2. Beer & mustard…Wisconsin 12.2007

our next stop was a "tourist" place we knew mostly nothing about.  mona had at least heard of it before; but we were on an adventure....and we never dreamed it would get sooo bizarre.

we stopped at a place called "the house on the rock"



there were these unusual pieces of art scattered by the road and nestled in the trees...what was that about?

we asked the lady taking entrance fees, what kind of place was this.

she said "very unusual".....what an understatement.

while we don't know the history of the builder, creator, wack-job, imaginnaire, or whatever you want to call him, this is truly a one-of-a-kind, super-unique and totally bizarre place.


the red carpet started the tour into the original house, which has 13 rooms; the above hallway is the first thing you see when you enter the house.  then you come to the  small living room (there are santa's everywhere this time of year....6,000 in all).  mona and i immediately burst out laughing..was this all one big tacky joke? what was this place?


we were  laughing so hard, the guard in the next room commented on it.  photo on the left shows the first of the musical instruments you see on the tour.  they are fascinating.  the tour calls them "music machines" and they replicate a chamber orchestra.  they're made to play without a person....it was really neat. they are all playing a wonderful christmas song.     the photo in the center, is a glass wall that looks out over the trees.  all then we found ourselves going into the "infinity room". the door on the right photo, is how you enter it.


this was my favorite room.  you can see it looks like it goes to "infinity".  it actually juts out over the trees, 218 feet up in the air.  there are 3,264 windows in this room.  you can only go as far as the center of it (you can see the bars stopping you in the center photo.  the photo on the right is after the bars and towards the end of the room.


the place where you stop , is a glass floor (photo on left).  the photo on the right is looking down through the floor and into the trees.

below are some of the rooms we went through....we were both amazed and dumbfounded.



this was the kitchen....the view outside was really beautiful


above on the left are more "music machines"; they were truly fascinating.  mona with her "i can't really believe all of this" look


(from left) a huge "bellow" that shows off the paperweight collection; looking outside the window at all the ice formed on this large wheel; a gigantic firepalce, and some of the 6,000 tacky santas.


there are so many "collections" in this place! (from left) faberge eggs, clocks, a ships figure head, and woodcarvings


(from left) an old fashioned theatre, a chandelier on the ceiling, a self-playing piano machine


This is all the same bedroom...a music machine on the left, and the bed on the right


  okay, our eyes were in overdrive, our minds thought we'd inhaled some illegal drugs, and mona and i didn't know if we were truly dreaming (or maybe a in a nightmare) or not.

now we were headed towards the "heritage of the sea" room.  it has over 200 model ship display.




photos could not capture what we saw...it was this whale and sea creature entwined in a battle in the raging sea...or something like that.  it was 200' feet tall (that is as long as the statue of liberty is tall)...just unbelievable.  no matter how we tried to take a photo of this, our cameras couldn't capture it.  mona is on the 4th floor looking into the mouth (along side another santa)

 this was the blue room, filled with music machines and had a quilted ceiling.



(from left) intricately carved ivory; mona next to "i have no idea" and more stuff


a cash register collection; and a magnificent chandelier


this room played the theme from "the nutcracker"...really wonderful

this was the "aviation" room....the ceiling was filled with airplanes



our next stop was the "carousel" room.  the stats on this are mind-boggeling:

over 20,000 lights, 269 hand-crafted carousel animals (not one of them is a horse), 182 chandeliers it's 35' tall, 80' wide,  and weighs 35 tons.

it's currently insured for $4.8 million dollars!

but it's beautiful.


these large drums were mounted on the wall and playing; this is the wall in the carousel room and it's all filled with carousel horses.


huge copper drums and this giant clock were in the organ room


our next stop on the tour was a little cafe...all the tables had at least a couple of quotes on them...here's some examples.


there were signs suggesting "not to miss the bathrooms" (which we hadn't so far), but mona was truly "astounded" and all the stuff in the women's bathroom...bizarre!


back through the top of the carousel room, and also the "doll carousel".

the tour was over.  a stop in the gift shop to buy a book about the creator of the "house on the rock".

this was truly one of the strangest, most bizarre, super creative, and amazing things we'd participated in during all of our travels. 

my photos can only give you a glimpse of what this place is like....the rooms are huge in size; there are hundreds of collections; millions of lights; the hallways, walkways and rooms aren't square or rectangle, but odd shapes and uneven floors, so much is bright Gold, beautiful copper, sparkling and shining light fixtures


if you're ever near there...don't miss it!


the only disappointment of the day, was that the "frank lloyd wright" visitors center was closed.  during the winter, they're only open on the weekends.  mona and i had both really wanted to go here, but it just wasn't meant to be.  and so, we drove on.  we made a stop for gas and a visit to the "lands end" store in the next town.

as some of you know, mona and i didn't decide to come to wisconsin until the week before.  we knew we were going on a road trip, but we were waiting for the weather forecast.  one option, was to go south to Austin, texas.  I'd said if we went to austin, i was going to buy myself a pair of red cowboy boots, and it we went north, i wanted to buy a long down coat.

lands end had the perfect one.

our next stop, and last for today, was dubuque, iowa.  we checked into a hotel, grabbed a bite for dinner and toured the town.


the night-time photos aren't great, but the one on the left is of dubuque's clock tower in the center of downtown, and the one on the right is of the christmas lights lining the trolly-lift that goes up to the house on top of the cliff...really neat looking. 

it's good night for now...tomorrow we head back towards kansas.


tuesday, december 4th

today was the last day of our trip.  i'm sorry to report there are no new photos from today...

we drove most of the day, leaving dubuque around 10am this morning. 

we made a short stop in downtown cedar rapids to eat an early lunch.  we stopped at the cedar rapids coffee house; they had good sandwiches and really bad chai...oh well.  the forecast for cedar rapids was 3"-6" of snow for this afternoon, so we beat it out of there, and headed towards des moines.

the forecast for des moines was good and we had googled several times and looked through guide books on what to see and do in des moines...we found nothing.

once we saw a beautiful view of big red barns in the middle of farm land and with snow it looked really pretty.....but didn't get a photo of it.  another time we saw a horse and buggy going over the highway on a bridge, but couldn't get that picture either.  overall, we mostly just drove, listened to christmas music and another audio book. 

we arrived back at mona's around 5 pm, unloaded the car, and i drove back to linwood.

to summarize....

this road trip was really fun.  we were lucky in missing all the bad weather (to drive through anyway) and we were able to stay warm in all of the cold temperatures.

madison is a really cool college town, they have a great downtown, funky eateries and really nice people.

new glarus is filled with proud people, who all seem to love doing what they do and doing it there.

and then there's "the house on the rock"....i'm still so amazed by what we saw and would really like to go back in the summer season to see all of the wild, wacky, bizarre and unusual sights of this place.

mona and i always have a great time traveling together and this time just proved it once more! 

we missed all of our traveling girlfriends and hope our next trip will include all of us.

and....the next time i pour myself a glass of cherry beer,

i'll toast to all my good memories of our road trip to wisconsin.


ho! ho! ho!  my next trip (and last one of 2007) is my christmas wish...

to see the boys in california....we leave on christmas eve.

check back to see the joys of our california christmas!

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