When the Carrolls learned BYU would playing at Wisconsin, where Caitlin is in grad school, we decided to descend upon Madison for the weekend. I told Christopher I would be going and he said, “Take a kid with you.” I chose Ben this time, because that boy loves his Poppy. It turned out to be a good choice, because Christopher ended up having to travel to the Philippines for work, and I didn’t feel too bad asking Pam to watch the other three kids for the weekend. Ben is 90% of the work.
Ben and I took off on Thursday mid-morning. The trip wasn’t too bad, a 2.5 hour flight to Minneapolis and another 30 minute flight to Madison. Ben was relatively good but still required almost constant attention. He played games on my phone and his DS; we read books on the Nook; and we ate lots of snacks. I brought some brand new sticker books but they didn’t hold his attention. By the time we got back to the hotel it was after 9 p.m. and time for bed. Caitlin, Atticus, and Tallulah stayed the night.
Friday it took everyone forever to get moving. We only had a five-seater rental car, so Mom dropped Caitlin, Atticus, and Tallulah at the zoo while Allison and I ran on the treadmills and Dad chased Ben. We got ready and joined them at the zoo. The Madison Zoo is free and the perfect size for chasing small kids around.
We left the zoo in two trips and headed back to Caitlin and Tim’s apartment. They fed us soup for lunch and we played outside in the gorgeous leaves.
Caitlin and Atticus both had school, so we went back to the hotel. Poppy took Ben to the pool while Grammy, Allison, and I ran to Target for some supplies. The hotel didn’t have breakfast so we grabbed instant oatmeal and hot chocolate for the next two mornings.
We headed back to Caitlin’s for dinner–spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and bread. Her apartment is small but they like to host, and we liked being there. They were even nice enough to keep Ben while Mom, Dad, Allison and I went to the church for a BYU football fireside. Several of the players and coaches sang and spoke. Bronco concluded with a talk about how if even one person felt the Spirit, it didn’t matter if we won the football game the next day. For better or worse, BYU football has always been more about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ than winning games. After the game the coaches and players chatted and signed autographs and posed for pictures. Mom went back to the car, uninterested. Dad was a little starstruck. Allison tried in vain to find a player without a wedding ring on. The funniest part of the evening to me was when a guy walked up to us and shook our hands. He looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place him until my dad said, “Hello, President Samuelson!” It was the president of BYU, just hanging out, meeting people.
We picked Ben up and went back to the hotel in time for Devin, Hillary, and Emma’s arrival. We gave Emma–whom Allison, Ben, and I had never met–lots of hugs and kisses before getting ready for bed. And Ben wanted to hold his birthday twin as soon as he woke up.
Saturday was the big day. We headed back to Caitlin’s for breakfast and more playing outside. We had the perfect window of time to take lots of pictures before getting on the bus to campus.
The bus took us to Union South, where we enjoyed the BYU alumni pre-game party, with food and games and, like any BYU event, lots and lots of kids. I won a poster in the raffle because I’m lucky. After the event, Ben said, “I want to be a cheerleader when I grow up!”
Then it was game time. Allison, Dad, Devin, and I planned to go, and someone gave Tim a free ticket at the alumni event so he came with us. Devin sat a few rows ahead of us with Tim, partly to keep him company, and partly because he didn’t want to be seen with Allison and I, who were very… vocal.
The game went about like expected. Bronco played it safe, punted on every 4th down and ran the ball more than he should have, and Wisconsin won 27-17. The Wisconsin fans were not as classy as Florida State but much classier than Alabama. The marching band played our fight song since our band couldn’t travel so far. We only got Mormon-heckled once. Some dude made a crack about multiple wives when Allison and I went to the bathroom. I said loudly, “Really? A polygamy joke, huh?” And without missing a beat Allison said, “How original!” The guy mumbled something like “legal in the territories” and retreated.
Other than the loss, we had a fun time. Camp Randall is a great place to watch a football game.
Trying to get from the stadium back to Caitlin’s apartment was a crowded, freezing cold adventure, but we made it. We visited one more time with Caitlin, Tim, Atticus, and Tallulah before going back to the hotel and going to bed. In the morning, we said goodbye to Devin, Hillary, and Emma. Mom, Dad, and Allison flew out about 30 minutes before Ben and I, so we watched them get on their plane before getting on ours. The flights home took about twice as long as the trip out, because our layover was in Detroit (400 miles in the wrong direction) and there was a 100 mph headwind. But we made it, Corey picked us up from the airport, and Ben fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept until morning. Megan, Gavin, and Logan were happy and healthy and I’m so glad we made the trip. Madison is a great town, and I loved seeing where Caitlin lives and spending time with my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephew.