Monona Drive Archives

Actually I’m not really into New Year’s Resolutions. But I found myself doing New Year’s Resolution type of things in the 6000 block of Monona Drive last week.

On Tuesday I joined Anytime Fitness. For weeks I had been deliberating about whether or not to join a gym. I hate winter and thought maybe this would be a way to fight back against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Chugging Vitamin D doesn’t seem to be enough.

Anytime Fitness ran a one day special on Tuesday, where you could get one month free and no sign up fees, so I signed up.

Listening to someone talk about their exercise routine is tedious, so I’ll just say that so far, so good. I like that nobody wears fancy exercise outfits, there are a lot of 65+ year old members, there’s a nice variety of machines and the machines aren’t off-putting like I thought they might be. I find myself actually wanting to linger instead of wanting to get the workout over with as fast as possible.

Also, as a self-employed person, it’s nice to have a place to go during the day other than the grocery store and my kids’ schools.

Last week I also took advantage of a free session of acupuncture across the street from Anytime Fitness at Dane County Family Acupuncture.

I had never had acupuncture before and, even though I have no serious ailments, I was curious to see what it was like.

The needles weren’t uncomfortable and I came away with some suggestions of things I should do on my own to maintain and improve my health. There was NO pressure to sign up for other appointments, but I want to go back.

Perhaps the best part was how well Kristin listened to me and her interest in getting the big picture of my health the past several years. If you have chronic health issues or have wanted to try acupuncture, I highly recommend Dane County Family Acupuncture.

Happy New Year!

My favorite part of the new Monona Drive

As much as I like the new brick crosswalks, the new stone street signs, and the new left turn lanes, I think what I appreciate most is the new stoplight at the intersection of Owen and Monona Drive:

This means we can now actually make left hand turns onto Monona Drive from Owen! A  life-changing experience.

In which I avoid Nichols Road and Monona Drive

The last month or so I’ve avoided driving down Nichols Road and Monona Drive.


When you take the same routes all the time you stop seeing things.

As a result of avoiding these main drags, I’ve discovered Monona streets I had never driven down before even though I’ve lived here 11 years, like Parkway Drive, and the one-way stretch of Shore Acres near Rubin’s.

I’ve noticed interesting windows, doors (there’s an orange front door I especially like) decorations and landscaping I had never seen before even though they are only a mile or two from my house.

Sometimes I’ve cheated and taken Nichols to Monona Drive to get to the high school because it feels faster, even though it takes exactly as long to take the back way.

Other times I forget to turn off Monona Drive at Winnequah Road and accidentally drive all the way to Nichols. But I went to get better at remembering to take the long way home (and, yes, that Supertramp song is going through my head now 😉 ).

An easy way to help local businesses

While reading the Monona Rag recently I came across this article that talks about how businesses in Monona Drive are losing business during the construction.

In addition to supporting your local businesses with your dollars, here’s one quick way to help out local businesses… write a review on Google or Yelp.

How does this help them?

Let’s take restaurants as an example.

About 1200 people per month type “Monona WI restaurants” or something similar into Google. At the top of the search results is a map of Monona and a list of restaurants.

Part of what determines a high ranking in that list is the number of reviews a business has. It’s super easy to add your own review.

Yelp is another popular review site and it’s also an iPhone app.  When people travel they often check Yelp or Google Maps to see what local restaurants, etc. to visit and the reviews play a role in their decisions.

Obviously reviews have a downside because by nature people are quick to complain but often don’t take the time to write a positive review.

Yet businesses shouldn’t fear or dismiss negative feedback. Sometimes it can be turned into something positive. For example, here’s how a pizza place in San Francisco made something positive out of their 1 star Yelp reviews. They put the one star comments on their staff T-shirts.

It only takes a minute to write a favorable review about your favorite Monona businesses and I’m sure they’d appreciate the effort.

As much as I like Wisconsin cheese, if you use shredded cheddar cheese on your tacos, may I suggest that you stop that right now and go to Super Tienda Latina grocery store on 6005 Monona Drive and get some Mexican white cheese?

