After a very satisfying full day connecting with Madison, Day 4, Thursday, our last full day in Wisconsin was going to entail a little road trip to see a particular local site recommended to us, the House on the Rock.

First things first, though; a caffeine fix, via the Starbucks counter down in the hotel lobby.

Then, a bit later on, a quick lunch stop at Culvers, for some tasty cheeseburgers (known as ‘butterburgers”) and fries.

Then, driving along some rolling hills and various small farms on the way to our destination.

In Berry, WI, we spotted a sign for a pullover spot at Indian Lake; the lake and general setting were beautiful.

Then, back on the road, again, past a number of small farms, many looking like this.

And then, as we got close to Dodgeville and to the House on the Rock,  another small trail, and a place to appreciate the natural beauty of the immediate surroundings.

The House on the Rock was visible from this spot.

After first arriving at a golf course connected to the House on the Rock, we finally arrived at the correct location, and were greeted by this sign

as well as these very large, odd looking planters.

About the House on the Rock, author Jane Smiley once wrote the following.

It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the House on the Rock. The sheer abundance of objects is impressive, and the warmth most of the objects exude, the way that the toys ask to be played with, for example, makes the displays inherently inviting. But almost from the beginning, it is too much. The house itself is dusty. Windowpanes are cracked. Books are water damaged. The collections seem disordered, not curated. In fact, there is no effort to explore the objects as cultural artifacts, or to use them to educate the passing hordes. If there were informative cards, it would be impossible to read them in the dark. Everything is simply massed together, and Alex Jordan comes to seem like the manifestation of pure American acquisitiveness, and acquisitiveness of a strangely boyish kind, as if he had finalized all his desires in childhood and never grown into any others.

So, we were, basically, in for a very whimsical display of a wide variety of objects in and around this house, including some beautiful gardens,

Asian artifacts,

odd circus artifacts, as well as old tin toys,

a very strange merry-go-round

My video link for the merry-go-round

And various other objects

This was a glass jar collection, inside the women’s bathroom. The airplanes were in the men’s room.

There were more of these, elsewhere in the house, hanging down from other ceilings

not to mention dozens of doll/angels, in the same room as the merry-go-round

also

At one point in the house, you are on a glass appendage, called “The Infinity Room,” looking out from atop the house’s rock foundation at the woods below.

There were also mechanical toys and odd, large scale music boxes playing this weirdly tuned music – for example, the Beatles’ “Octopus’ Garden” or a version of the Danse Macabre. So trippy!

The bottom line is this: the House on the Rock just got more bizarro and hallucinatory the further along you got. Alex Jordan, the owner and visionary behind it, whose story is told throughout the house, was both an obsessive collector and an eccentric, so the house and its contents are a tribute to his completely idiosyncratic visions. Toward the end of the tour, we were in a large, high ceiling room that was the equivalent of an acid trip.

The place verged on turning somewhat into a Lewis Carroll, through the looking glass, alternative reality 😉

Anyway, here is another group’s video review.

After several hours, then, of touring the house, we headed back to our hotel for our last night in Madison.

With a beautiful evening on the horizon, we thought it would be nice to grab dinner and then do one last walk to the UW campus. Dinner was at Capital Tap Haus, a brew pub on Main Street, where I greatly enjoyed my beer sampler.

as well as a cheeseburger with freshly made chips, yum!

The meal and the service were both very satisfactory and so our visit to Madison was ending pretty nicely. After this, as mentioned, we walked on Main St toward the UW campus. I just wanted to drink in the feeling of being in Madison, as I don’t know when I might be back.

Then, onto the campus for a last ice cream and a sitdown at the Terrace.

Lots of people there. A band was setting up to play, but it was taking them forever to set up. We would have stayed for a few songs, but wound up leaving before the music started.

We then made our way back toward the Capitol to get to our car and back to the hotel. Here is thus one last shot of the Capitol building in all of its glowing splendor.

Well, it had been quite a day and quite a fulfilling week in Madison, Wisconsin, and now the trip was coming to a close. We all know the old saying that all good things come to an end. While I was not necessarily eager to leave and I had really enjoyed this visit, I know that I have come back home inspired by this trip and reminded of why I had gone there in the first place, back when I was a twenty-five year old, eager to learn and uncertain of the future. The trip showed me that you can, indeed, go home again. Nice to know that Madison is one of many places that in a variety of ways, I consider home.

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