A couple of weeks ago Nick, Stephen and I trekked to America's Diaryland for a long weekend spent camping and taking in the odd roadside attraction. Same as last year, we camped at Devil's Lake, outside of quaint Baraboo. Last year we spent a little time walking Baraboo's old-time streets and even checked out The Circus World Museum — Baraboo's claim-to-fame is the fact that it was the winter base of The Ringling Brother's Circus in the early 20th century.
This year we camped along The Ice Age Trail. It seems Devil's Lake is a mere pockmark left by a huge glacier that once covered large parts of North America! We didn't do so much hiking this year, although we laughed about my cursing the absurdly steep trail up to Balance Rock last year, and as the weather was beautiful, we decided we would rent a row boat. The three of us, in turn, rowed to the middle of the lake, taking in the view, but by the time we reached the middle, realized that we would have a problem getting the boat back ashore. Sure, it's easy to row without abandon, but with a determined direction, it's far more difficult. So, following a near mishap (dropping our oar in the lake), Stephen took the reins and streered us toward the boat house, near shore I jumped out of the boat and amidst millions of tadpoles, and tugged it in. Phew.
On the way home, we made a slight detour to Spring Green, Wisconsin, not to see Frank Lloyd Wright's one time home/studio/school, Taliesin*, although we saw the main building from the road, but to travel a mile-or-so farther and visit The House on the Rock. It seems an eccentric named Alex Jordan built The House on the Rock to spite his neighbor, Mr. Wright. In outward appearance the house is similar to a Wright structure, only there are numerous more buidings built into the rock. These buildings house Mr. Jordan's extensive collections and the results of his immense imagination: there are full-orchestras whose instruments play themselves, an actual indoor main street, the world's largest carousel and a room featuring a larger-than-life-sized whale battling a larger-than-life-sized octopus. Equally frightened and awed, we spent three hours touring this monstrosity, to find that we had only seen the tip of the ice burg. Unfortunately, the afternoon was slipping away, so we had to leave and make our way back to Chicago, vowing to someday finish our tour.
In the wake of our camping trip, Nick and I hosted Carl for a week. I spent a week meeting up with the guys after work each night for dinner, drinks, even a tour of the Escultura Social exhibit at the MCA, needless to say, I bid Carl an exhausted farewell on Friday.
And, in a nut shell, that's that.
*Taliesin's also got a bizarre story — tragic may be a better descriptor. In 1914 a disgruntled worker set fire to the house and murdered Wright's often maligned mistress Mamah Bothwick, her children, and four other people.