1. “American Gods” Adventure: The House on the Rock

“It’s perfectly simple,” said Wednesday. “In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

“…No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they’ve never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog, and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.”

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

My dad and I have dreamed about visiting The House on the Rock for as long as I can remember. We have a Roadside America coffee table book that we have poured over for years, dreaming of all of the cool places we could go see. Then life happened and we got sidetracked from our dreams.

Quentin was reading this book and mentioned that it talked about the House on the Rock. Eventually I got around to reading “American Gods” and as soon as I read Gaiman’s “places of power” description, it immediately clicked. I felt like those were the words I had been searching for my entire life to describe why my dad and I so enjoy the weird spots. What inspires people to do these things? What makes them think, “You know what the world needs? A gigantic sculpture of a whale-like sea monster being captured by a giant octopus.” Humans can do amazing things when they just follow what inspires them.

To describe this trip in one blog post would be a mistake. I’m not sure the pictures and videos we took of the trip can even do justice to the places we visited. Thus, I will try to post several of our best pictures and give you a taste of what we experienced. However, I would highly recommend just going on your own and taking in the magic that is The House on the Rock.

The trip:

Sunday:

  1. Nashville to Effignham, IL:  Eat lunch at The Gabby Goat (neat place, good burgers). Take a picture with an Effingham sign in honor of the great Ben Folds song, Effington
  2. Head to Rockford, IL – Visit the Rockmen Guardians
  3. Head to Dodgeville, Wisconsin – We stayed at the local Super 8 near The House on the Rock – actually a decent place to stay and great staff.

Monday:

  1. The House on the Rock – they say give yourself 3-3.5 hours to visit – no. It takes more like 5 to 5.5 hours. We talked to several people who came back to finish the tour because they didn’t plan for it to take as long as it did.
  2. Head to Spring Green for lunch at The Shed – get the cottage style fries! Again, good burgers.
  3. Head to Forevertron in Sumpter, WI. This guy was a friend of the guy who created The House on the Rock. It’s like an always developing junkyard art exhibit. Only need about an hour or two – weird hours so check online first. P.S. Bring bug spray! SO MANY MOSQUITOES.
  4. Head to Mount Horeb, the Troll Capitol of the World. This leg wasn’t as successful since we got there after the visitor center closed and had no idea where all of the carved trolls were located. We did, however, take a break at The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub and split a 1.5 lb pretzel. Best soft pretzel I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Tuesday:

  1. Head back to Nashville.
  2. Stop somewhere in Illinois to get infrared pictures of the wind farms.
  3. Stop in Normal, IL to complete the Ben Folds/Effington fan pictures.
  4. Just get home because 10 HOURS IS TOO LONG IN A SMALL CAR.
  5. Feel remorse for wishing to get home because Wisconsin in mid-September is AMAZING and the trip was so much fun.
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