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STOP #223

So, Phil seems to think I need to write about our travel day since I drove today.

What is there to say? Since Phil issued me my truck and trailer driving permit, this is the third time I have driven the truck and trailer from one campground to the next. He picked a short day to let me drive (no idea how far, he keeps track of that!!)

It had steeper hills and curvier curves than I have towed so far... so my instructor coached me about going up steep hills from a dead stop and snarled, or laughed (not sure which) at me for driving below the speed limit around many of the curves.

We made it to Blue Mound State Park all in one piece, no dents or scratches anywhere. Now if I could just convince him to let me try backing in the trailer without his head exploding!!! -Tricia

Tricia did a fine job towing the trailer today, like she said no dents or scratches anywhere.

She towed it a little over 47 miles from the dump station at Devil's Lake State Park to the water fill station at Blue Mound State Park, both in Wisconsin.

I took over the driving before we actually entered the campground and I'm glad I did. This was not an easy site to back into. It was made even more difficult due to the fact that when we arrived there was a small SUV already parked right in the middle of our site.

As you can see from this photo the entrance for the hike-in/bike-in campsites is right next to our site. The sign clearly says "No Parking Anytime - Tow Away Zone", but I guess that doesn't apply if you park right next door in our site.

As we were pulling up there was a guy on a bike coming around the barricade and the SUV in our site did have an empty bike carrier on the rear, so I asked if this was his car? He said no, but was sure that someone down in the campsites below owned it. He rides here frequently and sees this same situation all the time.

I asked how far down the trail were the campsites and he said it was about .25 mile or so to the first one. I told him I'd just call the Ranger Station and let them deal with it. He then volunteered to ride back down the hill to see if he could locate who owned the car and tell them it needed to be moved pronto (his words).

It wasn't too long before he returned and told me they would be right up. We got to talking while we waited for the car to be moved and I found out he is 78 years old, rides his bike nearly everyday (when the weather allows), participates in local triathlons twice a year and is currently receiving radiation treatment for prostate cancer.

We talked until two twenty-something year old girls arrived to move the car and I thanked him for waiting (in case he had to go hurry them along, (again his words) and wished him well with his cancer treatments.

Wisconsin folk are mighty nice people, at least the ones we've met are!

Front view of Campsite #8 at Blue Mound State Park, WI

Side view with plenty of room to spread out!

FRIDAY - First thing this morning we were up and out of THE POD to go and visit our 45th cave.

The Cave of the Mounds in located just 2.5 miles from our campsite. This cave tour is a little bit different in the fact that the tour is self-guided. You can progress through the cave as fast or as slow as you want and you're even permitted to go around again if you feel like you missed something.

There are 4 docents located along the 1/3 mile path ready to answer any questions and to show you points of interest you may have missed. We liked this approach to the tour because we've already learned about the stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and flow stone formations. It gave us a chance to ask questions that we normally wouldn't have because we didn't want to slow down their progress through the cave for everyone else on the same tour with us.

We spent nearly an hour in the cave and felt we saw everything there was to see. In case you were wondering, yes we were the first two people admitted into the cave this morning.

Next up today we go in search of trolls!

The town of Mount Horeb is just another 5 miles east of the cave and they bill themselves as "The Troll Capital of the World". We're not sure if that's true, but they do have a lot of trolls around town. If you are among the people who are afraid of trolls, this is one town you might want to skip over in your travels.

Others however loved the trolls and when the new Highway 18 bypassed the town they used the trolls as a marketing ploy to lure people off the highway and back through town. It seems to have worked and now there are trolls everywhere.

They started the troll craze with wooden trolls carved from tree trunks. Now there are plaster trolls, metal trolls and still a few of the original trolls around town. Many of the businesses have adopted the troll theme and we ate lunch in a restaurant called The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub.

The town's Welcome Center of course has a troll out front.

The troll mayor is there to give everyone a key to the city.

We tried to make an offer to purchase this troll house , but was told it wasn't for sale.

This troll is just out for a ride on his tricycle.

This troll is just tending to his garden.

And this troll could be one of the original wooden trolls carved from a tree stump.

Here is a true personal travel story I'd like to share.

