I had a great nights sleep again! The pillows were fantastic. Looking over the hotel score card, it appears Carolina is going to win. She got all the major point items (except a magic hands bed) and gets extra points for being awesome. My motel for the next 3 nights isn’t near as nice. For the price and location though, it’ll do. Also it has another key, which is cool.
Let’s take today’s adventures in a chronological order. After saying thank you and goodbye to Carolina, I headed to House on the Rock. I first learned about this place from Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods. In the book, tourist traps are actually holy places. Obviously this is a work of non-fiction. House on the Rock is an important part of the book as it’s where the old Gods meet.
I was going to arrive about 20 minutes before the place opened so when I saw a scenic overlook sign, I stopped by to check it out. I’d been passing well manicured farms along the way and everything was so vividly green that I couldn’t wait to overlook this land! The overlook was a trap, a way to get me in a shaded area for the mosquitoes. All that I saw were a row of trees and my future with zika and lyme disease.
When I got to the House, there was already a line. I just hung out in back because I wasn’t in a hurry. In no time I paid my admission and got a few tokens. The tokens are used to activate different machines throughout the place. They are also used to get pennies!
Alex Jordon, Jr. loved having picnics on a giant rock. So much so that he leased it from the owner for $20. After a while it was put up for sale and with money borrowed from the parents, he bought it. First he built a studio into the rock using it’s natural shapes. The studio turned into some rooms for entertaining guests. Along the way Jordon got crazy and just started building all manners of displays and mechanical nonsense. I loved this place! I brought my tripod so I didn’t have to use the flash but the space was tight (had to fit between rock walls) so it was hard to get wide enough to show the full scope of each room and exhibit. Also sorry but many of the pictures are slanted as it was hard to tell if my camera was level. I would put the camera against the wall to get back as far as a I could and had no room to stand behind it. Want to see better pictures? Go take them yourself, jerk.
The entrance to the place was neat. It was tucked away off a windy road. All through the entrance, parking lot, and inside garden were these behemoth jars. They were gorgeous but mostly were cookie cutter. I’m pretty sure you can click on all pictures below this point in the blog to enlarge them.
The House has a lot of Asian influences and a river/waterfall running through the rock/property.
As I mentioned above, much of the initial house was created for entertaining. I might not be the greatest decorator, but even I scratch my head at some of the white fur couches and medieval cooking areas. As I mentioned I didn’t use flash, those rooms were actually poorly lit with red lights.
There are three sections that you can buy tickets to. It seemed most people only bought tickets to the first 2, which were awesome, but failed to visit section 3. Section 2 ends at the carousel and it appears that’s what everyone comes to see. As I mentioned there are several objects that take tokens as you walk through the labyrinthine house. Some were silly:
Look, I’m lovable, naughty, but still a bit nice! The House on the Rock doesn’t lie. Beyond the silly ones are these amazing spectacles. Below are some pictures of the displays and below that are videos. The videos are shitty quality, just be thankful I smuggled them out for you!
Here they are in action:
Big Band Pt. 1:
Big Band Pt. 2:
Sounds like the Cantina Band:
As I mentioned, few people entered the 3rd section. For most of that time I was alone and it totally suited me. I’m pretty sure one of the machines in section 3 manufactures nightmares. That place was terrifying and I wish I could have slept there. Being alone in that decor with machines clicking randomly around me was great. Don’t believe it was creepy? Look at all the creepy dolls!
There was even a special, smaller carousel near the large main one. Watch and know horror.
There were also these two freakishly haunting items. The first judged me to be a numb skull:
And then there was this…this…I don’t know, man, but there it is.
I have so many more pictures but don’t want to over do it so I’ll just show you the famous and popular carousel before moving to the next stop.
