MAKING MEMORIES IN MADISON AND MINNEAPOLIS

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RVing has changed our “goodbyes” into “see ya laters.” After saying our “see ya laters” to our family in Indiana we hit the road and headed north. Our destination was Madison, Wisconsin.

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A few rest stops later and an overnight in a Walmart parking lot, we set up camp at Lake Farm Campground just outside Madison, Wisconsin.

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Sometimes finding camping near a city can be a challenge, but not so in Madison. I counted at least 10 campgrounds within 20 miles. Lake Farm Campground was a great little campground with the Capitol City State Bike Trail running by. The campground was peaceful and felt rural but downtown Madison was only a mere six miles away.

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Our site was electric only so when we ran out of water, Brent put his skateboard to use to fetch some more.

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You gave us such great suggestions on the Go RVing Facebook page when we visited Tennessee that we decided to fit in as many of your suggestions as possible for Madison. The first stop on the itinerary was the Henry Vilas Zoo.

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In 1904, the Vilas family donated a large piece of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Association with the stipulation that the park always be free. The first animals were added in 1911. Today, over 100 years later, the 30-acre zoo is still free for the public to enjoy.

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Thing 1 and Thing 2 loved watching the capybaras, the largest rodents in the world. As soon as we got back to the RV, Thing 1 started Googling “capybara as pets.” Sorry but I don’t think an RV with a capybara would be a good idea. We’ll stick with our dogs and cat!

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The most suggested place to visit near Madison was the House on the Rock. The House on the Rock is located in Spring Green about an hour west of Madison. We had never heard of it before and hadn’t had much time to read about it online. As we drove through the rolling green hills speckled with picturesque farms we made guesses as to what it was going to be like!

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What a great surprise it turned out to be! House of the Rock is a wild and whimsical trip through the imagination of its builder, the late Alex Jordan. In the 1940s Alex Jordan began building what he intended to be a weekend retreat on a sandstone rock he found in the Wyoming Valley. He never intended it to be an attraction but curious neighbors kept asking to visit and Alex began charging a fifty-cent admission. He continued to build and add to his collection of curiosities. Today the House of the Rock is best described as a whimsical combination of antique gallery, carnival, attic collection, and history and art museum. It’s kind of like Willy Wonka meets the Smithsonian. And it’s captivatingly bizarre.

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The first part of the tour was in the original house where Alex started.

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The tour grew increasing more bizarre as we wound our way through toy collections, carousels, giant music boxes, armor faux streets, and a giant squid fighting a three story tall whale-like creature.

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For those interested in visiting The House on the Rock, there are a number of campgrounds nearby or if you are just passing through there is ample RV parking in the bus/RV parking lot.

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We ended our visit to Madison with another one of your suggestions, a trip to the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Consistently rated one of the top farmers markets in the United States, the Dane County Farmers’ Market takes place each Saturday around Capitol Square in downtown Madison.

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It boasts over 200 vendors selling everything from produce to fresh flowers to local meats.

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Madison was a beautiful laid-back city. We could have easily spent another week or two enjoying the lakes, biking the paths, or exploring the city and the surrounding countryside, but Alaska is calling. It was time to hitch up and continue our journey north.

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The road north led us to Lebanon Hills Campground in Apple Valley just southeast of Minneapolis. It was cloudy and rainy while we were there.

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It was okay because the wet weather made for cozy days in the RV.

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The weather was a perfect excuse to head over the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States with over 500 stores.

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Mall of America is much more than a shopping mall. Inside you’ll find an amusement park, an aquarium, a comedy club, miniature golf, and more!

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One month down and we have covered 2,000 of our 6,000 miles. Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. We had a great time! I hope you stick around as we continue to #GoRVing to Alaska!

Have you ever been to Madison or Minneapolis? Do you have a favorite place to #GoRVing in the Midwest?