Today while eating lunch at the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub our 20-something year old waitress introduced herself as Delaney. Now to most normal people that wouldn't raise any further conversation. But if you're a Parrothead, like me, I just had to ask her a question. I saved my question until our meal was done and she bought us our check.

I began by asking her if she knew who Jimmy Buffett was? We are in southwest Wisconsin as you know, far from Key West! She smiled and replied that she was actually named after one of his songs. She further explained that it was her mother behind the bar serving the drinks today.

After we got up from our table I went over to the bar and asked the woman if she was Delaney's mother. She gave me a look like, "What did she do now"? She said yes and I told her I just wanted to give her two big thumbs up for the creative way she decided on a name for her daughter.

I explained to her we were traveling through Wisconsin and originally from South Florida, and we're both big Jimmy Buffett fans. She in turn gave us two big thumbs up for being one of only a few people to have ever made the connection.

Now most of you probably still have no idea what I'm talking about. Well in 1994 Jimmy Buffett put out an album called Fruitcakes. This was just before our waitress was born and just after Jimmy's daughter Delaney was born. Their names are in the title of an obscure and seldom played song on that album about a father and daughter relationship.

I'm going to share the lyrics here and you'll see why this woman concluded her newly born daughter would be named Delaney.

Delaney Talks To Statues by Jimmy Buffett

Delaney talks to statues
as she dances 'round the pool.
She chases cats through Roman ruins
and stomps on big toadstools.
She speaks a language all her own
that I cannot discover.
But she knows I love her so
when I tuck her 'neath the covers.

Father, daughter
Down by the water
Shells sink, dreams float
Life's good on our boat.

Delaney draws me pictures
she finger paints the sand.
We chase the dogs and hop like frogs,
then I do my bad handstand.
She's growing up too fast for me
and asking lots of questions.
Some I know the answers to
and some I'm looking for suggestions.

Father, daughter
Born by the water
Surf's up, sun's down
Life in a beach town.

And some of the things I've seen
maybe she won't have to see.
But there's a lot I want to pass along
that was handed down to me.

Delaney talks to statues
as she dances 'round the pool.
She chases cats through Roman ruins
and stomps on big toadstools.
She speaks a language all her own
just a little like her mother.
And she knows I love her so
when I tuck her 'neath the covers.

Father, daughter
Down by the water
Shells sink, dreams float
Life's good on our boat.

Here is a to a YouTube video I found that has a short "in- home conversation" between Jimmy and Delaney Buffett that was recorded on March 3rd of 2021, so just a few months ago.

Jimmy is showing his age, he'll be 75 this Christmas Day, but at the end of the interview he strums out the song "Delaney Talks To Statues" and shows he's still the great entertainer he's always been.

SATURDAY - Today we have another full day of sightseeing planned. Only today it will all be at just one location.

The House on the Rock is an attraction like no other. For me it was like the Smithsonian Museum and DisneyWorld combined into one location. When I say DisneyWorld I'm not talking about the rides, there are none here, but the way the whole property is displayed perfectly to the public. When I say Smithsonian Museum I'm talking about the fact that there are more items here to see and appreciate than can possibly be experienced in a day.

Alex Jordan, Jr. used to hike and picnic on the this location before he purchased the property and began building his modest retreat home. After completing his home he needed a place to house his small personal collections. Over time that morphed into what we visited today.

We spent 4 hours here and walked a little over 2 miles, we could easily have spent the entire day. First we checked out the incredible home and it's unique design, then we started walking through room after room of the collections. There are all kinds of collections here. Each collection is huge, the dollhouse collection I would estimate there were 200 or more, the gun collection was also several hundred or more. There was a cigarette lighter collection for instance where were 300 or more lighters on display.

There was a collection of printed cruise ship menus dating back to the late 1800's. There were model boats, cars, planes, trains. There were many antique horse carriages and even an exotic gull-winged Mercedez Benz 300SL and a 1935 Packard Sedan. Every inch of the entire complex was a display case for another collection.

