Juice pouch cocktails and magical lighted mushrooms.

Friday, mid-afternoon, a very large deposit in the high five figures hit our banking account. And just like that, our house was officially no longer our house.

We happened to be on the 7th floor of the Graduate Hotel in Madison, at a really cool rooftop bar with an old-school summer camp vibe. The bartenders are “camp counselors,” the restrooms are “outhouses,” and they serve a boozy Capri Sun in a drink pouch complete with sippy straw. Camp Trippalindee had been on our bucket list when we came out to visit in July, but was closed for the 4th at the time. Fun place, highly recommend. 10/10.

So, we toasted to our house closing, and marveled over the easiest sale ever. It was never even listed, and despite the buyer’s VA loan — those can be challenging due to stringent requirements — the appraisal went through without a hitch. We’ll roll all that cash into a new home out here when the time is right.

I won’t pretend it isn’t all a little bittersweet, but having all that money helps lessen the sting. We were fortunate enough to buy when we did, and three short years later, walk away with so much equity. Thank you, Rapid City’s red-hot real estate market! I am 100% certain we’ll find that perfect house out here and make it ours. Rapid will be dealing with growing pains for a long time with 3,000 new military personnel plus their families needing housing when the new B-21 Raider arrives at Ellsworth AFB in 2024. We’ll be watching from afar. Not our problem anymore.

I’m really digging the TobacCo job. Other than the tricky ticketing system I have yet to master. Being an agency, we have to track time in order to bill clients, and my success with that has been hit-or-miss. It’s a complicated multi-step process and I must be hitting the wrong buttons. And I consider myself technologically savvy! My boss warned me on day one that the CMS is a sort of “hazing ritual” for new hires, so I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually. I felt confident enough to work from home one day last week and plan to do so probably twice a week once I’m settled in. Thanks to the schedule flexibility, I’ve been banking hours Mon.-Thurs. in order to take off at noon on Friday. Those few extra hours make the weekend feel a little longer. That’s why we were sipping cocktails downtown at 3 p.m. on a Friday.

We were in Madison for the GLEAM exhibit at Olbrich Gardens later that evening. I’m going to borrow from their website because I don’t feel like rewording a perfectly good summary:

Olbrich Gardens’ GLEAM exhibit will return this fall, presenting an immersive experience of light, sound, and interactive engagements. Gaze at the Gardens in wonderment as you explore this magical realm of illumination.

GLEAM, an annual outdoor art exhibit, features large scale light installations created by local, regional, and international designers. Take an enchanting stroll through Olbrich’s 16-acre garden and tropical Bolz Conservatory after dark and see the Gardens in a whole new light!

We had timed entry tickets for 7:30 p.m., just as darkness was settling in. Olbrich Gardens is beautiful during the day, and going after dark was definitely a unique experience. It reminded me a bit of The Grotto’s Festival of Lights in Portland, but instead of Christmas lights, there were mushrooms and comets and giant cats. Which sounds bizarre, but it was a blast.

Anyway. This is exactly the type of culture we’ve been missing for the past four years. People keep telling us how great it is that we’re getting out and exploring our new home, but I feel like we’ve been in a cultural void for years and have suddenly re-emerged, butterfly-like, into a world of juice pouch cocktails and magical lighted mushrooms. Naturally, we want to lap it all up.

Earlier in the week, we celebrated our anniversary with a wonderful dinner on the patio of a supper club overlooking Lake Koshkonong. Everything about that meal was amazing. It had better be, considering my dry-aged steak set me back $63 (plus another $3 for the mushrooms). The bleu cheese risotto was tangy and delicious. Even the oysters, flown in from Boston, were delectable.

It was a splurge, for sure. But how often do you celebrate nine years of wedded bliss?

Err…I suppose for me and Tara, the answer is twice. Whoopsie. Though we’d both say there was much less bliss the first time around.

The only downside was the mosquitoes. I didn’t get a single bite, oddly enough, but the next morning, Tara counted 45 bites on her feet. What the hell? They had citronella candles burning on the tables, so the little buggers must have been flying around at ground level to avoid them. I’m just thankful I was wearing shoes.

