After three amazing weeks in Wisconsin, it was time to kiss Milwaukee goodbye and drive the eight and a half hours to our next stop- Kansas City. Our group split up between vans and trucks, so I was traveling with Jess and Matt. The other van was concerned with speed and would only be stopping a single time for breakfast. We, on the other hand, were all about exploring, especially after mapping out the drive and seeing we would pass through a couple of Big Ten schools- Wisconsin and Iowa. Matt went to South Carolina but agreed that their stadiums were worth a couple pit stops. Jess didn’t care where we stopped as long as she didn’t have to drive and could sleep along the way. We might’ve extended our arrival an additional hour, but we had fun making the necessary work drive sports themed.
Madison was only an hour from Milwaukee and as we approached the campus, it felt very narrow and squished. Maybe it was because I was following the drive along Google Maps and could see it was surrounded by two lakes, but it still felt scrunched. I don’t mean it in a bad way though and the town before campus was super cute. Wish we had more time to walk around the campus and bar areas because it looked like a good time! The location of the stadium is very different from Ohio State and it felt tucked into the campus as opposed to standing alone. If I hadn’t known any better, I would’ve driven right by it without thinking it was a stadium… similar to Roger Clemens arriving at Fenway for the first time!
We parked out front and left Jess asleep in the car as a guard and walked up to the entrance gate. I was thrilled to see the stadium was open and Matt and I went right out to view the field. One of their men’s sports teams was practicing (we think soccer), but they didn’t seem to mind us looking around and taking pictures of the field. Camp Randall is a beautiful mix of old and new and after seeing it on television all these years, I can say it’s way better looking in person. The camera has not done it justice! What I also found interesting is the W is completely different than the current Wisconsin logo and I’m surprised they’ve left it alone. I wish Ohio State would’ve left their old logo alone on the back of the scoreboard, but alas they updated it last week.
Before leaving I stopped to use the bathroom which was a little outdated in their Badger Alley which was pretty cool, showing the stadium’s progression over time. I desperately need to go to a game at Camp Randall, though I’m not sure I want it to be against my Buckeyes. I’m a bit invested and don’t know if I’ll be able to fully enjoy it, especially if my team loses. My aunt and uncle have been traveling to OSU games for years and they say the rowdiest fans are in Madison, so maybe I’ll go when they play Michigan or Penn State so I can at least be on their side!
Our second stop took us a little off course, but it was too close not to make a visit to Iowa’s campus and see Kinnick Stadium. It was a major bummer to find the stadium was closed to the public, but we did a loop outside and we saw some corn. Iowa loves corn. It’s fricking everywhere in this state. Kinnick from the outside was more impressive than I expected it to be and it seemed nestled away from the main campus a little. I must say the campus was very unimpressive and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to attend to play football when they could get scholarships elsewhere. Kirk Ferentz is doing one heck of a job in my opinion. Sorry people that are Hawkeyes or fans, but I don’t dig your digs!
Despite the field not being open, we were able to go in their training facility and look at their trophies. That was a very nice building and we appreciated it being open to us. I enjoyed the pig trophy that they share with Minnesota. Didn’t know of its existence, but am better now knowing about it!
Our final stop was actually an accident but ended up being our favorite. Matt was starting to get hangry in the back, so we picked the first exit that had a McDonald’s and pulled off. Jess saw a sign for a place called Taco John’s and we were curious and decided to try that instead. It was fancy Taco Bell, but it didn’t sit well for any of us. Next time we are sticking with the plan and going to McDonald’s. Anywho, during lunch, Matt joked about going to the Iowa Speedway and we were like ok fine, let’s do it, why not! Neither Jess nor I had noticed it was here, but we were feeling adventurous.
The speedway is out in the middle of nowhere just off the freeway and at first, we thought we would just drive by, but noticed the track entrance was open. Being the spontaneous free spirits we are, we figured we should drive in and see the track for ourselves. There weren’t any gates or people stopping us so we drove all around the infield, which was called the Infield of Dreams because of course, it’s Iowa. That reference delighted me and though I’ve never been a racing fan, this place instantly inserted itself into my heart. We toyed with the idea of taking a loop on the track, but figured that would be pushing our luck- a minivan racing around would definitely be conspicuous!
We exited reluctantly and continued on our merry way to KC, arriving much later than our counterparts- but with more stories of course!