Monthly Archives: December 2016

photo of a Chicken dinner

Spring Green – The Shed

Teardrop trail log: June 20, 2016

The Tasty Trail took us to Spring Green, which was known for its most famous native, architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is thought that Wright’s presence at nearby Taliesin helped establish Spring Green as an artisan community, home to the nationally recognized classical theatre company, the American Players. It was the quintessential, charming American small town.

graphic of The Shed logo

The Shed logo

We had decided to have dinner in Spring Green and found The Shed. They have an outdoor music venue, but we were focused on having a nice dinner. I made a mental note to see who would be playing outside, the next time we visited. The bar was busy, a great gathering place for locals, but the dining room, on the other side of a passage was intimate and friendly. We decided on the special, baked chicken with mashed potatoes, dressing, vegetables and grilled bread. Although the Shed has an amazing selection of local beers, a lovely white wine was the perfect paring with the chicken. Sadly, we didn’t leave room for the amazing pies they had. Next time.

After exploring the Wisconsin country side, this was a relaxing evening. As we headed back to our campsite in Governor Dodge State Park, our conversation turned to how much we liked Spring Green. We speculated that we could happily settle in in this picturesque town, but then we remembered that frightening four-letter word – snow.

photo of The Infinity Room at the House on the Rock

The House on the Rock

The House on the Rock defies description. Imagine the love child of the Smithsonian Institution and P.T. Barnum. Begun in 1945 by Alex Jordan as a lofty home perched on a tall chimney rock, it evolved as “one thing led to another” into an attraction with ever-increasing collections — as eclectic as it is enormous.

I was interested in the pipe organ and other musical instruments we had heard about, and based on the Web site, thought that an afternoon would be enough to explore the attraction. We inquired about the pipe organ as we bought tickets and were advised to not linger too long in any one place. We had no idea just how big this place was.

photo of Jim rubbing Budda's Belly

Rub Budda’s Belly …

We set out through the courtyard, rubbed the Budda for good luck and were quickly in the House. First opened to the public in 1960, the House is a series of rooms surrounding The Rock, no two the same size, shape or style.

photo of The Bauer-Coble Mushroom Lamp

The Bauer-Coble Mushroom Lamp

It is vaguely oriental, but also includes furnishings from other eras. The Infinity Room is an engineering marvel that hangs out over the valley floor several hundred feet below.

photo of Main Street exhibit at House on the Rock

Main Street

The collections that follow are too numerous and varied to describe here, but include a mock-up of a late 19th century main street — complete with fully furnished shops, homes and village services like a sheriff’s office and fire department. With the provided tokens, one can play the dozens of mechanical musical instruments that are scattered throughout the attraction. They vary from small music boxes and pianos to a complete 80-piece orchestra.

photo of Faberge' Eggs at House on the Rock

Faberge´ Eggs

Along the way, there are collections of dolls and doll houses, firearms, circus models, Fabrege Eggs, agricultural equipment, steam power, stained glass, classic cars, pipe organs, carousel horses and a giant carousel and replicas of the Crown Jewels.

photo of a 200-foot sea creature

200-foot sea creature

One building contains a multi-level exhibit of several dozen scale models of maritime ships from hundreds of years old to present. Any one of these collections stand on their own, but to have so many in the same place is overwhelming. Suffice it to say, we wished we had allowed more than an afternoon and could easily have spent a couple of days there. Simply Amazing.

photo of a Beautiful Stained Glass

Beautiful Stained Glass


photo of car and teardrop trailer

Governor Dodge State Park

Teardrop trail log: June 20, 2016

photo of Campfire cocktails

Campfire cocktails

Before we left for Racine, I asked Facebook friends for places to visit in Wisconsin. Jim also polled the members of his international online Bridge group. We got some great suggestions. We headed to Governor Dodge State Park near Dodgeville about 48 miles west of Madison to set up camp near several of the most highly recommended attractions.

Humans moved into the area that is now Governor Dodge State Park, just after the glaciers retreated. The park’s scenic hills and valleys provided shelter from snow and cold to the area’s first human inhabitants. The forest, mostly oak and hickory is thick, beautiful and green. The park was named for Henry Dodge, the first governor of the Wisconsin territory.

photo of campfire with human

light and warmth and insect deterrence

We pulled in and established our camp. As is normal, we soon had neighbors. It’s always fun to meet other folks who enjoy camping and they wanted to see the inside of the Ambassador. They told us about another teardrop trailer a few sites away from us. As we left for a day trip, we caught a glimpse of the tiny trailer.

