Further south in the state I stumbled upon a small area packed with attractions and experiences ranging from classic to fantastical. Spring Green is home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesin, and his architectural school among other family sites. I’m not certain why I’ve developed this need to visit all the Wright sites I pass, but something about the Asian influence, nature ties, and the lines just gets to me I suppose. So here we go again! En route, though, I passed a rock that looks like an elephant while driving through lovely farmland. Totally surprisingly, it is called Elephant Trunk Rock.
Anyway, after a night in my van down by the river, I had a beautiful day for a tour of Taliesin with a small group of masked up folks. The tour I took (not the most extensive option) went through the architectural school, which was originally a school run by Wright’s two aunts, was later redesigned and transformed by the architect. The main drafting room was pretty cool with its sawtooth ceiling and rows of tables with triangular accents and great lighting. The building also has a dining room, music room, theater (under restoration) and I’m sure some things I’ve forgotten. Outside we viewed the windmill named the Romeo and Juliette windmill which powers the well, and seemed to fit perfectly channeling the silos on neighboring farms.
The home itself was really cool to tour since it was one of the spaces Wright was able to take all his ideas to full fruition without any pesky homeowner adding opinions. There were items from his extensive Japanese art collection, furniture he designed for the space, the typical long, running windows, and geometric lines everywhere. I think my favorite part was the surrounding gardens, but the whole place was memorable (not to mention the stories of multiple fires and a murder).
Down the road just a bit I stopped by the little Unity Chapel Wright designed early in his career. On the grounds are family graves, including one of Frank’s wives and was his original burial site per his wishes until the current wife dug him up and moved him. Take that, other wife. Also I guess not only is he not actually buried here anymore, but he lied about his age a lot so not even the dates are accurate. So… there’s that.
After that classy morning of art and architecture, I of course needed to get back to my own level and headed to a spot called the House on the Rock. I didn’t do the level of research this place warrants before touring because I was unprepared for how much crazy this place holds. I guess originally this was someone’s home they built on and around the rock face on a high outcropping, and this section of the site is super dark with a ’70s rec room vibe but filled with super random art and decor. From the original home additions came like a water wheel, a Japanese-inspired garden, a series of walkways leading up to the home and culminating in an Infinity Hall leading out over the cliff, and then a whole warehouse of crazy.
Now this huge additional warehouse area was insanity and was quite possibly even weirder given the limited numbers and distancing in the current time, because it added a semi-deserted, spooky feel to the whole place. A pathway leads visitors through a series of thematic areas beginning with an old-timey town filled with storefronts and homes you can peek into and are filled with kitchy antiques, a lot like a weirder version of Disney’s main street. My favorite was the apothecary for its old poster advertising the health benefits of tapeworms for slimming. Ha!
Further on are displays of creepy dolls, masks, dioramas of circuses with teensy figurines, dollhouses, windup toys, and all kinds of knickknacks. There are huge rooms filled with themes like air travel in history, sea-related items, trains, a working carousel (not open for rides I was sad to find), a creepy doll carousel with bizarre half-human figurines adorning the top, and all kinds of giant displays and creations. Scattered throughout were all these automated music scenes (think an orchestra made of mermaids and sea creatures) and little carnival game type things that you needed to buy tokens to operate. I was of course not about spending extra money for that, but lucky for me a few other groups ahead of me were into it so I caught glimpses of them in action. The whole thing was super weird, but totally entertaining and worth whatever bizarre nightmares might come in the aftermath.
The day of crazy sights was still not even close to over, though, because I decided after much internal debate and an Instagram poll to spring for a room in a funky hotel a few miles down the road called the Don Q Inn in Dodgeville. This place is a 2 star motel (accurate) but with the best ever theme room suites in addition to some regular rooms, though I can’t imagine why you’d stay here without getting one of the crazy rooms. The first thing that greets you upon arrival is an old plane in the yard, which has been a set in multiple movies but now is a rundown mess that looks like mice have taken over a plane crash. There’s a little tower that fits none of the rest of the exterior that I couldn’t identify the purpose of, but that’s just the beginning.
The lobby has a circle of old barber chairs around a fire pit kind of thing, and the motel has a pool that connects the indoor and outdoor sections with a swim-through canal and a sort of doggie door made of that carwash plastic draping. After a hot and humid few days the cool pool was great. The best part, though, was the room. Now I’d been tempted by the rooms with themes like a moon landing, an igloo, a jungle, a tipi, the list keeps going (seriously, check it out to see photos of these choices), but I am so pleased that I ultimately settled upon the hot air balloon room.
This suite is 2 levels combined and features 3 tvs, multiple crazy rainbow light features, an alpine scene painted on the walls, an in-room jacuzzi bathtub deal with a waterfall feature as the faucet, and of course a hot air balloon spanning a floor and a half made of rainbow fabric and with the bed in the basket and a mirror above the bed. And the basket rocks a little because it’s on a platform and seems to actually use the ropes to help support it? In any case I was for sure not the intended audience as a solo person, but it was hilarious and so much fun to just hang out, eat dinner, drink some box wine in the jacuzzi, and sleep in this crazy bed. Did I manage to drop my pajama shorts down the gap between the basket and wall? Sure did. So I added rock climbing to the list of features this room has to offer and climbed down the 6′ or so to retrieve them and then back up the faux-rocks (maybe made at the FAST factory??). What an experience. Everyone should go and see this fun if ever you’re passing through this area.
All this one one day!!! Woah. It’s going to be hard to go back to my usual level of mild craziness.