Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wisconsin, Day 3

Well, this was an interesting day to say the least. Our day included a stop at the artist colony at Paoli, New Glarus the town, New Glarus the brewery (of course), and the House on the Rock. Anyone who has been to any of these places knows what's coming next.

Of course, we had our first full breakfast at the B&B, which we didn't get yesterday because we left so early. She did make up small plates of fruit and muffins, but it wasn't as full as her usual four-course bonanza. Today we got a poached pear, a homemade cinnamon bun, an asparagus and bacon quiche, and a fruit and champagne frappe. Mmm.

Paoli was really cool. We didn't get to go last year, so I was really glad we got to see it this year. I got some cool glass earrings and bought my dad a photo of a dilapidated farm. (He's into that stuff.) One of the galleries had some awesome pottery, and I could have bought about half the stuff in the place, and that says a lot because I am not that into pottery.

New Glarus has some cute shops, too, and we went into a Swiss
kitsch shop, an antique shop, a gift shop, and the town bakery (Dad got a rye). I was really happy we went to the antique shop because I got some emerald green cut-glass tumblers that are exactly like the kind my Grandma B had.

Of course, being in New Glarus, we stopped next at the brewery for some tastings and some beer to go. The beers I tried I've had before, including the Two Women lager, the special Golden Ale, and the Wisconsin Belgian Red, a cherry beer. Apparently they brewed the Golden Ale two years ago and they'll only do another special-to-the-brewery beer when they run out of this.

We bought a case of the Imperial Weizen, a case of the IIPA, and a mixed case of various favorites. Oh, and two bottles of Golden Ale, which apparently will be good for another three or four years and will mellow with time. It's still pretty hoppy, but it's really good. Dad picked up some beers, too: Spotted Cow and the Totally Naked lager.

All in all, an excellent visit!

Next, Dad wanted to visit the House on the Rock, which he'd heard about his whole life. We knew we were in for an interesting experience, given that the sculptures out front looked like this, at left. Also, when we went to the restroom, there were a mix of Japanese dolls, model air planes, and a Santa Claus scene.

Time to take the red pill.

The first part of the tour was a weird, shagged up 1960s house tha
t had lots of Japanese sculptures, strange library books, wooden screens, and stained glass windows. Every now and then we'd see something that made us think, "WTF?" But that would all soon end.

This is the Infinity Room, an optical illusion in a jutting-out indoor deck thing.

Pretty cool! This was clearly the high point of the tour. Even after we left this part - again, just the "regular" house part - Dad joked with a staff member that the eccentric millionaire builder of The House on the Rock museums "had some problems." Oh, how little we knew.

The rest of the tour is a bit of a blur, to be honest. It was a sensory overload of ecclectic, unlabeled collections that kind of smelled like rat droppings. Here are some of the things we saw:
  • 20-barreled hand guns
  • Marionette troll puppets
  • Colored glass vases
  • Full-sized steam engines
  • Kites
  • Life-size replica of blue whale in battle with kraken
  • Ben Franklin
  • World's largest carousel
  • At least three calliope rooms
  • Model ships
  • Murano paperweights in a fireplace bellows
  • Burma Shave signs
  • Car covered in ceramic tile
  • Diorama of white guy choking black guy in barber chair
  • Working dioramas of cemeteries
If you want to see some of this stuff, I uploaded more photos to my Shutterfly site. Otherwise, just look at this thing at right and that pretty much gives you an idea.

We were terrified that the place would close and we'd be stuck inside overnight. We also joked that they shouldn't charge admission to get in - they should let you in for free, and charge to show you where the exit is.

On the way out, we walked by the world's largest carousel, which has hundreds of chandeliers and many mythical animals. I didn't feel like a photo would do justice, so here's the video:

I panned around a bit to show off the various wall decorations, but it's kind of dark in there. There is a creepy exit to the next part of the tour, which we didn't do, and there are angels all over the wall and ceiling. Weird.

We finally escaped, and I kind of wanted to see what the gift shop was like, but I kind of didn't. Actually it was nothing weird, so I was mildly disappointed. But they had already taken enough of our money for admission, so I wasn't really concerned with giving them more.

But we weren't done with creepy shit for the day: on our way to dinner, we stopped in Mt. Horeb, apparently the "troll" capital of the world, which has many decorative troll figurines displayed in the downtown "Trollway."

Bleargh. Why didn't I take the blue pill today?

We had dinner at Deininger's in New Glarus, a place we've been meaning to visit for some time. We got Dad a steak for Father's Day, and we all had more New Glarus beer. We had a lot of laughs, mostly at the expense of The House on the Rock, and we cross our fingers not to have nightmares tonight.

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