I couldn't find any information on just how many items there are on display here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were in the millions. Also I was curious how much the property with all it's collections was worth, but all I found out was that in 1988 it was purchased by the current owners for over $17,000,000. That was a bargain considering the World's Largest Carousel is located here. It's 80 feet around and 35 feet tall, has over 20,000 lights and 269 handcrafted carousel animals on it (but not one of them is a horse). It was built at a cost of $4,8000,000 in 1981.

Here is Tricia's video of the carousel in action.

You can purchase tokens to feed the several dozen "Mechanical Music Machines" found throughout the tour. The machines range in size from a small jukebox to an entire 30 foot wide by 20 foot tall wall. Here is a closeup video Tricia shot of one of the larger displays.

The whole experience was overwhelming and had us on sensory overload, but in a good way! Sometimes it was very Disney-esque where it was hard to tell what was real and what was fabricated. When there was a collection of something, anything really, it was over-the-top.

Tricia took over 300 photos, but I can't even begin to choose which ones to share. So instead I left her the job of selecting a couple dozen photos to share, complete with her captions. The photos she selected only give you a small sample of what we saw.


This is the first thing we see as we pull into The House on the Rock. Little did we know we would see them all over the property.
This was once the entrance to the garden. It's designed by Alex Jordan Jr., the original owner and creator of the house and most of the collections. They say anyone who walks through it gets good luck.
The main Japanese garden behind the house. It's a beautiful place for the sight and sound, with several waterfalls. If you look closely there are bright orange goldfish in the ponds.
It was difficult to get many pictures inside the house itself as it was so cave-like. This is from the first room he built and gives a little flavor of the home with stone walls, many well covered windows and lots of shag carpet.
They said he put the blue in the windows so his stained glass lamps and walls would really shine. This is one of my favorites for both the colors and the jellyfish shape.
The Infinity Room. It was such a bright day so its hard to see, but at the point where it's just light, it keeps going like a room in Alice in Wonderland! There is also a window in the floor looking down over the tree tops.
Inspiration Rock. Alex would picnic at this rock to admire it. Eventually he was able to buy the farm where this rock is and build his home. The rest is history.
This is how a super collector displays their collections. Each shop window is another collection.
One of many (possibly hundreds) of the model boats here. They also have old sailing ships, military ships, at least one sub, and the Titanic.
There is a whole hallway of very old guns and these are a few of the unusual ones.
Some of the stuff in the background looks like homemade type displays, but this one is the real deal. The sign on the side says this is the Faberge Imperial Carousel Egg.
This is a typical storefront window display of the tools and equipment used in a work shop.
Pictures cannot do this scene justice. It is so large (200 feet) you cannot fit it all in one photo. This giant squid is attacking a blue whale who is eating a row boat. The walkway is a ramp that takes you around the scene twice and ends up on the 3rd floor.
This 1963 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors was covered in tile. Pretty cool, but not very practical as it is now so heavy all the suspension needed to be upgraded.
Some of the many examples of ivory art. There is also a full display of scrimshaw as well.
Look at all those old cash registers!
Who knew there were so many different 7-UP bottle shapes.
This display was added after Alex sold the property in 1988. The new owners put this display up in honor of Alex for his love of flying. In reality he could not fly in the war as he wished due to an issue with his eyes.
This giant room was all miscellaneous machinery and very dark. I think the pile of chandeliers were the extras from the carousel!
There are several hallways of dollhouses. All different styles but most bigger than you would imagine and some are seen from the back so you can see the rooms and furniture.
Alex really had a thing for the circus. There were tons of these dioramas, plus rooms full of wagon wheels, costumes, posters, and carousel animals that didn't make it on The World's Largest Carousel.
There is a room full of armor ending with this scene of the animals in armor.
This is one of two doll carousels in the collection.
Even some of the bathrooms are all dressed up!

I also found a 2+ hour long YouTube video someone created on their 2021 experience.

Here is the to their video.

SUNDAY - We didn't spend the whole weekend outside of the park to do our sightseeing.

There are a few sights to see right here at Blue Mound State Park. At the top of the park are two observation towers. The highest elevation in the entire state of Wisconsin is in the northern part of the state at Timm's Hill (1950 feet).

But the two towers here in the park may very well be the highest point in the southern half of the state. They are both around 1675 feet in elevation and boast a commanding view of their surroundings once you climb up above the treetops.

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