To help you plan your week in Madison, below you'll find answers to a variety of questions we've received from participants.
1. I'll be staying at the Lowell Center. What are the rooms like?
2. The rooms at the Lowell Center are a bit steep for my budget. Are there other options?
3. I'm looking for a more upscale, full-featured hotel for the week. Where can I lodge myself?
4. Where, by the way, is Madison? And what time zone is it in?
5. How do I get from the Madison airport to the Lowell Center where I'll be staying?
6. How do I get from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Madison?
7. Does the Lowell Center have wireless Internet? How about the Pyle Center?
8. Is the Pyle Conference Center accessible?
9. What is the parking situation? I'll be commuting.
10. Are there any restaurants in Madison?
11. Will there be vegetarian options available for our shared meals at the Pyle Center?
12. Are there AA meetings I could attend in Madison?
13. How close is Starbucks? How close is the nearest fair-trade coffee shop?
14. Should I look forward to ice cream while I'm at the University of Wisconsin?
15. What's that green stuff in Lake Mendota?
16. I'm arriving a day (or more) early for the institute. Any suggestions for what to do with my free time?
17. Do I need to rent a car?
18. What's the schedule going to be for the institute?
19. How can I arrange an individual consultation with one (or more) of the institute's leaders?
20. I have materials from my writing center I'd like to share with other participants during the institute. How can I do that?
21. How should I dress for the institute?
22. What's the weather going to be like?
23. Is mosquito repellent a must?
24. Is there a list of used bookstores in Madison?
25. Are there any golf courses in Madison?
26. Is it true there's a toilet museum in Wisconsin?
27. Can I find Leine's in Madison?
28. Are there any good brew pubs in Madison?
29. How do I avoid a side trip to Iowa to see my in-laws?
30. Are we allowed to feed the ducks on Lake Mendota?
31. If I wanted to rent a bike for the week, is there a shop that would let me do that?
32. I'm not bringing a laptop. Will I have access to computers during the institute?
A: Well, the exterior of the building and the entrance are nothing to write home about, the rooms are on the small side (so is the elevator), and it can be a little noisy because it's close to campus, downtown and a construction site across the street. But the lobby and lounge have been nicely remodeled within the past year, and the guest rooms are reasonably attractive, recently redecorated, generally quiet, and *very* convenient to the Pyle Center, where the institute will be held, and to great walking along the lakeshore and to shopping and dining on State Street. Overall, we think you'll be comfortable there and will really appreciate the location; and for downtown Madison, the rates are reasonable. And that rate includes parking and breakfast.
A: Definitely. For information about rooms available in UW's residence halls, visit http://www.cals.wisc.edu/students/housing/#shortterm.
For information about Hostel International-Madison, visit http://www.hihostels.com/affiliates/hiusa60082.php?country=US&city=a60082&AffiliateID=97060.
For lodging information provided by the Madison Visitor’s Bureau, visit http://www.visitmadison.com/visitorinfo/index.php?category_id=7
Q: I'm looking for a more upscale, full-featured hotel for the week. Where can I lodge myself?
A: There are lots of wonderful options, but you probably want some advice from a local to make a good choice. Please feel free to contact Brad (firstname.lastname@example.org) for suggestions.
Q: Where, by the way, is Madison? And what time zone is it in?
A: Madison is in south central Wisconsin (one of those north-central states, south of Canada). It's about 80 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Lake Michigan (one of the great lakes), 120 miles northwest of O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, about 150 miles northwest of Midway Airport and downtown Chicago, and 250 miles southeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Madison is in the central time zone of the United States, the same time zone as Chicago.
A: Madison's airport is on the east side of the city, a mere six miles from the Lowell Center and Pyle Center. Cabs from several Madison companies are usually waiting just outside the baggage-claim area at the airport. Current cab fare is about $16 one way from the airport to the Lowell Center. Badger Cab offers shared rides, so although the route may be slightly longer, the fare is cheaper. If you're staying at a different hotel, check with them to see whether they have shuttle van service to and from the airport.
A: The Van Galder Bus Company offers convenient bus service from O'Hare right to the student union at UW-Madison (the Memorial Union on Langdon St., which is just a few blocks away from the Lowell Center) 12 times every day. The one-way trip takes approximately three-and-a-half hours. If you're looking for a ride with another institute participant from Chicago to Madison, use the travel section of the institute's electronic discussion forum which institute participants will be invited to join.
