Door County, Wisconsin

It’s been too long since I updated! Can you tell grad school is back in session? Did it ever end? It did. And in August we spent a weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. And ate (far too many times) at Al Johnsons Swedish Restaurant for those damn pancakes with ligonberries. HOLY COW were those good. Also? They have goats. On the roof.

I’m going to call this the Rene Kilbreath (Piche, but I don’t acknowledge that one anymore) memorial post! She would have LOVED this. Anyway, I loved it enough for both of us!

How zen is that dude?

While in Door County we engaged in the usual long weekend out of town entertainments. We purchased local favorite things. In Door County? They are big on olive oil. I don’t know why. But it was delicious so we bought some. And some wine. And a bunch of other crap. We also went to one of the best mini-golf courses we’ve seen. It’s called the Red Putter and it’s a small place, filled with old school holes and sweetly elaborate obstacles.

It was great, obviously. A BADGER!!!

We were glamping. And on our way up to the top of Door County (it’s a peninsula) we saw this house with a boat in it. Or is it a house built around a boat? It’s pretty amazing either way.

One of the many traditional Door County activities we participated in was the Fish Boil. We heard this was a must-do and I love an open flame so we went. I got really tipsy before dinner and applauded when the fish boiler lit the giant barrel on fire. It was quite exciting and got way, way, WAY bigger than this photo implies. This was just the flame phase I. Anyway, the fish is put in a stock pot with potatoes and onions and a ton of salt and then set ablaze. It was surprisingly tasty but Dale didn’t like it because the fish had too many bones in it. I made the waiter take the bones out of mine because I’m an overgrown child.

We actually relaxed a bit on this holiday (Dale really likes to be on the go and I made him “sit” for spell several times. This was one of those times. The marina is cute, no?

We also hung out at this little coffee shop, which I loved. Seriously, this is one of my all-time favorite random small town coffee shops. The drinks were delicious, the inside was adorable. Good treats, too. Great little place!

We also had a picnic at the state park. I packed a bunch of tasty goodies–bread, gourmet root beer, fancy cheese (it’s Wisconsin, after all), summer sausage and other goodies. And we just hung out until it sprinkled (damn rain!).

Somewhere in the state park…

And Dale took this pretty photo of the marina. It’s my favorite from the trip. We had a nice weekend. (Now we’re all work and no play).

The last of the Wisconsin camping photos…

So I gave up scrapbooking for blogging…and you’re stuck with the results, people! This is the last of our Wisconsin camping weekend photos for the summer (because we have company booked nonstop for the next few weeks). It’s long but I like to think its worth it.

A peak inside our glamorous tent! As you can see we’ve added a duvet cover over the sleeping bag (my idea) and a small rug. Since this trip, Dale has purchased a larger rug from IKEA to use while camping. Dale is even more into glamping than I am! We also purchased a tent light, which rocks. Anyway, during our last weekend we headed over to Cave of the Mounds….

I really enjoyed this tour. I was surprised by how much. It was neat to get inside a real cave and see stalagmites and stalactites up close.

Another view from inside the cave. It was filled with water and rather cool inside–we had to wear jackets. We had decided to take the cave tour because it was a rainy afternoon. We set up our tent and took the cave tour. We didn’t expect any more rain so we headed for a longer drive over to the Mississippi and the Iowa/Wisconsin border.

We just could not have been more wrong about the rain! It actually took us quite a while to get to Iowa because rain–and eventually the hail–came down in sheets! We had to park poor Betty under a tree in the hopes of shielding her from hail.

Soon enough we were in Iowa!! I was disproportionately excited about it because I love to visit new states. So even though I was only there a few minutes I simply had to take a photo!

The next day we enjoyed a winery tour (see post below this one). On our way back to the campsite we stopped at Pecks Farm Market. We found tons of wonderful local produce and incredible baked goods (BEST cookies ever–this includes any cookie any grandmother has ever given me). What we weren’t expecting was a huge petting zoo behind the market. It was really weird!

They had a small alligator. Poor guy. I felt like he was probably lonely. Anyway, I was only going to put a couple of these pictures out but I adored all of the ones Dale gave me so I’m being self indulgent and including them…

I love this dude.

Sleepy little baby cow!

They had a bunch of white deer. They were adorable. There were also some baby pygmy goats that were 10 kinds of adorable and a whole slew of bunnies! Oh, and a wallaby. Seriously.

After filling up on goodies at the market we came back to the campsite and had some hot dogs over the fire. We also watched the sunset and had some cheese, summer sausage and cheap wine. It was fabulous!

