Cross-Country Trip Day 8: La Crosse to Chicago

Today we headed further back into civilization, ending in Chicago. The highlight of the day of driving, though, was our stop at Epic headquarters outside of Madison, WI, where we visited with my friend Emily.

Epic HQ sign

Emily and her family live in Madison, and the timing worked out for us to meet her at her office for lunch.

Epic is a massive medical records company that you could easily mistake on visiting its campus for a hip tech company. Walking around outside on the campus feels much like being at a university - the grounds are beautiful and welcoming, and you would not be surprised to see people tossing a frisbee.

Epic campus

Inside, everything is themed - and not a unified theme, but several different themes per building, it seemed. We walked by an NYC subway stop and through space-themed areas, and elsewhere on campus is a barn and working farm.

For food options, the company offers a coffee shop, soda fountain, and cafeteria, and all food is sold at cost. I had a delicious pork belly salad and Brendan chose a meatloaf sandwich, each of which cost no more than a few dollars. It was a nice stopover, and really great to catch up with Emily.

We would have liked to stop into Madison after hearing many good things about it, but after a pause for Brendan to do some work, to make it into Chicago by dinner we had to skirt around Madison to the south and make a beeline for the city.

The roads going into Chicago were rough, trafficky, and peppered with annoying tolls. It felt very much like being back on the east coast in some ways. I never thought I'd say I missed the highways in California!

Having never been to Chicago before, we had picked our Airbnb a bit blindly based on price and the comfort of having our own apartment. The place turned out to be even better than expected - we had the entire top floor of an old Victorian house, complete with kitchen and porch, all full of artwork and funky touches.

We set out to find dinner and explore the neighborhood around the apartment - Roscoe Village. The area was primarily composed of single family homes and row houses, and it was a 15-minute walk to the main drag, where we found lots of bars and restaurants.

The only flaw in the location, as we discovered the next morning, was accessibility to the L. More on that in the next post.

We decided on take out dinner from Pho’s Thai Cuisine, which boasted of its spicy food:

Pho's Thai Cuisine Photo credit: Yelp

On the walls of the restaurant were dozens of photos of patrons holding up a number of fingers - the level of spiciness they had managed. Not for me, thanks!

Instead, we crashed back at the Airbnb apartment with some American Dad! episodes - a classic Allison and Brendan night!