Cycropia (Orton Park Festival), Madison, WI

I have been in Madison long enough to have heard about this event once before. But, having heard and been invited this season, I knew it was time to check it out.

For those that don't know, it's an aerial acrobatics show performed suspended below a large old-growth tree in a local Madison park, Orton Park. It seems as though it's been going on for a number of years, and they have it down pat. The shows are free to attend, though the do pass around baskets to accept donations. It can't be a cheap show to produce each year, and frankly, I think it's easily worth a donation.

It's become popular for families to attend the "dress rehearsal" on Thursday evening at 7:30PM. Kids are usually able to stay up to see it. The other shows on Friday and Saturday begin at 8:30PM, which is great for the lit trees and other production elements, but not so good for little kids. I attended the former edition. 

People know about this family-friendly dress rehearsal now, so you probably had to get there and place a blanket down around 5-5:30PM to get a prime spot. I wound up standing for the show near the periphery, but was able to see almost everything and grab some pics and video.

After you cordon off a spot, head over and get some eats, like ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe... 

Before the sun goes down, the show starts and it starts right off the bat with some cool stuff.

As the sun goes down, the light come up and the show even seems to get a bit more daring and entertaining...

It was a pretty well-run event, very entertaining, a great night weather-wise, and it just felt right. I'd be back for the next two nights if I wasn't heading out of town for the weekend. I'd like to be back next year for sure.


Quote of the Day

  • If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. If she's worth it, you wont give up. If you give up, you're not worthy. ... Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. - Bob Marley


Deer Park Buddhist Center & Monastery, Oregon, WI

I'll let Wikipedia handle the overall description of this place:

"The Deer Park Buddhist Center and Monastery in Oregon, Wisconsin is headed by Geshe Lhundub Sopa,[1] the first Tibetan tenured professor in an American University who taught Buddhist philosophy, language and culture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison[2]for 30 years. During that time, Geshe Sopa trained many of this country’s first generation of respected Buddhist scholars and translators...
...Part of the project also includes restoration work that will be done on the current temple, which was originally an open-air pavilion erected to house the first Kalachakra Initiation performed by the Dalai Lama in the western world. That event, performed in 1981, is commemorated by the stupa that was erected the following year near the current temple.
Geshe Sopa founded Deer Park Buddhist Center in 1975, after students began requesting instruction outside the formal academic setting. Deer Park today remains the only full-scale monastic and teaching center upholding the Dalai Lama’s tradition in the Midwest, attracting students from around the world to its annual programs.
Geshe Sopa has facilitated an ongoing relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which His Holiness has visited five times, and from which he has received an honorary doctoral degree."
So, from what I can surmise, it is a very unique & important place in the Buddhist faith, especially as an in-roads into North America, both for new teachers/monks and the process of recognizing the Tibetan people. I had heard about this location from an in-the-know local and decided it was high-time I dropped down the highway a few miles and check it out. 

I arrived on a rainy Friday morning but right from that start, I got a sense of calm, quiet, peacefulness, and tranquility. I suspect this was aided by the fact that apart from the full-time residents, I was the only car in the parking lot and the only visitor. During my visit, I was told 6 monks live on-site currently.

The rain was light, so I grabbed my trusty car-brella and headed up the paths to the main building/temple:

It's an impressive site from down on the hill. It reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style mixed with the sturdiness (which I believe gives a follower a sense of stature and permanence of the religion) and colorfulness of other temples I've seen around the world:

This is the visitor entrance, but I was actually met by one of the monks at the main entrance where he asked me about my trip and if I wanted to go inside:

I replied that it was my first visit and if he was alright with it, I would love to go inside. He pulled out some keys and in we walked.

These are the doors the monk took me through - kind of impressive. At the same time, you also clearly get the same sense of crossing the threshold into any religious building:

Shoes are left in the foyer and we walked in barefoot, into a large main room. It housed what I presume would be called the altar and also seating for service attendees. They have services on Sundays mornings and Thursday evenings.

The colors and bright, open space were very interesting to take in and walk around.

Here's one of the "pews" set-up for people attending service. I'm not sure what they call this little pillow and desk set-up:

In this case, because I asked the monk escorting me what the items below were, I learned they're scriptural scrolls saved in large columns on the left and right of the altar:

There were lots of gold statues on the altar, pretty intricate and ornate designs:

I did not get the full run-down on each diety and their significance, I can go back if I need to? Finally, they had wonderful blooms of orchids on the altar, grown at the UW campus and brought in for the monks/temple. They were gorgeous:

As I turned to walk out, I took one last shot of the impressive and colorful back wall:

After seeing inside and outside, I thought I'd about done it all. I made my way back to the car, quietly thinking about all I'd just seen. If you couldn't tell, I thought this was a great, easy, day trip. I would recommend it to anyone that lives in the Madison area, as well as a quick stop for people driving through.


Eno Vino and AC Hotel Terrace, Madison, WI

What a great place to visit! The hotel looks great, the views from the 9th and 10th floors are like none I've ever seen downtown, the food was great, and the service was much, much better than standard Madison restaurant service (these folks were prompt, informative and helpful). I would recommend this place for anyone looking to do something special, small or large groups, adventurous or shy... no matter. Check it out.

Grab the one all the way on the righthand side of the main, first-floor hotel entrance, off Webster St. Hurry, jump in!

The elevator didn't seem to want to let me hit floor 9, so I chose 10 and then it started moving...


From the elevator, head to the big windows, then go down one level to gain access to the first-come first-serve seating on the outdoor terrace...

Then just sit back, order some wine and drink it all in... wine and views...

Brose... sparkling too.

After a pretty decent summer shower, we were treated to full rainbow views on the terrace. It paid to sit tight in our seats, even if we got a little wet.

Again, the skyline views can't be beat... at least from places I've been to so far downtown.

We picked a couple items to share from the menu and really liked both - Calamari "Fries" and a great Gnocchi with Pancetta.

I hit the restroom in Eno Vino on my way out and was surprised to see such a high-end and nice restaurant inside too.

I mean, it's got "Vino" in their name...

Awesome views even from the dining room...

Google this place up and check it out if you want something fun and unique. I'll be back again and again.


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