Morning: Scandinavian theme continues
We left the tourist-trap that is Wisconsin Dells for rural (and absolutely beautiful) Wisconsin early this morning. It was way too early in the morning. Especially since I wasn’t all that excited about the visit to our first destination: Little Norway. The description in our itinerary used words like “charming”, “magic”, and “lovely”. I’m not sure about magical, but I had a great time and it was incredibly lovely, green, and quiet. Little Norway is the restored homestead of Norwegian (duh) pioneers from the early 1800’s. In fact, it’s still owned by the same family. I got the chance to meet and hang out a bit with Scott, the current owner. He said that the property has been handed down through the generations, on the maternal side. He’s clearly passionate about Little Norway and it was fun to hear him talk about it. Moment of reflection: I seem to never learn the simple lesson that every moment in life provides an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. You just never know.
Afternoon: An Amazing House
Part of my initial impatience with the morning tour was that I’ve been looking forward to our final tour stop ever since I saw it on the itinerary: The House on the Rock. But there’s really not much to say about our visit except that I thought it was incredible. Not everyone in the group shares my opinion, which is o.k. All cutting edge or modern art and design is often both loved and hated. The House kind of reminds me of the Kirkland Museum of Decorative Arts in Denver. Not in scope or size (the Kirkland is quite small and the House and the accompanying gardens, displays and collections is immense), but in the way the collection is displayed: studio style. Basically, curators put as much on display as the space will hold, sometimes more. I couldn’t decide what photo to use to illustrate this part of the trip, so I chose one that represents what really struck me: the lamps. The House was filled with seemingly hundreds of lamps and globes with stained glass. Marvelous pieces of art that I couldn’t stop marveling over. Big ones, small ones, pretty ones, and grotesque ones. Every room and every corner had a lamp. When I put together a presentation about the trip, I’ll include a section of my lamp photos.
The other photo I’ve chosen to include here is the Carousel. Over-the-top in size and mind-boggling in sheer complexity, it is a crowd-pleaser. I think they said it is the largest carousel in the world. I believe it. Again, you really have to see it to believe it because my photo is like capturing a Broadway show with one photo. If you’ve been there before, you understand.
My only beef with The House: there’s not enough interpretive signs or displays. We didn’t get a map or brochure at the beginning, even though it’s a self-guided tour. I was left with many questions that I’ll have to look up on Wikipedia sometime.
Evening: Farewell Dinner
We got on the bus around 3:00 for the 2.5 hour drive to Cedar Rapids, the final overnight of the trip. It was fun (and bittersweet) to sit with everyone at our final dinner and talk about the things we’ll remember from our eight days together. Some liked the submarine best, others liked the House. While others enjoyed the play the most. We had an interesting discussion about the quirky men we learned about on the trip. One built an amazing organ. Another built an amazing house. Too bad they didn’t work together!
For me, despite all the wonderful and cool places, people, and things we’ve seen, the time spent on and near Green Bay and Lake Michigan tops the list. It reminded me how much I love being on the water.
Tomorrow: a long drive back to Manhattan, with a short stop at the Amana Colonies gift shop Our driver, Jeff, expects that we’ll get back around 6:30 p.m. I’ll post a final wrap up of the trip sometime next week and share a link if you want to see more photos. We’ll also plan to give a presentation to the Meadowlark Hills community sometime later this summer once we’ve had a chance to combine our photos, and catch up on our sleep.