Family members from out of town were here recently and one of them informed me that Mexican white cheese is the proper cheese for tacos. She and my oldest daughter made a big batch of tacos for a family feast a week ago and she insisted we go to Super Tienda Latina to get the white cheese.

It also comes in a string cheese version which, apparently, is the best version to use for enchiladas.

I don’t much care to eat the white cheese all by itself. Farmer John’s cheese at the Monona farmer’s market is still the best cheese to eat by the slice.

If you’re not into cheese, Super Tienda Latina sells Coca Cola in glass bottles with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Those sure hit the spot on humid days like the ones we’ve been having.

A sailing we will go on Monona Drive

I confess that until the recent city council discussion about it, the Monona sail site at the southern end of Monona Drive was something that never came to mind when I would think about Monona.

For one thing, I rarely enter or exit Monona from the Monona Drive ramp.

And when I do, I’m too busy focusing on merging or changing lanes and can’t see the sail and sign.

It’s always seemed to me that the sail site is meant to serve as branding for those that whiz past it on the Beltline. They are the only ones who can get a good (albeit fleeting) look at it.

For that reason, and also because there isn’t a public park near it, it doesn’t seem practical to add gardens and other bells and whistles that no one will see. I’m OK with everything else, such as the new sign, as long as it doesn’t cost $300K.

The only Monona sign that ever stands out to me is the one near the intersection of Broadway and Monona Drive that lists upcoming events and such. I don’t know what the plans are for it after the road construction is finished, but I find it useful and it’s better than the standard green population sign.

All my other entry points into Monona (South Towne exit, Pflaum/Nichols, Monona Drive from the Cottage Grove Road area) don’t have a noticeable transition from Madison to Monona. Monona doesn’t start to “feel” like Monona to me until I’m on Winnequah Road or Nichols.

I guess the bottom line is that no matter how much or how little money is spent on updating the sail site, Monona is the type of community where its branding ultimately comes more from the experience of Monona and its people, and not from architecture or sail sites.

Monona Drive just can’t top this…

As much as I like Monona, driving along Monona Drive is always kind of a drag. It’s a collection of random, uninspiring buildings and is more like a suburban Chicago street than a small town main street.

I grew up in Stoughton, which has a charming midwestern downtown area. So when I need a small town fix, I go take a drive to Stoughton.

I did this last Saturday when the festival was in full swing. I figured we’d let the out-of-town folks enjoy Monona while we fled for the quiet  of both Edgerton and Stoughton.

Edgerton has an A&W drive-in that is just like the old days. The only proper way to drink root beer is from a chilled A&W glass mug delivered to you by a carhop. I hadn’t been to a drive-in since I was in junior high so it was fun to experience that again.

Then we drove through Stoughton on the way home. I’m sure the new Princeton Club will be a fine addition to Monona Drive. But will it match the charm of the Stoughton Opera House? I think not.

I’m not complaining though. It’s always nice to have excuses to make visits to drive-ins and quintessential small towns.

Happiness is…

Happiness is driving down Monona Drive on a Friday afternoon with the windows down while your teenage daughter cranks Petula Clark’s 1966 song “Color My World” on the stereo.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a huge pile of rocks at the end of Monona Drive:

Big piles of rocks at the end of Monona Drive

The Monona Drive road construction is in full swing (I’m not sure the precise stage they are at with the road construction – Monona Doug would probably know).

Here’s a close-up view, because I’m sure you can’t get enough of the sight of these rocks:

Close-up view of the big pile of rocks at the end of Monona Drive

When my youngest daughter saw these rocks she said, “Awesome! I want to play in those rocks!”

She said that even though she isn’t normally the type to want to climb and play with Tonka Trucks and such. That’s how awe-inspiring this pile of rocks is.

Oh, speaking of Tonka trucks, there are two vintage all-metal Tonka trucks in the sandbox at the red park (Maywood Park)!

Metal Tonka trucks at Maywood Park in Monona

Metal Tonka trucks were ubiquitous when I was a kid but they switched over to plastic in the late 1980s. Bleah. So I appreciate that Maywood Park has these all-metal trucks. It’s yet another way in which Monona is awesome.

An exercise facility on one side… a tobacco store on the other. A fun juxtaposition.