Friday, June 29, 2012

"Tour 3 of House on the Rock and OUT!"

After having our tickets punched, we began Tour 3 by walking into another huge room, once again following ramps that took us on a winding path through the exhibit.  This one consisted of "pipe organs" and "huge copper distillery vats".  An unusual a combination of exhibits, eh?  Don did get this photo of an organ, but we have no photos of the copper vats.  It seemed the deeper we were into our tour, the less we took photos.  Truly, the sensory overload was taking its toll.   ;)

As hot as it was outside, it was quite refreshing to be able to leave the exhibits behind for a moment.  While outside, Don took this photo showing the underside of "The Infinity Room".

The size of the "automated orchestras" had gotten a little larger......

The next exhibit was "Circus" themed.  This HUGE wagon held life sized figures and my guess is that it would have been part of a grand parade.

The end of the parade wagon.......

In this photo you're able to see the main section of the band in the lower inside of the parade wagon.......

Did I mention the "automated orchestras" getting larger?  Here is another one......

Back through the Carousel Room via the ramp above it.....

And out!  As much as I enjoyed going to the House on the Rock, I was so happy.....actually, BOTH of us were so happy to be through it and out in the sunshine again.  All the sights and sounds of the exhibits had been overwhelming and it was really, really nice to be outside again.  Perhaps that is why they have you walk by this beautiful tranquil garden on your way out?   ;)

Leaving "The House on the Rock", we drove to Mazomanie, WI, and ate our anniversary dinner at "The Old Feed Mill" (  We've gone to their Thanksgiving Buffett for the last 2 years, plus eaten there with friends another time, and like the restaurant very much.  We'd arrived about 1/2 hour prior to dinner being served, but were able to sit in the bar wand have a drink while we waited.  We were the only ones in the bar besides the bartender, Nancy, who just happened to be one of the owners.  We had a very enjoyable time chatting with her and our dinner was delicious, as expected.   ;)

A fantastic, memorable, fun filled day, celebrating our 9 years together!   :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"End of Tour 2- House on the Rock....."

The end of tour 2, which Don "thinks" might have been the end of the tour when he last had been to The House on the Rock (20 some years ago) was pretty spectacular!  The only warning we had prior to walking into another HUGE room was a sign that said 20,000 lights ahead!  This was what greeted our eyes!  As you can see, the carousel itself is HUGE (see Don there in front of it?), so you can imagine how large the entire room is.

I stood and took photos while turning in place to try and get some of the "immenseness" of the room which, of course, is filled with many, many other pieces on exhibit.

The walls were literally covered with more carousel horses.......

Full size mannequins with wing spans of 10' or more hung from the ceiling........

I don't think there were two figures/seats alike on the carousel itself.......

Another photo of the variety of seating on the carousel next to a "glistening" me.   ;)

Of course, throughout all of this "gawking" on our part, the carousel music was playing.......and playing LOUDLY!   Definitely adding more sensory overload!

This is the last photo that was taken "on this level".  We didn't know it at the time, but during Tour 3, we'd be coming back through this room on a ramp that was above the carousel (seen in photo of carousel horses on the wall).

End of Tour 2.  Tomorrow, Tour 3 and last House of the Rock post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"More of Tour 2......"

Yesterday's photo of the hot air balloons, kites, etc. was taken as we entered the huge room from up in one of the corners.  From there we followed a slowing descending ramp around the room until we got to the main floor.  Don took this photo of a Burma Shave slogan (which we may have seen when we were just kids when driving with our families)     as we walked by........

On the floor of this huge room, were various horse drawn carriages.  This was one of the largest.  Yes, those are damp patches on my shirt.  House on the Rock may have a great AC system, but with something as extensive with so many rooms and hallways, it just couldn't keep up, which made the temperature a bit higher than usual, but still MUCH cooler than what the temperature was outside.

I had never seen a "steam-driven hearse" before!  It is kind of ominous looking, isn't it?

This cars license plate said 35 PACK, so I'm "assuming" it is a 1935 Packard.  It is beautiful......

After leaving this huge room, we followed more small winding hallways which had more automated "orchestras".

"Over the top" just doesn't really do justice to what we saw.......

"Gaudy" or "garish", maybe?  ;)

After passing through the "orchestras", it led us to a room centered around aviation.  There were several display cases of historical articles underneath all of these model planes......

One of the display cases really "dated my childhood".  The shelf on the left hand side, right above the small white cooler, is from the 1950's.  Those bottles are the ones I (and Don) grew up with.

Tomorrow, the end of Tour 2.........

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Tour 2 of House on the Rock....."

Our 3 section tickets had to be punched at the beginning of each of the tours.  Right outside the door of the "punching area", and at the beginning of Tour 2, was this waterwheel.  It is located in a small, serene, enclosed courtyard.....

Walking through the exhibit called the "Streets of Yesterday", we came to this steam engine......

Next to that was a large wagon........I'm not sure if they were part of the same exhibit but they could have been..... that had a "band" which played when coins were inserted into a box (we'd been given several coins for this purpose).  The tunes were pretty spectacular!  And yes, the little guys did move and/or play, too, depending on the tune.

After leaving the "Streets of Yesterday", we began our tour through the "Heritage of the Sea", where this "little guy" was the center attraction.   ;)  We took this photo with Don next to the whale so you could get an idea as to its true size.

Don took this photo from the next level of the exhibit.

Kind of eerie isn't it?  The whale's eye seemed to follow you as you walked by.......