I’ve seen my fair share of scrap metal sculptures but I was not prepared for Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron! From Wikipedia: “The sculpture incorporates two Thomas Edison dynamos from the 1880s, lightning rods, high-voltage components from 1920s power plants, scrap from the nearby Badger Army Ammunition Plant, and the decontamination chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft.” Creator Tom Every’s alter ego Dr. Evermor created it to shoot himself “into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam.” I assume this will either be a doomsday device that ushers in the end of mankind or our saving grace when the apocalypse hits. It could go either way. It should come as no surprise that Every also created some of the art at House on the Rock. The central exhibit reminded me of the Aughra’s machine in The Dark Crystal.
I wandered around the grounds checking out the giant, metal critters while getting eaten alive by bugs. My real search was for a geocache placed within the Forevertron area. I wanted this to be my Wisconsin find! I met Mrs. Evermor and asked if she could offer any hints for a University of Delaware toothbrush. Did she take the bribe?
I collect different geo-coins. You can earn them through completing Geo-tourism trails or figuring out certain puzzles. To celebrate this find I bought this coin from Mrs. Evermor. It’ll look great next to my other geo-coins.
The “Time Traveling Token,” as it’s called, came with four pages explaining what it is and what it does. When I get home I’ll scan and upload the pages. For now know it “is imbued with layers of meaning which can become clear to the user in time with patience and study. No image or symbol is happenstance; each contributes to the proper functioning of the token.”
Here are some of the creatures that inhabit the grounds.
After the complexity and grandness of my last two stops, I needed something a little less stimulating. On my trip “less stimulating” means Circus World! This is only the first stop to feature clowns on my trip.
Unfortunately it was a little disappointing, especially compared to my first stops. For a museum that showcases some of histories most grand entertainers, it was rather dull. Even it’s sign out front was lackluster.
There was a tiger show going on and elephant rides, but beyond that it was some lame pictures. I’ve read several books on Circus sideshows, so I was pretty interested in their tent dedicated to the more famous “freaks.” It was a row of statues with a recording reading one or two lines about each. It simply stated JoJo the Dogface Boy was Russian and covered with hair. They didn’t mention he was a polyglot who scared kids on stage and then played with them after the show. From all accounts, he was the type of human we need more of but no one would know from Circus World.
I was at Circus World a total of 20 minutes before I got bored. Fortunately it was close to my room at the River Road Motel in the Wisconsin Dells, where I checked in early. The Dells are very much like any large, tourist beach but without the ocean. In fact a homeless man came up to me today asking where a Coke vending machine was (I guess he could smell the Coke on me) and asked me if the place reminded me of Myrtle Beach. That was what I was actually thinking! It is exactly like Myrtle without the Ocean.
My room is 2 blocks from Broadway where most of the weird stores are. Of course they sell stupid t-shirts (FBI: Female Body Inspector) and henna tattoos, but there are also 2 leather stores, 4 Old Timey Photo places (in a 2 block area), arcades, and a “nerd store.” I’m not sure I can leave here without a set of licensed, Wisconsin Dells nun-chucks. Many of the stores and an arcade had Wisconsin Dells pennies! I’m a bit disappointed that they all had the same designs, so I only had 4 options over 3 different machines.
I had a sandwich Thursday, a sandwich, piece of cheese, and chocolate square yesterday, and nothing this morning. By 7:00PM I was starving but wanted real food. I needed vegetables or salad and all I could find was fried foods and cheeseburgers. After looking through options I ended up in nearby Baraboo at The Barn. I wanted fresh vegetables and something light. Like Mark Renton and his toilet though, I took what I could get. The food wasn’t bad and I was able to get iceberg lettuce, 3 slices of cucumber, and a couple of croutons.
Fortunately the visit yielded meeting another great person. I met Mr. Hogg, a fantastic entertainer. He played Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Garth Brooks. In between he would joke and interact with the audience. I’m so glad I decided to go there! Of course he got his toothbrush. Thanks again for the show, Mr. Hogg!
I’m in this room for 3 nights. I’m looking forward to sleeping in and eating a good breakfast. Hopefully tomorrow will yield more awesome people and fun adventures!