

The play itself was staged interestingly and was a play which was split into two acts which were quite distinct. The first act I dare to say was the better of the two from an intellectual standpoint - it was centered around a character who was a patron of the arts in the sixteenth century. His wife finds this insufferable because there are more important matters of the world to think about. The main character has a couple of friends over and there is a quite great scene with an artist who just cannot take criticism (I’ve met a few petty much exactly like him), which was possibly the best performance of the play. There is also a large section on the various types of advertising (or poofery as it was called by the character espousing it’s virtues), many of which we would be keen to see today, including a few “all publicity is good publicity” angles. Also there was a hilarious scene with some lost-in-translation type humor with English-French-Italian things, and a small slapstickish dance number which was funny. In the second act, all of the characters so far travel to a dress rehearsal of a play which one of their friends is the writer/director for. The rehearsal is fraught with difficulties, and the play itself has a number of holes in it’s plot and expositional character lines which don’t make sense. All of these lines are of course lampshaded by the audience’s surrogate and pointed out to great humor. The whole thing has a lot of pratfall comedy in it which was also enough to laugh at but wasn’t as good humor-wise as the first act I believed.

The whole play was still such a fun thing to go see, and it is really in the middle of a forest. The seats I was happy to see were the padded kind, although I really do wonder how they deal with it when it rains, because it’s basically an open-air theater on the top of a hill exposed to the elements. It was still incredibly hot and humid which made the play viewing a bit uncomfortable. Normally I would have hiked up the hill in order to get to the theater itself, but because of the heat we took a shuttle bus up the quite steep hill to the top. The APT were also kind enough to provide a bunch of insect spray, which I am convinced is the reason I wasn’t bit to smithereens as I was in later days.

It was a quite full day of vacation, although not rushed at all which I was happy to have. In the hotel room we indulged in some sweets and some TV which was a nice relaxing thing after the long, hot, day. On Saturday the heat finally broke, and we did a few more tourist things, I’ll post about them in Day 3. Until then.