Surrounding the whale and lining the walls on an ever rising ramp, were glass cases filled with marine history and models of boats and ships.  The models went from 1' in length/height to 10' or more!  It is an amazing collection!  What would an exhibit be without the Titanic, too?  I wouldn't know as this one had a model of it that was easily 10' long as it "met" the iceberg, plus original newspapers with their headlines of the tragedy, and other pertinent items.

After leaving the "Heritage of the Sea" exhibit we walked into an area that a multitude of musical instruments that would play using one of our coins.  I know there is a specific name for these machines/contraptions, but I do not know it.  As beautiful as this one was, it needed some maintenance as the violins were VERY MUCH out of tune!  It was painful to listen to it so we moved on rather quickly.   ;)

Another piece of the exhibit that I have not a clue about other than it was "over the top".   ;)

The photo below was our introduction to a HUGE room filled with a variety of carriages,  both steam and horse drawn, a few automobiles, and assorted "other things on exhibit".  The room also held a restaurant and ice cream parlor, so people could stop, rest, and fuel their bodies for the rest of the tour.   ;)

We took a few photos in here, which will be in tomorrows post as this one is long enough already.   ;)

Monday, June 25, 2012

"House on the Rock......"

After leaving Cave of the Mounds, we did drive through the country, but not as randomly as Don would have had me believe.......we were heading towards "House on the Rock".  ( I'm sure that my posts of this attraction will not be able to do it justice, because I don't think I can even tell you everything that I saw......believe me, it was SENSORY OVERLOAD!!!  Truly a memorable experience!

Hearing the name, "House on the Rock", I figured I would be touring a remarkable piece of architecture, which it is, but there is SO much more.  We got out of the car and I was surprised by the large "visitors center", but when I got inside and looked out the windows, I was truly astounded when I saw the many large buildings at the base of the visitors center, all connected by covered ramps!  It was like a large amusement park with no rides in sight.  I had no idea what I was in for........

The self guided tour is broken up into 3 sections.  Section one has the original house that was built by Alex Jordan.  It is very cool but sort of claustrophobic.  If I understood correctly, he was not a very tall man, and he built his house with ceilings less than standard height (I felt like I had to duck a lot), plus MANY of the small paned of windows in the residence were covered with stained glass or opaque, darkening the interior a bit more than was comfortable for me.

Before we got to the House on the Rock, we pulled into a "Scenic Overlook".  That was when "the jig" was up and I knew where we were headed.  It was quite clear what the scenic overlook had been developed to see........(hint: above Don's head in the distance)

Here is a camera zoom in for you......

That is called "The Infinity Room".  Here it is from inside......

For the record, I DID walk out to where Don is in this next photo.  At his feet is a section of the floor which is glass so one can see straight down from where they are standing.  I walked out there, looked down, felt the building sway in the wind and that was all I could take, so I quickly grabbed the camera and walked back to the doorway.  At least I can say I experienced the Infinity matter how short of an experience it was.   ;)

At least I was out there long enough for Don to take this photo before I grabbed the camera and headed back to the entrance.   ;)

Safe on solid ground again, or at least in an area that didn't sway in the wind (the house is built ON and AROUND a huge rock formation), we made our way through the rest of the original house.  These next couple of photos were taken where there actually was natural light in the house.

These stairs led us to.......

The rooftop!  Yes, I kept pretty close to the walls of the house and away from the railing.     I love the view but not the outer edges of the deck.

We came onto the deck from one door, but left it via another, going back down into another section of the house on our way to where we would begin section 2 of the self guided tour.  As I said when beginning this post, the house is pretty cool.  It is much larger than I originally thought, too.  Alex Jordan originally built a one room house, but was only satisfied with that for a short time before beginning to add rooms onto it.  Each room seamlessly became part of the house, adding it own charm with more cosy seating areas allowing different views of the valley.

Tomorrow, section 2 of the tour.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"More Cave of the Mounds......"

After a super tight squeeze (surprisingly for my chest, not stomach!), we ended up in this large open space.  Sorry it is so dark, but the flash can only do so much in situations like this.   ;)

If you can see Don, he is looking into what the following photo shows........the forms created here are referred to as "bacon" somethings.  I missed out on some of the tour guides information, but did hear him talking about them being named after a breakfast food.

More organic forms......

Which are above this crystal clear pool of water...........

This is the same pool but looking towards one end.

The beginning of many stalactites......if I am not mistaken, I believe these are called "straw" stalactites because they are small, thin, and hollow.

This is a stalactite which has a stalagmite growing up from it.  The theory is that what you see on the bottom pointing up used to be hanging down and a strong flow of water broke it off, flipping it and when the water drained away, it became a base for the growing stalagmite, which is called "Polly", as in parrot, because of its shape (tallest form on left).

More colorful (due to various minerals, etc) organic forms.......

To see some of the last sections, we walked through a man made tunnel.  It was drilled and carved out alongside several sections of cavern so they wouldn't be ruined and because they are narrow, or short in height, making it hard for "explorers" to get through easily.

That last sentence may be easier to understand when you look at the following photo, which was the end of the line for our tour.  We had to retrace some of our steps, although about halfway back, we did go through another section that looped around and brought us from the opposite direction, back to where we started the tour.

What wonderment the Cave of the Mounds brings to thousands of people.  To see the landscaped area above ground and then realize that underneath all of that is something so spectacular is astounding!

After our exploration of Cave of the Mounds, we got back into the car for more "country driving" (Don's words), with me driving and following his directions.  Where did we end up?  Find out in my Monday post.   ;)