2012-02-04 42 -89

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Sat 4 Feb 2012 in Rockford:
42.8079377, -89.5303929

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A corn field, long since harvested, more recently manured, south of Belleville and east of New Glarus.


starbird, Bill, and the Shadow


It has been quite a long time since the Toddler and I ventured out. So much so that she can not longer be categorized that way. On this day, she had earned a "special date with dad" through a complicated parenting methodology purchased and implemented to avoid maternal insanity. To my wonder and delight, she requested that we go geohashing and insisted that starbird join us.

I called my compatriot to ensure his availability, changed the batteries in the Garmin, and put on my boots. As alluded to above, this last step was critical.

Part I - The Hash[edit]

Step 1. Acquire starbird.
Step 2. A jaunty drive on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It has no business being 45°F (5°C) here, but it was.
Step 3. As thawing, manured corn fields go, this one wasn't bad. About 500ft up a slight grade. We took a few pictures (hopefully starbird will upload his) to document and then walked back to the car for part 2 of the expedition.

Part II - Stewart Tunnel[edit]

So the corn field was fun, but Stewart Tunnel is cool. After a circling reconnaissance run, we parked the chariot on Tunnel Rd, a quarter of a mile from the north entrance. We merrily walked down the muddy Badger State Trail and through a gate which appears to exist only to decapitate unsuspecting snow-mobilers. (They are supposed to go around and over the hill instead of through.) A little further and we approached a very dark hole in the ground. Strange noises emanated from the mouth of the tunnel. The Shadow urged caution and a return to the safety of the car, but we pressed on.

A few feet in, there was a sudden and furious flapping above. Doves had taken residence and were not happy with our appearance. Still, we pressed on. Despite three flashlights, this tunnel was very, very dark. The floor was made of the crushed limestone that paves the trail and icy stalagmites beneath each leak in the roof. Slipping and sliding in the dark, the Shadow continued to express doubts. Finally, we rounded the curve in the center of the tunnel and could see the faint light from the other end. There was one perfect spot where we could see a glow in both directions, but that spot was not very big.

Nearing the other end, the Shadow declared the necessity of a lavatory and the adventure took a more urgent turn. Back through the tunnel. Light gleaming off the icy floor looked like diamonds from a distance. The beauty contrasted with graffiti boobs on the brick tunnel walls. We were in too big of a hurry to leave the traditional Kilroy message. Back up the trail, through the mud, to the car.

Part III - Repast[edit]

With a heavy foot, I headed toward New Glarus. At the first sign of a potentially clean bathroom, we turned in. A big thank you to Brenda and the folks at Brenda's Blumenladen for being open and having such a sweet-smelling potpourri. Our third success of the day.

New Glarus is a small Swiss tourist trap in Southern Wisconsin. Little shops with central European names selling nick-knacks and antiques and cheese. Most are closed in February, but we managed to find a bakery. Among all the Swiss confections, the Shadow asked for a Groundhog Cookie. We chose to sit outside and eat our appetizers before looking for dinner.

Highway 69 is the most direct way back to Madison from New Glarus and it runs right through Belleville. Just west of the town square, there used to be a little diner run by an old grumpy lady. We headed for it, only to find that it had changed owners. Very well. Our table had a clear list to port and a scary wobble fore to aft, but it served. A passable dinner and good conversation, followed by an uneventful drive home. (I had the corn beef hash.)

Success three times on one adventure. Book it.