Boo-tiful Days & Bewitching Nights

Halloween is a BIG deal in our new town. Fort Atkinson has a citywide decorating contest and a lot of people go all out. Walking through the neighborhoods is wild. I’m impressed by how many people get into the spirit.

There are lots of inflatables, which I’ve always found kinda lame. Great if you have little kids, I suppose, but too cutesy for my liking. No judgment if you’re into them, of course! They’re just not my thing.

Some houses, though, make up for that. Like this one.

That’s just my level of twisted.

And by the way, not being able to decorate for Halloween this year sucks. There’s not much we can do with a subterranean first-floor apartment that you access from an interior hallway. You might recall Tara and I going all out last year. Between the giant spider web, tombstones, creepy flamingo (of course), fog machine, and scary music, I’m pretty sure we had the best house in the neighborhood. In fact, we had so much fun, we stocked up on a bunch of additional decorations after the holiday, anticipating we’d really level up our Halloween game in 2022. Alas, that six-pack of giant spiders is packed away in storage and we’re forced to make due with admiring everybody else’s decorations instead. Wisconsin, we never saw you comin’.

Next year, though. We’re going to OWN IT. Mark my words.

Friday was Tara’s last free weekday before starting her new job, so I made it a point to accumulate enough hours to be able to clock out at noon. We wanted to drive into Madison and do a bit of exploring.

After checking out a global food market in Sun Prairie and walking around Williamson (“Willy Street” to the locals), we stopped by the Great Dane Pub for some food and libations, served by a couple of bewitching bartenders.

Afterward, we wandered around the Capitol for a bit, ending the evening at Trader Joe’s before making the drive home.

Fun afternoon and evening!

Saturday, we discovered a new-to-us botanical garden in Janesville. Proof positive that the town isn’t all strip malls and chain stores.

Even though we are now past peak fall colors and the trees are beginning to turn bare, the gardens were still gorgeous. And, they are in the process of setting up for a big holiday lighting display that kicks off November 22. There are over one million lights and people drive up from Chicago to see them. We’ll definitely be back to check that out.

It’s been unusually warm here and temps will be pushing 70º this week, so it won’t feel very November-like the first few days of the month. We’re hoping for rain and cooler temps by Friday.

How do you approach Halloween – an excuse to go all out, or just another day? Cute inflatables or blood, guts, and gore? Are you dressing up this year?

46 thoughts on “Boo-tiful Days & Bewitching Nights

  1. Like you I’m not a fan of inflatables but it seems like people are decorating way more for Halloween than they used to. The ease of buying stuff at the Halloween Spirit stores makes it easy to do so! I mostly put out fall decor although with my 2 1/2 year old grandson I’m doing a bit more than I used to. 🙂 It sounds like your exploring is going well–such a variety of places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually put up fall decor as soon as September rolls around and leave it up until the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when the Christmas stuff comes out, of course. It’s really hard not to do any of that this year, but with everything packed up in storage, we have little choice.

      I’ll make up for it next year.


  2. I don’t know Mark, it would seem that you and Tara actually have the perfect place to create a spooky setting. What’s better than a dark, dank basement and a creepy hallway leading up to it. You have the makings of your very own haunted attraction to scare all the unsuspecting victims who choose to enter…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have a neighbor who has take over decorating his 3 closest neighbors’ houses, too 🙂 But if we had amazing “natural decoration” like what you’ve seen in the Janesville Botanical Garden, I’d leave it au natural 😀

      Liked by 3 people

      1. And he goes all out, roofs to front yard. Given the high cost of electricity in our neighborhood, and his fondness for inflatable creatures, especially ones with moving parts, I’m not quite sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, tbh 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Our neighborhood is a mix of go all out or put nothing out. Not much gore, but a lot of tombstones, spider webs, and yes…inflatables. Our own decorations are all Fall-ish and not geared towards Halloween. However, we throw open the front door on Halloween Night and have been averaging over 100-150 kids or so each year within the two hour window they’re supposed to be out and about. Busy but fun for all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve seen some crazy yards here, too. I’m not into it at all, esp. now that our kids are grown. I’m a minimalist at heart, so it pains me to live amongst stuff that look junked up. We’ve trick or treated with the grands the last two years, but considering it’s on aMonday this year, we are staying home. Middle Child plans to hand out candy as the Mad Hatter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Monday is not great. You’d think I’d slow down now that my kids are adults and living on their own, but: nope. Same with Christmas. I just love getting into the spirit of decorating!