A: When you arrive at the institute and register at the Pyle Conference Center on Sunday afternoon, the 20th, you'll receive a guest Net ID and password that will allow you to access the wireless UWNet. You'll be able to check your email through a browser and surf the Internet wherever wireless is located on campus and where you have access to a computer. Both the Pyle Center and the Lowell Center have wireless access, as does the student union and terrace, and overnight guests at the Lowell Center are offered dataports in their rooms for wired access to the Internet. Both the Pyle Center and Lowell Center also have public kiosks with Internet access. Another great location for computers is across the street from the Pyle Center at the main campus research library, Memorial Library (UW-Madison has 40 libraries). To enter Memorial library, indicate to the receptionist that you would like a day or week guest pass (you'll need to bring identification with you). Once you have your guest pass, just ask for directions to the computer lab, log in using your guest Net ID and password, and away you go. By the way, this is all FREE to you!
A: In your registration confirmation, the Pyle Center provided maps and forms for applying for parking permits around the Pyle Center. There is also a city ramp at Frances and Lake Streets that charges 80 cents/hour and is only two blocks away. If you're staying at the Lowell Center, information about limited on-site parking is sent with your room confirmation.
A: Although you won't mistake the dining scene in Madison with what you'd find in New York or Los Angeles or Paris or Tokyo or Seattle or Portland, don't worry. Madison has *lots* of wonderful restaurants--from casual to fancy, from Italian to Indonesian to Peruvian to Japanese. Many are within a short walk from where you'll be staying, and others are only a short drive or cab ride away. When you register at the Pyle Center on Sunday afternoon, the 20th, you'll receive your very own copy of an extensive annotated restaurant and coffee-shop guide, written just for you by Writing Center colleagues at UW-Madison. And feel free to ask locals for suggestions--there are wonderful restaurants waiting for you, and we want to help you find them.
Q: Will there be vegetarian options available for our shared meals at the Pyle Center?
A: Absolutely. For every lunch, as well as for our opening dinner, there will be a vegetarian option, as well as non-vegetarian options.
Q: Are there AA meetings I could attend in Madison?
A: Absolutely. Here's a listing of AA meetings available in and around Madison [pdf].
Q: How close is Starbucks? How close is the nearest fair-trade coffee shop?
A: Two excellent questions, caffeine-lovers! If you're leaving from the Pyle Center or the Lowell Center, you can find Starbucks baristas a quick five-minute stroll away: follow Lake Street south, take a left on State, and you'll see Starbucks in the middle of the block on your right (661 State Street; 608-294-8345; hours 6 am - 10 pm daily). The closest and BEST fair trade coffee shop is -- appropriately -- Fair Trade Coffee. That's also on State Street: follow the directions to Starbucks, but keep walking up State towards the Capitol. Fair Trade will be a couple blocks up on your left (418 State Street; 608-268-0477; hours 8 am - 11 pm Monday - Saturday, 9 am - 11 pm Sunday). When you register at the Pyle Center on Sunday afternoon, the 20th, you'll receive your very own copy of a guide to Madison coffee shops, written just for you by Writing Center colleagues at UW-Madison.
Q: Should I look forward to ice cream while I'm at the University of Wisconsin? Where can I get it? What are the best flavors?
A: Ice cream in Madison? You bet!! (This is the dairy state, after all, even though California has now surpassed Wisconsin in milk production.) Just inside Memorial Union (entering from Langdon Street), you'll find The Daily Scoop, serving ice cream made right here on campus, in our very own Babcock Hall Dairy Plant. Regular flavors include Blue Moon, Butter Pecan, Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Fudge Marble, Grasshopper, Caramel Cappuccino, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Orange Custard Chocolate Chip; they also have monthly specials. We strongly suggest that you treat yourself to a cone -- or two or three! -- on the Terrace while you're here. It's a Madison experience not to be missed.
If you want to get a little closer to the source of this fantastic ice cream, take a 15-20 minute walk to Babcock Hall Dairy Store itself., adjacent to the on-campus dairy farm You can burn off your cone pre-consumption by hiking up Observatory Drive or take the flatter route along University Avenue (look on your campus map, which you'll receive when you register at the Pyle Center on Sunday afternoon, the 20th, for 1605 Linden Drive). Hours are 9:30 am-5:30 pm Monday - Friday and 10:00 am-1:30 pm Saturday.
