The Phoenix Nest

Madison KOA, near Madison, Wisconsin

Madison KOA, near Madison, Wisconsin

A Stop on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

 

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A Message from the Phoenix

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Abstract

I spent a week at Madison, Wisconsin, both to catch up on a decades-long separation from a cousin I remember fondly from visits to our grandmother's house long ago, and also to visit a couple of museums - the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum - whose websites suggested, correctly as it turned out, had good fossil collections.

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Table of Contents
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2017_1020
Title Madison KOA, near Madison, Wisconsin
Subtitle A Stop on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Madison, Wisconsin, Madison KOA, University of Wisconsin Geology Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL http://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Published: 2018/3/27
Last Revised 2018-03-05

Madison, Wisconsin

Arrived 2017/10/20
Day of Tour 90
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2017/10/27
Map miles from last stop 191
Mileage on arrival 24,602
Actual miles from last stop 282
Accumulated miles for trip 7,697

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I finally escaped the communications black hole that was Closed-Door County, Wisconsin, to spend a week at Madison, Wisconsin, both to catch up on a decades-long separation from a cousin I remember fondly from visits to our grandmother's house long ago, and also to visit a couple of museums — the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum — whose websites suggested, correctly as it turned out, had good fossil collections.

 

Page Contents

Madison, Wisconsin

I spent a week at Madison, Wisconsin, both to catch up on a decades-long separation from a cousin I remember fondly from visits to our grandmother's house long ago, and also to visit a couple of museums, whose websites suggested, correctly as it turned out, had good fossil collections.

The Journey to Madison

I crossed the thumb of Wisconsin in order to drive along Lake Michigan. (The state and the lake are like two hands whose thumbs interlock on the Wisconsin coast.) I had forgotten how big the lake is. With its far shore beyond the horizon, it is visually indistinguishable from the ocean. Indeed, on those few occasions when the road neared the beach, I saw the perpetual waves, milder than the ocean, but still a reminder of the size of the lake.

Later I climbed over a hill and looked down on a body of water that made me think I had been turned around and was looking east at Lake Michigan again. But no, I was looking west, and I could see the far shore, barely. It was Lake Winnebago, large in its own right, but not when compared to Lake Michigan.

Most of the day I passed through farm country, and the small towns that grew up to support it. There’s a homey feel to this kind of country that is altogether at odds with my relationship with its people. In my case when they took the boy out of the country, they took the country out of the boy. Nonetheless I loved looking at the fields, some still with crop, alfalfa and other things, but mostly corn, ranging from fresh green growth that must be second plantings, to withered brown, seemingly forgotten. Then there were the harvested fields, some with their recently mown bristle, some coarsely plowed, some disked or harrowed, ready for a winter’s sleep. The cycles of a farmer’s life are fascinating, even if it is not one I could lead.

I knew as soon as I found myself in Door County’s black hole that GPS was not going to get me through this country. Unless I was content to go only on the interstate, I needed alternative assistance. I had bought a good trucker’s atlas for just such occasions. I studied it carefully, and found a good route that gave me the view I wanted of Lake Michigan, but was reasonably efficient. And I only had to remember three roads: state 42 south from the campground, US 151 west toward Madison, and county road V to DeForest and my campground, all showing on my atlas. On the map the transitions from one to the next seemed perfectly simple.

The problem is that that simplicity depended on my watching for and noticing the right signs. Now signs and I have a very uneasy relationship. They like to hide, or disappear altogether, knowing that the attention I have left from my driving isn’t always focused on them. Since the zoom feature of my atlas is currently disabled (I need to find a service facility. Do you think that’s covered by warranty?) I was not able to look closely at the transition from 42 to 151 south of Manitowoc. As attentively as I was watching, I found myself on unmarked rural roads.

Now in Washington, if you pull a trailer onto an unmarked rural road, you’re in big trouble. In the first place, you have no idea what direction the road will end up heading, and most of them peter out in diminishing dead ends, with no place to turn around. But this is the Midwest. Section roads are built with farmers in mind, and farmers don’t want to find themselves on dead end roads pulling huge equipment. So the roads are straight, they run either NS or EW, and they don’t disappear. Usually! There are, after all, rivers and other obstacles.

So, armed with this background of assumptions about midwestern road policies, which was carried over from my native Kansas, I refused to be daunted. I drove west or south, taking whichever road seemed the most traveled, and eventually arrived at a town on the map that had a road that would take back to my planned route. Problem solved! ... Almost.

I had the address of the KOA 48-something County Road V. And I found the road without further trouble. And I noticed the county road addresses at the various farms. 1630 ... 2520 .. 3815 and so on. All I had to do was look for 48 whatever it was. However, when I reached DeForest, the numbers changed from county road numbering to city street numbering, a different series entirely. So while in town, I searched for the big, familiar KOA sign. I noticed neither number nor sign. But after passing through town (not to worry, right? KOAs are usually located outside of town), all of a sudden the country road numbers resumed in the 50s. I had missed it. So I had to turn around. With the trailer that meant going the four miles around a section.

