John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Library visits and other things

I've been spending most of my recent Saturdays on a quest to visit every branch of the Madison Public Library system. As I've mentioned before, what I'd really like to do is visit every library in the South Central Library System, but circumstances require me to defer that project to a later date.

Two Saturdays back, I visited the Alicia Ashman branch. That Saturday was Free Comic Book Day; I chose the Ashman branch because it was within biking distance of Westfield Comics, one of Madison's two comic book shops. It was also close to the Second Jacobs House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's more notable structures. (It was the first of his solar hemicycle designs.) So that morning my bike and I rode the bus over to the fashionable west side.

The Ashman branch, like most of the branches, is a storefront library, albeit a fairly large and airy one. I spent a couple of hours there, using the computer and finishing the book I was reading at the time (The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs). I also picked up some free comic books; Westfield had donated a bunch of the kid-friendly titles to be given away at the library.

Next stop: the Second Jacobs House. While the distance was easy enough to manage, the terrain and the atmospheric conditions were working against me, in that I had to pedal up a fairly large hill into a 15-mile-an-hour headwind to get to the side street I was looking for. The side street was also an uphill climb, but there was a bike rack right there at the intersection, so I locked up the bike and hoofed it to the house. It's still a private residence, so I couldn't get a close look, but what I could see was nice. Then I walked down that hill and continued on foot the rest of the way up the first hill, to take a look at a little white clapboard church I had spied while parking my bike. I am nothing if not a sucker for a little white clapboard church. Thence, to the comic shop for more free comics. They were limiting each customer to five freebies, which I heard a bit of grumbling about, but that would have been plenty for me even if I hadn't already picked up four others at the library.

This weekend, I decided to check out another library on the fashionable west side, the Meadowridge branch. Once again, I took my bike with me, and while my original plan was to take the bus all the way to the library, I realized when I reached the corner of Odana and Whitney that I could get off there and just ride straight down Whitney to the library. Which is what I did, after taking some time to walk through Westgate Mall, which if not exactly a Dead Mall is certainly not very healthy. I think at least half of the storefronts were vacant. The ride to the library was unexceptional, as was the Meadowridge branch itself. It's the smallest of the libraries I've visited, and it felt kind of cramped.

After finishing up there, I grabbed a sandwich at a nearby Pizza Extreme and rode down Raymond and up McKenna (literally up, though it was a more modest hill than the one I'd encountered two weeks earlier) to Elver Park. I was under the impression before I got there I'd not been there before, but once I arrived I realized that my sister had shown it to me several weeks before when we were driving around killing time before a lunch date with some friends from college. On that occasion, though, we'd not gotten out of the car, just driven through the parking lot, so this was a more substantive visit.

Elver Park is home to a disc golf course, and after I finished my sandwich and my book (Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster by Craig Yoe) I decided to kill time waiting for the bus home by walking around the course. Which would have been a great idea had I not gotten lost. I noticed at one point that I had somehow switched directions, so I was walking the course backwards, from pin to tee instead of the other way around, and I eventually came back to a hole I'd been to before, easily recognizable for being at the bottom of a very steep hill, and encountered a foursome I'd seen earlier. They pointed me in the right direction, and I tagged along with them for one hole, then forged ahead, hopping from group to group but being careful to go from tee to pin. And it was working! I passed a couple of holes I'd not seen before. Then, suddenly, I found myself at the top of the hill at the bottom of which I had embarked on my new strategy for finding my way out of the course. What!

So I gave up. I knew that at the bottom of the hill, there was a little path leading out of the park, so I availed myself of the opportunity to escape the maze. I didn't know where I was, but I figured I had a better chance of finding my way back to my bike via a paved road than a path through the woods I'd already proved myself incapable of navigating. I was soon able to ascertain that I was back on Raymond, on the other side of McKenna, which means I had escaped the course at the point where I was as far away from where I wanted to be as I possibly could have been. Whee. But I did make it back to my bike, just in time to see the foursome who had tried to help me earlier emerge from the woods. Obviously, I should have just stuck with them, but my way didn't take any less time, so it worked out OK.

Next week: Monroe Street! Or possibly South Madison. I think those are the only two I have left. Whatever, I'll figure it out next Friday night.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Saturday I didn't mention, I didn't go to a library that weekend. Instead, I went to my nephew's soccer game—on a very cold, very windy, and slightly rainy morning, thank you very much—and then went down to Illinois with him and my sister to take my grandmother out for a Mothers' Day lunch.)
 
Tags: excursions, libraries, wisconsin: madison
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