We kept seeing these weird birds roaming the countryside so I had to include them, too!

On our way out of town we stopped in the Swiss-themed town of New Glarus.

They have a ton of bulls and cows painted up in themes, too. I loved this one!

We ate lunch at a spot called the Glarner Stube (I think). Anyway, we ordered sandwiches but decided to try one of the “authentic” Swedish appetizers. We almost fell out of our chairs laughing when this odd sausage arrived with sauerkraut and mustard to top it off. We were even more shocked to discover it was crazy delicious. No joke!

The House on the Rock

Click on photos to enlarge them.

The House on the Rock is the weirdest place I have ever been. And I lived in Flint. And Detroit. As much as I love Dale’s photos, I don’t think you can truly experience The House on the Rock in pictures. It doesn’t pick up the dank smells and low ceiling of the main house or the bizarre dark clutter of the warehouses that keep the various collections.

Strange sculptures greet you as you drive along the entry road.

Inside the house, the rooms are dark and low and filled with strange vaguely Asian treasures. Legend has it that the architect–Alex Jordan–was insulted by Frank Lloyd Wright and decided to build a monument to himself just up the road from Wright’s own home, Taliesin.

An indoor fountain with Asian sculptures.

The key feature of the house is the Infinity Room. It narrows to a point, creating a strange forced perspective. Light floods in on all sides (unlike the vast majority of the rest of the house).
There is also a glass bottom section of the Infinity Room that is pretty freaky!
Another strange sculpture in the house!

A backlit wall, a “Tiffany” lamp; and an inlaid chest. The House used to claim the most Tiffany lamps in one place. However, it turns out they have the most Tiffany knock-offs made by a Chicago company in existence. That’s the thing about the House. Most everything is a trick. They used to make all kinds of claims but now they simply don’t mark anything so you just never know what you’re looking at, not really.

A sitting area in the house.

From the house, visitors exit and walk through a garden to the first of several warehouses that house a nearly endless number of collections. One of the first includes a showcase of Faberge eggs. I have no idea if they’re real but they were fancy!

By far the most amazing thing in the house are the large music machines. This is The Mikado (I think). Anyway, you drop in two coins and it plays. Some elements are recorded and other elements happen live. The entire thing moves (and multiple bows draw across stringed instruments). It’s all kinds of weird but also whimsical. I like them even if they were fakes.

In the nautical room, there is a 200 foot whale with a boat in his mouth who happens to be wrestling a giant squid. The room is filled with small version of famous ships.

Another music machines. Rumor has it that the son of the original architect’s house created these as a way to drum up tourist business. He apparently loved to create these elaborate contraptions.

The Blue Danube Music Machine.

Finally, at the end of the second section a strange hallway takes you to what they describe as the World’s Largest Carousel. I prefer to think of it as the inspiration for the color scheme of the movie Moulin Rouge. It’s the closest I have ever come to being inside that movie. And I loved it.

The carousel is all strange, mythical creatures, spinning wildly. Nobody gets to ride it, which is a tragedy.

Another room–the Organ Room–is filled with invented electrical machines that are wildly and absurdly elaborate.

Another elaborately constructed organ.

In the weapons collection room there is a fake female leg with a gun hidden in it!

These photos represent approx. 1/5 of the display rooms. Seriously, it’s bananas. And there is a giant cannon on your way out! Bananas.

Random Wisconsin Photos

A few more pics from our Wisconsin camping trip. This is our tent all set up at the site.

A shot of Mineral Point’s Main Street. Adorable.

Everywhere we went there were cows! SO MANY COWS! These cows came to the fence when we slowed down to take their pictures. I called out, “Hey Cows! Over here!” And they totally came.

The plane that sits in front of the The Don Q Inn. Wisconsin is weird.

Our New Tent

Exciting news for blog followers! Heh. We bought a tent. REI was having a super sale so we picked up this huge Base Camp 6 tent. It sleeps 6 (allegedly). This will open up all sorts of adventures for us. Here she is in all her fancy glory!

And the test has a huge rain cover. Every time I have gone camping it has rained. And this is why I don’t like camping. So the deal is, the rain cover is supposed to be like Teflon. We shall see!

A view from the cavernous inside! Did I mention that we put the tent up in the public park near our apartment? We had a lot of lookie-loos and we were pretty sure the cops would show up but nobody cared. Lots of little kids looked deeply envious of us! Camping adventures will be coming to a blog near you–later in the summer–but for now we have our weekends plotted out for the next 5 weeks!