On the way back, I noticed the RVs parked over away from the road, and the tiniest KOA sign I have ever seen, all overlooked the first time through town.

Ah well! I got there! I set up! And best of all, I got connected! Yippee!

Around Madison and Milwaukee

I didn't take any photos of Madison itself. However, when I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, I did drive over to a park in the city above Lake Michigan, and snapped off a few.

Photo Gallery for Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee
Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Leif Erikson statue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Leif Erikson statue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Looking over Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Looking over Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Madison KOA

This was another of the KOAs that I have become fond of, more of a campground than a resort, with friendly, helpful staff. The lanes and sites were just big enough, and the park was modestly shaded.

It was late October and getting chilly enough that the park was getting ready for its annual winter break. I guess it's too much trouble trying to manage RV water lines during Wisconsin winters, especially with inexperienced campers like myself coming through.

This particular KOA is located right in the town of DeForest, with easy access to local services. The sign is tiny, compared to other KOAs, and I managed to miss seeing it the first pass through town.

Knowing now where it is, I will come back to it if I return to the area.

Photo Gallery for Madison KOA

Madison KOA
Madison KOA
I missed that tiny, little KOA sign the first time through town on the far side of the road.
Drove ten miles out of my way before I noticed it coming back.
Madison KOA
Coming back, I first saw the RVs, ...
Madison KOA
... then the tiny, little can-that-be-a-KOA? sign down the road, ...
Madison KOA
... then the yes-it-is-yes-it-is-a-KOA sign.
It had been a long day.
Madison KOA
I was very happy to check in ...
Madison KOA
... and set up.
Madison KOA
Madison KOA
Madison KOA
Madison KOA
Madison KOA
Address 4859 County Road V
De Forest, Wisconsin 53532
Home Page https://koa.com/campgrounds/madison/
Phone Reserve: 800-562-5784
Info: 608-846-4528
Associations
Rate (net US$) $44
Pros
  • Reasonably spacious
  • Close to services
Cons
  • Easy to miss coming west on County Road V.
Reviews (as of 2018/1/27)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 7.7 (Good) 10
Good Sam 9 10
KOA 4.5  
Tripadvisor 4 5
Phoenix 7 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 7 10
  Ease of Access 7 10
  WiFiNotes 8 10

Points of Interest

Museums, and the fossils therein, (along with a cousin I hadn't seen in decades) were on my mind when I planned my visit to Madison.

Both the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum have excellent fossil collections (see below), though the Geology Museum is designed mainly for professional paleontologists, while the Public Museum caters more to the general public, especially public schools. (I wove among several school classes on field trips while I was there.)

The University of Wisconsin Geology Museum

I took many photos at both places, but all that I have from the MPM are to be found among my fossil collection below. I did take a few photos of the UWGM building, and an exhibit that doesn't fit in the fossil collection, but I don't have any general photos of the MPM.

Photo Gallery for University of Wisconsin Geology Museum

University of Wisconsin Geology Museum
University of Wisconsin Geology Museum
University of Wisconsin Geology Museum
University of Wisconsin Geology Museum
University of Wisconsin Geology Museum

Fossils at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum

Both these museums have good fossil collection, and I took lots of photos. As of right now, however, I am unable to show you those photos, since my fossil photo collection is under major redevelopment, and I would rather organize them once and for all than take time now for a temporary local collection. They will come, I promise you. It's only a matter of correcting a few bugs in the programming, thereby generating a few new bugs and correcting those, thereby ....

Story Time.

In the last episode of our story,

Story.

story

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

TELL SUBSTORY HERE.

 

Afterword

BACKGROUND OF STORY

TELL SUBAFTER HERE.

 

For Further Reading

As always this story is based on what I have learned from an eclectic variety of sources, which I list below. In the main these sources are, I believe, scientifically reputable, though their conclusions might have been superseded by later research. On occasion I might draw on sources that I believe to be less than reputable for contrast and dramatic effect, but I will note my judgment in its listing. (You may not share that judgment.) The morals and conclusions I have drawn in the story are my own speculations; I cannot blame them on anyone else:

  • Web Searches:
  • Web Pages:
  • Off the Web:

Because my stories overlap in their topics, so these lists of sources will overlap. It is my plan to build a comprehensive Bibliography for the Phoenix Nest, but since the Nest is constantly growing, that has turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. My web skills need to grow.

Next Stop

From Madison, I headed toward the Chicago area and the (hushed, reverent tones; an organ plays the opening theme from Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra) Field Museum (a mighty choir sings Handel's Hallelujah chorus).

Comments and Conversation

What follows are comments and conversations I have had with people about this page of The Phoenix Nest.

Dialog 1

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