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Last week, before trips to northern Wisconsin and Toronto (about which more later), I took an afternoon bike ride with my new friend Tanya, a recent Milwaukee transplant.  She was really patient with me while I forced-marched her around the city, from the Riverwest Co-op (where I’d never been before – that was her suggestion) to new condo developments and a cool new pedestrian bridge over urban prairie; to the old Pabst Brewery (currently partially redeveloped); to the gentrified historic Third Ward, the city’s old produce market area, where we combed through a very dusty antique store and the Public Market, a “catalytic project” in the 2001 city master plan (it has a great cheese shop, a wine store, a  spice shop, and an enormous candy counter…its heaven).  After that we noodled north along Terrace Street (past my favorite grand old home in the city) and around the East Side a little.  We also stopped downtown at the Renaissance Book Store (pictured toward the bottom), which is a place that can really only be experienced.  It is three stories of books stacked all over the place – on shelves, on chairs, on the floor – and apparently the owner has whole warehouses full of books elsewhere.  Tanya bought a book, but I just carried one around for a while before leaving empty-handed.

There were fires in the Boundary Waters, in Minnesota, which made the air hazy, but it was a beautiful day and we covered a lot of territory.  I was particularly pleased to visit the Brewery, which I wrote a paper on but had never visited, and the North Avenue Bridge, a particularly cool staircase that I’ve been admiring on the internet for a while now.

For more pictures of the day, visit my Flickr page – you can also see photos from Madison (with more to come).

PS I added a new header image to the blog.  Its a photo taken by Erin Molnar of Llandudno, Wales, and I think its totally beautiful.  Thanks to Erin for letting me use it, and to Lizzie Woods, who shared the image with me.