Next weekend, we’re planning a getaway to Rice Lake up north. That’s part anniversary celebration, part we-actually-did-this-crazy-thing-and-survived-the-move-with-our-sanity-intact celebration.

The weather will be turning cooler in a few days, too. It should feel very autumn-like.

Bring it on!

40 thoughts on “Juice pouch cocktails and magical lighted mushrooms.

  1. I love this phrase, “have suddenly re-emerged, butterfly-like, into a world of juice pouch cocktails and magical lighted mushrooms.” Geez, who wouldn’t want to transform into that world! Glad your marriage and your Madison continue to be magical, Mark!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blue cheese risotto?! My envy knows no bounds.

    Sucks about mosquito bites, though. There’s a lemon eucalyptus spray bug repellant spray I’ve found that works really well, especially when I spray it on Baby D’s socks and cleats. Even when we went back to Virginia, it was effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! We asked one of the Olbrich employees if they do anything similar for Christmas. Alas, that’s where our inexperience showed; she looked at us as if we were nuts and said, “It’s way too cold to do anything outdoors in December!”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Exciting to have the culture around you again. Whenever we move forward, we leave things (and people) behind. It’s a balance and sometimes we are nostalgic for what we’ve given up. Happy Anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love hearing about your new adventures! I live in the same city I grew up in and sometimes I think I need to shift my mindset to that of a newcomer. It’s easy to lose sight of what there is to do when we get caught up in the day-to-day.

    I had a job once that required keeping track of billing hours… yikes! Good luck mastering the CMS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were chatting with a neighbor yesterday, telling her about all our adventures. She said she used to do all those things too, but it had been a long time. Granted, she’s 80, but I think that holds true for a lot of people who have lived in one place most of their lives. Sometimes they need that outsider’s perspective to make them appreciate their hometown.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha…we made the same exact Chihuly comment when we were there! Great minds and all that. We wanted a nice, romantic getaway, and this lodge at Rice Lake looks to be situated in a beautiful setting and has great reviews. Fingers crossed that it’s as nice as it appears to be online. At least we don’t have to drive across Nebraska to get there…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on the sale! Kinda feels like the hassle of the U-Haul was to balance out the ease of everything else. Fun with the lights, etc. $63–yikes. I hope that was the best steak of your life. I feel so bad for Tara with the mosquito bites! Lavender oil takes the itch away, I’ve found, if you happen to have any. Happy anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Best steak of my life? I don’t know. It was very, very good. Truthfully though, Tara’s ribeye – about $30 cheaper – was just as good. This one was a special and there was no price listed. I was going to ask, but Tara said, just go for it! Anything dry-aged always costs a small fortune.

      I don’t think we have any lavender oil lying around, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bwahaha!

        Let’s see, off the top of my head, I’d say dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. It’s a process that not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.


  6. Happy Anniversary! Yes, that deposit in the bank certainly was a really good feeling, I’m sure. The GLEAM exhibit looks like it was a very cool experience. The anniversary dinner looks delish. Blue cheese risotto? Yes, please. Bring on the autumn weather!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “… the appraisal went through without a hitch.”

    That is beyond believable. You’re living a charmed life– and I’m right here for it. Well, right here in a figurative sense. The photos from the Olbrich Gardens are amazing. Kind of have an Alice in Wonderland vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats on selling your home. I know it was bittersweet. The lakeside dinner looks lovely. Congrats on 9 years. We timed that by 4 in August. Time flies . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy 9th anniversary and thanks for making me giggle! I love that you guys are enjoying your new village so much. What’s not to love about Adult Juice pouches and nighttime art? Nothing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on the happy events (even the bittersweet ones.) Did you have a chance to see the Winter Lights Festival in Portland? Guess it’s been going since 2017.

    I will admit though that bleu cheese anything or oysters would not be my idea of high cuisine…

    Liked by 1 person

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