The highlight of our stay was an honest-to-goodness campfire. The glow of the fire was absolutely magic.

photo of a teardrop trailer and campfire

A magical evening

photo of Econolodge in Madison

Breakfast at IHOP (Again)

Teardrop trail log: June 19, 2016

graphic of FAST Biryani Logo

FAST Biryani Logo

After exploring Madison, we noticed FAST Biryani. Finding new culinary adventures is one of the reasons we love to travel and this looked like an opportunity to explore a unique restaurant, especially in a neighborhood of chain eateries. Later, we would learn that FAST stands for Flavorful, Aromatic, Spicy and Tasteful, authentic Hyderabadi Indian cuisine in the Nizam tradition. The experience was amazing, the perfect balance of spices in recipes that had been handed down for generations. Conveniently located across the parking lot from the Econo Lodge.

photo of Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

After dinner it was a short walk across the parking lot and we were back to the motel. As we climbed the stairs, we looked down on the lobby. It always seemed to be awash in activity, busy staff trying to run the hotel complete with an array of eccentric guests speaking lots of different languages – a true international Fawlty Towers.

We awoke from a deep sleep the next morning. Although breakfast came with room, we decided to not dine amidst all the chaos, but sought out the offer of predictability and comfort food of a nearby IHOP, located in a strip mall just down the street. Bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast!

photo of the Classic IHOP breakfast

Classic IHOP breakfast

photo of Wisconsin Capitol and Fountain

Exploring Madison

Teardrop trail Log: June 19, 2016

photo of the Capitol majestic dome

the majestic dome

We departed the Old Fashioned after the wonderful Wisconsin lunch – on to explore the city. Jim’s career in higher education information and instructional technology had taken him to Madison for conferences in the past. He would be my tour guide to this beautiful city.  Our first stop would be to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Wisconsin Capitol, where the corner stone was laid in 1837.

photo of the Classic interior of the Capitol

Classic Capitol Interior

The building was erected on the highest point of the isthmus of Lake Mendota and Monona. The dome was modeled after the dome of the United States Capitol and is topped by Daniel Chester French’s elegant gilded bronze statue, “Wisconsin.” The walls were decorated with colorful murals, stone from around the world, hand-carved furniture and exquisite gold mosaics. From the observation deck, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the city.

photo of Student Union on Lake Mendota

Student Union on Lake Mendota

We then proceeded down “The Drag” (State Street) to the University of Wisconsin – Madison also located on the isthmus. We walked along the landscaped campus that has the familiar feel of academia until we reached the Memorial Student Union, considered one of the most scenic student unions in the country.

photo of Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

We entered the building and walked past the Rathskeller, a German pub adjacent to the lake terrace overlooking the shore of Lake Mendota. The Terrace was crowded, filled with both students and members of the public enjoying the picture-perfect sunny day, socializing, gazing at the lake and the sailboats. Picture perfect. Hard to image how this idyllic view would look in January, something Jim and I continued to discuss as we toured the state.

On the way back to the car, we indulged in some window shopping walking up State Street.  From indie book stores to the incredible range of locally-owned specialty stores and boutiques filled with treasures, we were treated to a fun-filled afternoon. Lo and behold, we spotted the familiar green logo – Starbucks and it was Mocha time.

photo of Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

photo of A real Wisconsin Pub

On the Tasty Trail – Classic Wisconsin Fare

Teardrop Trail Log:  June 19, 2016

We walked through downtown Madison. Jim had visited Madison before but it was my first time. We spotted The Old Fashioned, a tavern and restaurant founded in 2005, serving Wisconsin fare on the Capitol Square. As their website says, it is much more than beers, brats and cheese, they are preserving traditions of Wisconsin taverns. serving local foods and brews. The atmosphere was retro-style with dark wooden walls, warm and cozy.

logo of The Old Fashioned on the Square in Madison

The Old Fashioned on the Square in Madison

photo of Beer and Brats -- A traditional Wisconsin lunch

Beer and Brats — A traditional Wisconsin lunch

We took a table in the bar and ordered Bratwurst with raw onions, pickles and brown mustard on a buttered hard roll. The server recommended some truly amazing local beer to accompany the amazing meal. The only regret – we didn’t have room for beer-battered cheese curds. Soon we were off, fortified and ready to explore Madison.