  5. I love Halloween and all the creepy stuff that goes with it. I usually dislike the blow-ups too, but I did see a blow-up gorilla that was taller than the two-story house it was in front of. In one of his hands was a full size “man” hanging upside down. Now THAT is a blow up!

    Btw, beautiful picture of the fall foliage and the red bridge!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Classic line from this post, “now that’s just my level of twisted!” Hilarious!! And the gardens in Janesville- gorgeous pictures. I saw some of them on IG but it’s so fun to have the context. Hope you have a great Halloween and Tara’s first day goes well!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to decorate anything that stood still for the holidays. Neighbors waited anxiously to see what was new each year and loved it. Then 8 years ago my mother died and I was so upset I couldn’t find the spirit. It was about that time we started traveling for Xmas… and now? I just put out a few token things. Getting lazy in my old age. But I thought of you the other day when I saw a Halloween extravaganza. It must be killing you this year. I think it’s the best holiday for fun and funky, but I totally agree about inflatables. I hate them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mantra throughout this move has been, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” Can’t find that potato masher that’s boxed up? Use a wooden spoon and keep your eyes on the prize. All the Halloween decorations packed away in the garage? Treat yo’self to a Kit Kat bar and keep your eyes on the prize. And so forth and so on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That botanical garden is beautiful. From your pictures, it could almost be mistaken for a Japanese garden – minus the Adirondacks and gnomes, of course.
    “Mark my words” takes on a whole new (double) meaning when uttered by someone named Mark.
    We have few trick-or-treaters on our block, so we’re hosting our usual gathering of neighbors in our driveway for a BYOB fire-n-hot cider do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Mark My Words” was my original blog name. I even owned the domain but I’m letting it expire since I rolled everything into this one. I might do some name rearranging if I’m feeling inspired.

      And actually, good idea. There was a Japanese garden there, as well as a few other sections – including the one with the gnomes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. People get into Halloween decorating around here, but not with inflatables. It’s more like skeletons and tombstones and jack-o-lanterns. Very traditional, I guess. I saw some Halloween orange & black flamingoes at Menard’s and thought of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The UK is getting into Halloween more these days. I always made the decorating effort when my daughter was young and living at home. Even after she grew up and moved out, we were included in the approved trick or treating list and I continued to go all out with the decoration of the outdoor porch. But these days, we live in an apartment building which is out of the way, and no-one visits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve lived in many apartment buildings over the years, and not once have I ever had a single trick-or-treater. Not even in my townhouse complex. Seems like the young ‘uns only stick to houses nowadays. Too bad; going door-to-door in an apartment complex would be way more efficient!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember you and Tara went big for Halloween with the decor. The neighbors you found with all the dead people in lawn chairs: THEY WIN. (this year, next year it’s you!)
    We’ve lived in our house for over 25 years and I’ve never had a trick or treater. Our property is too large and we’re very much ‘out there’..too much walking for kiddos with no sidewalks. So I think they ‘ship’ them to the ‘burbs for candy. I did decorate a few times, but who the heck can see it? No one.

    The botanical garden looks amazing to me too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The key is to decorate for YOU, not them! Yes, I’m the kind of guy who would haul out the fog machine and plug it in even if I were living in a cave hundreds of miles from civilization.

      And no, don’t ask me how or why there would be an electrical outlet in a cave…


    1. Tara’s already talking about coming back at Christmas, and in the spring, and later in the spring, then in the summer…later in the summer…probably one more time in the summer…early fall…mid fall…

      Liked by 1 person

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