Geowoodstock to TBEX: In and Out of the Land of Leopold

So our Geowoodstock to TBEX adventure hit a few bumps in Wisconsin as we ventured into the Land of Leopold. But our tales were not all of misery. In this segment, we dip a little further in before we head back out…

This motley crew got their Vitamin N at the fabulous Aldo Leopold Nature Center.

Turning the tide…

One of the places I have long wanted to visit is The Leopold Center along the Baraboo River for obvious granola reasons. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed so I did some investigation into potential doggy daycare for His Beagleness. In the end just didn’t feel good about the options so I trusted my gut and decided I would have to forego a visit on this trip.

Not all was lost because Madison, WI is home to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. And my friend Tracy had recently moved to the area. And her boys are as fabulously geeky as Fred and George. And she offered to let the pup stay at her place while we all ventured to the Nature Center. Sometimes things do come together.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center…

After getting carried away catching up, we eventually made our way to the Center to let the kiddos explore. Being late afternoonish on a random weekday (a Wednesday I think), it was nearly deserted. With limited time, we skipped the museum part and ventured out onto the grounds to see what we could see.

Focused mainly on just hanging out with our crew, I hadn’t lugged my tripod with me which was a huge mistake. There was so much to soak in I could have spent days shooting all of the plants and birds there. I did manage a few hand-held shots to give you an idea of the granola-naturey goodness…

Granola mecca…the Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Geeks gone wild….
An surprise encounter with a Sandhill Crane made my day.
“Pond”ering the green…
The moan-inducing pie at Hubbard Avenue Diner. They are not shy with the coconut. That’s a good thing.


So on our way back to camp at Devil’s Lake, Tracy’s dining recommendation was sitting on my shoulder, whispering sweet nothings about the offerings to be had at the Hubbard Avenue Diner. Gee, camp food or likely the best pie I’ve ever tasted? Um yeah, I succumbed to the temptation of epic pie and we found ourselves having dinner in Middleton, a fabulous little town outside of Madison.

George mocking my enthusiasm for mustard. And after I shared my pie with him. Booger.

The Hubbard Avenue Diner is a throwback, nostalia-land kind of place in the true diner sense. Lots of blue, red, and chrome to fill out the retro feel. Dinner was fine for all of us but it was really just a technicality we needed to address before we got to the pie the Diner is famous for.

Fred ordered the apple, George went for something blueberry-themed, and after some tough decision-making, I opted for the coconut cream. Fred, in typical pre-teen style inhaled his and reported that it was good. (That’s all I get these days…) George barely touched his because he was too distracted by mine. My pie became “our” pie…or rather, his pie that I got a few bites of. [Note to friends…you can measure my esteem of you by my willingness to share anything coconut or peanut butter. Clearly George ranks pretty high in my book. ;)]

Anyway, adequately stuffed to the gills with fabulous pie, we took a little time to take a look around town. Things were pretty much shut down by that time, the streets quiet except around the diner. It was a striking place…clean, idyllic, approachable. Very cool. It even left an impression on little George who now counts it among his favorite small towns.

But the best part was…the National Mustard Museum! Yep, as well as coconut and peanut butter, I’m a fan of mustard. So when we saw the sign for the museum I squealed with delight and ran to the doors…only to find I’d arrived after hours. Fighting back the tears like my ice cream had just toppled to the ground, I peered through the windows at all things mustard. Alas, it was not to be…

Another great surprise discovery thanks to geocaching. Our quest for a Minnesota smiley led us to a boat ramp along the Root River. The beagle approves.

Exiting Wisconsin…

…because our time in Wisconsin had come to an end. We had two full road days ahead of us to get to the west side of North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. With an early morning appointment in Madison for a Blubaru oil change, we had to blitz camp break and haul ourselves there from Baraboo in time, then get to the business of covering some miles.

Somewhere in Minnesota…

Of course, the weather decided it would save rain for our last night so we’d have to be soggy packing up camp…which is really not good for a tent…especially when you’re not planning on breaking it back out right away for drying.

So we pushed through as far as we could, hoping to get to Fargo and geocaching along the way as usual. This required a less-than-direct route to catch the corner of Iowa. It also put us trying to skirt St. Paul at rush hour. That cost us a good bit of time and with a wet tent that needed attention, we stopped at a hotel somewhere well before Fargo in hopes of giving Big Agnes some air as well as finding some laundry facilities. Ah the glamour of travel…oil changes, tent drying, and laundry!

Camp Granola tent-drying technique. Make sure you close the stake webbing in the doors so it doesn’t blow away. Just a little hint.

Looking back on Wisconsin…

So our time in Wisconsin was a mixed bag but I do have to give the state its due. Wisconsin is entirely gorgeous. I generally save repeat visits for very special places and I think I’ll have a do-over with Wisconsin someday…a second first-date if you will. I’m certain it will be worth it.

Many thanks to “old” friends for showing us around and letting His Beagleness sniff their house practically to pieces. You’re the best!

And now for your moment of green…

More like the moment of cute right?


  1. Wow!!! We’re famous now!!!

    Glad you got to try the pie! We can all go to the Mustard Museum next time (had no idea you were a fan), too, and have more pie…


    1. Oh yeah! Give the nerdlets some D&D time too… 😉

      1. Definitely!

  2. I love reading about your adventures Val, especially loved this one.


    1. Thanks Gma! It was fun to catch up with Tracy and see Wisconsin for the first time. “George” loved getting caches in every state. One of these days you and Gpa will have to meet up with us somewhere on the road and join the fun.

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