A: Alas, that's algae, which usually blooms near the shore as summer heats up. It's an unfortunate consequence of Lake Mendota's being located in an urban setting; and the torrential, flooding rains in southern Wisconsin in June will only fuel more algae blooms. You can look over or beyond it to the deep blue waters of the lake.
A: There's lots to do, depending on your interests and whether you'll have a car.
Within walking distance of the institute, every Saturday morning around the state capitol, there is a fabulous farmers' market, one of the best in the country, in a stunning setting. Even if you're not looking to buy a dozen ears of sweet corn or cilantro pesto, you'll have fun joining the thousands of Madisonians who walk counter-clockwise around the market. If you like architecture, be sure to visit the State Capitol. And nearby is Monona Terrace, a convention center on the shores of Lake Monona, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a native of the Madison area. Tours are available, and there's a nice small gift shop there. You'll enjoy shopping, dining, and people-watching on State Street, which connects the University campus and the capitol. (Don't be put off by the construction on the campus end of State St.--all of the shops and restaurants are open, and they're worth negotiating that multi-year construction project to get to.) At the Lowell Center, you'll be right at the northeast edge of the thousand-acre University campus, which runs for two miles along the shore of Lake Mendota. On your way to the campus, stop at the Memorial Union (the student union) to buy an ice cream cone (the famous ice cream is made on campus) or buy a beer or soft drink and sit on the terrace overlooking the lake at the back of the union; many nights during the summer, there's great live music (free) on the Union terrace. (Be warned: to buy a beer at the Union, you'll need to demonstrate that you're attending the institute--so bring your Pyle Center registration form or your name tag, once you have one when you register at the Pyle Center on Sunday.) You might want to take a stroll or jog or bike on the lakeshore path, which runs west for a couple miles from the Memorial Union. The Chazen Museum of Art on campus is well worth a visit. The new Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is only a few blocks away on State St. And Madison's a great place for biking and boating.
You can join the studio audience for Michael Feldman's "Whad' Ya Know" radio show, broadcast nationally on NPR, on Saturday morning, July 19th, at 9:30 AM, or on Saturday morning, July 26th, at 9:30 AM, from Mitchell Theatre on the UW campus. For tickets and information, www.notmuch.com.
Maxwell Street Days--fun sidewalk sale for blocks and blocks on State St., Friday, July 18-Sunday, July 20, 2008.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will appear at several public events in Madison during July, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Allian Energy Center, Madison, Saturday, July 19-Thursday, July 24, 2008. (10-minute drive from campus)
The Dane County Fair, at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wednesday, July 16-Sunday, July 20, 2008. (10-minute drive from campus)
Olbrich's Blooming Butterflies, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wednesday, July 16-Sunday, August 10, 2008. (15-minute drive from campus)
Paddle and Portage (a fun race to watch), Lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison, Saturday, July 19, 2008.
Lunch Time Live, free concert, at the King St. Corner of the Wisconsin Capitol, Noon to 1:00, Tuesday, July 22, 2008.
Concerts on the Square--free pops concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 7:00 PM.
A short drive away from the University is the Henry Vilas Zoo, a small but attractive and varied zoo. Best of all, it's free. At the west end of campus is the famous Frank-Lloyd-Wright designed Unitarian Meeting House, well worth a look and tour. And if you're a Wright fan, you'll want to visit his home, studio, and school at Taliesen, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, an hour west of Madison.
If you'll have children with you who like water parks, an hour north of Madison is Wisconsin Dells, filled with more (outdoor and indoor) water parks than you can count, including one that's touted as the largest in the country, Noah's Ark.
If you're looking for the truly bizarre, you might want to tour the House on the Rock, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, an hour west of Madison--a madman's endless collection of things, from rare and beautiful to pure kitsch.
Just southwest of Madison, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, is Cave of the Mounds.
Devil's Lake State Park, in Baraboo, Wisconsin, 45 minutes north of Madison, features a beautiful lake, hiking trails, and striking cliffs (well, striking for the mountainless-Midwest).
Also in Baraboo is the International Crane Foundation, a fascinating place to tour if you're interested in the restoration of endangered species.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an hour and a half east of Madison, offers great culture, history, dining, and neighborhoods. On the shore of Lake Michigan, the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is a stunning piece of architecture.
If you're traveling from far away and have more time in the upper midwest, Chicago is the place to visit--a world-class city of great history, architecture, culture, people, cuisines, shopping, and commerce.
A: In most cases, probably not. Madison is a great walking city, with most of what you'll want to do and a good variety of restaurants within easy walking distance of the Lowell and Pyle Centers. If, however, you--or others traveling with you--will want to do more sightseeing, then you will want to have a car.
A: On Sunday, July 20, 2008, we'll hold registration from Noon to 7:00 in the Pyle Center lobby, 702 Langdon St., when you can say hello to some of the institute staff, ask questions, and pick up materials and your name tag. The optional introduction to writing centers (writing centers 101), which a number of you have expressed interest in, will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 that afternoon, at the Pyle Center. The opening reception and cash bar will begin at 6:00; and the buffet dinner, welcome, and introductions will run from about 7:00 to 9:00, in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center.
During the week, our main meeting room in the Pyle Center will be open for informal conversation starting at 8:00 AM, and morning sessions will begin promptly at 8:30 at the Pyle Center. We'll have two different morning sessions, with a substantial break between them. Lunch will be approximately Noon to 1:15. Then there will be two afternoon sessions, ending around 4:00. Some of the sessions will be plenary, on topics of broad interest; at other times, there will be breakout sessions on more specialized topics, with up to four concurrent options. In addition to the formal scheduled sessions, we're hoping that there will be many informal gatherings to keep talking about writing-center issues on the student-union terrace overlooking Lake Mendota. The terrace is just a block away from the Pyle Center. Over lunch, later in the afternoon and on some evenings, we'll encourage participants and leaders to initiate what we're calling "special-interest group" sessions--optional informal discussions on specific topics--anything institute folks want to keep talking about with interested colleagues. One of the great features of a residential institute--as opposed to a conference--is that conversations can easily keep going over the course of the week, and anyone--participants or leaders--can initiate a special-interest discussion on a topic that interests them. Every morning and afternoon we'll do our best to offer stimulating, engaging sessions on topics of interest. All this said about the schedule, however, the institute is, of course, yours--to choose what to attend and when you want to do other things.
On Monday, the 21st, we'll enjoy a two-hour sightseeing cruise on Lake Mendota, with appetizers and a cash bar (boarding at 3:40, returning at about 6:00 or a little after).
On Wednesday, the 23rd, we're offering an optional evening theatre outing, including a picnic, to see a fabulous professional theatre production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a lovely outdoor theatre at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. The bus for this trip will leave at approximately 4:30 and return at approximately 11:00 that evening. You must make reservations for this excursion through Terry Maggio (email@example.com), in advance--by July 3, 2008.
On Friday, July 25th, we'll start, as usual, with informal conversation at 8:00 AM, and the sessions will begin promptly at 8:30. The closing luncheon that day is a very important part of the institute, so we very much want you to be there *until 1:30 on Friday*.
We're in the process of finalizing the detailed schedule. By mid July, the schedule for particular sessions will be on the institute website.
Q: I would like to have an individual consultation with one (or more) of the leaders--to talk about my research, my online writing center, my career, challenges I'm facing in my center, or some other aspect of writing centers. Will that be possible?
A: Absolutely! All of the leaders will be in residence throughout the institute and will be attending all of the sessions. During open times in the schedule, they'll be eager to meet individually or with small groups. Or please feel free to invite them to join you for breakfast, coffee, lunch, or dinner.
A: Yes, please do! We'll have a materials-exchange table in our main meeting room in the Pyle Conference Center starting Monday morning. How many copies? There will be 55 participants plus 10 leaders at the institute.
A: Casual dress--including shorts--is fine. You'll be in a notoriously casual city, on a university campus, in the summer. The Pyle Center is an attractive, professional conference center, whose staff has told us that they'd like us to wear at least shoes, shirts, and shorts; we didn't think that was too limiting. It's possible that other groups meeting in the Pyle Center that week will be more formally dressed, but we'll declare a casual zone in the rooms for the writing center institute. For the opening buffet on the evening of the 20th, we'll be in an attractive room with a gorgeous view of Lake Mendota, so you might want to aim for nice casual that evening, though please don't feel obligated.
