Monday, August 5, 2013

We don't fit in here: my day trip to the land of cheese heads.

When I read that the US Collegiate Figure Skating Championships were coming to De Pere, WI, I knew I had to go watch. A 2 hour drive to watch a day of great skating would be well worth it, and my friend (and fellow skater) Katie was happy to go along for the ride.

When Amie (my supervisor and a De Pere native) heard that I'd be spending the day on her home turf, she recommended that we stop at Lambeau Field to visit the Packers Pro Shop. We didn't have to be at the rink until 1:00, so we left Madison with time to visit the historic football field.

Wow. That's really all I have to say.

Okay, I'll say a little more. I had never seen Green Bay Packers fans in their native environment. Even though it was just "family day" during Packers training camp, the entire venue was an intense sea of green and yellow. Katie and I felt very out of place in grey. I didn't dare utter the phrase, "I don't care about football," because I feared I would be attacked.

This was the line for temporary team spirit tattoos.
It wasn't even a game day.
Let me just get this out in the open: I have never been to an NFL football game, nor do I ever plan to go to one (Close your mouths! I'd rather spend the cash on major figure skating events... sorry, football fans).

The vibe was all Packers, all the time. Everyone wore green shirts had such a sense of pride in the team. Total strangers were sharing this common bond of Packers Pride, and it was unlike anything I had seen before. The city felt like one big family: one big spirited, beer-drinking, green and yellow family.

Once I settled into my culture shock, Katie and I explored the venue.

The Lambeau Field logo at one of the gates.
A lot of fans were posing with this statue, so I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I don't know why this buffalo was wearing a team jersey, but it seemed worthy of documentation.
The Packers logo (saw a huge one on the side of a house, too).
A view of the atrium.
And then, we arrived at the Packers Pro Shop. The fandom in here was overwhelming. If anyone needs to buy Packers clothing, toys, or home decor, this is clearly the place to go. The shop gets so busy that they have one door devoted to entrances, one door devoted to exits, and security guards directing the traffic.

A view of the shop.
And, well, you knew it was coming:

We found some cheese hats to wear! Finally, we were fitting in.
Now THAT was a true Wisconsin experience. It was definitely new for me to experience the Packers to this level of intensity, and I can only imagine how wild it gets on game day.

Daily sconnie fix: check. Then, we were off to the Nicolet Restaurant, followed by the competition at Cornerstone Community Ice Arena. Two skating competitions and a dog show were happening simultaneously at the venue (pretty hilarious that dogs and skaters competed in the same place). The event was great, and we saw a near-clean program from 2008 US Bronze Medalist, Stephen Carriere. Awesome day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

My friends have backyard chickens, and it's normal.

As I've previously stated on this blog, it's perfectly normal (and legal) for Madison residents to have up to four chickens in their backyards. My friends Cory and Ryan welcomed me into their yard last Sunday to explore their coop and bond with the gals. I had met the chickens before, but I do think we did more bonding this time.

Cory and Ryan have four chickens: Blondie (a Cochin), Nugget (also a Cochin), Raki (a Columbian), and Mountain (a mystery breed). There are a ridiculous amount of chicken breeds out there.

Cory's dad helped them build a gorgeous deck and an impressive coop for their feathered friends:

Exterior view.
Running area.
Interior view.
Side door.
Blondie demonstrates her mastery of the ladder (and yes, all of Cory and Ryan's chickens do respond to  "Here, chick chick chick!").

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Ryan and I followed Blondie into the coop...

She was keeping an egg nice and warm.
I found it really interesting that Nugget, Raki, and Mountain lay eggs, but rarely sit on them. Meanwhile, though Blondie rarely lays eggs, she constantly protects the other chickens' eggs while they run around elsewhere. She has a job!

Ryan fetched the egg. Nice work, Blondie!
All of the chickens are used to humans and quite friendly, so they didn't mind that I filmed their snack time:

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That's right, chickens like yogurt. And don't worry, Blondie ended up joining in:


And after all that yogurt, it was time to snack on an orange:

Left to right: Raki, Nugget, and Mountain.
I know that I had an exciting evening, but I'd say the chickens had a pretty great one as well: yogurt, oranges, and free roam of the yard. And of course, Cory and Ryan wouldn't let me leave empty handed:

My loot: fresh eggs and peppers from the garden.
Raki lays big dark eggs, Mountain lays big light eggs, and Nugget lays little light eggs.
Oh, and here's the best part: when Cory and Ryan go on their honeymoon next month, I get to cat sit AND chicken sit! Stay tuned for more posts on my egg-gathering adventures. Wisconsin rules.