June 26-30 - Spring Green WI
One of our purely selfish main objectives this trip was to revisit the House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI - we'd been there 10 years ago, when Judy was coming down with the flu, and she wanted to remember the place more positively. Plus, Spring Green is also the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, and we wanted to tour his home.
Mon 6/26 - Columbus to Spring Green is further than we wanted to drive in one day, so we allowed two. We also forgot that we'd be moving back into the Central time zone, thus losing an hour. So we started out rather leisurely, and about 4pm pulled up for the night at a nice little campground near Utica, IL. We didn't even unhook the car. Just rode our bikes around a little bit and relaxed.
Tue 6/27 - We figured on a post-breakfast start, but that was delayed somewhat when we found a flat tire on the RV, and another tire dangerously low. Called the Good Sam Emergency Road Service (it's like AAA for RVs), and then started inflating the tires. When John the tire guy got there after about 45 minutes, he decided that the problem was most likely not the tires but the valve extenders - tubes that extend the valve stems on truck tires so you can get at them without being a contortionist. Al suspected the valve cap pressure sensors themselves, and removed them. After inflating the tires, we followed him to his shop to see if we could find replacement valve extenders. No luck, so we put on new valve caps and hit the road around lunchtime. We fueled the RV, had lunch and used the ATM at the Flying J Truck Stop in South Beloit, IL, and headed north into Wisconsin. Around 5:30, we tucked into Bob's Riverside RV Park outside Spring Green, where we discovered we had iffy cell phone service and no internet. But the tires were still fully inflated - ah ha! Al was right!!
Wed 6/28 - The House on the Rock is an amazing collection of stuff. It's not a museum, it's an attraction. Full of stuff. The house itself is pretty amazing, with an Infinity Room that seems to defy gravity. And the collections of stuff are even more amazing. We're particularly fond of the music machines - ranging from a coin-operated player piano to a full circus band, to a full coin-operated orchestra with at least 80-100 instruments, played by life-sized mechanical musicians. Most all of them work. We played them all. And then there are the carousels, and the doll houses, and the suits of armor and the miniature circuses and the pipe organs and funny cars and circus wagons and guns and chess sets and stained glass windows and .... well, you get the idea. We took almost 200 pictures there. Some of the best are in our slideshow. And if you ever get to Spring Green, plan to spend a day at the House on the Rock. It's unlike anything else you'll ever see. In the evening, we drove into Madison to see if we could buy a CD with a song we'd heard on the radio. The song is named "Squalor", written and recorded by Lou and Peter Berryman, and the CDs are available at just two stores in Madison. Turned out the store we selected is also a major harp store, so Judy bought a bunch of new harp music. Click here to see the lyrics to Squalor. It's a great motivational piece. :-)
Thu 6/29 - Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most prolific architects ever, with more than 1100 buildings built from his designs. He was born near Spring Green, and ultimately made it his home, building (maybe evolving is a better word) his estate Taliesin there and starting his school of architecture there. His estate and school remain, and the school is still turning out students absorbing his "organic" style of building design. We took two tours - one of his home, Taliesin, which was a residence, a design studio and an experimental laboratory for his designs - and the other of Hillside, which he designed and built in 1902 as a private school to be run by two of his aunts, and which is now the actual school of architecture. Fascinating. He believed that buildings should appear to grow out of the terrain upon which they were built; that the colors of nature were best; that the interiors of buildings should be an extension of the outdoors surrounding them (or vice versa); and that the more people were separated from the land, the less "civilized" they became. He was also an eccentric - while his estate was a working farm, he forbid the farm to have Holstein cows or white chickens - their colors were not "natural" enough and disturbed his view of nature. He was also a bit of a tightwad - his students were expected to do all the work of running the farm, and while he designed some very elegant things for his clients, his own home, while strikingly designed, shows a remarkable lack of workmanship and an incredible reliance on plywood, often roughly finished. Were Taliesin to be built today, it would never pass code. Might not have passed code back then, either. Our pictures don't do it justice - you can't take pictures inside any of the buildings, and the outsides blend into the hillside and it's not always easy to see them. After supper, we found we could get internet connectivity by parking near the General Store in Spring Green, and we able to pick up our email and send a few essential messages.
Fri 6/30 - Our objective today was Rochester, MN, where we would join a bunch of other family members for the wedding of Al's nephew Adam Aslakson and Amber Wilhelm. An easy 160 miles. We headed out cross-country about 9:30am. Details in our next report.
Al's Highlight - Gee - will it be kitch or culture? The ridiculous or the sublime? I vote for kitch (so sue me). The House on the Rock is almost impossible to describe, let alone capture in photos. It's kind of like being in a toy store for grownups, with new delights around every corner. It's an exploration without consequences; an indulgence with no calories; a complete escape from any possible reality. Where else can you see a provocative nude carousel angel next to an 80ft long paper maché cannon aimed at an elephant wearing a suit of armor? I heartily recommend it.
Judy's Highlight - Ditto Al....... definitely!!!
Click here to see a slideshow of some of our pictures from this leg of the trip.
Stay tuned . . .