A: Impossible to tell in Wisconsin, though it's unlikely to snow then. It is likely to be hot and humid at least some of the week (90 with high humidity and thunderstorms isn't unusual at that time of year, but at least tornado season is likely to be over). But then again, it could be cool (in the 60s), cloudy, and rainy for part of the week. Or we could get lucky, with sunny mid 70s with low humidity and a gentle northwest breeze. You know which we've put in an order for. Because of the range in temperatures, winds off the lake and variability of air conditioning, wearing layers and carrying an umbrella are your best bet. As we get closer to the institute, you can make better choices by looking at long-range forecasts easily available on the web.
A: It's rumored that if you eat enough bratwurst and cheese and drink enough beer while you're here, the mosquitoes will leave you alone. But if you're outside for an extended period of time during the evening, you'll be glad to be wearing some repellent. We'll have some available to share.
A: There are several used bookstores in the State Street area, including Paul's at 670 State St., Avol's Book Store at 315 W. Gorham, Bookworks (located within Avol's), and Shakespeare's Books on the capitol square at 18 N. Carroll St.
A: There's no shortage of golf courses here. Some of the public ones, with Terry's comments:
Monona Golf Course (I've only taken sleigh rides on this course, but it's beautiful)
Bridges Golf Course (a nice course near the airport, so you might have a pilot wave at you)
Glenway Golf Course
Pleasant View Golf Course (a beautiful course in the hills, west of Madison, in the suburb of Middleton)
Yahara Hills Golf Course (27 holes, in the southeastern part of Madison)
Odana Hills Golf Course (one of the closer courses, rumored to be reasonably priced but a bit narrow)
Vitense Golfland (a fun par-3 with great mini-golf too)
University Ridge (a beautiful, challenging course owned by the University; pricey)
A: How did you learn that? Well, they wouldn't call it a "toilet museum"--The Kohler Corporation has a stunning design center in Kohler, Wisconsin, near Lake Michigan, about a two-hour drive from Madison. The design center offers 36,000 square feet of historical and contemporary bathroom and kitchen design for homeowners, designers, and architects.
A: Don't worry, Leinie's--and plenty of other beer--is waiting for you on nearby State St. State St. Brats (603 State St.), Hawk's Bar and Grill (425 State St.), and the Old Fashioned (23 N. Pinckney St. on the capitol square) are just a few of the many Madison establishments serving the pride of Chippewa Falls.
A: Ah, yes. In the downtown area, you'll want to try the Great Dane (123 E. Doty St.) and Angelic Brewing (322 W. Johnston St.). And in the Madison suburb of Middleton, Capital Brewery is first-rate--its beers win many, many national awards.
A: Possible excuses: You'd hate to spread chronic wasting disease across the border? Your gold fish is planning major surgery and you must return home? You're sorry, but you'll be spending another week in Wisconsin eating those world famous state-fair cream puffs?
A: Sorry, no. What goes in does come out. Besides the food possibly being bad for them (we don't need any ducks with high cholesterol!), their germs can be a major problem for our lakes.
Q: If I wanted to rent a bike for the week, is there a shop that would do that?
A: Absolutely! Madison is a very bike-friendly town, so our downtown is entirely bike-accessible. You can rent bikes at several places close to where we'll be meeting downtown.
Yellow Jersey Bikes (closest to the Pyle and Lowell Centers)
419 State Street
Daily, weekend and weekly rates.
Williamson Bikes (on West Washington Ave.)
640 W Washington Ave. (in the old depot between Bedford and Regent St.)
Rental Rates: $15/day for a hybrid, $30/day for a road bike. Weekly rentals = pay for 5, get 7
Machinery Row Bicycles (corner of Blair and John Nolen Dr. next to Lake Monona)
601 Williamson Street
Rental Rates: $20/day or $60/week for a hybrid and includes helmet and lock
A: Yes! With your institute name tag and your guest UWNET ID, both of which you'll receive when you register in the Pyle Center lobby between Noon and 7:00 on Sunday, the 20th, you'll be able to use computers in several locations. Computer kiosks are available on every floor of the Pyle Conference Center, in the lobby of the Lowell Center, and near the Langdon St. entrance to the Memorial Union (the main student union). The main research library (Memorial Library), which is across the street from the Pyle Center, and College Library (the undergraduate library), which is two blocks west of the Pyle Center, have large computers labs available for your use. When you register on Sunday, you'll receive a guide titled "Information for an Enjoyable and Productive Institute" (on bright pink paper), which will explain more details about these computing options.