After work on Friday, we picked up two of our close friends and hit the road, heading to southwestern Wisconsin to spend a couple of nights in Dodgeville.
Saturday morning we headed “downtown” (since I live in Chicago, quotation marks are definitely needed when talking about the downtown of a town of 4,000) in search of coffee, tea and breakfast goodies. I wore my Freddie’s overalls (they were my weekend staple), a vintage cowboy shirt, some Bakelite bangles and a wicker purse, which is the reason I’m no longer fretting about a brown purse for VLV right now. See? Brown lucite handle and accents on the front. Suitably brown enough for now.
We then headed to House on the Rock, which was the primary reason we went on this trip. If you’ve never heard of House on the Rock, well, does this enormous metal planter in the parking lot give you any indication that it might be a weird place? It is. Frankly, I don’t think weird even begins to cover it.
Oh, I spied a vintage pickup in the parking lot so of course I had to get a photo with it. I love old pickups. (Seeing myself in that Pendleton 49er makes me want to kick myself for not buying the sad one I saw at a thrift store earlier this year since it did have one button, and this one is missing one button. Argh! If you ever find just one single solitary Pendleton 49er button, let me know. I can’t bring myself to replace them with different buttons for some reason.)
I went to snap a photo of Mel and Emma, and Emma joked that they should stand next to the bin (and apparently look goofy).
When you enter House on the Rock and pay for your admission, they give you several mysterious tokens with no explanation. I felt like we were being dispensed pieces of eight.
There are three sections you tour through. The actual house itself, which sort of reminds me of a more maze-like, lounge-oriented, grotto-ish, carpet-covered Graceland without Elvis’s touch. And then two enormous warehouses full of… strange stuff. Lots of strange stuff. Really, really strange stuff.
In the house, there’s a special place called the Infinity Room. In my photo, it looks rather unassuming. But it’s a room that gets progressively more narrow as it gets out towards the end, essentially getting down to the point where only a mouse could travel.
It also extends 218 feet out over the valley below! See the person to the right looking down? That’s a lookout down below, like the opposite of a skylight. You can see that in my photo as well, where the railing is.
|Photo credit: House on the Rock|
When you continue along the tour, you really start to see the odd collections in the two other sections, which are kind of setup in rooms like a museum. A strange, creepy museum.
It was in these sections we figured out what those tokens were for. You could use them for antique (or pseudo-antique as they may have been—apparently the creator Alex Jordan had a lot of the items fabricated if he couldn’t get originals) arcade-like machines…
… or automated musical machines, like calliopes!
There are so many strange things going on at House on the Rock that I can’t even begin to touch on it all. An enormous carousel full of unusual animals… another carousel with antique dolls sitting on the horses… a horse-driven funeral car… a 3-storey fiberglass whale… an organ room with spiral staircases that don’t appear to go anywhere… I could go on and on. It’s definitely one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been in my life. My photos don’t do it justice!
Once we had a rest after that sensory overload, we went out to dinner in a small neighboring town, Mineral Point, at Brewery Creek. We pondered over the flags out front because Emma noticed one was the Welsh flag. We talked to the owner, and discovered the others were Manx, Basque, and Flemish. He switches them out periodically as they get ratty from blowing against the shrubbery over time. Ostensibly they represent nationalities who are big into cycling. Interesting flags aside, their food was really good and included lots of local yummies like blue cheese from Hook’s Cheese Company, whose factory was literally down the block. I wish my photos inside turned out, because it was in a stone warehouse from the 1850s and had a gorgeous wooden bar at one end.
Right after midnight Saturday night (so technically Sunday) we had cake for my birthday. Yay!
Our Sunday plans included breakfast, a hike if the weather was nice and heading back home.
The weather cooperated in a major way. We went for our hike at Governor Dodge State Park. I absolutely love parks in the off-season. This park is particularly popular and the one time we’d been there before, the beachy area near where we hiked was absolutely jam packed. Not this weekend! Jen even dipped her feet in the lake, even though the water was way too cold, of course.
The weather was absolutely fantastic, in the 70s and partly sunny (though quite windy due to the major temperature shift). A rare treat for early April!
A bit later I’ll do the second round-up post, just with my photos from the Instagram app on my iPhone, which I got addicted to over the weekend. (Talk about amping up the weird factor in House on the Rock.)
Anyway, we had a great weekend, full of fun adventures with friends (though oh no! we forgot to bring back any New Glarus beer). It was wonderful to get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather before it dipped back into cooler temperatures this week. Hope you all had a lovely weekend, too!
Filed: Travel and Adventures