Our plans to see some more of Minnesota were foiled when we learned that there would be a storm heading in the direction we wanted to go. We’d planned to go camping up near Duluth and Lake Superior but we really didn’t fancy being caught in a storm in a tent having experienced the full force of one on our drive through Montana. Instead we decided to journey onto our next and 17th state Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is known as the dairy state, famous for it’s cheese. We saw quite a few different cheese shops along the way and I kept quietly pointing them out to Barry in the hope that he might stop. I am a great cheese lover after all! Sadly he didn’t acknowledge a single one of them until I’d given up. Suddenly he called out ‘ghost pepper cheese – you wanna get some?’ I didn’t think he was serious, but I said yes anyway. He spun the car around and before I knew it we were outside The Cheese Maker shop. The thought of trying the ghost pepper cheese is what drew us in, as we both know the ghost pepper is one of the hottest chillies you can get. However we were so distracted by all the other cheese options once we got in there that we soon forgot to even ask about it. After much debate on what we should buy, we settled for a salami cheese and some ham and honey meat sticks. As we were paying for our products, we saw bags of curd. We asked the lady what curd was (as we had no idea) and she explained that it was the product before you turn it into cheese. She said it was their most popular seller so we knew instantly that we had to try some. There were a number of different flavours including dill and garlic and tomato and basil but we settled on the Cajun flavour.
Eager to see what the fuss was all about with the curd, as soon as we were back in the car, we broke open the bag and sampled it. It was just like a rubbery version of cheese. It was nice enough and made for a tasty snack for the journey.
Soon after our cheese stop, we made it to our bed for the night – the Pine Ridge Motel in Dodgeville. It was just a small country town and was just a stopover for a next attraction – The House on a Rock. I’d read about it on one of our blog follower’s Twitter page and so looked into it online. No one could really describe what it was but it said it was the most popular attraction in Wisconsin, so I figured we’d go and see what all the fuss was about.
The next day we got up early so we could be at the House on the Rock for it’s 9am opening. Barry had no idea at this point what it was (neither did I really but he knew even less than I did). As we pulled our way in to he driveway, we were met with huge iron sculptures of ostrich type animals. We continued driving down until we got to the car park. We made our way to the entrance, which was in a reasonably sized building. When we got to the counter, the girl there explained that there were three sections to the museum. You could either pay for one or two of the sections, or you could buy a combined ticket to see all three. We thought we might as well see all three, so we paid our $28.50 each and in we went, still none the wiser as to what we were going to experience. The first section was a museum all about Alex Jordan who was the man that built the attraction. It started as what it’s called ‘a house on a rock’. Alex fell in love with the rock, when as a child he used to picnic there with his family. He always had a dream that one day he would build a house on it. So, that’s exactly what he did and that was exactly what we were about to see.
Once we made our way round the museum all about the creator, it was time to enter the actual house. I really can’t begin to describe what the house was like, other than that Alex must have been a very short man because the ceilings were extremely low and he obviously didn’t like daylight too much as it was also very dark. Maybe he was a vampire? However there was something quite cosy about it, which I loved. Not sure I could live there full time, but it looked like a great place to go for a weekend get away. As part of the house there was the infinity room. It was a clever optical illusion that made you think the room just went on forever. There was nothing underneath to support it as it just jutted out from the rock face.
Outside of the house there was a beautiful Japanese style garden. It homed some Koi Carp and a few frogs. The next two sections we went through were all Alex’s collections, of which he had many. He had a collection of weapons, with all sorts of guns and swords. There was doll collection, a miniature circus collection, a collection of all types of armour, a collection of crown jewels, which apparently he was fascinated with even though he’d never been to England, a dolls house collection of which there over 250, music machines where the instruments could all play themselves and many, many more.
In one of the sections, there was a nautical themed room, where there were dozens of models of ships, including a big exhibit on the Titanic. All of these ships surrounded the centrepiece, which was the main attraction – a giant whale, covered in a giant octopus, eating a boat! As if this place couldn’t get any weirder!
The star attraction by far though, was the ‘World’s Largest Indoor Carousel’. It was made up of 269 carousel animals (none of which are horses), 182 chandeliers and 20,000 lights. It was amazing.
After three and half hours, of walking round every collection imaginable, we finally surfaced back into daylight. We were a bit bemused by it all really. There was so much to take in and if someone asked us how to describe it, I really couldn’t put it into words apart from ‘a very eccentric mans collections’!
Our next stop, was another strange attraction The Mustard Museum in Middleton. It was only about an hours drive from The House on the Rock, but as we do love our mustard we just knew we had to stop there and check it out. When we arrived, we walked in and were met with all the mustard. It was a shop that sold all different types of mustard. It had everything from your normal Colemans, which was under foreign mustards (that felt weird to see) to cranberry, champagne, passion fruit and wasabi or even chocolate! Never in my life have I seen so much mustard or even knew so many types existed. There were over 5200 different types on display in the museum, along with some witty stories of mustard tales. We couldn’t leave without making a purchase so we settled on Blue Cheese Mustard (two of my favourite things combined) and Habanero Horseradish. Yummy!!